Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Youth Empowerment for Transformative Food Systems

by Adriana Murguia

Food insecurity, chronic poverty, and outmigration plague coffee growing communities in Latin America. Rural youth find farming livelihoods as unviable and search for a wage elsewhere. In response to these problems, the Community Agroecology Network (CAN) facilitates agroecology-based food security projects in its "AgroEco" coffee sites to create viable economic opportunities to reverse the trend of youth leaving their communities to find work elsewhere. An opportunity to connect with young people from these communities is taking place in February, and volunteers are needed to make the Intercambio (Exchange) a success.


In 2011, the Youth Network for Food Security and Food Sovereignty (Jovenes SSAN) formed to promote youth leadership opportunities in order to involve younger generations in creating transformative food systems. The youth network has expanded from its coffee sites in Nicaragua and Mexico and has included university students from Veracruz and Quintana Roo. Connecting and training youth leaders across multiple project initiatives deepens knowledge and capacity, creating beneficial exchange and innovation within each of the associated communities. The youth network comes together annually as an 8 day conference known as Intercambio (Exchange), which has become a platform for knowledge exchange on strategies and models for achieving food sovereignty. A similar food security initiative is being developed in Santa Cruz. Last spring (2014) FoCAN held a local intercambio, “Beyond Organic,” in which they brought multiple workers in the food systems into one panel. This year's Intercambio will take place February 13-20, 2015.

Impacts 
The Youth Network has had four annual exchanges and two regional exchanges. After participating in the Intercambio, youth leaders have expressed a strong desire to continue expanding the youth network, receive more training in agroecology, and build stronger national and international ties. 


Interested in volunteering during their stay in Santa Cruz? 
Volunteers will be needed to prepare meals, shop for food, set up and clean up events, and provide translations during Intercambio, which will take place February 13-20, 2015. To sign up to volunteer this year, please follow this link.

Questions? Email focan [at] ucsc [dot] edu

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Adriana Murguia is the Intercambio Coordinator for Friends of Community Agroecology Network. Last year, she was a Provost's Sustainability Intern for the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems Real Food Project.

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