Day 4: Presenting the letter to the donors

The #Farmers4TheFuture trek is coming to an end! After 3 days of meeting with other farmers, sharing experience, and talking with local governments, now the time has come to go speak directly to the donors. Donor agency fund large scale, chemical intensive agricultural project, and the aim of the trek was to build support, showcase successes, to ask them to shift their funds to ecological farming projects.

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We regrouped in a park nearby our first visit, the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, to start a march to their doors. While a small delegation of farmers and partners went inside to present the letter, the #Farmers4TheFuture delivered an interview, and read the letter in front of the entrance.

The group then moved to our second destination, the Netherlands embassy. The discussion went on for more than an hour, and at the end they agreed to receive the letter.

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So what’s next? We will have follow up discussions after this first engagement, and we will continue to put pressure on donor agencies so they shift their policies. A movement has started, we’ll build on it to be even stronger.

If you haven’t done it yet, join and sign the letter here, or send “FARMERS” by SMS to +254 706 885 184

Day 3: Building up for the big day

Today was like the calm before the storm, a quieter day to discuss, share, and build up the movement.

It started at Wote city with a meeting with Makueni county officials. As yesterday, the letter was presented and its content discussed.

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The #ResilienceTrek then moved to  Kathonzweni to share experience with farmers owning a seed bank. A bag of traditional seeds was offered after a fruitful and lively discussion.

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The #Farmers4TheFuture went back to the journey, back to Thika where it all started. Direction Nairobi tomorrow for the final day.

Stay tuned, and to show support, sign the letter!

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Day 2: Teaching ecological farming practices

Day 2 of the Farmers For The Future resilience trek was very successful, and full of hope for the rest of the campaign.

It started with a productive political meeting with members of the agricultural committee of the county assembly in Machakos. The committee members were pleased and thankful for the initiative. The debate was lively and several promises were made, like to promote raising awareness and knowledge for ecological farming practices or to provide support to small-scale farmers practicing ecological farming.

The Farmers read aloud their demands to the committee members, and presented them with a signed petition. Most of the demands were welcome and heard. The committee members seemed keen to see ecological farming more widely used, and it’s now the coalition mandate to see how this good will is taken forward.

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The trek went down to Makueni county, to meet with farmers who don’t practice ecological agriculture. They came in numbers to hear more about new methods to improve their farming. Our #Farmers4theFuture had then the opportunity to talk about their skills and to share their experiences and ecological tips. They separated into two groups and happily, proudly answered questions and told their successful stories for more than 2 hours.

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The “training” session was enjoyed by the attendance, who carefully listened and took notes. The public’s interest rose when the question of financial returns was addressed. Indeed, commercial farming they said, could be seen as a “form of [financial] slavery they needed liberation from”. Indeed, they became dependant of intrants like fertilisers and pesticides which often represent a cost they struggle to afford.

The day ended with a gift from ecological farmers: they offered traditional seeds, more resilient to climate change.

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Day 1: The #Farmers4TheFuture Journey

Today, 30 farmers set off for a journey to fight for what they believe in: healthy, sustainable, profitable farming. For 4 days they will exhibit their products, share their knowledge, gather more support. Their objective? To be heard by donor agencies and governments who invest more in chemical intensive projects, instead of promoting a better food system.

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So that day was more about setting the scene, and making the initiative known. It started with a press conference where major media outlets were represented. The main message was clear: yes ecological farming can feed the word. What is needed is a change of paradigme to shift mindset, and a change of policies to support ecological farming initiatives.

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After great speeches and questions, the farmers and their partners left Thika for their first destination in Machakos county. They were welcomed with dances and good humour. They had set up a stand exhibiting their products: traditional seeds, fruits and vegetables, handcraft baskets and even small local livestock. The enthusiastic crowd celebrated good food and healthy products, and more than 200 farmers signed the letter addressing demands for support to the government.

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A good buffet of local food was much appreciated, before the convoy left for Day 2 meetings in Machakos city.