Wed, 14/10/2009 – Michel Fanton

Journalist Carli Ratcliff interviewed Jude and me when she attended one of our courses in Sydney late September.
While her article of October 13th in the Sydney Morning Herald ‘Good Living Magazine’ is a fair representation of what we told her Carli concluded that Jude and I typically show farmers how to clean seeds and store them for next year. We don’t because we know better than to do that.

We did do seed cleaning demonstrations  at the Sydney workshop but, as always, we found participants who knew better than us how to demonstrate to the other participants. However it is a different thing with subsistence farmers. We certainly don’t show Indian farmers how to save rice seeds. We rather observe them – how they breed new varieties and how they maintain their varieties year in year out. What we do offer them is help to organise seed systems to conserve their traditional varieties, and we lobby those who are supposed to help them at keeping diversity (instead of replacing local varieties by modern hybrids and pesticides).
We learn from and film indigenous farming systems. With their consent we interview farmers  to make multi media training tools.
At times we do however teach seed saving to Third World NGO staff who may be disconnected from their rural families or we teach officers who have never been in touch with growing their food and surviving a difficult climate. Examples have been in Herat University Afghanistan, to NGO staff in Oecussi, East Timor or government department staff in Cambodia etc.
We believe that the best training is: farmer to farmer. Farmers themselves are best able to find out the level of knowledge of others and show how to.
Thank you Carli all the same it was a good article and thanks to the amazing photographer Dean Sewell. To best read it, please see article attached in two halves.

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