Women Farmers in Chile to Teach the Region Agroecology

An organisation that brings together some 10,000 peasant and indigenous women from Chile is launching an agroecology institute for women campesinos, or small farmers, in South America.

For years, the National Association of Rural and Indigenous Women (ANAMURI) has been training thousands of people through La Vía Campesina, the international peasant movement, working on the basis of food sovereignty, which asserts the right of people to define their own food systems.

The Agroecology Institute for Rural Women (IALA) will be the first in Latin America to only target women. It is taking shape in the town of Auquinco – which roughly means “the sound of water” in the Mapuche indigenous language – in the district of Chépica, 180 km south of Santiago.

“We aren’t pursuing a dream, but a challenge,” the international director of ANAMURI, Francisca Rodríguez, who will run IALA, told Tierramérica.

The project has a political core: “food production to resolve the problem of hunger.”

“It is essential to find ways to make it possible for us to continue surviving and existing as an important segment of agriculture amidst the fierce attack on campesinos, which has to do with productive sectors but also with the models of consumption,” she said.

It’s an effort to join in “the big task” of the Agroecology Institutes of Latin America, from which it took its acronym, she said.

These projects began in Venezuela, where the first agronomists – all children from campesino families – have graduated. The IALA institutes were replicated later in Brazil and Paraguay, as well as Ecuador and the rest of the Andean region. The latest major achievement has been the SURI Campesino University, which opened its doors in Argentina in April 2013.

“It’s important for us to have professionals in the field of agriculture, in order to help achieve food sovereignty, and to continue along this route which requires specialists who have come from the land itself,” Rodríguez said. “No one better than campesinos can feel the need to continue developing agriculture that is at the service of humanity,” she added.

Rodríguez said that in ANAMURI “we understand the challenge,” and while the institute will initially focus on women from the Southern Cone of South America, it could later be expanded to incorporate men.

Source: Marianela Jarroud | IPS News