Strategic Alliance Between Food First and SOCLA
Agroecology has developed and spread rapidly over the last three decades—especially in Latin America. Hundreds of NGOs use agroecology to promote sustainable agriculture initiatives, universities have created courses, undergraduate and masters programs on the subject, the governments of Brazil, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and others have created legal instruments to promote agroecology and rural movements Via Campesina, the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement (MST), National Association of Cuban Smallholders (ANAP) and others have embraced agroecology to promote food sovereignty.
Prior to 2007 there was no organized space for academics committed to agroecology —professors, researchers, extentionists and students—to support their work. The Latin American Scientific Society of Agroecology—SOCLA was created out of the need to construct a new scientific and technological paradigm in collaboration with social movements and political processes forging agroecology in practice and policy. For the last nine years, the work of SOCLA Latin America has been part of a vibrant process of cognitive, technological and socio-political innovation, intimately linked to new political scenarios such as the emergence of progressive governments and resistance movements of peasants and indigenous people.
SOCLA is comprised of about 800 members from 14 countries, most of them researchers, professors, agricultural extentionists and students, involved in research, teaching, advocacy and the diffusion of agroecology in all its scientific dimensions throughout the region. In order for this agroecological academic work to be relevant to the realities of rural Latin America, and in particular to peasant, indigenous and family farmers, SOCLA has established close collaborative links with CLOC-via Campesina (Coordinadora Latino Americana de Asociaciones del Campo) and MAELA (Movimiento Agroecológico de America Latina y el Caribe), and many other organizations.
The goal of SOCLA is to promote the development of the science of agroecology as the scientific basis of a sustainable rural development strategy in Latin America which emphasizes food sovereignty, conservation of natural resources and agrobiodiversity, and empowers rural social movements. To accomplish its objectives SOCLA organizes one scientific congress every two years, several short training courses in various countries, produces publications on key issues and maintains working groups that provide information, analysis and technical advice to a number of civil society and farmers organizations involved in agroecology in the region. Through agreements with several universities, SOCLA is also actively involved in the graduate training of students seeking specialization in the technical and social dimensions of agroecology. SOCLA is consistently present in international forums, such as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization—FAO regional meetings on agroecology, and provides technical expertise to a number of international initiatives such as UNDP Global Environmental Facility Small Grants Program.
Many agroecologists carrying out research in Latin America come from universities in North America and many practitioners of agroecology in North America have worked in Latin America. The flow of people, information, ideas and political projects such as food justice and food sovereignty move back and forth across the North and South American continents, enriching and building far-flung networks for agroecology.
In recognition of the dynamic processes taking place in the Americas, SOCLA and Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy of Oakland, California have decided to co-establish a North America Regional Chapter of SOCLA.
The 40-year mission of Food First is to end the injustices that cause hunger and helping communities to take back control of their food systems. Since its founding, SOCLA has collaborated with Food First on many research, publication and education projects to promote agroecology as a political project aimed at promoting equity and ecological resilience in our food systems. Food First will be the institutional home of the North American Regional Chapter of SOCLA to facilitate research and publication, training, network building and a regional meeting.
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We invite all those interested in joining the North American Chapter of SOCLA to join by clicking here. Please contact Leonor Hurtado with any questions or concerns, SOCLA North America coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.