Sikkim is located in northeast India, on the border with Bhutan, Tibet, and Nepal. It is part of the Himalayas, and forests, pastures and steep mountainsides make up most of Sikkim’s fragile ecosystem. It is also home to 66,000 farmers.
In 2003, the previous chief minister (Mr Pawan Kumar Chamling) began the process of making Sikkim 100 % organic. This ambitious goal was achieved in 2015 when Sikkim became the first fully organic state in the world. This session - run by farmers in Sikkim - will share how it was done, how they are sustaining it and planning to ensure its future.
They will explain how their work is geared towards farmer training – working with universities and government organizations – and assisting farmers to find a fair market. And how throughout this process they have witnessed a strengthening in their community and a greater sense of empowerment, particularly amongst women.
Hugu Setuj from Pongso no Tao island (Orchid Island, off the coast of Taiwan), explains the traditional and community management of his island's fisheries, which is borne out of a deep respect and understanding of marine life and biodiversity.
Tao mythology tells of an inter-species pact between the Tao and black flying fish ancestors, and an agreement to use appropriate fishing methods. The lunar and ecological calendar (ahehep no tao) govern the Tao seas to this day. Three distinct seasons, according to the life cycles of fish, determine which species, and whether the coral reefs or high seas, are fished. The Tao eat 180 different species of fish in total, all at different times of year, to distribute pressure on the food chain. The amian season is designated for farming, in which 50 varieties of local crops are cultivated.
Above all, the Tao system could represent an alternative multidimensional zoning system for the conservation of natural resources and the environment, as the basis for community sustainability, food diversity and food sovereignty.
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Find out how grazing on the bioactive forages might be the answer to effective, reliable worm control – a crucial insight as anthelmintic resistance becomes an increasing issue for sheep farmers. We focus on research and trials exploring bioactive forages (heather, chicory and Lucerne), and nematophagus fungi.
With anthelmintic resistance becoming an increasing issue, and reducing reliance on contentious inputs an important goal, finding alternative worm controls has become a growing area of research.
In this session, we talk to researchers and farmers trialling alternative approaches to worm control, as part of the RELACS programme. Having ‘set the scene’ technically, looking at the current state of anthelmintic use, we go on to look in details at farm trials and research into replacements. Panellists share data from recent surveys, plus information on bioactive forages (such as heather, chicory, Lucerne) and nematophagus fungi.
We then open the floor for a Q&A session, and a chance for participants to ask questions and share their experiences and knowledge.
African Earth Jurisprudence Practitioners from West and Southern Africa share their stories of working with traditional land-based communities in the revival of their seed and food sovereignty, the restoration of their sacred natural sites and the strengthening of their ecological governance systems, inspired by Earth Jurisprudence and indigenous cosmologies.
Across Africa, a network of Earth Jurisprudence Practitioners is accompanying traditional and indigenous communities in the revival and enhancement of their Earth-centred customary governance systems. African Earth Jurisprudence Practitioners from West and Southern Africa will share the philosophy and practice of Earth Jurisprudence and the work that Earth Jurisprudence has inspired on the continent: stories of accompanying rural communities in the revival of their seed and food sovereignty and traditional knowledge and practices, the restoration of their sacred natural sites and associated rituals, and the strengthening of their ecological governance systems derived from the laws of the Earth.
For the last few months, farmer groups in India have been protesting. In the largest protest of its kind by farmer groups in over 3 decades, farmers have marched on the capital city of Delhi, occupying highways and launching strikes. They have received the support of all opposition parties in the country, of solidarity demonstrations internationally, of Indian trade unions and beyond.
The strike centres on a package of three laws passed by Narendra Modi’s BJP government. One of these laws de-regulate sales areas in the country and open it up to the free market. The second one promotes contract farming in India allowing for greater corporatisation of Indian agriculture and the third one promotes hoarding for agribusinesses. The other primary demand of the farmer groups is to ensure they receive Minimum Support Price (MSP) for their farming produce.
In this session, we will be joined by representatives of small farmers and the farmers’ movement in India to learn more about this strike against the corporate domination of India’s agricultural system and in defence of the rights of peasants and small farmers.
Agroecological food systems will not reach critical mass if there are just small “islands” of agroecological farms. Mechanisms for scaling up are essential. This session will explore how and why the state government of Andhra Pradesh, an Indian state with a population of 54 million, works with women's self help organizations to support millions of farmers to transition to agroecology. CMNF is one of the most promising initiatives in the world in massively scaling up agroecology.
In this session, Vijay Kumar will discuss the radical initiative that is Community Managed Natural Farming with the Communications Lead of the AgroEcology Fund, Amrita Gupta. They will explore how natural farming is based on universal principles of agroecology and regenerative agriculture but is contextualised in local conditions and encompasses farmer’s wisdom.
Rogelio and his daughter Michel Simbaña of the Kitu-Kara Nation share with us their experiences of 20 years, starting with a mini organic garden and growing up to two interconnected farms in different ecosystems, their work with their local community preserving the Sacred Mountain Ilaló, and the organic shop they opened in February, just in time for the Covid-related food crisis.
Rogelio was born and raised as a poor indigenous farmer. When he was 7, his mother gave him a couple goats and told him: “now you have to look for yourself. If you want to study, you will have to pay your own school.” The following years, developing his goat herd in Mount Ilaló, were crucial in his development: he forged a strong connection with the mountain and the native forests there. He was then drafted into the army, fought in a war, got a job in agrochemical agriculture after that, became really sick. He then decided to return to his roots, and accepted an underpaid job managing a tree nursery for his community. This gave him the opportunity to work with native trees.
In 2003 he connected with the Seed Guardians Network and was hired as a technical assistant and a farmer’s educator. Since then, his life has turned into a permaculture adventure, becoming one of the most recognized leaders of the regenerative movement in the country and helping hundreds of farmers to develop their pathway out of poverty and into Sumak Kawsay, the Good Living philosophy of their ancestors.
The transformation of the food system relies on the effective organising of locally rooted movements and struggles around the world. This work is impossible without challenging approaches rooted in the dominance of colonial languages (in particular English, French and Spanish) and without structures and platforms that ensure and facilitate for everyone’s voices and languages to be heard.
Agroecology at its heart respects the traditions and linguistic heritage of diverse land based cultures. Therefore, it must examine the history of the dominance of the colonial languages (English, French and Spanish) and discuss the pivotal role interpretation plays in social movement organising. In this session we will hear from interpreters working with La Via Campesina and other global grassroot farming groups and learn how ways of knowing the land can change with different languages.
Beekeeping is accessible to everyone: it doesn’t require ownership of land, capital investment or great time commitment, but it brings benefits of pollination and harvests of nutritious food and medicine. Local bees, local materials and the knowledge of local beekeepers provide all that is needed; skills in understanding bees and forage in the landscape can be learned. Recognising the dependence of bees on abundant and unpolluted landscapes becomes an incentive for beekeepers to protect and conserve their forests and support local farmers towards agroecological practices. Where forests are healthy in tropical Africa, bees are healthy and abundant. Where there is deforestation and agrochemical use, bees and the livelihoods of local communities both suffer.
We will hear from beekeepers world-wide about their guardianship of community forests, about problems caused by deforestation, fire and intensification of agriculture. We’ll also hear about partnerships that yield benefits for beekeepers, farmers, honey traders and local communities, bringing increased crop yields, harvests of honey and beeswax, food and medicine for the community and access to markets in towns and cities. Beekeepers hold a direct, recognisable and measurable interest in the biodiversity of their lands: in freedom from agrochemicals and pollution and in the health of their forests.