Agroecological practices for food sovereignty

agroecological1 As a prelude to her participation in the Sixth National Social Housing Forum of Habitat for Humanity Guatemala, Gabriela Lucas Deecke shared some of her life and enriching experiences in agriculture.

A green life, a green professional
Gabriela Lucas grew up in a coffee farm on the slopes of the volcano Tacaná, Chiapas, Mexico, and says about those years “I had a childhood very wild and very green.” As a young woman, she was interested in studying medicine, but the intervention of a counselor changed her mind and focused on another path that would end up impacting the lives of many Latin Americans.
The shortage of people involved in food production in Mexico is palpable, and the possibility to help farmers convinced her to study Agronomy. During her career she developed a strong interest in the soil, because as mentioned, “I realized that our civilization would disappear without soil.” Then she studied for a master’s degree in Integrated Accounts Management with a thesis on Practices of Soil and Water Conservation, and later received a master’s in Rural Tourism.

She worked for 10 years as Secretary of Economic Development at the municipal level and as Technical Assistant to the Secretary of Agriculture of the State of Queretaro and statewide Regional Director. Since 2006, she engaged in the production of food for her family and in 2011 founded the Center of Innovation in Small Scale Sustainable Agriculture (CIASPE by its acronym in Spanish) with businessman Oscar Peralta Navarrete.

Another way to address agriculture

GL2A “turning point” in her life was the Bio-intensive Agriculture course she received with Juan Manuel Martinez from Ecology Action. This motivated her, along with her husband and three children, to start a productive adventure realizing that a home garden was a difficult task despite the knowledge she had accumulated. This caught the attention of Mr. Oscar Peralta, who was interested in the family garden and wanted to join Lucas to replicate the experience in Mexico. From this CIASPE was born.

She mentions that, “It is predicted that in 50 years most of the surface of the earth will be desert.” This data along with the lack of access to new techniques for farmers, land and water scarcity, lack of funding and reluctance of youth to work in the fields, create a disturbing image. Given this, as an agronomist engineer, she is convinced that agro ecological practices are the only way to produce food while halting and reversing the damage done to the environment and soil, improving the living conditions of small farmers.

The path to food sovereignty
Lucas has supported several projects that aim to improve food production. She is very proud of the women’s groups in the indigenous areas of Querétaro, who are responsible for growng and serving food. Working with them has allowed, in addition to producing food, the promotion of vitamin-enriched diets. She also collaborates with an organization in Chile on a project that shares the concern for food sovereignty. In the Dominican Republic, she began working together with the Catholic University and Technology of Cibaoto to establish an agro ecological practices demonstration center and to promote the bio-intensive method. Also, she is organizing the Latin American Meeting of bio-intensive agriculture in November, where the creator of the method, John Jeavons, will be present.

Intervention in Guatemala
agroecological3With Habitat for Humanity in Guatemala, Lucas participates in a project located in Macalajau, Uspantán, El Quiché, saying, “Knowing the people here reaffirms the need that exists in all our people to share knowledge to help us reclaim our food sovereignty.”
During her visit to Guatemala, on the occasion of World Habitat Day and the IV National Social Housing Forum, she shared the magnitude of the current food crisis. Faced with all the information of this crisis, the expert discussed the practices that can be applied to counter the situation. She ends anticipating, “I will share the major paradoxes in which we live and what we can do from home, which has to become not only a space to protect us from the weather but also a productive space.”
The VI National Social Housing Forum was held last Wednesday, October 9 at the Hotel Real InterContinental Guatemala City.