MVIWATA NATIONAL LEVEL TRAINING ON AGROECOLOGY AND CLIMATE JUSTICE, UNLOCKING THE ALTERNATIVES TO THE CAPITAL.

This report narrates shortly the events that transpired during the National Level Training on AGROECOLOGY AND CLIMATE JUSTICE done to 23 (10FEMALE, 13MALE) MVIWATA members with 65% of the total training participants being youths. This enriching initiative managed to put together MVIWATA members from 8 regions of MANYARA, KILIMANJARO, ARUSHA, KAGERA, KIGOMA, MOROGORO, RUVUMA and MARA.

At the core part of this report there is also an analysis basing on the accrued farmers’ experiences and the mind opening facts which are all in line with the constant struggle from the areas where the farmers were coming from

1. INTRODUCTION

A new wave of agricultural production practices is being extending across the world by a broad range of influential actors from the international capital under the auspices of large corporations to domestic instrument of the capital ranging from the governments with their legislative structures to their extension officers who in many cases have been carrying the agenda of the global capital intentionally or unintentionally.

Under this wave, smallholder farmers in Tanzania are also found and continuously in an attempt to fight the status quo. A National Network of Smallholder Farmers Groups in Tanzania (MVIWATA) has been constantly engaging in a number of activities that strategize and put forward the alternatives to fight against this situation.

MVIWATA, A National Network of Smallholder Farmers Groups in Tanzania which was founded primarily to unite the voices of smallholder farmers in Tanzania and struggle against their common challenges in social, political, economic and traditional spheres prone to their welfare and welfare of the whole working class in Tanzania and the world at large.

MVIWATA a member of LVC (La Via Campesina) in Tanzania hosted a national level training on Agro-ecology and Climate Justice, the training which aimed at providing a space for learning from the information developed throughout the peasant Agro-ecology and Climate Justice initiative in the region (Southern and Eastern Africa), practical lessons on Agro-ecology while focusing on Agro-ecology, Climate Justice, and food sovereignty and how they can be applied at local network levels.

Among many others the training had the following objectives;

  • To train farmers on agro-ecology and climate justice.
  • To use the training as an inception meeting for agro-ecology and climate justice collective.
  • To develop strategy to disseminate the training in the local level networks.
  • Standardize agro-ecology.
  • Impart knowledge and skills on agro-ecology
  • Share experiences about the impacts of industrial agriculture.

2. OPENING THE TRAINING

The training was officially opened by Mr. Stephen Ruvuga, MVIWATA Executive Director who insisted on the continuous process of which MVIWATA has been in strategizing and capacitating farmers to exchange information and learn to fight against the capital system which in agriculture it identifies itself largely on seeds, fertilizers, chemical pesticides all under the name of ‘modernism’. “Anyone who tries to go against this, is the enemy of the system, this is not an easy struggle but together in solidarity and with persistence we are going to triumph” he went further insisting to the training participants.

The Director also commented on the present over 3000 legal cases against Monsanto over its Glyphosate weed killer ‘Roundup’ all in an attempt to counter the sweet talks of our local scientists who use science as a skip goat in advancing the agenda of the global capital in agriculture which according to him, calls for farmers’ awareness and a constant fight against such propagandas.

“Our education and extension systems all direct us to increase the use of chemical pesticides, hybrid seeds, and chemical fertilizers extensively and whenever you speak of an alternative way to counter their belief you are labelled as a person who is against development, but evidence is there that their way is not sustainable and that is why we are currently experiencing a release of new varieties under different private companies such as ETG, SYNGENTA, PANA  and increasingly experiencing the drop in the role of the public institution in such chains”.

“Imagine a single farmer paying Tshs 300,000/- for seeds only and times this price with the total number of farmers in Tanzania and you will see the amount of money these companies make out of the farmers all under the name of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP).

But increasingly farmers have been told to cast away their inherited knowledge on farming which has been built up in time through a number of practices and knowledge and in turn depend on the so called science and new technologies in farming of which no one is the owner of such knowledge and patents in our country like the use of GMOs and gene editing technology”.

3. TODAY’S GLOBAL CHALLENGES

As the case is in other countries globally the issue of global food crisis, global credit crisis, massive urban migration, pollution, diseases, and oppression of women, pests, heavy storms, drought, and floods have been so common all being attributed by the global system of organizing production but despite all these whose effects are largely experienced by the majority poor BUT agriculture has to continue, so how do we move forward? We need to uncover the truth and myths of this ill system and build a movement to fight against it.

4. FAKE PROMISES AND MYTHS

Modern agriculture is so appealing, beautiful, good looking but going deep it has been causing a number of problems including disruption on natural resources and life loss of both microscopic and macroscopic life on earth’s surface.

The growth of capitalism in Agriculture has been attributed largely with the GREEN REVOLUTION which has brought about the introduction of industrial pesticides, fertilizers with the main idea of massive production to feed the nation, has it worked? THE ANSWER IS NO as nations are still importing and exporting food with the Green Revolution in action.

What we experience is massive effects such as floods, pests and diseases that were not there previously and all these are due to industrial agriculture and the loss of biodiversity both flora and fauna.

Industrial agriculture is associated with monoculture which causes the loss of biodiversity and has been causing massive over reliance on monoculture, deteriorate the health of the food consumers as people don’t get all nutrients from one single crop.

