Agroecological Formación in Rural Social Movements

Nils McCune, Juan Reardon, Peter Rosset


Among the many sectors currently engaged in struggle against the corporate food system, small farmers play a particularly important role—not only do they constitute a legitimate alternative to global agribusiness, but also they are the heirs to long traditions of local knowledge and practice. In defending peasant agriculture, rural social movements defend popular control over seeds and genetic resources, water, land and territory against the onslaught of globalized financial capital. A framework called food sovereignty has been developed by the international peasant movement La Via Campesina (LVC), to encompass the various elements of a food system alternative based on reclaiming popular resource control, defending small-scale agriculture and traditional knowledge, rebuilding local circuits of food and labor, and recovering the ecological processes that can make farming sustainable. Recognizing the need to develop “movement people” capable of integrating many ecological, social, cultural and political criteria into their organizational activities, LVC increasingly has articulated processes of popular education and consciousness-raising as part of the global social movement for agroecology and food sovereignty. Given the enormous diversity of organizations and actors in LVC, an underlying feature known in Spanish as diálogo de saberes (roughly the equivalent of “dialogue between ways of knowing”) has characterized LVC processes of education, training, formation and exchange in agroecology. The diálogo de saberes takes place at the level of training centers and schools of the LVC organizations, as well as the larger scale of agricultural landscapes and peasant territories. The interactions between peasant, family or communal farmers, their organizations, their youth and their agroecology create social processes that assume the form and dynamic of a social movement in several countries of Latin America.

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