We are women and men, farmers, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) activists, agronomists, agro-ecologists, agro-ecology trainers, Food Sovereignty activists, Civil Society actors from 7 different countries in West Africa. We come from Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Senegal and Togo. Over and above the current extraordinary social and economic challenges, our societies are all confronted by the realities of climate change and increased food insecurity, and are facing situations of extreme vulnerability. We are all confronted by the overwhelming attempt by industrial agriculture and agribusiness to dominate society. It is creating the impoverishment of peasant farmers, land grabbing and capture of peasant seeds. Consumers do not have access to sufficient information or financial means to buy healthy local food. At the very moment when, confronted to these shared issues, what we need is greater exchanges, resource sharing and mutual support, yet borders are closing, and there is a risk that West Africa may become a space of division, where neither producers or consumers will be the winners.
We, as committed grassroots civil society actors, and members of civil society, share the vision of West Africa as a space that can bring us all together. In our communities, we are working on a daily basis to craft new solutions. Caring for and nourishing the Earth and the humans it feeds lies at the heart of our concerns. We demonstrate on a daily basis that agro-ecology, implemented by family farmers and supported by committed consumers, provides more effective answers to the environmental challenges than those promoted by industrial agriculture. We need to share the collective promotion of our collective agro-ecological solutions. Agro-ecological initiatives through local solidarity-based partnerships between producers and consumers need to increase in Africa!
We came together on the 14th and 15th March 2017 in Kpalimé, for the first West African meeting of agro-ecological local and solidarity-based food initiatives between producers and consumers. At the end of this historical meeting, we are convinced that our initiatives will contribute to strengthening peasant agriculture, its capacity to feed the cities, to recreating the social cohesion at both rural-urban and urban levels and to restoring farmers’ dignity throughout the whole West African region. The aim is to jointly work with producers and consumers in local solidarity partnerships and to promote them.
In order to achieve this goal, we need to disseminate our good practices. By exchanging our field practices and knowledge, we can strengthen all those who are mobilizing, in all their diversity, to preserve peasant agriculture and build sustainable food systems. We want to build a West African network of alliances between agro-ecological producers and conscious consumers. We are opening a new chapter of our collective work to contributions by all. Join us and contribute to this new collective challenge!
This meeting was made possible by the work carried out by Urgenci, the international network of Community Supported Agriculture (www.urgenci.net) and the generous support of Brot für die Welt (https://www.brot-fuer-die-welt.de/). We acknowledge their support for this important initiative with our heartfelt thanks.