Farmer to Farmer: popular education meets agriculture

An excerpt from La Via Campesina Agroecology Trainers in Cuba, published by La Via Campesina, the international peasants’ movement:

Farmer to Farmer: popular education meets agriculture

Farmer to Farmer breaks the conventional of vertical transfer of knowledge from the technician who arrives in the countryside to teach the “ignorant peasant farmer” what to do. Here the protagonist is the peasant farmer him or herself, with experiences to share based on his or her practical knowledge in his or her own terrain. The farmer becomes a “promoter”—with the job of reproducing his or her own knowledge.

A methodology born in Guatemala and later arriving to Mexico, Honduras and Nicaragua, it was in Cuba where Farmer to Farmer really “bore fruit”: reaching more than 100,000 families in only 10 years.

Should popular education be a fourth pillar of the agroecological proposal? Could this method, this educational philosophy, be a necessary condition for scaling-up agroecology? How can popular education help us re-think our organizations and structures? How can it modify our agricultural techniques, valuing them for their popular character? How can it change scientific research by seeing peasants as the scientists they are? In other words, wouldn’t agroecology be more coherent if we saw it, in all its aspects, from the perspective of popular education? This would mean that pedagogy needs to be in the center of all our processes, not only education and trainings, but also in organization and research.