The idea for the silo/granary project was born out of a desire to help return control over communities’ crops and food sources to the community. This multifaceted issue is one of food sovereignty and sustainability, and this project is a small effort to palliate the effects of industrial agriculture, big banks, and irregular weather patterns on the communities.
Specifically, after Tropical Storm E-12 that hit the country in October of 2011, we saw farmers scramble to make payments on loans used to buy chemical fertilizer and pesticides. It became apparent that crop loss due to droughts and floods – and the resulting financial and nutritional difficulties – has become the reality for rural farming communities. After the storms ended, committees of community members, NGOs including FUNDAHMER, and government representatives have been assessing damage to crops and brainstorming how to offer a sustainable and immediately helpful response to the loss of parts of the corn and bean crop throughout the country.
Bearing in mind what we heard from people in the communities and from assessment meetings with other organizations in Morazán and La Libertad, we proposed a small project to address these issues. We hope that it can do two things, (1) be palliative for the communities in an immediate sense, as they face food shortages, and (2) be sustainable in the long run, strengthening the communities internally and in their relationship with external pressures. The project continues pre-existing agricultural initiatives, such as community gardens or familial chicken farms, and also presents a new aspect: community managing of their own corn crop.
This project provides communities with a silo and a small seed fund to be able to buy their own corn from themselves at market price during harvest time and then to sell it back to themselves at the harvest price or significantly below the higher, scarcity-driven prices come May or June.
This project would perhaps be more appropriately dubbed a micro-project. These beginning stages are very small, and the economic support for the communities is just as important, for us, as the opportunity to strengthen the communities and accompany them in their struggle for food sovereignty and working together. Part of beginning the project has been talking with each community about which groups will be responsible for silo maintenance, who will be responsible for bookkeeping, what kind of norms and requisites the community wants to enforce, and what the procedure would be for various different scenarios that may come up. These conversations are wonderful opportunities for growth and cooperation, and we are excited about that, too.
This effort is a small point against giant forces, a drop of water in the ocean. El Salvador is a tiny country, vulnerable to all kinds of weather disasters and the wills of more technologically and economically developed entities. We cannot singlehandedly reverse climate change or redistribute the national budget; our goal is simply and, quite honestly, desperately to palliate the suffering of our brothers and sisters. There will always be injustice, and it is our job as human beings to make sure there are always people struggling against it, however small we may be.
To read updates and posts about the Silo Project, click here.