Last week, CAGJ Organizing Director Simone Adler arrived in Kenya, starting off our AGRA Watch trip aimed at strengthening the next phase of our international organizing. Over the week-end Simone was joined by Heather Day and Bill Aal in Senegal, to participate in the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa Food Systems Conference, and we are excited to participate in AFSA’s General Assembly tomorrow.
Our longtime partner, Daniel Maingi of the Kenya Food Alliance welcomed Simone to Kenya. He organized meetings with small-scale agroecology farmers, food sovereignty activists in the movement, as well as trips to see the impact of corporatized agriculture, ongoing colonialism and land grabs, and the small-scale farming that is demonstrating solutions to hunger, poverty, and climate change.
Simone learned from agroecologist Gituanja Gachie, founder of the Community Action for Nature in Githunguri, a rural area in Kenya’s central region, about the local and global corporate agricultural exploitation facing his community and the grassroots work to promote agroecology. As a result of British colonization, rural families have hardly any land to grow food to feed their families or to sell (typically 1 acre or less). Multinational corporations have dominated the market over seeds, using all forms of public relations to create a perception that hybrid seeds will be more productive – and often giving seeds away for free. Farmers are then trapped into buying expensive fertilizers and pesticides, and prohibited from saving seed. As Gituanja put it, they are creating a problem and then profiting off of it: as people develop illnesses from eating pesticides and chemicals in their food from the farming practices, the pharmaceutical drugs bring even more profit to the same corporations. Yet on Gituanja’s small plot of land, he and his family are advancing agroecology and building community resilience and food sovereignty.
Simone was then hosted by other longtime partners Samuel and Peris Nderitu with the Grow Biointensive Centre of Kenya, known as GBIACK, learning about their work to expand biointensive agriculture methods among small-scale farm holders in Central, Eastern, and Nairobi Provinces in Kenya. GBIACK trains farmers, especially young women, on how to grow as much diverse food as possible within a small amount of land to feed communities and generate income. GBIACK has trained thousands of Kenyans who have started over 50 satellite farms and over 70 other farming projects in their communities, orphanages, schools, hospitals, and other places. In addition, young women are trained in off-farm activities as well, such as bead work, cooking, and sewing, which they view as a part of food sovereignty in order to create income for people to buy seeds and start gardens.
On Nov 2, Simone was joined by CAGJ Director Heather Day and AGRA Watch Co-chair Bill Aal, in Senegal to participate in the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) General Assembly, as well as AFSA’s 2nd African Food Systems Conference. We are humbled to have been invited to apply for Associate Membership in AFSA; our application will be considered at the Assembly. Many of our longtime partners will participate in both gatherings.
The 3 day African Food Systems Conference is using methodologies based on art to facilitate the process as it focuses on thematic areas of urban food systems, food systems and climate change, policy change on food systems in Africa, the future of food systems in an increasingly complex world, protecting African cultural food systems.
The overarching goals of our trip include: story-telling, documenting the African food sovereignty movement in action; deepening our understanding of the Gates Foundation’s influence on African agriculture and biosafety laws, and how to support the resistance; and strengthening international alliances in the global food sovereignty movement.
Stay tuned for more blog posts, and come to our Report-Back and Holiday Party on THURS Nov 29, 7-9PM – Email us to RSVP and for directions.