La Via Campesina congratulates its member, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) for being among the 35 winners of the Equator Prize 2014, a UNDP initiative which seeks to shine a spotlight on outstanding local efforts to reduce poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. The benefits, besides prize money, include support to participate in events during the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit and the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in New York in September 2014.
One of the oldest non-profit organizations in the Palestinian Territories, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees supports Palestinian farmers to market their produce, develop agriculture and water resource protection programs, and restore and irrigate their lands. Agricultural extension services are used to train farmers in improved farming practices. The centerpiece of the initiative is a National Bank for Local Seeds, which dries, processes, stores, and documents local seeds with the vision of more organic, healthy and environmentally friendly produce. The seed bank currently has in its storage unit 270 entries from 36 agricultural products, belonging to 12 plant families. Families relying on dry-farmed crops have free access to seeds, with the understanding that double the amount be reinvested in the bank for other farmers once crops have been planted.