“RESISTE”: families working together to build agroecology in Chiapas, Mexico
The Mexican government is encouraging the development of an export-oriented agriculture that benefits big companies such as Monsanto and individual producers with large extensions of lands, with an agrarian reform that aims to accelerate the communal land privatisation process, warns Otros Mundos Chiapas (Friends of the Earth Mexico).
This privatisation process favours owners to rent or sell their lands for agribusiness development, such as African palm oil or pineapple plantations, strengthening the ongoing land grabbing process. And according to the environmental organisation based in San Cristóbal de las Casas, the “Special Program for Sustainable Rural Development” does not include any agroecological initiative. On the contrary, it promotes different energy projects based on pineapple and palm oil monoculture plantations.
In a land where biodiversity is abundant, where the maize developed by peasant farmers knows no fixed moulds, the right wing administrations choose to focus on monoculture plantations, GMOs, and Monsanto.
On the other hand, Otros Mundos Chiapas believes that agroecology is part of the search for lifestyles different from those promoted by capitalism, that aim at other possible worlds. And along these lines, the organisation works on local agroecology as part of the “Alter Natos Work Area” with groups of families of the Network of Alternative and Sustainable Family Systems (RESISTE)*.
Development of this work experience
According to information provided by Otros Mundos Chiapas to Real World Radio, in the work with family groups, diagnosis and community environmental capacity building processes take place in a horizontal framework that respects nature, human rights, the search for access to water, wholesome food, access to energy, with sovereignty.
The RESISTE family groups carry out regional meetings and exchange agroecological practices with different production systems, they exchange seeds and sell local products. They also carry out workshops about agroecological production systems, sustainable management of forests and building of appropriate technology systems. In addition, there is a follow-up of the production systems for agroecological and agroforestry transition, support materials, newsletters, seminars, among other activities.
According to Otros Mundos, they have been working lately with eight groups of families in communities of Chiapas State in coordination with several organisations, groups and people at local, regional and national level for the exchange of experiences around agroecology, as well as the defence of lands and the territory.
The defence of equality among men and women in the decision making in the countryside and the management of natural goods are some of the fundamental views of the organisation.
The diversification of species has allowed families to recover local seeds of herbs and vegetables. They also experiment with different types of organic manure and they use all resources available locally. The fact that they do not use chemical inputs has a positive impact on the family economy, who don’t have to spend money on this type of resources. This is not an easy or short-term process: during the first stage of transition to the agroecological system, there is a considerable increase of manual work.
Meanwhile, land conservation practices are carried out in basic grain production fields, especially maize and beans. The soil recovery process does not allow to see immediate results, but it is key to improve production systems and increase profits. In addition, the diversification of crops, the incorporation of new species within the systems has opened the doors for an interest to recover local ways to prepare food.
This work by Otros Mundos Chiapas with the RESISTE family groups has had food producers and organisations linked to local peasant groups as allies. And the idea is to expand this work to urban and rural family groups, consumers and producers, involved in land and territory defence processes, as well as groups or people working or interested in sustainable food systems.
Related information (in Spanish only):
- Hablando y escuchando – Encuentro Resiste (“Talking and listening – RESISTE meeting”)
- Caminando en zona Altos con Resiste (“Walking in the Altos area with RESISTE”)
Listen to the 2016 interview below, or download MP3 (4.8 Mb) here.
*Note that the Network of Alternative and Sustainable Family Systems (RESISTE) was a 10-year process, which started in 2009 and ended in 2019.