Archive for the ‘Cooperatives’ Category

Oct16

On World Food Day, Supporting Agricultural Cooperatives in the Fight against Hunger and Poverty

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By Danielle Nierenberg and Laura Reynolds

Some one billion people belong to cooperatives in nearly 100 countries worldwide guarding consumers, producers, and workers against hunger, bankruptcy, and rights abuses. Agricultural cooperatives help farmers access and share information, get fair prices for their goods, and participate in local decision making. This October 16, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will celebrate “Agricultural Cooperatives: Key to Feeding the World” for World Food Day.

World Food Day is a global day of action against hunger (Photo Credit: Oxfam America)

Agricultural cooperatives are part of a larger movement to make food more environmentally and socially just and sustainable. Agroecological practices enrich soils, improve yields, increase incomes, and support the people, animals, plants, and entire ecosystems affected by agriculture.

An infographic released recently by the Christensen Fund highlights how industrial agricultural practices—including raising meat in factory farms, adding pesticides and chemical fertilizers to fields, and shipping food to markets across the globe—contributes to increased incidences of chronic diseases and severe air and water pollution.

By contrast, agroecological practices—including composting and agroforestry, conserving wildlife habitats, and selling products within a localized food system—can build resilience to climate change, increase nutritional and biological diversity, and double or triple agricultural yields over the long term.

Agricultural cooperatives and agroecological practices go hand-in-hand to support a more sustainable food system. By encouraging worker empowerment, farmer training, and consumer awareness, this year’s World Food Day theme is showcasing one of the most promising elements of a more sustainable food system.

World Food Day is a global day of action against hunger. FAO suggests a variety of ways you can become involved in the day of action, including:

  1. Host a World Food Day meal: As part of its GROW Method, OxfamAmerica promotes 5 very simple actions to help create a better food system: save food, eat seasonally and locally, eat less meat and dairy, support small farmers, and cook smart. If you sign up to host a meal, OxfamAmerica will send you everything you need to host a great event: free World Food Day recipe cards from famous chefs, placemats, videos, and more.
  2. Join your local hunger coalition: The Alliance to End Hunger has created the Hunger Free Communities Network, an online platform for coalitions, campaigns, and individuals committed to ending hunger in their local communities.
  3. Activate a school campus: Why Care? is a student-led campaign of Universities Fighting World Hunger to spark a global conversation about hunger and to build momentum to World Food Day campus events. The campaign offers several simple suggestions on how to spread the word about world hunger on a campus.
  4. Arrange a food and fund drive: the World Food Day website can help you find your nearby food bank or pantry, and gives tips on donating food or funds to maximize your positive impact.

To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE.

Sep27

Oxfam Action Corps: Growing a Better Food System through Action and Conversation

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By Alyssa Casey

Oxfam Action Corps is a growing group of concerned citizens using local conversation and action to help end global hunger. The Action Corps currently exists in 14 U.S. cities, spreading the mission of Oxfam International. Oxfam International is a confederation of 17 organizations located across North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. As an international relief organization, Oxfam aims to eliminate global injustice by providing immediate aid and improving long-term sustainability. They also distribute a variety of publications including annual reports, books, facts sheets, and the magazine OXFAMExchange.

Oxfam Action Corps volunteers in Indianapolis, IN work to spread the GROW campaign and recruit new Action Corps members. (Photo credit: Indianapolis Oxfam Action Corps)

Oxfam America’s Action Corps aims to enact change by educating people about better living habits, as well as lobbying government on issues such as water conservation, food security, aid reform, and workers’ rights. One of their newest and fastest-spreading campaigns is GROW, a food justice campaign. GROW aims to build a better food system that will adequately feed the world population by promoting a more equitable distribution of resources among the world’s farmers, holding governments and businesses accountable, and helping farmers prepare to cope with climate change and natural disasters.

GROW emphasizes that everyone has a role in the movement towards a healthier, more sustainable food system. With its slogan “feed your family and help 1 billion people feed themselves,” the GROW Method demonstrates that each person can impact the global food system by simply adopting sensible eating habits. The method contains five actions that help eliminate inefficiencies in food habits. Planning meals in advance and incorporating leftovers into recipes helps reduce food waste. Decreasing meat and dairy consumption, and using minimal water and energy while cooking can conserve natural resources. Buying from local farmers markets and eating seasonal foods reduces the amount of energy used in food transportation. On the GROW method’s interactive website, people can learn more about the initiative, browse recipes, and watch videos created by Oxfam to explain how current food systems operate.

