Compas helps coordinate "Friends of the ATc" Nicaragua Delegation
In January, Compas helped coordinate a "Friends of the ATC" delegation to Nicaragua. Friends of the ATC is a solidarity network with the Asociación de Trabajadores del Campo (ATC, or Rural Workers Association), an organization dedicated to organizing and defending rural workers and people of Nicaragua. The delegation of 30 plus members was made of volunteers and activists from several countries and organizations, and also students of the Latin American Institute of Agroecology (IALA), who the ATC is training in agroecology.
After two days in Managua learning about the work of the ATC, the delegation of 30 plus broke up into 4 smaller groups with two going to the Esteli region in northern Nicaragua and the other two going to Carazo, including one which went to La Paz. The 9 volunteers who visited La Paz with Compas spent three days meeting with farmers, touring the town, and working on a coffee tree nursery. Members of IALA who visited La Paz spent time sharing agroecology techniques with local farmers and are planning to return to La Paz to carry out projects and workshops. Compas is excited about the possibilities of further exchanged between IALA students and La Paz farmers.
After the three day of community visits, the 4 sub groups came back together to spend 3 days with the Gloria Quintanilla women’s cooperative in Santa Julia in the Crucero region. One of the group's work projects in Santa Julia was the installation of 2 biogas systems. Compas provided the technical expertise for the biogas installations.
The ATC has also taken on an international character by assuming a founding role of the global movement called La Vía Campesina (LVC) which today represents over 200 million peasants, women farmers, indigenous and afrodescendent peoples, fisherfolk, and pastoralists. The ATC and its fellow organizations of La Vía Campesina coined the term food sovereignty, or the right of peoples to define, create, and defend their own food system. In recent years, the movement has put more emphasis on agroecology as a pillar to realize food sovereignty. Agroecology is not just a form of agriculture but a way of life based on ecological principles, reclamation of traditional and ancestral knowledge, and producers’ demand for autonomy over their own production.
The ATC is actively coordinating efforts in Nicaragua to construct IALA Mesoamerica (IALA = Instituto Agroecológico Latinoamericano, or Latin American Institute of Agroecology) to train Central American youth in agroecology. The ATC is also involved in territorial agroecological initiatives such as community seed banks, learning exchanges on parcels of small-scale producers, ecological animal husbandry, and soil restoration.