The Agroecologists Have Spoken
by Miguel Angel Núñez
Oaxtepec, Morelos, Mexico
|It was made clear. There is no longer room for doubt or extremist-pessimistic views that obstruct and prevent the many advances that agroecology has provided at regional levels.
The recent events from August 15-20 in the historic dwelling of Oaxtepec-Mexico, where the III Congress of the Latin-American Scientific Society of Agroecology (SOCLA) was held, show the developments and advances in agroecological knowledge. A grand total of 16 countries and 370 individual participants engaged in 170 forums, 19 symposiums, 3 round tables, 5 major conferences and 295 presentations, with a total of 831 presenters involved in the process (see Table 1 for details).
This historic moment, when The Agroecologists Have Spoken, has reaffirmed for us that the science of agroecology has positioned itself among the reasons behind any food sovereignty paradigm. It allows us to work towards the aspiration of healthy food produce, as well as to substantially aid the preservation of our natural resources and to contribute towards helping Planet Earth.
In Oaxtepec, the genesis and importance of agroecology in social and peasant farmer movements was made clear. Agroecology continues to provide us with advances in the knowledge of the field, which substantially feed academics and provide us a bright insight into the possibilities of encouraging thought on generating agroecologically-driven state politics. It was also noted that the modern and appropriate technical tools that it provides can be used to sustain a progressive transition and transformative process out of toxic food-production mechanisms. Foolish remarks about the inability of agroecology to feed the world were also disregarded; note selected quotes*:
"From a technological point of view, agroecology can feed the world; however we must overcome the production driven paradigm" -- Steve Gliessman
"We must be able to provide producers with the alternatives and advantages that conventional, toxic agriculture have had" -- Rocio Romero
"We must be able to work with complexity and create transdiciplinary teams"
-- Alba Gonzalez
“The global financial system must not compete or speculate with food"
-- Laura Trujillo
Along with these presented suggestions, agroecology also guides us towards adopting other topics of interest, for example: education, culture, and social responsibility in building change processes, from their production focus to the consumption of healthy food produce.
These and many other topics are being discussed in revolutionary Venezuela. We are advancing in the processes of transitioning and transforming the means and modes of agricultural production, which are taking a definite path towards the agroecological proposal.
As is noted in Table 1, along with the discrete participation of Venezuela in the SOCLA Oaxtepec Conference, we acknowledge and promote the critical-reflective action on the consolidation of the message promoted by Venezuela at SOCLA. There are no organic answers to the dynamic and practice of these proposals. This has numerous implications: dealing with this type of knowledge would help us spread and raise importance to national agroecological planning and management in the different plans of action. This is directly related with the current path of various ideological beliefs anchored to the outdated technologies, which are still encouraging agrotoxic proliferation. This way of thinking is preventing us from fluidly moving forward in the processes of coordination, articulation and synergy that exist between the different processes of agroecological production and social organization that are needed.
The criticized lack of Venezuelan agroecological management is also preventing us from generating a definitive political state with such different ways of thinking. Responding to these criticisms, the Venezuela example sheds light on the advances in a dozen national laws, which bring forward the importance of agroecological concepts. This initiative also proposes a new direction for politics and academia, where the generation of this science and way of thinking is implicit in the new Territorial Polytechnic Universities; they carry the jurisdictional mandate of incorporating agroecological theory and practice in national education programs. Along with this, we celebrate the development of the Programa Todas las Manos a la Siembra (All Hands to the Planting Fields Program) and Programa de Alimentacion Escolar (School Food Program), with which, in the next few months, we will see more than 100 primary education schools producing more than 10% of their daily school food intake. On another aspect, agroecology has received significant funding aimed towards establishing 105 biological production laboratories, which support the 300 members of the new association of biological producers, who cover more than 500,000 hectares of transitional land (to sustainable agriculture).
Additionally, the steps are being taken to create the agroecological communal state in states like Portuguesa.
Considering these achievements, we look back and reflect: Is Venezuela not promoting and building an agroecological political state? It exists; in it’s own shape and form, without a specific recipe and a unique dynamic; with regional peculiarities and its occurring mistakes. There is an ongoing building process in the public policy sphere towards agroecology, which needs to be developed further, for which the collaboration between peasant farmers, producers, students, academics and researchers is indispensable. This idea, to a certain extent, is being driven by the Venezuela involvement in SOCLA.
We are confident that supporting the building processes will motivate the existing educational initiatives at any level, as the Venezuelan state is doing. It will motivate action, which will deepen our interest in expanding our scientific knowledge, noting changes in technology, reframing and empowering existing institutions to increase biological production and promote a sustainable management strategy of our natural resources, particularly water and biodiversity.
We are convinced that these given strategies will provide new scenarios to create more participatory processes in the planning of agroecological crops, as well as the inception of solidarity markets. With the previously noted advances and other socio-productive initiatives, we will continuously build a permanent structure to an agroecological political state.
Finally, I sincerely acknowledge and send my grateful regards to the SOCAL Directive and Organizational Committee, for their solidarity and for taking this historic step, for we are certain that it will leave a mark on agroecology, before and after Oaxtepec-Socla.
Published In Motion Magazine August 23, 2011
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