Friday, November 20, 2009

New short film on western threats to traditional farming in Africa

A Thousand Suns tells the story of the Gamo Highlands of the African Rift Valley and the unique worldview held by the people of the region. This isolated area has remained remarkably intact both biologically and culturally. It is one of the most densely populated rural regions of Africa yet its people have been farming sustainably for 10,000 years.

Shot in Ethiopia, New York and Kenya, the film explores the modern world's untenable sense of separation from and superiority over nature and how the interconnected worldview of the Gamo people is fundamental in achieving long-term sustainability, both in the region and beyond.

For more information and to view other great films like this one, please visit the Global Oneness Project.

The film is free online and will be aired in USA in April on PBS television. There is also a short trailer on YouTube - click on the lower image above.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

President Chissano learns about Biointensive Agriculture

We had a four hour meeting yesterday with Joaquim Chissano, the former President of Mozambique about the situation of increasing population, and increasing scarcity of food, water and farmable soil in the world and especially in Africa.

The President expressed great interest in the 37 years of research on these issues by Ecology Action in the USA under the direction of John Jeavons. President Chissano sits on the Board of the World Food Prize and the Gates Foundation's Global Development Programme as a member of the programme advisory panel.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

UN Favours Organic

Organic agriculture combines modern scientific research with traditional farming techniques in a sustainable, efficient farming system. By working with natural processes and making use of locally available assets, poor smallholder farmers can build up the fertility and productivity of their farms while avoiding dependence on expensive external inputs. Growing markets for certified produce mean that organic agriculture offers an important opportunity for the rural poor in developing countries to benefit from international trade.

Increased food security

Organic agriculture builds up stocks of natural, social and economic resources over time, thus reducing many of the factors that lead to food insecurity.

Full report here

Manor House Agricultural Centre, Kitale, Kenya

Training session for farmers
The Manor House Agricultural Centre was founded in 1984 in response to a three-year drought. The Centre's training and research complex includes demonstration gardens and livestock facilities that provide a working model of bio-intensive agricultural systems for trainees, visitors and members of local communities.

The Centre provides practical training to young people, farmers and staff of government agencies and NGOs, as well as conducting adaptive research. By 2005, over 70,000 Kenyans had been taught bio-intensive agriculture either directly or indirectly by the Centre.

The main impact has been on vegetable production. Many have doubled their yields by adopting double digging and composting techniques, using local natural methods of pest and disease control (such as planting sunflowers to attract predators, using local plant extracts to control maize stalk borer, and intercropping to reduce tomato blight). There have been big savings on pesticides, as farmers have cut out their use.

A former pupil at Manor House, Susan Wekesa, tells how learning to use bio-intensive farming methods has impacted on her life: "My 0.3 acres of land is producing plenty and healthy vegetables that bring money to knock at my door in the wee hours of the day. I mean, people come knocking at the door of my house before 6:00 a.m. wanting to buy vegetables. Apart from food and money for my family, I am able to fertilize my soil from material that it produces and supports. BIA has recreated hope in me and my household. I can now face the future proudly".

From UNCTAD report here

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Essay on Biointensive is finalist in World Bank Essay Competition

Local Actions, Global Benefits

Monday, November 2, 2009

Ezemvelo Biointensive Workshop report on World Scouting Website

Swazi Scouts attend workshop on sustainable farming

From 16 to 20 September 2009, a five-day workshop on bio-intensive farming was held at Ezemvelo Nature Reserve in South Africa. Participants came from England, Kenya, Ireland, South Africa, Swaziland, USA and Zimbabwe. Swaziland was represented by members of the Swaziland Scout Association (SSA), Wandile Simelane and Sibonakaliso Mdluli. Simelane is a teacher and Scout leader at Manzana Primary School while Mdluli is a full-time volunteer of the Thirst for Life Scout Initiative.

The workshop put emphasis on small-scale farming that can be done on family back yards. Participants were taught the benefits of bio-intensive farming with regards to water conservation.

SSA has an initiative project known as Thirst for Life (TFL) whose flagship activity is a garden project that benefits over 150 HIV/Aids orphaned and vulnerable children from the project area community.

For more details, please read their full report here

Director of the Mozambiquan Farmers Union addresses Rural Poverty

Diamantino Nhampossa’s speech at the EU Forum on Sustainable Rural Development

Link to full speech

My country – Mozambique – is one of those African countries in which the consequences of colonization, neo- or re-colonization, and structural adjustment programs are visible. There is a growing number of poor people living in rural areas without basic public services like water, health services and education, while our main urban centres are showing a concentration of wealth in the hands a small group of people. The suburbs are becoming more crowded than ever, and everyday life is a big challenge. countries have many experiences of the negative impacts of mono-culture, and of GM crops, however this same methodology is being promoted in African countries such as Moçambique – why? We must learn from the lessons of the past, and be innovative and courageous in our aid and agriculture policies. If not, the errors of the past will simply be replicated, and small holder farmers will become even more impoverished, all in the name of globalization.

It is important to recognise the difference between “development” and advancement in technological terms. Technological advancement does not necessarily equate to improved standard of living for poor rural peasant farmers – more often than not it further entrenches their impoverishment. Technology is not always the panacea.

One alternative that is left to fight poverty on the Continent is the proposal that comes from the movement of peasants, indigenous, migrants, women and rural communities, confirmed during the international forum held early this year in Mali: that is Food Sovereignty. Food sovereignty is the people’s right to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It puts those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations. It defends the interests and inclusion of the next generation. It offers a strategy to resist and dismantle the current corporate trade and food regime, and directions for food, farming, pastoral and fisheries systems determined by local producers. Food sovereignty gives priority to local and national economies and markets and empowers peasant and family farmer-driven agriculture, artisanal - fishing, pastoralist-led grazing, and food production, distribution and consumption based on environmental, social and economic sustainability. Food sovereignty promotes transparent trade that guarantees just income to all peoples and the rights of consumers to control their food and nutrition. It ensures that the rights to use and manage our lands, territories, waters, seeds, livestock and biodiversity are in the hands of those of us who produce food. Food sovereignty implies new social relations free of oppression and inequality between men and women, peoples, racial groups, social classes and generations.