Image for The all-female farming co-operative in Benin

The all-female farming co-operative in Benin

The group want to pass on their traditional knowledge to their daughters

The group want to pass on their traditional knowledge to their daughters

People, not production lines. Farms, not factories. Agriculture, not agri-business. From ice covered northern Sweden to the depths of the Amazon rainforest, the following stories tell of the men, women and families who supply 70 per cent of the world’s food. They challenge the myth that we need industrial agriculture to feed an increasing population. Could small-scale farming offer solutions to the planetary crises we face – from climate disruption to species mass extinction?

Reproduced from We Feed the World, an exhibition by the Gaia Foundation.

These women from the village of Todjedi in the south-east of Benin wanted to ensure that their traditional knowledge was passed on to the next generation. They also wanted their ancestral seed varieties to be handed to their daughters, to help them navigate the uncertain times to come. So they formed a farming co-operative.

The sacred forest nearby is where their traditional ceremonies take place, including those to call the rain and give thanks for the harvest. These forests are increasingly under threat from commercial interests, such as mining and industrial agricultural plantations.

The women’s farming co-operative, formed near one of Benin’s sacred forests

It was for this reason that in 2012 Benin became the first country in Africa to pass a Sacred Forest Law. It recognises sacred natural sites and the communities as custodians who govern and protect these special places.

Photography by Fabrice Monteiro

Small is beautiful: the smallholder farmers fighting climate change around the world

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