Justina’s Reflections on the US-South Africa Agroecology Exchange

By Justina Ramirez, Farmworker Association of Florida community leader in Homestead, Florida

 Fourth in the South Africa-US Agroecology Exchange Article Series

In October 2017, I represented the Farmworker Association of Florida in a delegation of seven African American, Latinx, and Mexican farmers and farmworkers from the US arrive in Johannesburg, South Africa to participate in the second South Africa-US Agroecology Exchange. For 10 days, they traveled around urban and rural South Africa to meet with small farmers, farmworkers, Agroecologists, and organizers in the Food Sovereignty movement to learn and exchange social, political, and technical aspects of Agroecology.

Farmers and farmworkers everywhere on the planet are going through similar struggles and fighting the same issues—mainly, the power and the violence of industrial agriculture. Their situation in South Africa is different than ours here in Florida in two big ways. First, they’ve been going through a major drought that has lasted since 2010. They’re struggling to keep their crops and their animals alive. Second, they have a lot of transnational corporations that are grabbing lands and sometimes stealing lands and the government supports the corporations, not its people. We struggle with transnational corporations here too but in a different way.

The people we met were so generous in the way they shared their wisdom, experience, struggles, and joys with us. It was incredible to see how they persevere in the face of systemic oppression.

I plan to teach my community how to make and use liquid biofertilizer to improve the health and vitality of our gardens and protect them from pests. Claudia from the Mopani Farmers Association showed us how to make it using leaves of the Moringa and papaya plants. We have these plants in all of our gardens and many of our homes! 

I’m so grateful to the organizers and our hosts in South Africa for this incredible experience! I know we’re going to find a way to unite our strengths and support each other as we struggle for food sovereignty here and in South Africa.

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