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Sep11

Celebrating 25 Amazing Women

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Throughout September, the Worldwatch Institute is celebrating the crucial role that women and youth play in ushering in the just and environmentally sustainable future that we’re working hard to bring about. Even in the 21st century, women own less than 15 percent of the world’s land, earn 17 percent less than men on average, and comprise two-thirds of the world’s 776 million illiterate adults. Today, Nourishing the Planet features 25 amazing women from all over the globe who have been ongoing sources of inspiration, to NtP and others.

If you haven’t already, please vote for Worldwatch as part of the Chase Giving Challenge on Facebook. Click here to cast your vote today! Also please connect with Nourishing the Planet’s Facebook page where you will find infographics, quotes, articles, and news that can’t be found anywhere else.

1.       Rebecca Adamson
Rebecca Adamson, a Cherokee, has worked directly with grassroots tribal communities, and nationally as an advocate of local tribal issues since 1970. She started First Nations Development Institute in 1980 and First Peoples Worldwide in 1997. Adamson’s work established a new field of culturally appropriate, value-driven development which created: the first reservation-based microenterprise loan fund in the United States; the first tribal investment model; a national movement for reservation land reform; and legislation that established new standards of accountability regarding federal trust responsibility for Native Americans. Adamson is active in many nonprofits and serves on the board of directors of numerous organizations, including the Josephine Bay Paul and C. Michael Paul FoundationThe Bridgespan Group, and First Voice International.

2.       Lorena Aguilar
Lorena Aguilar—Global Senior Gender Adviser at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature—is an international advisor for numerous organizations, governments, and academic institutions on topics related to gender, water, environmental health, and community participation, with over twenty-five years of experience in the field of international development. She is actively committed to incorporating gender perspectives into the use and conservation of natural resources in Latin America, and has both created and participated in some of the most influential gender networks in the world. Aguilar has authored over seventy publications, and has been the keynote speaker at numerous high-level international conferences.

3.       Helen Browning
Helen Browning is chief executive of the Soil Association, the United Kingdom’s leading nonprofit working for healthy, humane, and sustainable food, farming, and land use. In addition to running the Soil Association, Browning operates a 1,350 acre organic farm in Wiltshire, and runs the village pub. Helen is also chair of the Food Ethics Council, and has been a valuable member of numerous organizations working to improve the British food and agriculture system, including the Curry Commission on the Future of Farming and Food, the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission, and the Meat and Livestock Commission. (more…)

Aug29

Rot Riders Collect Compost on Bikes

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By Eleanor Fausold

In Kirksville, Missouri, a group of college students and volunteers are collecting food scraps and making it easy for area residents to reduce their food waste, nourish their gardens, and even fight climate change. The group, The Rot Riders, travels by bicycle through the neighborhoods of Kirksville, picks up food scraps from residents’ homes, and delivers them to the Truman University Farm, where they are turned into compost and made available for community members to use as natural fertilizer.

The Rot Riders collect compost by bicycle. (Image Credit: Rot Riders)

The founders of The Rot Riders were originally inspired by a Northampton, Massachusetts group called Pedal People, a worker-owned cooperative that delivers farm shares and picks up trash, recycling and compost from people’s homes, all by bicycle. The Rot Riders concept was developed as part of a student-led grassroots environmentalism course at Truman State University, and the group has been making weekly rounds since the spring of 2010.

The group is composed of five core riders and a few volunteers. On Sunday afternoons, the riders gather, split up into pairs, divide the route, and set off on bicycles, trailers in tow, to collect food scraps in Kirksville. The cyclists stop and collect buckets of food waste from the lawns and porches of more than 40 houses and apartments in the Kirksville area, and the number of donors continues to grow.

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Aug16

An Urban Gardening Initiative Greens Johannesburg Rooftops in a Bid to Tackle Climate Change

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By Ioulia Fenton

The Tlhago Primary Agricultural Cooperative has brought nature to the roof-scape of Johannesburg, South Africa. Since July 2010, the cooperative’s six organizers (two men and four women) have planted two rooftop gardens at the heart of the metropolis and, through outreach and educational activities, have transferred urban gardening skills to more than 100 people from local communities.

