To put the world to rights – and it certainly needs putting to rights! – we need to re-build our lives around food and farming, particularly around the principles of Agroecology and Food Sovereignty. Radical change is called for, and to bring it about we need to dig deep: re-define our goals (what are we trying to achieve in life?); re-think and re-structure agriculture and the food culture that goes with it; re-think the underlying economy, the science, and way the world is governed; and then dig beyond all that into our deepest moral and spiritual preconceptions – the ideas and attitudes that we take for granted and rarely properly examine. Join co-founder of the Oxford Real Farming Conference, Colin Tudge, as he discusses his new book, The Great Re-Think, with Ruby Reed.
Three African women, Jennifer Amejja, Edna Kaptoyo and Rita Uwaka, speak about the importance of women’s cultural, traditional knowledge and practice for food sovereignty, agroecology and community forest management. How they grow nutritious food, use and protect medicinal plants, select and exchange seed, establish vital community seed banks, provide livelihoods and support the local economy. Also how they protect forests, many of which are sacred, and ensure replenishment and restoration of watersheds.
Indigenous women are especially threatened by climate change and biodiversity destruction, yet their intimate knowledge makes them uniquely placed to protect and restore critical ecosystems; strengthen traditional food systems; conserve species; and transmit indigenous knowledge to future generations.
However, industrial plantation agriculture, often supported by governments and finance institutions in developed countries, is fuelling landgrabs, destroying local food systems, and accelerating climate change, biodiversity loss and human rights abuses, especially for women. How should we collectively address this critical issue?
AFSA is currently facilitating a campaign on mainstreaming agroecology in climate policies in 12 African countries and at the Africa regional level. The campaign includes mobilizing local actors, engaging government and reaching out to the general public through various media outlets. This session will share the experiences from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and Togo. Sena Alouka from Togo we will share experiences of youth in rural Togo promoting agroecology for climate action and also share on the success that have resulted in Togo adopting an agroecology policy. From Kenya, Karen Nekesa we will share experiences of working with schools and county governments to promote Agroecology for climate change. Wilberforce Laate will present on the advocacy for climate action in Ghana linking it with Indigenous Knowledge and Culture. From Nigeria Ms. Joyce Ebebeinwe will share the experiences from Nigeria focusing on civil society advocacy to include agroecology into national climate policy amidst the push from industrial agriculture.
La Via Campesina made history in 1993 with the articulation of a global peasant movement. Since then they have grown to represent over 200 million peasants, small and medium size farmers, landless people, rural women and youth, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers from around the world, and have become a leading light in social movements organising for a vision of social and environmental justice. Built on a strong sense of unity, solidarity between these groups, it defends peasant agriculture for food sovereignty as a way to promote social justice and dignity and strongly opposes corporate driven agriculture that destroys social relations and nature.
We will hear from two leaders of La Via Campesina, who will take us back to the early days of the formation of LVC and tell the story of the birth of the movement and how it grew to be the inspiration and force that it is today. This is a history lesson that no farmer or food activist can afford to miss out on.
Our oceans are suffering from the ravages of industrial fisheries and gigantic factory ships hovering up fish stocks in record times. A single haul can be as much as 200 tonnes of fish. Not only is this devastating for fish stocks, it also deeply affects small scale coastal fisheries who are in danger of going out of business: no or little fish, low prices and no access to markets.
And just as Community Supported Agriculture has been working for over 50 years in building territorial markets between small-scale farmers and consumers, Community Supported Fisheries have been addressing similar issues, mainly in the USA, but now increasingly in Europe.
This session will illustrate the problems faced by small-scale fisheries and the various solutions provided by direct sales of fish in various forms. It will also explore how CSF and CSA can work together as well as other forms of short supply chains like the Open Food Network, in ensuring that consumers can support small-scale fisheries and access healthy fresh fish.
Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition movement, will share ideas from his latest book 'From What Is to What If', exploring how we have allowed our collective imagination to contract and dessicate at the worst time possible. A zero carbon future, with a sustainable, resilient agricultural system, will be achieved, he argues, through creating the best conditions for the imagination and through inspiring examples. The next 10 years need to be many things, but they must also be, and feel like, a revolution of the imagination. Inspired by Rilke's statement that “the future must enter into you a long time before it happens”, his talk will be illustrated by inspiring stories and examples, and also will share some thoughts on how we might set about reviving our collective ability to see things as if they could be otherwise.
Jairo Restrepo is a passionate educator and activist, known throughout South America for his practical support of small farmers as well as his campaigns for their rights in the face of powerful agribusiness. He is unique in that he argues for farmers’ autonomy and self-determination but also teaches an array of practical technologies and preparations to increase soil fertility and transform cropping. He offers tools and inspiration for farmers and activists alike.
In this talk, Jairo will cover the effects of industrial agriculture on our soils, diet and ultimately on our souls. After many years of working as a government scientist, he does not reject technology but wants us to recognise farmers as guardians, innovators, researchers and quiet revolutionaries. He writes, “We don’t want to change technology; we want to transform society, thereby changing the technological proposal. Today the opposite occurs, the dominant type of technology proposes a society subjugated to industry. My dream is to construct a being, an ideal state of a being, so that I shall not be the ideal being of the State".
Drawing from his knowledge of biochemistry, Jairo has developed a set of low-tech practices that help remineralise the soil and increase photosynthesis through the use of biofertilisers. These have been widely adopted throughout South America and are now spreading in Africa, America and Europe. His talk will cover some examples of this work and the impact it has on living systems and human diet.
Horticultural, agricultural and environmental professions are some of the least diverse in Britain. In this session we will profile and celebrate the growing network of land workers, earth stewards, and nature connectors in the UK. We will discuss intersectional solidarity, social justice in food production spaces and the breaking of barriers impeding our collective liberation.
Goats play a transformative role around the world, particularly in harsh environments - reflecting climate, vegetation or conflict. They transform the most indigestible plant material into meat, milk and skins and are also increasing the economic independence and resilience of rural women.
Rothamsted is researching the role of goats in smallholder systems in Malawi and Botswana - focused on nutrition, socioeconomics and parasitology (through targeted selective treatment using metabolites from bioactive plants). Goats have always been a priority for Farm Africa, providing them to vulnerable women living in rural eastern Africa - supported by animal health and business development services, empowering them to increase incomes and improve their families' nutrition.
Meanwhile, in the UK, Bristol’s Street Goat connects families and individuals with the joys of working with animals and nature - increasing understanding of their food. Local people collectively manage and care for them in urban areas, producing sustainable and healthy animal food products reared on overgrown and unusable urban land.