Peasant Training Doesn’t Stop: IALA IXIM ULEW Now Online

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In the midst of the pandemic, IALA Ixim Ulew began classes last week in online format with participation of 40 students from Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, and the Dominican Republic. The course began with topics on the history of the CLOC and La Vía Campesina, agroecology, computation, writing, and animal science, continuing this week with sessions on the Declaration on Peasant Rights, Decade on Family Farming, and Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests.

In this post we share the recent Friends of ATC webinar on IALA and the Agroecological Corridor, which also provides an excellent context of Central America, with Marlen Sánchez, IALA Ixim Ulew’s Academic Director. We also share the translation of a document about the opening of IALA, written by Fausto Torrez of the ATC.

IALA and the Agroecological Corridor
Friends of the ATC webinar held on April 14, 2020

A Message from Fausto Torrez on the Opening of IALA

In times of a serious universal pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) implements a protocol of medical attention and preventive care in the form of quarantine, curfew and militarization to prevent mass contagion.

WHO reminds countries about the International Health Regulations to prevent, protect against, and control the international spread of diseases and to provide a public health response that is appropriate to public health risks; while countries apply health measures to curb the pandemic.

The Latin American Coordination of Rural Organizations (CLOC), members of Via Campesina in Mesoamerica, began on April 15th the second cohort of the Latin American Agroecological Institute IALA Ixim Ulew Ixim, which means “land of corn” in Mayan Quiche language, with 40 students from the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama, including 45% women participation.

The already-collapsing model of economic and social development due to the failure of the neoliberal system and the inequalities of the decline of unsustainable capitalism, which privatized public services and failed to address this global COVID-19 pandemic, calls upon us to rethink our modes of development, and demand and provide comprehensive responses to the current crisis that address the causes of socio-ecological inconsistency that we are experiencing on our planet.

In the strongest part of the pandemic, the first step of defense is health personnel, (those countries with the best case scenario have an organized community health model), and the second step is the production of food to confront hunger and the economic crisis of the people. In this context, it is fundamental to promote peasant agriculture, and there the Latin American Institutes of Agroecology (IALAs) play an important role.

We started online classes on April 15th, through a virtual IALA, a digital system where we teach the subjects of soil management, crops, native seeds, climate resilience in production systems, principles of permaculture and food sovereignty, as well as peasant administration, research, crops and efficient water use, plus writing techniques, basic mathematics and botany and biology, in this first month through May 15th.

Maintaining this program through an online platform in which teachers and students share content, including asking questions and doing evaluations, is an interesting experience in which we are all learning in the midst of a serious pandemic, with lots of discipline and participation of students with their phones and through the internet in their communities, where we will incorporate school or community radio.

We now have a special way of overcoming the challenges of not being able to meet face-to-face that is caused by epidemiological crisis and militarized quarantine.

Through e-learning platforms, we use very important and simple techniques such as chats, forums or videoconferences for each topic which has its own proficiency for knowing how to do, understand, and learn by doing, touching on economic and social issues. Sharing documents, videos and following up with each student in consultations and analysis separately after the collective classes, we work on topics, modules and when the crisis is over sometime after next month, we adapt to peasant farming practices.

This is a very important experience and we have shared many hours of classes with a group of very participatory learners, through a curriculum accredited by the National Technological Institute (INATEC), a government instrument that legally accredits us and is internationally recognized.

With this training practice, all of us from IALA are returning to the countryside. It is urgent that we and peasants join together in a program for agroecological farming, through the organization of agriculture, livestock, forestry, fishing, aquaculture and grazing, improving infrastructure, facilitating access to rural financial services such as credit and financing, allowing investment in agroecological production by promoting increased productivity of land and work; we need to expand the area planted with crops that are in harmony with nature.

Fausto Torrez
CLOC – Via Campesina
ATC, Nicaragua.
April 22nd, 2020.

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