Food security is often considered fulfilled if a nation has access to food in some fashion; whether that food is locally grown or imported from elsewhere is less important. In a way, food sovereignty approach goes a step further and emphases self-reliance and independence from external food sources. The food sovereignty approach usually applies a combination of different forms of advocacy and extension work.
The Sowing Diversity = Harvesting Security (SD=HS), is a Sida financed project which aims to empower rural women in India and West Africa through agroecological practices. The project builds independence of rural women through promotion of the local and locally adapted seed varieties as well as wild edible plants. This approach is combined with political mobilization and development of better social networks. With the help of participatory research methods women in the communities not only actively collect but also generate new knowledge. This is done by using a range of tools including filming their own environment and everyday life. The filming has multiple functions: it provides means to capture and spread information about topics and situations defined by the women themselves; it also provides means of expression and an opportunity for reflection.
One example of such a movie is about Indian woman who within a limited space of 3 acres, representative of many smallholder farmers worldwide, managed to grow a variety of drought resistant crops and keep livestock. The synergies of this diversity create independence from chemical fertilizers and other external inputs and thus is economical and environmentally sustainable. In view of the high suicide rates and depression among Indian farmers reliant on monoculture cotton cultivation, this story can provide a practical as well as an inspirational example of what can be done to improve the farmers’ situation from the bottom-up. Check out her movie here!
Horizontal communications is at the heart of the SD=HS initiative, and gives women a chance to drive their own development, define their own agenda and inspire others without the use of any “middlemen”. The filmed stories are easy to understand and can communicate things more vividly and directly than a paper document. As Francisca from West Africa explains: “This idea of training women with video came from our sisters in India (…) From this, we thought: ‘why couldn’t African women learn to handle the camera just like the Indian women do…”. Watch the video made by the Senegalese women here!