Women farmers of West Africa hold a piece of Black history and ancestral knowledge to be celebrated and honored this and every month. In Africa women produce the majority of food consumed locally, and for centuries they have been the guardians of seeds, passing on local strains from generation to generation. Grassroots International is supporting rural women farmers associations in five countries in West Africa – Ghana, Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Guinea – to build connections between local associations and to strengthen the voice of rural women farmers regionally. These groups are taking a stand against the doctrine of the green revolution, which introduced GMOs to Africa, and are building alternatives using agroecological farming methods. Agroecology depends on traditional knowledge to produce healthy food that can grow in diverse conditions and can withstand changes from season to season. As the impacts of climate change become more and more intense, the flexibility provided through agroecological farming is all the more essential. Grassroots International supports an initiative called We Are the Solution: Celebrating African Family Agriculture, which is coordinating the connections between the rural women farmers associations. We also support the National Coordination of Peasant Organizations of Mali, which is a member of La Via Campesina. Recently we made seven grants to support capacity building, leadership training, and training in agroecological farming in West Africa. These grants went to:
- The Guinean Association for the Alleviation of Women’s Workload, the Malian Association for Food Sovereignty and Security, the National Federation of Producer Organizations of Burkina Faso, and the Union of Meckhé Peasant Groups (UGPM), to build their capacity in agroecology as part of the We Are the Solution initiative.
- The Rural Women Farmers Association of Ghana (RUWFAG), to support leadership training for food sovereignty as part of the We Are the Solution initiative in Ghana.
- Fahamu, based in Senegal, to support their work building a rural women’s movement for food sovereignty, agroecology and gender justice in West Africa as part of the We Are the Solution initiative.
- The National Coordination of Peasant Organizations of Mali (CNOP), to support sustainable livelihoods of women in Mali.
Photo courtesy of Salena Tramel