Rooftop Gardening (Photo Credit: Global Buckets)

“When people come to the city to look for a job they struggle because all that they are used to [in the countryside] is planting vegetables. The city does not have any land, so we show them how to grow on the roof,” said Tshediso Phahlane, Deputy Chair of the cooperative. Everything is planted using sustainable, organic methods and the gardens produce a wide variety of vegetables and greens, including cabbage, spinach, carrots, mustard leaf, and CM Kale (African spinach). The produce is sold to the rooftop gardens’ local patrons and additional income is secured from the preparation and sale of traditional medicines such as cough syrups, massage ointments, and herbal creams.

At the heart of the cooperative’s skills transfer program is the organization’s desire to educate people about climate change and empower them to take practical action. “Not everyone knows about climate change and it is our responsibility to do something about that. Farmers can see it happening all around them; it is uncharacteristically hot right now and they are worried about losing their seeds and harvests if October—the planting month—is too cold. So people are very open to listening to ideas and doing something about the problem,” said Phahlane.

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Jul17

Five Organizations Sharing Local Knowledge for Success Across the World

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By Jenna Banning

As Nourishing the Planet has witnessed first-hand, small-scale farmers and local communities have developed innovative ways to meet the challenges facing people across the world. But until recently, they have often lacked the ability to share their solutions, or their knowledge has been overlooked by governments and international groups.

Nourishing the Planet Director Danielle Nierenberg meets with farmers at the Ecova-Mali center. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

Today, Nourishing the Planet highlights five organizations that recognize the valuable contributions farmers can share with their neighbors, with policy makers, and with people across the world.

1. AfricaRice Center:

Created in 1971 by eleven African countries, the Africa Rice Center now works with 24 countries across the continent, connecting researchers, rice farmers, and rice processors.

AfricaRice has been developing learning tools that focus on reaching as many farmers as possible, aiming to both “decentralize and democratize learning within the rice sector.” One powerful method has been farmer-to-farmer videos, which feature local experts sharing their knowledge about seed drying and preservation, rice quality, and soil management with viewers. These videos have been translated into more than 30 African languages, with great impact.

Reaching even beyond the continent, the African Rice Center has also created a set of four videos on seed management with rural women in Bangladesh, helping to further facilitate valuable knowledge exchange between rice farmers.

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Jun18

Farmer Cooperative Promotes Education, Nutrition, and Prosperity in Nicaraguan Communities

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By Julio Montealegre

On a farm in the northern Nicaraguan town of Chagüite Grande, Melvin Estrada tends to his cabbage crop. He and his hired workers pick the plants, inspect them for quality and load them into a truck bound for a local collection center – and eventually a major supermarket.

TechnoServe helps farmers receive more income from their crops and land. (Photo credit: TechnoServe)

Melvin used to earn an average of five cordobas – about 20 cents – from each cabbage plant. After joining the Tomatoya-Chagüite Grande cooperative about five years ago, he learned more-effective production practices and gained a reliable market for his crop. He now earns 12 cordobas per cabbage, double what he used to receive.

The extra income has helped Melvin buy medicine and nutritious food, improve his home and send his 10-year-old son to school.

“An education is the best inheritance he can receive,” Melvin says.

With TechnoServe’s assistance, and with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development and Catholic Relief Services, farmers in the small communities of Tomatoya and Chagüite Grande have turned their cooperative into a successful business. They have learned to grow superior produce and become a competitive supplier in the national market. As a result, their cooperative is growing and creating new prosperity in the communities.

(more…)

May30

Citywatch: Japan’s Earthquake

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By Wayne Roberts

Citywatch: Whether it’s action or traction in the food world, cities are stepping up to the plate. The world is fast going urban, as are challenges of social, economic and environmental well-being. Citywatch is crucial to Worldwatch. Wayne Roberts, retired manager of the world-renowned Toronto Food Policy Council, has his eye out for the future of food in the city. Click here to read more from Wayne.

The world is still reeling and shaking from afterthoughts of what happened in March, 2011 when Japan was hit by a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami, which exposed how vulnerable all basic institutions have become when Nature acts up—something bound to happen anywhere or anytime in this era of climate change and global transmission of hard-to-treat infectious diseases.

The aftermath of Japan's 2011 earthquake. (Photo credit: CNBC.com)

Lessons from a tsunami are a terrible thing to waste, so last week, the Food Policy Research Initiative based at University of Toronto and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health hosted a symposium of Japanese food and agricultural experts and Toronto public health leaders to survey what others can learn from Japan’s response to the crisis.

