Bastienne Joerchel, what prompted you to take up the SWISSAID presidency?
The foundation is very close to my heart. What particularly impresses me are the two main activities: on the one hand, action on the ground with concrete and useful projects which provide long-term support for farming families. On the other hand, action here to influence decision-makers and make the federal government and the Swiss population take responsibility.
SWISSAID’s history has been strongly influenced by the projects in agriculture. What is your personal connection to this topic?
From 1998 to 2008 I was responsible for International Trade and Agriculture at Alliance Sud. In times of globalization and market liberalization, I have always tried to make it clear that the interests of small farmers in the South and in Switzerland do not contradict each other, quite the contrary. That is why I identify fully and completely with the objectives of SWISSAID. It sustainably safeguards the interests of farmers in the South in a global economy dominated by multinational companies.
You have been actively committed to SWISSAID for some time now. Have you visited projects on site?
Yes, I have been a member of the Foundation Board Committee for 6 years. Among other things, I have followed SWISSAID’s activities in Ecuador. I was on site and visited projects in the areas of agroecology and water supply. I was very impressed by the lasting impact of these projects on the living conditions of tens of thousands of people. SWISSAID has been doing great work in this partner country for 40 years.
What encounter has particularly touched you?
During my trip to Ecuador, in Potato, a small town on the edge of the Tungurahua volcano, we met a woman who, thanks to SWISSAID’s support, grows all kinds of fruit, vegetables and cereals in her chemical-free garden. With the help of her whole family, she makes cheese, jam and compotes, for example. She sells her products at the market every week. Thanks to SWISSAID, this woman has been able to build a new existence for herself.
What do you expect from working with Fabian Molina?
I believe in collective intelligence. SWISSAID urgently needs a political actor like Fabian Molina in order to face the major challenges at political and parliamentary level. He can also mobilise the younger generation. I will bring my experience and skills, which I have acquired over the last 20 years in leadership positions in NGOs and non-profit organisations, mainly in the areas of financial management, fundraising and participatory management, to bear at a strategic level.