A group of rural women’s «divine madness» pays off

A group of rural women’s “divine madness”:

Aquitania is a municipality with an economy based on the production and marketing of long onions, of which they are the main producer in the country. These have “colonized” the whole region, and in some neighborhoods there are no longer any green areas for children to play or adults to go for walks. This monoculture has only profited a few large landowners, but in no way has it benefitted the quality of life in rural areas, and has even generated very negative impact on Lake Tota due to the amount of fertilizers and pesticides used for this cultivation.

There is also a very negative social impact, as due to the reasonably well paid salaries in the onion sector, men have taken to drinking. This has generated a great increase of alcoholism among the men resulting in growing physical abuse of wives and children.

Getting their husbands to give up even a small portion of their fields to vegetable production seemed impossible, so the women started planting among the onion grooves. However, in 2011 the women had the good fortune of meeting Swissaid, a Swiss NGO active in the field of international development, which helped them set up ASOMUC in a formal manner, teaching the members the basics of administration and accounting and especially offering three advisors for animal husbandry, technical and social activities. So little by little, seeing the potential benefits, the husbands gave in. ASOMUC was consolidated, greenhouses were built and gardens were created. The association started commercializing its organic products and the women started to manufacture creams, soaps, shampoos all based on local plants and followed workshops to encourage community tourism.

They were even called crazy for planting those “bushes” (vegetables) instead of onions, but they have stuck to their “divine madness”.

This new disease has enabled the women to become much more aware of the soil and countryside, others have learned to fight for the increased well being of family and community, still others have learned to oppose violence in their own families and believe that dreams can become true. They have started transforming a community where damaging natural resources and polluting a whole lake with chemicals and fertilizers in obedience to the capitalist dream of maximum profit. Instead greater health and a more peaceful community and family life is now a reachable dream, and for some a reality.

Their work contributes to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals-Agenda 2030 - Target #5, #12 and #15.