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The seeds of movement building

Learning exchanges are a key part of building grassroots movements and solidarity. Katherine Zavala was joined by three of our partner organizations in Brazil for the 7th National Seminar of Biodiversity and Native Seeds, hosted by the Movimento Camponês Popular (MCP, or Popular Peasant Movement), prior to the Association of Women in Development (AWID) Forum 2016.

Below are some photos of Katherine, Milvan Aspuac of AFEDES, the Women’s Association for the Development of Sacatepéquez, in Guatemala, Herschelle Milford of the Surplus People Project (SPP) in South Africa and Adriana Welsh Herrera of Ñepi Behña (“Women of Dignity”) in Mexico, as they participated in the exchange. 

This learning exchange brought together people from all over the world to to discuss biodiversity and creole (native) seeds, followed by site visits to learn about rescuing and reproducing native seeds and using agroecological practices.
This performance demonstrated the challenge of violence against women in peasant movements. Photo courtesy MCP.
While there was lots of learn in the traditional sense at the exchange…
…there were also activities that demonstrated our heart and commitment to the struggle for food sovereignty. Photo courtesy of MCP.
Milvian and Adriana singing “Hermano dame tu mano” (Brother, give me your hand) by Mercedes Sosa during the cultural sharing night.
Enjoying cultural night – Left to Right: Esperanza (La Via Campesina Central America, Women’s Commission), Herschelle (Surplus People Project), Katherine, Anita (We are the Solutions – Ghana), Mariama (We are the Solutions – Senegal) and Lydia (Grassroots International).
Here we are participating in a Popular Theater session at the seminar, where we were led by MCP youth to highlight Brazil’s coup and how people are being transformed by being part of social movements.
Adriana showing the diversity of seeds from the MCP seed exchange that happened during the gathering.
The bounty of the earth – such beauty.
Enjoying local coconuts at the seed exchange.
With some of the incredible youth leaders of the MCP.
At a local market in the the town of Damianopolis in NE Goiainas organized by MCP members, a place where they can sell their products.
This woman with Herschelle was selling tapioca (manioc flour).
Milvan says we became a “super special” family.
We met this family accidentally when our van got stuck in the sand. Milvan said, “They received us in their home as if they were expecting our visit!”
We discovered this family was practicing integrated agriculture! Olicia and Hermegeniliu came to our rescue and took us in with the warmest hospitality!
With Sandra, MCP member with the National Coordination team – a group of 27 leaders who support the coordination of MCP currently in four Brazilian states. Katherine met Sandra in the Chiapas Learning Exchange hosted by IDEX and Grassroots International and reconnected in the Uganda Learning Exchange hosted by the Agroecology Fund hosted earlier this year.
Here an MCP member shows us the 3 hectares of seed production that they collect for all MCP communities.
Milvian with Famara from Senegal and working with FAMAHU – coordinator of We Are the Solutions, and member of AFSA (Alliance for Food Sovereignty for Africa).
We also visited the occupation of Campo Unitario – an alliance of social movements and labour unions coming together in Brasilia at the Ministry of Planning, Budgeting and Management to demand that all polices that have been advocated the past 13 years in favor of the people will not be stopped after this coup.
Taking a moment to enjoy Paradise Falls, a space cared for by a peasant couple and that people can access with admission fee. Now on to the AWID Forum in Bahia!

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