Nicaragua: agroecology and food sovereignty
News from Nicaragua | Friday, 15 March 2019 |
NSC interviewed Edgardo Garcia, the general secretary of the Rural Workers Association (ATC), about their work with agricultural workers in large scale agro-export plantations and small scale agroecology farmers producing food for the national market and their own consumption.
Edgardo explained that for the ATC ‘food sovereignty is not just about containing the invasion of transnational companies, distribution networks and agro-industry but also about transforming farming practices through agroecology. Nicaragua faces major problems with contamination, partly as a legacy of past agro – industrial practices. Agroecology is about farming that is sustainable, protects the environment, and includes nutritional and preventive health measures.’
The ATC has established an agroecology training for young people in Nicaragua, one of a chain of such schools across Latin America called the Latin American Institute of Agroecology (IALA). The curriculum is based not only technical training in methods that’ return to the soil what we take from it’ but also involves political and ideological training.
The ATC also works in local neighbourhood markets and in developing city – countryside alliances. This prevents local producers becoming isolated and counteracts the influence of transnational distribution companies like Walmart and other companies which marginalise both small scale farming and more generally national production.
National, regional and international alliances are also key to the work of the ATC.
Within Nicaragua the ATC is a member organisation of the Nicaragua Council for the Social Economy (CONADES). Edgardo explains that this ‘is very important for us because it the mechanism through which we, as agricultural workers and campesinos, ensure that we are not marginalised or forgotten. On the contrary, we have become gradually incorporated into the development of [government] scientific and technical programmes, and into training programmes and primary education.’
CONADES also provides the national framework to contain the ‘aggressive penetration of transnational finance, the penetration of transnational commerce and agribusiness.’
CONADES has been particularly important in the reactivation of the economy since the very tense political situation resulting from the attempted coup in April 2018. In Edgardo’s opinion ‘if it had succeeded it would have meant the destruction of all the opportunities for production programmes and employment that we had constructed.’
Internationally the ATC has developed links with compesino organisations in other Central America countries, and globally its membership of a movement called *La Via Campesina.
Further information about the ATC: https://friendsatc.org/
Further information about Via Campesina: https://viacampesina.org/en/
*La Via Campesina is the international movement which brings together over two million peasants, small and medium-size farmers, landless people, women farmers, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers from 150 local and national organisations in 70 countries. It defends small-scale sustainable agriculture as a way to promote food sovereignty, social justice and dignity. It strongly opposes corporate driven agriculture and transnational companies that are destroying people and nature.