In 2022, CESE helped to reinforce the agroecology and family farming agendas by supporting projects from organized civil society and social movements that work on this agenda. Funded by the Small Projects Programme, the “Public Action – For Food Sovereignty in the Countryside and the City” was held on 10 September 2022, in a public square in the commercial centre of Aracaju (Sergipe), and coordinated by the Sergipe Agroecology Network (Rede Sergipana de Agroecologia: ReSeA).
According to Jorge Rabanal, a member of the ReSeA’s Operations Department, “this action represented the culmination of a mobilizing support process run by the ReSeA in 2002. Its main objectives were: to strengthen the agenda of the “Agroecology in the Elections” mobilization campaign, run by the National Agroecology Coalition (Articulação Nacional de Agroecologia: ANA) around Brazil; and to reactivate the Sergipe State Plan for Agroecology and Organic Production (Plano Estadual de Agroecologia e Produção Orgânica de Sergipe: PEAPO-SE), throwing light on issues related to Food Sovereignty, Art, Culture, Communications, Combatting the Use of Pesticides and Preserving Native Seeds.”
The event included an Agroecology and Culture Fair, during which a range of activities took place concurrently, including artistic and cultural presentations, an agroecological lunch for stallholders and the organizing team, a round table conversation between representatives of social movements and candidates for the 2022 election. Produce from traditional peoples and communities was valued and highlighted in the activity, which also promoted the collection of food and produce donations from the stallholders, producing baskets that were then delivered to the urban occupation movement which was present at the fair.
According to Jorge, “the Agroecology and Culture Fair represented an important local arena of identity for the purchase, sale and exchange of fresh and processed food, handicrafts, bio-cosmetics, medicinal plants, crops and seeds from Sergipe’s territories. In this way, peasant culture, which is intrinsically agroecological, was publicized through its knowledge about produce, food and culture, through stalls at the fair and cultural presentations.”
The programme also included a Play Territory, a space to welcome children with artistic activities. “Children are more than welcome in Agroecology, since they are also builders of knowledge. Theirs is an active voice, a creative impulse and a body at play. For this reason, the political space for dialogue and decision-making about the country’s direction in terms of food, health, education and other essential rights, is also their space. Which is why, during the Public Act educators opened a Play Territory – a stimulating space for children to learn together and express themselves freely and creatively, through artistic and educational work,” explained Amanda Moura, member of the coalition.
The event played its part in the construction of a political environment for progressive and grassroots candidates (for executive and legislative posts in Sergipe’s state government and at federal level) to sign ANA’s letter of commitment. The arena also reinforced agroecological commercialization linked to peasant farmers from Sergipe, evidencing the culture of the countryside.
AGROECOLOGY – The Public Act was constructed gradually and involved ReSeA’s partner organizations. Work was conducted collectively and horizontally, and aimed to put the agroecological issue on the public agenda. “We understand that dealing with the theme of food sovereignty in the public sphere is essential in order to popularize the debate about the production and consumption of healthy food. The Sergipe population has gained a better understanding of the importance of the creation, implementation and strengthening of public policies that support family farming and agroecology, and that promote the food sovereignty and security of people from the countryside,” Amanda explained.
As well as providing visibility for the agroecology agenda, the activity aimed to trigger support and outline strategies for the movements. According to Amanda, “through the Roundtable Conversation between representatives from the social movements and the 2022 candidates, it was possible to connect the agroecology agenda for the socio-territorial movements in Sergipe with the electoral politics of the “Agroecology in the 2022 Elections” mobilization campaign.
According to Priscila Viana, a network member, the relationship with CESE was valuable because it made the activity viable; this marks the beginning of a relationship of partnership between the two organizations. “We have always recognized CESE’s work under the political banner of Agroecology. Despite political recognition, we’ve never had an opportunity to propose a partnership and, looking at the activity’s theme, which called for food sovereignty and security in the countryside and the city, we saw how pertinent it was to marry these agendas together.”