Once more this year, we were fortunate to host some amazing folks who were in town for the World Food Prize Symposium. This year’s event was much smaller than last year’s, but just as interesting.
Many of the folks who stopped by were international visitors who are used to living in rural areas, and were thrilled to get out to the country after spending a week in hotels downtown. One of my favorite moments is when one of the visitor’s eyes light up when they see or smell something familiar to them – whether it be the aroma of a fresh herb in the air or seeing and old standard-breed chicken.
Here Linda speaks with Mrs. Silas Samsom Buru, a farmer from Ethiopia. Although she had never traveled more than a few miles from her village in her life before this trip, she was on a panel at the symposium panel with VPs from Wal-Mart, Kraft Foods, and NGO Director Generals and was a natural at expressing her viewpoints. She spoke about a new crop insurance program that pays out not based on an individual farmer’s crop loss, but instead if average yields fall below a certain level in the region. Farmers can pay with cash, or improve their long-term farming sustainability by soil organic matter improvement to make the soils hold more water through droughts. She said the program has the possibility of improving the lot of the next generation so they will not need so much outside food aid.
The woman in front of Linda is Nelly Velandia from Columbia. Nelly practiced civil disobedience by setting up a farmer’s market in towns where they were not prohibited, on the steps of the government building. The markets were a huge success and the rules were changed. In Bogotá, she even convinced the mayor’s office to help cover the cost of setting up markets in parks and public squares. The markets offer poor rural farmers a much more profitable return and urban residents cheaper, more nutritious food.
It was uplifting to share stories among these women of their efforts to improve their corners of the world.