Our approach is two-fold; we work simultaneously at policy level and directly with projects on the ground.
Our research and advocacy work, which takes place at multiple levels from local to global, is grounded in the direct experience of the communities in which we work, building on a strong evidence base derived from practice.
Our work includes: supporting smallholder farmers “on the ground”, which becomes evidence of the benefits of agroecology; engaging in national advocacy, such as challenging the South African policy framework (as in the Biowatch case mentioned above); supporting global initiatives with local action; and networking at regional level through the Seed and Knowledge Initiative (SKI). As an organisation, we engage at an international level with key stakeholders; make submissions on national and provincial policy and legislation; and produce in-depth, well-researched materials and policy briefs.
Another important aspect is supporting the farmers we work with in their own advocacy. This has included influencing others’ practice by “spreading” agroecology approaches through knowledge sharing and learning activities; presentations at public hearings and in Parliament on changes to laws governing seed; sharing their experience at regional and national networking events; and public events in solidarity with the international March Against Monsanto. The collection of farmers’ voices that follow evidence a clarity of purpose and commitment in speaking up and out on issues that affect them and their farmers’ rights.
“We do not want to eat or grow GMOs. The Department of Agriculture must stop distributing GM seeds through the farmer co-operatives. The Department is just acting like a warehouse for multinational companies like Monsanto and Pannar.”
“As agroecology farmers we are independent and grow nutritious food for our families. But now the government is changing the laws on seed. We are worried that these new laws will take away our right as farmers to freely save, exchange, and sell seed and produce. Farmers have always saved and exchanged seed; and this is what makes our seed diverse and strong.”
“Agroecology is important because it helps us to connect with our ancestors. It helps us to revive seeds, and to remember the seeds we have forgotten. My family is also benefiting because we are growing healthy food.”
“We farm to support our families, generate income, increase our seeds and help vulnerable people in our communities. We grow our own food to know how it was planted; we know what we are eating. As agroecology farmers we work together with nature. This way of producing is important for us as we don’t rush to the shops for food and save our money.”