South Africa food sovereignty organizations host US farmers in learning exchange

Thousand Currents partners, Surplus People Project and the African Centre for Biodiversity, are currently part of a group of organizations who will share their experience and expertise from the South African food sovereignty movement with a U.S. delegation. The U.S. delegation includes eight people involved in small-scale urban and rural farming, community organizing, and leading movements at the intersections of racial, climate, and food justice from Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Washington.

This is the second South Africa-US Agroecology Exchange where delegates are learning and sharing the social, political, and technical aspects of agroecology. Agroecology is an agricultural method based on the traditional knowledge of those who cultivate the land. Its practice is critical to addressing hunger, cooling the planet, and increasing communities’ access to basic resources such as land, water and seeds.

The first Exchange in 2015 brought two South Africans to the US, where they shared experiences with urban farmers in NYC and Detroit, visited farms in Iowa and California, met African farmers and Indigenous Mexican farmworkers in Washington, and participated in the Black Urban Growers Conference and the US Food Sovereignty Alliance National Assembly. The idea arose from the 2014 Africa-US Food Sovereignty Strategy Summit in Seattle which brought together African- and US-based family farmer and community-based organizations and international networks to deepen shared analysis of current public and private interventions in African agriculture, most notably by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  

The exchange is taking place in the context of increased corporatization of agriculture in Africa and the US. Its purpose is to build transnational movement ties among agroecologists and grassroots organizations and to refine strategies to stop the growth and influence of international agribusiness, land loss, and land dispossession. The biotech industry, the Gates Foundation, and World Bank have aligned with governments to advance profit-driven agendas favoring corporate agribusiness over small-and-medium sized family farmers. With the threat of the six largest agribusiness corporations merging (Monsanto, Syngenta and others), it is especially important to share experiences, tools, and strategies for resistance and food sovereignty.  

The 2017 Agroecology Exchange was co-organized by Surplus People Project (Western Cape, South Africa) and US Food Sovereignty Alliance members WhyHunger (NY), Community Alliance for Global Justice (WA), and Farmworker Association of Florida. Along with African Centre for Biodiversity, Surplus People Project joins Mopani Farmers Association, Ithemba Farmers Association, Mawubuye Woman’s Groups, Trust for Community Organization and Education, Rural Legal Centre, and others in hosting the delegation. They will visit, among other areas, Johannesburg, Limpopo, Capetown, Citrusdale, and Roberston.

This post was adapted from the delegation’s press release. Follow the US Food Sovereignty Alliance on Facebook and at usfoodsovereigntyalliance.org for updates.

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