II International Seminar on Organic Agriculture and Agroecology (FIAGORA 2012, Guayaquil, Ecuador)

“Solamente cuando el hombre haya cortado el último árbol, comido el último pez y envenenado el último río…se dará cuenta que no podrá comerse el dinero!” (César Calvo, Autor Ecuatoriano)

“Only when man has cut down the last tree, ate the last fish and contaminated the last river… will he realize that he cannot eat money!” (César Calvo, Ecuadorian Author)

Recently, I attended the three-day ‘FIAGORA 2012’ at the Universidad de Santiago de Guayaquil in Ecuador. As an Intern, I was fortunate to meet such an interesting gathering of pioneers of sustainable agriculture in the Andes: organic farmers, ecologist and environmentalists, food activists and community organizers. Despite policy gains prohibiting transgenic seeds and crops in Ecuador, this year the participants expressed concern over the recent activity of private industry and politicians in favour of the use of Genetically Modified Organisms in agriculture and food. The three objectives of the event were:

  1. Identify proven, practical alternatives to the problems that people are facing in sustainable production of agriculture and livestock.
  2. Strengthen relationships and interactions among people in farmer organizations, academic institutions, research centres, and local governments dedicated to agroecology.
  3. Consult with people in favour of local production and consumption.

The point of departure for FIAGORA was that agricultural modernization and biotechnology place into question the future of sustainable agriculture and healthy food in Ecuador. For the organizers and 400 or so participants arriving in Guayaquil, the answer to a more promising future is family-led, agroecological farming. The three-day event centred around keynote speakers, focused presentations in thematic break-out sessions, and training workshops. In addition, the second day included an agroecological fair of local produce and artisanal works from different parts of the country. The presentations and workshops were highly interactive, providing those in attendance the opportunity to share their experience, ask questions and raise concerns.

The event ended with an inspiring conclusion: Now is the time to unite together around our food systems and find sustainable solutions to make this world a better and healthier place to live, not just for ourselves but for future generations!

In 2015 the international Expo in Milan, Italy will focus on agroecology.

Visit to Pacho Gangotena’s Organic Farm in Ecuador

Pacho Gangotena showing what fertile soil looks like.

Pacho Gangotena showing what fertile soil looks like.

As part of the 2010 Groundswell International conference organized by Ekorural in Quito, Ecuador, Ekorural and other Groundswell members visited Pacho Gangotena’s farm in Puembo, Ecuador. We were just the latest of some 19,000 farmers that have come to learn from Pacho over the past two decades. Pacho is among the most influential actors in the organic agriculture / agroecology movement in the Andes.

In addition to inspiring thousands of farmers through these exchange visits, Pacho’s tireless work off the farm has helped create a network of thousands of small farmers as well as a number of influential farmer organizations, including the Coordinadora Ecuatoriana de Agroecología (CEA) and Corporación de Productores Biológicos del Ecuador (PROBIO). Pacho is also credited with inspiring Ecuador’s food soverighty movement, which recently won passage of the first Food Soverighty Law in the Americas.

Ekorural regularly collaborates with Pacho and his allies to grow and strengthen the country’s agroecological food movement.