EkoRural, a key Groundswell partner, continues its innovative fieldwork, advancing the movement for people-centered, rural development in Ecuador. With financial support from The Mary A. Tidlund Charitable Foundation, the Swift Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Dutch Embassy, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, and UNDP, EkoRural is working to spread agroecological farming and strengthen local seed and food systems in six Andean communities. The Tidlund-supported program is in its second year, and the first quarter of 2012 has yielded encouraging results:
- With EkoRural’s support, the Canastas Comunitarias movement has established positive relationships with institutions at the regional and even national levels, which has led to the creation of more local markets. Communities and their leaders have strengthened their positions challenging the eminently technical and paternalistic proposals put forth by the institutions officially responsible for rural development in Ecuador, leading to positive change in the direction of locally-led development.
- EkoRural has played a key role in elevating the voice of community-based organizations in national debates on food sovereignty, in particular through its participation in the Agroecology Collective and the Plurinational and Intercultural Conference on Food Sovereignty (COPISA). Following two years of provincial-level consultations, COPISA recently completed the text of the Agrobiodiversity, Seeds and Agroecology Law, which is now being debated by the Ecuadorian Congress.
- Participatory assessments were undertaken in six new communities in order to gain a better understanding of existing farmer seed systems, local leadership with regard to the management of genetic resources, and crop species and varieties grown in the communities. Tools for deepening this understanding even further from a gender perspective are being developed.
- Participating communities have begun socializing mechanisms for the establishment of community seed banks. EkoRural has been successful in creating the conditions required to reach an understanding and obtain commitments from community groups and their leaders.
- Workshops and farmer-to-farmer training have been organized to reinforce community management of genetic resources and natural resources and the role seed banks can potentially play in different agroecosystems.
- To avoid climate risks and loss of genetic material, communities started by multiplying small sets of native potatoes in different parts of the Ecuadorian highlands. These genetic materials will be available throughout the year.
In the second quarter of 2012, EkoRural will continue with these activities as well as a number of other programs supported by organizations such as the McKnight Foundation. Also, in collaboration with Groundswell, EkoRural is seeking additional resources to expand seed systems work throughout the Central and Northern highlands, to further scale the Community Food Baskets movement, and to continue to strengthen Ecuador’s groundbreaking Food Sovereignty movement.
We are also pleased to announce that Steve Sherwood, an EkoRural co-founder and Groundswell board member, will speak at TEDxWageningen on May 30th, 2012. The event is being called “The Emergence of Now”, and will feature 15 speakers for an inspirational day of designs, processes, and people. It will be focused primarily on bringing knowledge and expertise to the region where Wageningenin University is located in order to discuss how the Wageningen community can eliminate the concept of waste by creating bio-based economies and effectively tap the human and intellectual capital to build the future we all want to see. Wageningen is a hub for life science and a growing business cluster for clean technology. It is the ideal setting to facilitate innovation and action towards a carbon neutral Wageningen. Read about what Steve plans to present at TEDxWageningen.