What’s unique about the initiative?
Penca de Sábila Corporation is successfully helping 12,000 small-scale farming families in rural Medellín to transition towards agroecology (organic farming. Their method uses fair marketing and selling of surplus directly through a cooperative store, the creation of legal instruments for the protection of the territory’s peasants and the formation of alliances with peasant associations and universities. The economic benefits are shared annually in assemblies in which all smallholder families participate. The corporation is also putting rural farmers’ needs on the state’s agenda, and is calling for support for them against the backdrop of COVID-19.
Most outstanding results
To date we have set up two peasant associations made up of farms that produce food agroecologically (whereby the use of pesticides in agricultural activities is reduced or eliminated), and market and sell their produce through the Colyflor Solidarity Economic Circuit (a fair-trade rural producers network). In addition, we’ve successfully pushed for the Rural Peasant District of Medellín to be included in Medellín’s recent Territorial Organization Plans and in the region’s development plans.
Through training on agroecology principles, run by the School of Agroecology, skills and capacity have been extended to dozens of young people and small-scale farmers in the region, while social mobilization for the defence of peasant rights (involving meetings, forums, debates, marches, sit-ins, seed exchanges, collection of signatures) has also been achieved.
This work has benefitted 104 peasant farmers and organisations that are part of the Colyflor Store supplier network. We’ve also set up the Valle de Aburrá Peasant Assembly, an alliance between families and peasant organizations in the Valle de Aburrá bioregion.
Our work shows it is essential to promote peasants’ rights and agroecology as an alternative production model as it is directly linked to an improvement in the health of producers, consumers and ecosystems, given the close link that exists between human, animal and ecological health.
Covid-19 outbreak impact
In Medellín, the COVID-19 crisis has put the importance of food sovereignty centre stage, alongside the needs of the peasant population living on the outskirts of the city. We denounced how COVID-19 plans showed a lack of institutional support for rural communities to guarantee the distribution of their crops, and the unacceptable paradox that saw farming families lose their unsold crops while families in city neighborhoods went hungry. It appears that concern or awareness for responsible consumption has increased among parts of the population, and that rural people’s issues have found their place (to some degree) on the public, political and media agenda of those with power in urban areas.
QUOTE FROM THE EVALUATION COMMITTEE:
“Though the project has a goal linked to food sovereignty with the implementation of a fair trade and local food store (and network) and two farms based on agroecology, it has a much larger scope, trying to obtain the legal recognition of rural areas and its farmers at a local and if possible, at a national level, as well as the farmers rights. The work is participative, including universities, alliances with social movements in a very adverse context, including a very difficult peace process.”
– Françoise Wautiez