On a foggy morning in October, the participants of CAN’s 17th International Agroecology Shortcourse gathered with local farmers on a communal farm plot in Marracuene, Mozambique, to learn about agroecology. Lina Magaia, course participant and president of the Popular Farmers Association, stood and addressed the group of farmers, extension agents, government employees, civil society representatives, and agroecology instructors.
She welcomed the course participants and described the farmers’ association, as well as the agroecological reality and challenges faced by the association, as her colleague translated into the local language for the farmers. Magaia is one of 120 women famers in the 130-member association, which was founded in 1977 and is located near the mouth of the Incomati River in southern Mozambique (see map). For the entire morning, farmers and course participants exchanged knowledge on agroecological principles and practices, ecosystem services, mixed farming systems, and agroforestry while visiting and working on the farmers’ fields.
The visit to Popular Farmers Association was the first of three field visits during the ten-day course, Agroecology and Climate Change in Africa: An Agroecology Training Course in Mozambique, which explored the principles and practices of agroecology in and out of the classroom. The course was jointly organized by CAN and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), with support from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security of Mozambique and financed by the Global Environment Facility. The course was geared towards knowledge exchange and networking across the three primary areas of agroecology: (1) the science of sustainable food systems; (2) the practice of sustainable farming in the context of climate change; and (3) the social movements working to ensure food security, food sovereignty, and social equity for all.
Course facilitators and instructors employed four primary methodologies to promote agroecological knowledge generation and exchange among participants throughout the course: (1) horizontal exchange of knowledge and experiences among participants; (2) panel discussions with local and regional organizations pertaining to the various subtopics; (3) instructor presentations on basic agroecological concepts; and (4) in-depth learning exchanges in the field with local organizations. All of these course methodologies relied on the active participation of course participants, and all participants were encouraged to engage in discussions, ask questions, share relevant experiences, and contribute to the base of shared knowledge of agroecology, climate change, and sustainable food systems in Mozambique.
The participants came to the course by plane, bus, and car from many different agricultural regions of Mozambique and brought with them a diversity of knowledge, cultures, and experiences. The group of 46 participants was composed of field professionals, active farmers and their farmer organizations, government personnel, civil society representatives, and NGO personnel. Participants were involved personally and professionally in numerous parts of Mozambique’s food system and many shared the sentiment of one participant, “Agroecology is very applicable in my reality, it allows us to farm sustainably, with few resources.” Another participant explained the need for agroecology in Mozambique:
The majority of farmers practice subsistence agriculture in Mozambique with little technology, the new approach should incentivize the farmers and show them the advantage of their condition. How can they make better use of what they already have? Agroecology is a solution because the communities don’t have access to pesticides, etc. but they have the tech needed for agroecology and for sustainability.
The course successfully explored agroecology in the context of climate change as a global movement as well as a science and a practice. Inácio Manuel, a participant representing the União Nacional de Camponeses and La Via Campesina, refected on the impact and relevance of the course, “Mozambique has potential for development of agroecology. I think this training was good for us to overcome some problems and misunderstandings about agroecology and order phentermine online productivity. Agroecology can produce higher and sustainable yield.” In addition, the course constructed a base of shared knowledge, building from participants’ own experiences, and strengthened existing networks and fomented emerging ones around agroecology, climate change, and sustainable food systems in Mozambique and throughout Africa.