5. AGROECOLOGY AS AN ALTERNATIVE AND A WAY OF LIFE.

Back to centuries ago, societies had their own way of dealing with nature and make the nature productive until the tremendous effects of propaganda which for a quite some time has managed to look so appealing to people (farmers) under the fake promises of easing work, increasing productivity while ensuring bumper harvest. According to the trained participants, the lies have been spread largely by the extension officers and at first adhering to their system of farming one could get the so called bumper harvest but under the expense of environment and soil degradation, biodiversity loss and social injustices.

With agro-ecology, production is assured and the food produced is looked upon as a basic human right and hence producers produce to feed their fellow mankind while ensuring that they protect all productive resources. With agro-ecology biodiversity, soil, watershed is all under protection and in harmony with each other while practicing zero use of chemical fertilizers and chemical pesticides and pillared on the use of local seed varieties.

Agro-ecology is a way of life as it involves farming practices which are social just, humane and respect the biodiversity.

6. SEED AT THE HEART OF AGRICULTURE PRODUCTION, ADVOCATING FOR FARMER SEEDS AND FARMER SEED SYSTEMS.

Another area that the training focused was on seed and seed systems, East African Community seed bill and the harmonization process of the seed bills as a way of updating participants of the training on the current struggle on seed and build strategy towards advancing the farmer owned seeds as they are readily available, have special characteristics e.g. taste, aroma, resistant to pests and diseases, are resilient and promote nutrition.

From the training, it was clear that the so called “Formal Seed System” which is highly regulated, is a system that only sucks money from farmers under the promises of producing seeds which are distinct, uniform and stable but from farmers it is seeds from this sector that require a lot of inputs for them to grow, have the price tags that small scale farmers merely afford, have the lowest grain to flour conversion ratio and are easily damaged by pests both on farm and during postharvest handling. BUT with all the National and International Certifications under the formal seed system still the system produces counterfeit seeds which from the farmers witnesses during the training, the seeds fail to germinate sometimes, this is because certification does not guarantee quality, and because the supply chain is long (from R&D, through basic seed production, through bulking up and multiplication, through agro-dealers and other distributors) before the seed reaches the farmer, there are many stages for seeds quality to be compromised.

Farmers conclusively reminded themselves from where they came from, assuring their commitment towards protecting their ancestral seeds, exchange them to ensure seed sovereignty and to showcase this, farmers during the training shared and exchanged the ancestral seeds that they came with from their areas and the seeds have all been recorded in a catalogue to ensure they are diversified to many areas to be grown and adopt the particular environment.

7. CLIMATE JUSTICE

From the Kyoto Agreement to the Paris Agreement, the International Corporations under the capital system has managed to sway away the agenda of climate justice all in attempt to run away from their primary objectives of admitting the fact that the early Industrial Revolutions in their countries and their current activities are the primary cause of climate change whose effects are largely experienced by the majority of the southern hemisphere and hence the present attempts on climate change such as carbon trading, tree planting, social responsibility actions on climate from their countries to countries such as Tanzania is nothing compared to what they should actually do. And for this LA VIA CAMPESINA and its members are for CLIMATE JUSTICE trying to build a movement towards embarking these myths.

8. IMMEDIATE RESULTS OF THE TRAINING.

  • Provisions of consultations as inputs for the regional curricular on Agro-ecology.
  • Capacity building of farmers on Agro-ecology and Climate justice and the link between climate justice and agro ecology.
  • Construction of hard infrastructure in Training Centers.
  • Action plan on agro-ecology and climate justice to be used as an advocacy tool in networks on agro-ecology and climate justice issues was developed.

 

9. DECLARATION

Against the agro-industrial model, we are proposing a different agricultural and social model, namely agro ecology; and together we assure ourselves that;

 

  1. We are aware that we have been trained to train others and to be militants who will take this knowledge to others in groups and networks.
  2. We are going to take this training into practice and protect our environment through Agro-ecology and that our farms will live to see the realization of this dream and promise.
  3. We are going to provide a written report on the achievement not later than September 2019.
  4. All General Assemblies in the networks are going to denounce industrial agriculture and sensitize on family agro-ecology and food sovereignty and not the other way round.

10. WAYFOWARD

  1. Localizing the Agro-ecology and Climate Justice trainings institutionally to train more MVIWATA cadres on the concepts.
  1. To develop a seed catalogue and organize seed fare events for farmers to exchange local seeds to ensure their availability and promote seed sovereignty.
  1. Trainees to organize themselves and mobilize their fellow farmers in groups and networks in realizing the goals of agro-ecology and food sovereignty through local food production.
  1. The trainees of this particular training to form part of the AGROECOLOGY/ CLIMATE JUSTICE WORKING COLLECTIVE, to localize the structure of the collective in the networks for information and knowledge sharing.
  1. To have demonstration plots and exemplary farms by the trainees for learning purpose and knowledge dissemination.
  1. National Network to facilitate all middle level on AGROECOLOGY AND CLIMATE JUSTICE to ensure that this agenda cuts across all networks with a standardized approach.
  1. To choose and train smallholder farmers on natural plant and animal remedies and medicinal herbs for the knowledge and products to be available in different networks.
  1. To prepare exchange visit (at the lowest cost possible) as a means of learning and exchanging knowledge and skills on agro-ecological practices.
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