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Agroecology is a revolution!

How the Nicaraguan Rural Workers Association is confronting the climate crisis through developing agroecological farming and food sovereignty

NICARAGUAN small-scale farmers are among the tens of millions of people globally already directly affected by climate change-related weather extremes, for which they are least responsible.

Ana Maria Gonzalez owns an eight-acre organic smallholding in the hills of northern Nicaragua where she grows Fairtrade coffee, and fruit and vegetables. 

For farmers like Gonzalez, climate change means erratic and unpredictable weather: “When it’s far too hot and we get too much rain straight after dry spells, our crops are ruined. This also provides ideal conditions for leaf rust and other diseases. One year we lost 40 per cent of our coffee crop as a result, for us it was like an earthquake.

“The unpredictable weather means that we can’t plan our planting or harvesting. When it’s too hot or dry we can’t plant or fertilise the plants.  

“Our harvests are lower and we earn less. Less income means less investment to combat the diseases that have increased as a result of weather extremes.

“This sometimes means we abandon other crops to look after our coffee, our main source of income. This is turn leads to food insecurity as we are not prioritising crops for our own consumption.”

In the face of the insecurity caused by climate change, Gonzalez and other members of the agricultural co-operative SOPPEXCCA are diversifying their crops, working on mitigation measures such as reforestation, planting more shade trees to protect the crops, building water-storage tanks and campaigning against deforestation in their local area.

“We must address the root cause of our environmental crisis: the endless, limitless, mindless accumulation and concentration of capital on a planet with limited resource,” Dr Paul Oquist, Nicaraguan Minister for Public Policy, said.

Small-scale producers in Nicaragua are among those directly affected by unpredictable weather extremes: violent storms, droughts and floods.

The Rural Workers Association (ATC) representing Nicaragua campesinos/as is confronting the climate crisis and industrial food production through developing agroecological farming and food sovereignty.

The Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign (NSC) is working in Britain in solidarity with the ATC through organising talks, publicising its work and making links with British organisations committed to the same goals.

“Agroecology is a revolution! … we are killing the Earth … the most urgent task we face is the search for ways to protect it,” said Marlen Sanchez, director of the Latin American Agroecology Institute (IALA) in Nicaragua.

From July 11 to 21, friends of the ATC hosted a “Solidarity with Nicaragua” delegation with 12 participants from the US and Britain.

The purpose of the visit was to learn about food sovereignty, agroecology and the struggle for a more just world, and how this is being put into practice in campesino/a communities in Nicaragua

ATC representative Fausto Torres explained to the delegation how recovering national sovereignty, land rights and food sovereignty are inextricably linked.

All involve a rupture with dependence: “If people don’t produce the food that they eat they are not free.”

Agroecology is holistic in that it ensures the wellbeing of the natural environment as well as people. As such it also encompasses social, economic, political, cultural and spiritual elements.

Another crucial element is promoting a sustainable “people’s economy” that links producers and consumers and wrests back control from transnationals.

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