Urban agriculture sprouts in favelas, Fabíola Ortiz reports
Video report “Urban agriculture sprouts in favelas” plus full contribution by IPS journalist Fabíola Ortiz to the IPSTV Food and Media Talks panel “The expensive basket – When bread and rice become luxury“, held at FAO on June 20th 2013.
+ Watch more videos by Fabíola Ortiz
+ Read more stories by Fabíola Ortiz
Full video report transcription: IPSTV: You don’t need to live in the country side to grow vegetables. It is possible to maintain an organic farming based on ‘agricology’, in the favelas or shanty towns in Rio de Janeiro a pioneering initiative is now underway. Ms. Maria Helena joined the first course of organic urban agriculture. It is part of the project ‘Rio sustainable city’, which was presented during the united nations conference on sustainable development rio+20 in 2012. While the global economic crisis has an impact on the increase in food prices, one alternative is this one, produce food on a small piece of land in balconies or in gardens at home, it is called urban agriculture, and it is a growing trend in big cities or in communities as we are now in Rio de Janeiro.
Maria Helena Da Conceição, Babilõnia resident: It was a 5 months course, it was very good, I learned a lot there but now I am learning even more when I’m planting. I took advantage to make my own garden and thank god it worked well. First, what you eat is not the same thing as what you buy out there, it has another flavour. It is very tasty. This food becomes much tastier. It is totally different, it has a good taste, I would say … it is like a child. You wake up in the morning and come to see it everyday. It helps me relax. I love it because it keeps me calm when I am here. This is my small world. This is my world now. Suyá Presta, agroeconomist, course coordinator: The principle that rules this kind of agriculture is agroecology. We work with agroecology respecting the will of the people respecting the knowledge they have. Many participants come from rural areas, they grow up as kids in contexts where agriculture is present. Therefore, for them it means reconnecting with something they already have inside. But for others, it is a new awakening. Agroecology respects all of these processes and mainly the earth. IPSTV: Urban agriculture is both, a strategy of emancipation and a significant means of improving the quality of life in the cities. Suyá Presta: Due to this economic crises, the price of vegetables have risen, if someone has a local production at home, it may help, it is a new concept. This way the person gets more financial resilience. In other words, he will not be running out of food. It can be very helpful in overcoming times of crisis. IPSTV: Mr. Batista is one of the 100.000 urban farmers existing in Brazil. João Baptista, Chapeu Mangueira resident: Today we are planting.. I have started this week with eggplant and cucumber, but we also have tomato, beetroot, parsley, chives, cilantro, beans and we have as well medicinal herbs. You watch that seed sprouting, that is the most important thing in my life. I always prepare a batch for sowing. Cristina Hoffman, Biologist: It is such a magic. You see the plant grow, you pick it up, you see the plant reproduce, you understand its functionality. We are privileged to have this wealth: the knowledge of cultivating. And our mission is to multiply this know-how so that everyone enjoys the pleasure of eating what he or she has planted. IPSTV: They do it because they love it, and it represents much more than a commercial activity.