Although the EU Parliament calls on farmers to drastically reduce the use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides, CAP rules – through subsidies per hectare – still mainly support large farms that practice huge-scale industrial agriculture. This puts organic farms, which protect their ecosystems and regenerate the soil, at a competitive disadvantage, exacerbated by their products being sold in supermarkets and by the current recession, which makes the choice of organic food unaffordable for many people.
In addition, increasingly frequent weather extremes are making it harder for farms around the world to plan ahead. Organic farms therefore need to be well-connected if they are to survive – in Europe as well as in the global South.
So, while there are countless documentaries on innovative organic farming practices, in the interviews and in the Learning from the Grassroots blog we want to focus on the networking of organic farmers.
Just as there are many different approaches to organic farming, depending on the climate and farmers‘ circumstances, there are almost endless opportunities for networking and association:
Networks can include formal associations such as trade unions, farmers‘ cooperatives, and NGOs, as well as informal, grassroots ones: associations to distribute products, empower women or disadvantaged groups in society, organize local markets, exchange seeds, or advocate a common cause to bring about necessary changes – for example, in the bureaucratic regulations that affect agriculture, or to fight large-scale projects that destroy farmland and leave farmers landless.
Particularly interesting for our Learning from the Grassroots project are, therefore, already existing possibilities of intercultural agricultural learning and exchange as WWOOF, which will be taken as an opportunity to approach farmers in Austria as well as in India and to learn more about their response to their specific fields of individuation (their social, ecological and economic situation).