Press Release: Learning exchanges among food activists speed up response to climate change
October 13, 2016
BERKELEY AND BOSTON – Small, locally led organizations are producing abundant, healthy and locally produced food, and learning exchanges between farmers can help spread innovative and sustainable agricultural practices (like agroecology and food sovereignty) that also help cool the planet.
International Development Exchange (IDEX)* and Grassroots International have teamed up to spread these practices among their grassroots grantee-partners in the Global South. Through a $200,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), IDEX and Grassroots International will fund and support a series of international, regional and local learning exchanges in the Americas over the coming year. Here grassroots leaders from around the world will come together to share and learn from others’ sustainable agriculture practices developed in their own communities.
“We have a solution to the climate crisis,” says Rajasvini Bhansali, Executive Director of IDEX. “Agroecology has been scientifically proven and tested by indigenous knowledge. It converges science, practice, social movements, and compelling stories of people living in harmony with nature and each other.”
Agroecolgical practices such as crop rotation, natural pest control, water conservation, and soil enrichment actually trap carbon from the air and return it to the soil, cooling the earth. In contrast, industrial agriculture and the industrial food system accounts for up to half of the greenhouse gases driving climate change, while relying on toxic chemicals and robbing the soil of nutrients. If climate change is to be successfully countered, more people need to learn about sustainable agriculture and agroecology methods so they can be spread much more widely, and quickly.
IDEX and Grassroots International have been teaming up since the early 2000s. Recently, they organized four separate Learning Exchanges in Brazil, India, Mexico, and South Africa that brought together over 250 participants from over 20 countries. The grant from WKKF continues this previous work together, in which people came together not just learn about such concepts as native seed saving and preserving biodiversity, but about how being part of movements demanding and producing safer, local foods is transforming their communities.
“These Learning Exchanges helped farmers and food activists from many countries collaborate in ways they otherwise never would have,” says Chung-Wha Hong, Executive Director of Grassroots International. “By enabling peer-to-peer collaboration instead of top down teaching, Learning Exchanges provide a much more equal and open space to see what others are doing, discuss new ideas, and bring viable and effective practices back to their home communities.”
Many farmers and small landowners in the Global South have been facing tough agriculture factors in recent years. Soil erosion, monoculture, changing weather patterns, and more have all changed the way food is being produced and sold, making it difficult for small-scale farms to succeed. However, IDEX and Grassroots International partners in Latin America, the Caribbean, South Asia, and Africa have developed successful models and solutions to share.
“This has implications for how we grow our food in the U.S. as well,” says Bhansali. “We can learn about what is possible here from our grantee-partners because they work directly with those who produce, distribute, and consume their own food.”
While the Learning Exchanges will share lessons learned and positive outcomes, they also increase coalition building among farmers and food activists, preserve indigenous agricultural knowledge, promote the rights to land and water, and promote economic justice and women’s political leadership.
“By convening our partners, who are all working towards a common goal, we can achieve much more than we ever could on our own,” says Hong.
About IDEX – International Development Exchange:
International Development Exchange (IDEX) partners with donors and funders to support the visionary leaders and organizations advancing solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges around food, the economy, and climate. Since 1985, IDEX has funded more than 500 grassroots, community-led projects in 33 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America with multi-year, general support commitments. Annually, IDEX’s partners serve approximately 1.5 million people, enabling farmers to be agriculture sustainability innovators, helping families build income, equipping community members to fight against human-made climate threats, and much more. Learn more: www.idex.org
IDEX Director of Communications
415-824-8384 ext. 113
About Grassroots International:
Grassroots International works in partnership with social movements to create a just and sustainable world by advancing the human rights to land, water, and food through global grantmaking, building solidarity across organizations and movements. Grassroots International provides grants to partners in the Global South and joins them in advocating for social change. Grassroots International supports community-led initiatives and movement building in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, the Caribbean, and globally through partners like the La Via Campesina. Learn more: grassrootsonline.org
Grassroots International Director of Development and Communication
About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF):
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.
The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit www.wkkf.org.
*Thousand Currents changed its name from IDEX in 2016