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Latin America Agroecology Institute (IALA) sends thanks to NSC

NSC News | Monday, 6 January 2020 |

Graduation of students from IALA, the Latin America Agroecology Institute in Nicaragua

Graduation of students from IALA, the Latin America Agroecology Institute in Nicaragua

In September 2019 we sent a fundraising appeal to our supporters for UK solidarity work with IALA through the Nicaragua Rural Workers Association (ATC).

Twenty per cent of the funds – US$900 - was a contribution towards the costs of practicums for 22 IALA students who worked with rural co-operatives and other organisations prior to their graduation on 23 November.

Background

IALA Ixim Ulew (Instituto Agroecologico Latinoamericano or Latin American Institute of Agroecology), offers training programmes in agroecology for young people from the social movement organisations of La Vía Campesina from the Central American and Caribbean region.

IALA practicums

The first intake of 22 students completed professional practicums and celebrated their graduation in a beautiful ceremony on 23rd November.

The practicums are not just a requirement of the curriculum accredited by the Nicaraguan Technological Institute), but also an important opportunity for the students to put into practice all they have learned in the two-year IALA programme.

Their training also includes political and ideological training, an essential part of the La Via Campesina methodology in all its training schools throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

The students spent 45 days living on farms or with families in these communities and agricultural cooperatives that are part of the ATC or allied organisations.

Their work included designing and leading workshops on the principles of agroecology, building demonstration gardens, veterinary visits in rural communities, making chocolate and cheese from locally-produced ingredients, and organising trainings on alternative animal feeds.

Feedback from students

The practicum enabled me to connect with peasant families, the countryside, and the daily struggles that the families have to be self-sufficient. I enjoyed sharing what I had learned with the families and also learning from them throughout the practicum. More than being just an internship, I saw it as a chance to fill myself with new knowledge.

-Idalia Melendez, El Salvador (internship in the Marlon Alvarado community, organised by the ATC Carazo)

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I did my practicum at the Rancho Ebenezer working with small livestock [sheep, pigs, birds and rabbits] but also rice, corn, beans, plantains, fruit and vegetables. I helped to prepare protein rich animal feed, cleaned areas where the animals are kept, branded goats, and helped with births including cutting the umbilical cord. I also learnt about identifying animal diseases. My internship was very successful enabling me to reinforce my technical knowledge but also to develop personal values such as punctuality, respect, and discipline.

-Migdalia Cruz, Nicaragua (internship at the Rancho Ebenezer in Niquinohomo

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At the start I thought everything would be easy. But when we started planting coffee bushes I felt like I wasn’t going to be able to do it preparing the land and planting was very difficult. We also had to work in a garden, build an animal pen, and many other things that were in our plan. As a woman I expected that it was going to be difficult to do all of these things and then after that have to go and cook.

In the end, it was really beautiful because with the other two IALA students we formed a true team. We united and shared the tasks, and this made us very strong and helped us as comrades to be more united. We also received lots of support from our accompanying IALA teachers. It was a great learning experience as a student, person and a militant.

-Jocelyn Canales, Honduras (internship at the ATC’s Rodolfo Sanchez Bustos Agricultural Institute in Santa Emilia, Matagalpa)

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Conclusion

All of the students expressed that these were profound experiences had enabled them to exchange with rural Nicaraguan communities, put into practice what they had learned, and helped them to understand the role of organisations in improving quality of life in the countryside.

IALA and the ATC send their grateful thanks to NSC members and supporters whose donations contributed to the success of the practicums.

planting crops

planting crops

Feeding hungry piglets

Feeding hungry piglets

branding cattle

branding cattle

Harvesting maize

Harvesting maize