SWISSAID focuses on self-reliance

SWISSAID focuses on self-reliance

The farming families living along the Brazuelo de Garzal in Colombia are extremely worried. For a number of years already, the oil palm plantations destined for the production of biofuel have continued to spread out. Over 2500 hectares have already been converted to this end solely in the region around the small town of Simiti in the lowlands.

With the assistance of SWISSAID, the grass-roots organization Asproal is undertaking controlling measures. On the legal level, it advocates for the farmers’ land rights. Furthermore, the smallholder families are provided with access to low-cost loans which, for instance, can be used for the planting of cacao or for the setting up small bakeries.

The project in Simiti is typical of the work being done by SWISSAID. The relief agency does not intervene with off-the-shelf remedies, but rather enables and supports local organizations in finding and in implementing their own solutions. For SWISSAID, food security primarily means food sovereignty, i.e., the right of nations or local communities to define their own agricultural and food policy that is in keeping with the given ecological, economic, and cultural conditions. SWISSAID’s specific priorities are to foster organic farming and the diversity of seed inventories, as well as to strive to counter the further proliferation of genetic engineering and the growing production of biofuels.