Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Upgrading the Peasant Class

Mexico embarked on a program to depopulate the rural environment some years ago--to drive 10 million peasants off the land. The NAFTA agreement and its follow-ups flooded the country with cheap industrial food, industrial food amassed enormous tracts of land and began their version of "farming." and the slums in Mexico, like so much of the rest of the world, expanded. Funny, but it turns out that was a pretty stupid set of moves.
Now there's a worldwide movement called campasino a campasino, the agro-ecological movement that supports traditional farmers in becoming better at what they do, but expects them to drive their own change. In Mexico, one of the projects involves adding irrigation to traditional farming practice. Al Jazeera reports:

Al Jazeera's Shihab Rattansi reports from Oaxaca in Mexico. A new irrigation system, provided by a group called CEDICAM, is providing seeds and equipment to farmers with the belief that successful harvests depend on more than just being able to use what little rainfall there is. CEDICAM, or the Center for the Integral Development of the Campesinos of the Mixteca Alta, organises workshops in remote villages to teach local farmers how the combination of pre-colonial farming practices, such as terracing and ditch building, with a modern, scientific understanding of the environment can lead to huge increases in productivity. As a result, the land is fertile. There is no need for villages to disappear, and for the soil to be left unattended, as their populations seek work elsewhere.

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