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Re: Social farming (also called care farming): an innovative approach for promoting women’s economic empowerment, decent rural employment and social inclusion. What works in developing countries?

Angela Galasso AiCARE (Italian Agency for Responsible and Ethic Countryside and ...
16.05.2014
Angela

In Italy and Europe with the terms "social/care farming" is described the terapeutic use of farming practices. Care farms use the whole farm or part of it, for providing health, social or educational care service for one or a range of vulnerable groups of people and provide a supervised, structured program of farming-related activities. We believe that social farming must be interpreted as an innovative way to do agriculture. AiCARE (Italian Agency for Responsible and Ethic Countryside ana Agriculture) is an Italian non-profit organization, founded by a group of technicians and researchers actives in the fields of agriculture, psychology and welfare, joned by the common vision that agriculture can be the key of a new development paradigm, based on values still strongly alive in rural communities (like reciprocity, common good, relationship's economy, ...). Our mission is to widen and disseminate knowledge on social/care farming and civic agriculture, by collecting and networking good practices, by spreading studies and increasing research, by involving policy and community on it. All this is made by using very practical and smart methods and tools, as you can see on the website www.aicare.it (online map of good practices, documentation center, databases, field visits and tours organizationa in Italy and abroad, scoutin events like the Civic Agriculture Award, training, ...).

The earth of our activity is the scouting and networking of good practices in social farming. By this activity we also tried to learn the lessons for building new good practices in social farming, so to spread this innovative kind of agriculture. One of this is the importance to have real farms, with real farm farming activity (and production), opened and able to build strong links with their communities. We also learned that in this kind of farms women's role is very strong, because of the "care" attitude of women, that are able to welcome "differences" and also "innovation" in a natural way. So, lookin in a new way to those that are "traditional women attitudes" in a large number of cultures (like managing the house, cooking, welcoming, caring and teaching/training babies in phisiological tasks, ...) social farming can be an effective way for increasing women role in agriculture.

If in European countries throughout social farming women find an efficient way for joining work and family enhancing their skills and competences (one of the main issues concerning women work in developed countries), so to come back to the land, in developing countries, where women are already farmers, social farming can give new working opportunities. This is also the evidence we had during a project of technical assistance to fincas agro turisticas in Nicaragua. It was a project for development or rural tourism in Nicaragua held in the June 2011 by the Italian Department of Agriculture. Perhaps it may be useful to report her some "memories" of that experience. During the mission we met several cooperatives located in different areas of the country. In almost all of the "social" dimension was naturally expressed by the cooperation, the union of the campesinos to create jobs through the cultivation of the land often using sustainable agricultural techniques. We perceived a tendency towards a human/social, environmental quality as well as attention to the economic sustainability of cooperatives. In a specific case, also, the cooperative had made a project of "turismo rural comunitario". A tourism developed in rural areas where the local population, especially indigenous peoples and campesinos' families trough various organizational structures and accommodation of collective character, has a leading role in its development, management and control, and distribution of benefits. Tourist activity does not replace the traditional productive activities, but it is a way to expand and diversify opportunities in rural communities, helping to supplement the income of the campesinos family. Also there was a diversification and increased production of vegetables for direct consumption and for direct sales to tourist (mainly coffee). The new jobs related to tourism have generated cash income, improved welfare and living conditions; improving household food and education of children. In these experiences, the management of the accommodation is carried out mainly by women, contributing to their economic independence, improving their living conditions, participation and involvement in active management, including economic and administrative within rural communities. The project was carried out by the cooperative Garnacha, Northern Nicaragua.

My best regards,

angela