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On the way to becoming an agroecological trainer Nepal

Nepal All Peasant Federation hosted the International Bioinput School in the month of November with members from 12 farmer organizations from the African and Asian continents.

In this space, participants exchanged knowledge on integrated soil management, the use of isolated microorganisms as biofertilizers or biopesticides and composting processes, among other topics linked to agroecology.

“Here we had a good opportunity, not for personal learning, but this is a good platform to build bonds between people working in the same fields across countries,” explained Kavitha Narayanaswamy, from the Indian organization Samvada.

This was the second edition of the International School of Bioinputs, which was inaugurated in Argentina in September this year. The school is organized by the International Association for Popular Cooperation, also known as Baobab, a name that refers to the tree that many African peoples know as a symbol of life.

Founded at the end of 2019, Baobab is a technological exchange platform created by organizations and popular movements in the Global South to support the development of food sovereignty and agroecology.

The countries that participated in the training room were: Bangladesh, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Nepal wants to become an agro-ecological country

Until 2008, Nepal was a monarchy. Along with the movement that put an end to the regime and founded one of the youngest republics, the country approved a constitution (provisional in 2007 and final in 2015) which includes food sovereignty as a fundamental right of the people.

“Our slogans were: down with absolute monarchy and food sovereignty now!”, says Balram Banskota, Deputy General Secretary of ANPFa. “Our goal now is to become an agroecological country,” he says.

In 2018, the government of the Nepalese province of Karnali launched a plan to make the region completely organic, free of pesticides.

Esther-Charis Konadu Yiadom of the Ghana Socialist Movement considered the choice of Nepal to host the training area fundamental: “it’s important to learn from those who are leading the way”, she says.

The role of family farming in food production

Smallholders or farmers represent between 70% and 90% of the productive rural population in the countries featured in this edition of the International School of Bioinputs. Peasant movements such as Via Campesina and organizations such as the Grupo ETC research collective claim that farmers produce 70% of the food consumed in the world. More recent research questioning the figure, stating it was only ⅓, has been questioned for its methodology or for excluding data from regions with more farmers.

For Narayanaswamy, the school – which lasted about three weeks – provided elements to transform the work that his organization is already doing: “In our organization we train farmers to prepare their own bio-inputs on a very limited scale, but here we learned a lot about how we can increase our production so that we can include all naturally available resources in this process, because we no longer need expensive things like those involved in the production of artificial fertilizers, we can use all the materials that are available around us”.

Part of the school was also dedicated to political exchange and training, with the teaching of intellectuals such as John Bellamy Foster, author of Marx’s Ecology: Materialism and Naturepublished in Brazil this year by Expressão Popular.

Pramesh Pokharel, of the Coordination Committee of Baobab and All Nepal Peasants’ Federation (ANPFa), states that agroecology’s struggle for food sovereignty, as well as training in bioinputs, is an ideological political struggle.

“When we practice agroecology, it is a daily form of resistance against multinational corporations, against exploitation and oppression caused by capitalism. We reject multinational corporations, the WTO and the many false solutions that capitalist corporations impose on farmers,” said Pokharel. Brazil actually.

In this sense, Mavis Gofa of the Zimbabwe Organic Smallholder Farmers Forum says a concern in her country is the loss of sovereignty over its common lands.

“Multinational corporations provide our governments with production inputs through agricultural subsidy programs. Then they offer these inputs to farmers, and thus, among other things, we are losing our native seeds. Those who control us are our governments, but our governments are also controlled by multinational corporations ”, says Gofa.

Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha presents certificate of participation to Mavis Gofa of the Zimbabwe Organic Smallholder Farmers Forum / Mauro Ramos

Africa-Asia Common

“When it comes to countries with the most resources, they are in Africa and Asia, and yet we are known for being poor. So for me this is a great opportunity for us to come together as Africans and Asians, to create synergies and collectively change this narrative,” says Esther-Charis.

Shifur Rahman, from the Bengali organization Krishi Morcha, highlighted the diversity of knowledge in the training room. “We practice agroecology in our own way, African countries in theirs, and other Asian countries have their own way of producing bio-inputs, after hearing about their techniques, I hope we can add more (knowledge) in Bangladesh”.

Rahman says one of the goals is to create an agroecological movement at the national level in Bangladesh. “Without agroecological practices, we cannot think about the survival of our next generation.”

In a scenario of increased commodification of bio-inputs, the possibility that the farmers can produce them autonomously and in collaboration was one of the consensuses of the school organized in Bhaktapur.

“We want to control our food system because we are the producers and we should have bio-input factories in each of our countries so that we can produce this organic fertilizer, bokashi, vermicompost on a large scale and then we can sell it. , so this agroecology can become our own way of life”, concludes Mavis Gofa.

Editing: Leandro Melito

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