Who are we?
Iala Amazônico is an agro-ecological institute located in the Brazilian Amazon, in the state of Pará. It is part of a network of other IALAs (Institutes for Agro-ecology in Latin America), created by Via Campesina.
The goal of these institutes is to spread agro-ecological practices among peasants as a means to guarantee food sovereignty and independence from agribusiness companies. At the same time, with agro-ecological practices farmers produce and consume healthier food and restore the environment.
To achieve this, the IALAs organize workshops and seminars, offer internship places but also organize a two year post-graduate course in agro-ecology. But more than being training institutes, they are meeting points, where people come to learn, but also to share and exchange their own experiences. The international network of IALAs is very important as the interchange of students among Latin American countries allows for a broad exchange of experiences and practices. It also promotes regional integration and cooperation, thus strengthening the organizations of Via Campesina throughout the continent in their battle for land reform and a fairer society, based on humanistic and socialistic principles, instead of the monopolizing capitalistic ones.
Read more about IALA, the MST and Via Campesina in "Ideas for the political thoughts of Via Campesina in the Amazon", by Charles Trocate.
The IALA network
Via Campesina started to establish an international network of agroecological institutes in 2005. This was done in the context of the ALBA (the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas) and counted with the support of the Venezuelan government. The first institute to be created was the ELAA (Latin American School for Agro-ecology) in the state of Paraná, in the south of Brasil. Two years later, IALA Paulo Freire was created in Venezuela. In 2009 Hugo Chavez participated of the inauguration ceremony of the IALA Amazônico, together with the governor of Pará and in 2011 the Venezuelan government, together with that of Paraguay, supported the creation of Iala Guarani, in Paraguay. Soon four more IALAs will be created in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.
La Via Campesina is the international movement which brings together millions of peasants, small and medium-size farmers, landless people, women farmers, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers from around the world. It defends small-scale sustainable agriculture as a way to promote social justice and dignity. It strongly opposes corporate driven agriculture and transnational companies that are destroying people and nature.
La Via Campesina comprises about 150 local and national organizations in 70 countries from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. Altogether, it represents about 200 million farmers. It is an autonomous, pluralist and multicultural movement, independent from any political, economic or other type of affiliation.
In Brasil, member organizations of Via Campesina include MST (Landless Farmers Movement), MMC (Movement of Peasant Women), MAB (Movement of those affected by Dams), MPA (movement of Small Scale Farmers), among others.
IALA Amazônico has strong links with the MST as it was established in one of the rural settlements concurred by the movement: Palmares II, located in the municipality of Parauapebas. It was created in 1996 and is located next to the largest open pit iron ore mine of the world, run by Vale, Brazil´s largest mining corporation. Around 2500 families live in the settlement.
Post-graduation course in Rural education, Agroecology and Agrarian conflicts in the Amazon
The first post-graduation course in Rural education, Agroecology and Agrarian conflicts in the Amazon took place between 2010 and 2012 and was organized in partnership with the Federal University of Pará (UFPA). Since then, the UFPA has been split up to form several independent regional universities. Therefore, the second course, due to start in September 2013 will be given in partnership with the Federal University of the South and Southeast of Pará (UNIFESSPA). The course is given in 4 modules of one or two months each, during which the students are interns at the IALA. In between the modules they go home to study, work and implement the things they have learned. The course is specifically orientated to peasants who must be indicated by one of the member organizations of Via Campesina. About 20% of the students come from other Latin American countries, with preference to those who are also located within the Amazon basin.