Without Family Farming We Would Not Survive a Pandemic

Ollantay Itzamná
https://i0.wp.com/ollantayitzamna.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/WhatsApp-Image-2020-07-08-at-12.11.33-AM.jpeg?resize=768%2C583&ssl=1Hoe, a tool still in use in family farming. OI.

Despite the apparent victory of the “green revolution”, of GM seeds, or the global monopoly of agrochemical production/consumption, many families remained in rural areas, growing their food in rented furrows or “mini-plots”, often against the will of the corporate states.

In the region of Abya Yala there is not a single state that has committed to family farming as its economic policy priority in order to guarantee the integral well-being of its country. Even Cuba, with its exemplary educational model, has left the country destitute, leaving the agricultural lands abandoned.

The COVID pandemic19 found us in the countries of Abya Yala not only with deficit or privatized health services, but also found us deluded about the benefits per se of modernity… Money is not an edible product!

The “welfare” mirage of modernity is so overwhelming that you and I spend our youth in the cities believing that “there will be food as long as we have money to buy it”.

We never questioned who produces the vegetables or fresh produce we buy, where, or under what conditions… No… those questions were not, and are not, part of the academic curriculum… We grew up with the certainty that: “Peasants are born to cultivate the land, we were born to study”.

The pandemic, and the global “stay at home”, has shaken many of us from our modern certainties and illusions, and brought us back to the most basic thing: food as the basis of health and well-being. Healthy food is an ally to survive the pandemic!

In Abya Yala, in spite of the impoverished/undernourished conditions of the families in the rural area, the “stay at home” was not as deadly, psychologically or biologically, as in the urban areas… We continue with our daily tasks, cultivating, living together, harvesting, returning to growing medicinal plants…

The pandemic brought us back to Earth

https://i0.wp.com/ollantayitzamna.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/WhatsApp-Image-2020-07-07-at-11.57.59-PM.jpeg?resize=768%2C576&ssl=1Family garden or farm. Cultivation of yucca, corn, banana. OI.

Return to the ethics and aesthetics of the Earth. Anthropocentric philosophy and modern civility have taken us away from the Earth to the point of becoming anti-Earth beings. The pandemic activated in us, to varying degrees, the desire to reconnect, to touch the Earth again, to grow lettuce in pots… Perhaps its purpose is still only to take a selfie… But, there is no doubt, the pandemic brought many of us back to Earth.

After the pandemic, our task is to rethink our position and mission on Earth, and act accordingly. To return to cultivating the Earth, and to let ourselves be cultivated by her, is our task.

Food is spelled with a “C” for campesino. Monocultures or agribusinesses do not grow food to feed us, but, at best, to make money off us. This is one of the lessons of the pandemic.

It was and still is the peasant families who have fed and nourished us, even in times of pandemic, by planting, cultivating and harvesting, even against the inclemency of the climate, the insensitivity of the states and the voracity of the lethal agro-businesses.

Peasant families do not extort subsidies or advantages from the states. They do not manipulate the rules of the market, nor do they destroy food like agribusinesses do to ensure profits. Peasants grow crops in silence and offer you their best fruits.

Our task as consumers who have survived the pandemic must be to seek out and consume the products of peasant families in order to stimulate and support the expansion of this productive practice. I believe, to a large extent, our health will depend on family farming.

States with food sovereignty. Technically, the post-pandemic economy will consist of strengthening domestic production and consumption. The international market is wounded. In this sense, the national states, which historically were born as anti-farmer states, are obliged to reconcile themselves with the peasant families, and promote integral policies of family agriculture to guarantee health and adequate food for the entire population.

The pandemic has shown that the main allies of the states in the defense of life and health are not agro-industry or transnational corporations. They are and have always been the peasant families who continue to cultivate the land, even in rented micro soils, to provide healthy food for the entire population.

Our food should be our medicine. The pandemic in Abya Yala made visible the power of medicinal plants to strengthen the immune system of the people.

For example, in Bolivia, we witnessed with astonishment the solidarity and exchange of medicinal plants between organized and unorganized peasant families from different ecological floors. This was done in order to mitigate the tragedy of the pandemic.

In countries like Guatemala, ginger, lemon, garlic, honey…, are more important than ever in the crops and eating habits of peasant families…

All this is evidence that family farming is and will continue to be the indispensable ally of states in confronting future pandemics with optimal immune systems. Peasant agriculture must be recognized and promoted as one of the main actors in countries’ post-pandemic economies.