Increasing the market Opportunities: Well being initiative

Wellbeing Initiative: a Global Food Sovereignty Study
–  A GESA Alumni Innovation Fund project – 

written by Vanessa Reid

Vanessa 224x300 Introducing the Wellbeing Initiative

What role does the global food system of production, distribution, and consumption play in human well-being? Are we connected to the food we eat, the hands that grew it and the land that produced it, or is the current, and pervasive commercial food system only adding to a sense of anonymity and unaccountability within this daily exchange? Does the food we eat reflect our political orientations and our social and environmental ethics, or exactly the opposite? These were just some of the many questions that emerged from discussions throughout our experience at GESA 2013. And as it drew to a close, it became apparent just how many avenues of exploration and conversation these questions had the potential to unleash. Determined to explore further, we – GESA 2013 participants Yuki Yoshida, Vanessa Reid and Kaylena Bray, along with GDF staff Susannah McCandless and Emily Caruso – decided to create what has now become the Wellbeing Initiative, with the subject of food being our central theme. In an effort to understand the diversity of the food sovereignty movement and its political, social and economic ramifications, our initiative plan is to build a global action network. We have already begun carrying out case study research that explores commonalities and differences between diverse social, economic, and cultural approaches to food sovereignty, examining how they are redefining the current food paradigm and what ‘food sovereignty’ means in practice in different contexts. We plan to create a web platform that gathers and shares case studies of wellbeing initiatives, as well as a unique online repository of resources and analyses surrounding wellbeing-centred alternatives. Each GESA alumni is backed by the respective NGOs we work with or are affiliated with and which support the initiative: Yuki – The Global Diversity Foundation, Kaylena – The Cultural Conservancy, and myself –The ICCA Consortium. We are fortunate enough to have Michel Pimbert and Octaviana Trujillo as mentors and advisors throughout the process. Michel is Director of Centre for Agroecology and Food Security at the University of Coventry and was a GESA 2013 resource person. Octaviana is Professor and Founding Chair of the Department of Applied Indigenous Studies at the Northern Arizona University, was a GESA resource person in 2011, and co-organizer of NACELE in Fall 2013. Thanks to support from the GESA Alumni Innovation

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About Graduate Farmers

TGFA is a civil society organization whose membership base constitute highly learned, capable, experienced and aspirants of becoming commercial farmers in Tanzania. Membership also comprises agricultural consultants (researchers) and retired people from the civil service sectors who deal with agriculture and agriculture marketing in general. The major aim of TGFA is to develop, promote, and influence structured business and initiatives that encourages and motivate youth especially graduates to tap in profitable agriculture value chains in both rural and urban areas in Tanzania with defined rules and regulations. TGFA also aimed at bringing dialogues for advocating improvement of the policy and enabling business environment in the country economy, strengthen information dissemination, technology and innovation, agribusiness development skills, business linkages and reduce constraints along the sector value chain. The word ‘graduate’, as it appears on the title, does not strictly mean that one has to have university degree, rather a catch word that connotes a paradigm shift in thinking, especially in the developing countries, that farming is largely for the unprivileged, most less educated and poor people in rural areas towards a new thinking that farming can only be meaningful and actual backbone of the economy if and only if the highly learned, capable (in terms of finances and other resources) and inspired individuals in urban areas embark into it even as part-timers.
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