In September of 2022, we held our annual global conference in India, generously hosted by the Andhra Pradesh Community Managed Natural Farming Program (APCNF). While there, we were able to learn from one of the largest agroecology programs in the world, as well as from women’s groups, farmers, and rural communities. Together with our staff, board of directors, allies, and partners, we spent the week shaping our Strategic Framework for the next five years.
Gathering Voices from the Field
Through mutual support (and sheer tenacity), 28 people from 14 countries gathered together in India despite transit delays, high ticket costs, Covid-19 challenges, political unrest and violence, strikes, and even lost luggage. Although we’ve gotten really good at virtual communication over the last few years, being able to gather together revitalized our human connections, energy, and insights for the collective work we had ahead of us.
Visiting APCNF: Key Learning Priorities
Our Theory of Change, pictured below, places community capacity at the center and emphasizes five key strategic objectives to create a virtuous circle to pursue our mission of “strengthening communities to build healthier farming and food systems from the ground up.”
While visiting APCNF in India, we prioritized learning about 8 key initiatives:
- The catalyzation of soil biology and promotion of water harvesting
- How women’s self-help groups and women’s empowerment in the community are supported through local agroecology programs
- The territorial scaling and spread of agroecological approaches through farmer-to-farmer extension and learning
- The positive impact of agroecology on family nutrition
- Government support and influence on agroecological policy and programs
- The strengthening of local markets through incentivizing the purchase of agroecological produce to support farmer income and provide healthy food access to local consumers
- The involvement of the youth in the community
- How communications achieve local goals, policy, and systems
A Note of Thanks
We are grateful to Vijay Kumar, who directs the APCNF program, and his great team for their support. The APCNF program is built on strong social organizing – years of strengthening a vast network of women’s self-help groups (over 160,000 SHGs involved so far). It supports them to test, adapt and spread effective agroecological principles and practices, farmer-to-farmer, as they work towards their vision of reaching 8 million farmers and farm workers and regenerating 8 million hectares of degraded land in the state of Andhra Pradesh by 2031. Many of the APCNF strategies resonate strongly with those of Groundswell’s member NGOs in West Africa, the Americas, and South Asia. What is profoundly different in Andhra Pradesh is the strong government commitment to support millions of smallholder farmers to make the transition from chemical-based to agroecological farming to sustainably improve their lives.
Voices from the Field
We posed several questions to those who gathered with us at our Global Conference. Watch the video below to see what they have to say about agroecology, Groundswell, and overcoming the legacy of colonialism.