A partner of Grassroots International, the Popular Peasant Movement (MCP) has been conducting trials to identify and produce the best local seeds. The Creole Seeds Project, as it is known, plays a vital role in reaching out to farmers who are being lured in by the promises of agrobusiness.
“The Creole Seeds Project is a great project because the community wants to see it to believe it. They can see the results for themselves—that our local seeds are more productive, insect resistant and produce better tasting crops than hybrids or other seeds,” said Elias Freitas Mesquita, MCP’s regional coordinator.
He added, “The seed project is like a magnet that attracts the farmers, who then build more alliances.”
According to Elias, the food trials are designed to protect the food sovereignty of the peasants. The MCP is concerned that peasants might be turned away from their traditional methods by the industrial model, which is put forward by both the television and the educational systems. “This is a long term process. More and more farmers are being brainwashed by modern agriculture. Youth education is one of our biggest challenges.” That’s why the MCP is organizing groups to involve youth in food sovereignty issues.
The Creole Seeds Project is making headway. “People used to call us crazy for advocating the traditional ways. But now they are coming to see the value in what the Seeds Project is doing. We are showing that this model of agroecology works, and it’s a model that can be replicated to the reality of other peasants and other cultures.”
Elias summed it up this way:
Seeds are the center of food sovereignty. Without our seeds we cannot have food sovereignty. We want a system that relies as little as possible on any external products, like seeds or fertilizers. We want to produce something that is good and healthy for everyone. To be sovereign is to have control over seeds and land, techniques and knowledge—everything necessary for food.
PHOTO above: Seeds of corn saved from the Creole Seeds Project.