Report: La Via Campesina’s African Continental Encounter of Agroecology schools and Training processes

At Selingue, the site of the historic International Forum for Food Sovereignty (2007) and following up on the Forum for Agroecology (2015), La Via Campesina’s International Center for Training in Peasant Agroecology and Nyéléni recently hosted the 2017 African Continental Encounter of Agroecology Schools and Training Processes aimed at strengthening our organizational capacity to advance peasant agroecology across the continent through popular education and training processes.

Referred to by most as “Nyéléni”, the gathering of nearly three dozen delegates from 24-26 September discussed their collective commitment to the global struggle for food sovereignty and – its central pillar – peasant agroecology. Specifically, they met to exchange their own experience of building movement-led schools and training processes, to expand on their potential and to identify ways to support one another at all levels: local, regional, continental, and global.

Hosted by Mali’s Coordination Nationale des Organisations Paysannes (CNOP), representatives of LVC member organizations from across the African continent travelled to the rural village of Selingué for an important moment of critical reflection on our agroecological processes of education and training.

In West and Central Africa, participants came from Burkina Faso, Congo Brazzaville, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Mali itself, Niger, Senegal, and Togo. In the case of Southern and Eastern Africa, delegates journeyed in from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. They were joined by International Coordinating Committee (ICC) member Hortense Kinkodilla, CNOP President Ibrahima Coulibaly, and CNOP’s Agroecology Training Coordinator Chantal Jacovetti.

Together, they launched the Encounter with a day-long debate on the radical difference between food security and sovereignty, the need to defend peasant agroecology from corporate and/or institutional cooptation, and the strengthening of struggles for community-controlled agroecosystems through La Vía Campesina’s Global Articulation of Peasant Agroecology Schools and Training Processes.

Day two was dedicated to an all out exchange on the continent’s multiple schools and training processes – described in detail below – and day three included two important report-back sessions on (i) Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats (SWOT) and (ii) Strategies to Strengthen All Peasant Agroecology Schools and Training Processes. During the same period, and just a short walk across the Nyéléni Campus, numerous delegates of the LVC Working Collective on Agroecology, Seeds, and Biodiversity met with allies of the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC) as part of its “International Capacity Building Training of the IPC Working Group for Farmers’ Rights to Genetic Resources”.

The participants, from the Americas (Brazil, Guatemala, and Peru), Africa (Mali, Tanzania, and Swaziland), Asia (India, Iran, Korea, and Thailand), and Europe (France, Spain, and Italy) took time to dialogue with the African Agroecology Encounter during several moments of informal exchange as they prepared for the October 2017 Meeting of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources (ITPGR) in Kigali, Rwanda.

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