Crises can provoke multiple breakdowns in government institutions and practices, keynote speaker Yoko Niiyama of Kyoto University told the crowd, so crisis preparation and management cannot just be about damage control.

The violent earthquake and tsunami killed over 15,000 people and destroyed or damaged some 400,000 buildings in short order, said Niiyama, who has helped design government communication strategies. But the longer-lasting human aftershocks included everything from destruction of prime agricultural land from salted ocean water, to a nuclear horror show and release of radioactive radiation, to widespread mistrust of government information, especially as relates to the safety of the food supply.

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May11

In Anticipation of the Brooklyn Food Conference: An Interview with Nancy Romer

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By Laura Reynolds

Name: Nancy Romer

Affiliation: Brooklyn Food Coalition

Bio: Nancy Romer is the General Coordinator at the Brooklyn Food Coalition and a psychology professor at City University of New York’s Brooklyn College. She was instrumental in organizing the first Brooklyn Food Conference in 2009, and established the Brooklyn Food Coalition in the same year after becoming inspired to transform the way people produce, distribute, and consume food.

Nancy Romer is the General Coordinator of the Brooklyn Food Coalition. (Photo credit: Encore.org)

The Brooklyn Food Coalition is hosting its annual Brooklyn Food Conference this Saturday, May 12, at the Brooklyn Technical High School. Over 5,000 people are expected to attend the conference, including the prominent speakers Vandana Shiva, world-renowned environmental activist; Lucas Benitez, Co-Director of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers; and several others. Events and workshops such as “The Future of New York City Food Policy” and “Faith and Feeding the Hungry” will run from 8:30am until 6pm. The conference will also feature cooking demonstrations, film screenings, kids’ activities, and an expo of non-profit and for-profit organizations.

With community gardens and farmers markets sprouting up all over the place lately, why do we still need events like the Brooklyn Food Conference?

We need the Brooklyn Food Conference, and other events that draw together all the actors working to reform the food system, because we need to change policy. We now have a range of activities, like farmers markets in certain neighborhoods, that can improve the lives of individuals or communities—but we still need far-reaching, major changes in policy that will spread these improvements across New York and the country. It is clear that the will to change policy is not going to come from the top; we need a heavy lift from the bottom to tell policymakers what we need and demand from our food systems, and the Brooklyn Food Conference is a major step in sending that message.

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May09

Three Inspiring People Who Have Met with Nourishing the Planet Among Reuters 10 Food Trailblazers

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By Alison Blackmore

Reuters AlertNet recently identified 10 individuals who are changing the food system at the grassroots. Based on nominations from leading NGOs and research institutes involved in nutrition and agriculture, including Nourishing the Planet, Reuters paid tribute to innovators worldwide who are finding ways to boost production without sacrificing food security for generations to come.

Women at work at the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA). (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

Nourishing the Planet is thrilled to give special congratulations to three recipients who we have met with on the ground: Edward Mukiibi, co-founder of Developing Innovations in School Cultivation (DISC) in Uganda, Reema Nanavaty, Director of Economic and Rural Development at the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in India, and Davinder Lamba, co-founder of the Mazingira Institute in Kenya. Their work is inspiring farmers, youth, and policymakers to create a more environmentally sustainable food system.

As the world looks to find ways to feed a population predicted to grow to 9 billion by 2050, it will be people like Mukiibi, Nanavaty, and Lamba who are finding ways to raise yields, improve nutrition, increase incomes, and protect the environment. From inspiring youth to become farmers, to giving poor women farmers a voice through organizing, to promoting urban farming—these  food trailblazers are finding the best solutions for their communities and creating new models for a sustainable food system.

To read more about Edward Mukiibi, Reema Nanavaty, and Davinder Lamba see Mazingira Institute and NEFSALF: Training a New Breed of Farmers, Looking Inside the Gates to Feed the City from Within: An Interview with Diana Lee-Smith, Nourishing the Planet Spends a Day with SEWA, Women farmers key to end food insecurity, Youth Deserve Gold Medals for Sustainability, How to Keep Kids “Down on the Farm”, Conversations With Farmers: Discussing the School Garden with a DISC Project Student, and Cultivating a Passion for Agriculture.

To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.