Establishing an exchange network among peasant farmers throughout Latin America is one of the goals of the Latin American School of Agroecology, which is being inaugurated today in the municipality of Lapa, in the state of Paraná, in the South of Brazil.
Participating in the ceremony will be the Brazilian Minister of Agrarian Development, Miguel Rossetto; the governor of Paraná, Roberto Requião; João Pedro Stédile, of the national coordinating body of the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (MST); and Judith Valência, a professor at the Central University of Venezuela who acts in the international negotiations arena of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).
The school represents a partnership between the governments of Venezuela and Paraná, the Federal University of Paraná (UFPR), the International Via Campesina (an organization that brings together movements involved in the struggle for land from all over the world), and the MST.
The school is located within an MST agrarian reform project known as the Contestado settlement. The protocol of intentions for its creation was signed in January during the V World Social Forum.
The first undergraduate course in Agroecology already has 100 students enrolled and will be administered by the UFPR. The students, who are associated with peasant farmer organizations from all over Latin America, will become agroecology technicians. The course, which will alternate periods in school with periods in the community, will last three years.
According to the state coordinator of the MST, Roberto Baggio, the school is a groundbreaking project that will prepare a generation of professionals to act permanently with peasant farmers, “constructing a new technological matrix based on agroecology.”
This new matrix, he explained, will be geared to small-scale production and the domestic market, respecting the environment and contributing to the construction of a sovereign agriculture.