A Guatemalan farmer is presenting his homemade “ovoscopio”, a device fashioned out of PVC tubing and a flashlight that helps identify eggs that will be best for breeding. At the next table, through a translator, farmers from Haiti and Mexico compare the ideal climate and soil conditions of each other’s seeds and identify which seeds might thrive in another country. Further down the line, a women’s organization from Chiapas is describing herbal tincture remedies based on regional, medicinal plants.
It is the third day of the “Buen Vivir with Respect” international learning exchange in Chiapas, Mexico and participants are busy setting up for the Agroecology Practices and Product Fair. Colorful organizational brochures are neatly lined up next to packets of different seed varieties, intricately woven textiles, jars of homemade fertilizer and posters that illustrate different techniques for drying and preserving heirloom seeds.
Hosted by Grassroots’ allies Thousand Currents and their partner in Chiapas, the Civic Association for Economic and Social Development of Indigenous Mexicans (DESMI), the learning exchange has brought together 120 small farmers and Indigenous Peoples from 11 different countries to share their knowledge and strategies towards advancing food sovereignty and agroecology.
The Fair is a chance for participants to share practical knowledge, exchange seeds, and make international connections. After the learning exchange is over and participants return to their home countries, they will take with them both the practical knowledge learned and the international solidarity created by the exchange.