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Everyday experts and revolutionizing agriculture

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I discovered another innovative and inspiring project (really a collection of projects) that is challenging the industrial agricultural model. It's People's Knowledge. Started by a group at Coventry University in the UK, their vision is one in which people who have formal training as experts and people with expertise through their life experiences are brought together to create sustainable and democratic solutions.

I found out about them through a new book they've published, Everyday Experts: How People's Knowledge Can Transform the Food System. I've only gone through Chapter 7, which discusses how three groups of traditional peoples, in India, Iran, and Peru, are confronting the dominant agricultural paradigms with practices that make sense in their local contexts. The researchers themselves are engaged in participatory research, which seeks to change society rather than just interpret it. Unlike the usual academic types and government representatives that these traditional people deal with, the members of this team treat the local people as partners in a process designed to combine traditional practices with cutting-edge science to change the food system.

One goal of the researchers was to train the people in the regions they studied in video documentation techniques; the result is that we see the achievements of the women peasant collectives in the drylands of southern India through the eyes of the women themselves. In one really amazing aspect of the project, women from the collective in India traveled to Peru for 12 days to teach Quechua women there how to document their own work on preserving the diversity of potato varieties in the Andes.

There's so much more to say about this. Frankly, in this time of daily depressing news about the state of the earth and the continued domination of a system that doesn't give a shit about it, learning that this kind of work is being done, by the peasants themselves and by the researchers collaborating with them, is the kind of thing I need to keep me hopeful.
 
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