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Published on 8 September 2021

We know that across the world rural women often engage in agriculture to feed themselves and their families, but their knowledge and skills are often not recognised. That's why we are thrilled to announce that a new professional course, which sets out the principles of feminist agroecology, has been approved in Brazil by the Federal Institute of Sao Paulo.

In Latin America, social movements have strongly contested agribusiness models, which are often highly mechanised industrial farming systems. However, these alternative agroecological models generally exclude women's knowledge, despite the fact that women generally use small-holder agricultural methods to feed their families. This course aims to address that gap.

The course is the result of a public-civil society collaboration between the IFSP and Christian Aid's Brazilian partner Sempreviva Feminist Organisation (SOF) and will be delivered by the IFSP annually.

This is the first time that a college has designed and taught an official course on agroecology with a feminist perspective which draws on rural knowledge, and recognises women's knowledge and contributions to agrarian reform in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil. It also combines theoretical learning in class with practical learning on-site in rural areas – a first for the IFSP. This approach is referred to as “pedagogia da alternancia” in Portuguese.  

The course will train young people and adult farmers from traditional villages, but also those carrying out urban and peri-urban agriculture, with the aim of decreasing female migration to the cities by creating learning and career opportunities related to agro-ecology and its approaches closer to home.

This training course forms one of two main activities funded by The Newton Fund.  The project (2020-2022) aims to gather evidence to build a feminist agroecological model in Brazil through the training course and through research. Brazilian women farmers and their families are both the future course students and the research participants in the project.

The Building Alternatives project is led by SOF, a Brazilian feminist organisation, and the Research, Evidence and Learning Team working with other partners. The project is funded by the British Council as part of Newton Fund Impact Scheme.

Find out more about the Building Alternatives project

Speak Portuguese? Read more about the course