PENANG, Malaysia – From a field-learning site somewhere in the Philippine countryside, a farmer shares through an online video platform his experience and best practices on how to grow vegetables without using harmful agrochemicals and make decent earnings. His audience includes fellow vegetable growers in Malaysia, agriculture students in South Korea, a scientist from New Zealand and organic food advocates in the US. A lively exchange of ideas followed, with all the participants learning new knowledge and insights on how to maximize and further advance agroecological farming.
The setting described above is one of the various ways of how the online portal and global network of field-learning sites called International People’s Agroecology Multiversity (IPAM) is being envisioned by its proponents. Penang-based regional advocacy group PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) officially launched the IPAM today to also mark the World Environment Day.
“There is a tremendous wealth of knowledge and experience on the ground on how small farmers practice agroecology. The challenge is how do we bring all these together, and disseminate and enrich them in a systematic way. We hope that IPAM could be that platform,” said Anwar Fazal, a leading grassroots environmental activist in Malaysia and one of the brains behind IPAM.
IPAM will also be a storehouse of researches and other published materials on agroecology that farmers, activists, scientists, researchers, policy makers, and others can access. Modules and online and onsite training courses on agroecological farming are also offered.
Amid the dim prospects of worsening global hunger, intensifying climate change and continuing predominance of chemical-intensive, environmentally unsustainable corporate agricultural production, agroecology emits a glimmer of hope. The United Nations (UN) says that agroecology can double food production, mitigate climate change and alleviate poverty – good news in the face of increasingly severe typhoons and droughts as more than a billion people – most of whom are those who directly produce the world’s food themselves – go to bed hungry every night.
For PANAP, which has been campaigning against harmful pesticides and promoting food sovereignty, IPAM is part of strengthening the people’s movement that challenges profit-driven, corporate control of agriculture and food production. “The heart and soul of IPAM are the field-learning sites where farmers and agroecology and food sovereignty advocates and experts learn from each other not only through online sharing but as well as through actual study visits, immersions and even solidarity actions. So for us, IPAM is a tool not just for research and learning but equally important, it’s also a venue to facilitate people’s collective action and movement building,” PANAP executive director and IPAM international coordinator Sarojeni Rengam said.
The IPAM is accessible at http://ipamglobal.org/. ###