Sistema.bio is one of the most experienced biogas teams around the world. And yet our biggest pride comes not from our biogas systems: it comes from the people we work with. Every day more and more people are choosing clean technology, opting for sustainable agricultural practices while feeding the world one community at a time. The Sistema.bio team works hand in hand with small farmers, creating affordable biogas systems that make sustainable agriculture a reality for smallholder farms around the world.
Imagine we could find exactly the people that will solve the world food crisis. Imagine we could have their names and their addresses. Now imagine we could take note of exactly what it is that they need in order to solve the crisis. Imagine a world where those needs are ignored and those people are chased out of their lands. What you have imagined is not some George Orwell-type plot. What you have imagined is the reality of today’s agricultural industry.
The food security agenda has been in the mouths of international governments and organizations for decades now. Not only has the problem been widely discussed, but the solution has also been clear for a while now: we need to focus our efforts on family farms around the world. And yet large agricultural corporations remain at the top of the food chain, hogging market shelves, lands, innovative technologies, and even workers. How and why is this allowed to happen?
The way we see it, there are multiple possible answers to this question. There are some obvious answers like the distribution of wealth under capitalism, market globalization and the fact that corporations, not farmers, hold all the power. But the obstacle also comes from the way we are looking at things. How exactly are we defining a family farm, and how does that affect the rules of the game?
In 2014, UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization talked about family farming as the key of global food security in its yearly report, The State of Food and Agriculture. While the document opened the door to a very important discussion, it failed in defining who it is exactly that we need to focus on. If we look at management and ownership, 70 to 80% of the world’s farmland belongs to family farms. Yet this tells us little to nothing about who has access to farming lands and what they are being used for. That same year GRAIN conducted another survey, this time focusing on farm size and food production. According to their findings, small farmers are feeding the world with about 24% of the world’s farmland, a percentage that is diminishing year after year. These are the farms we need to focus on. The ones that prioritize food production over industrial crops, the ones that opt for diversification of produce instead of monocultures, the ones that plant and harvest according to local weather. The ones that feed their families and their local communities. These are the people that Sistema.bio works with —the people we work for! We have for long seen their value, the huge role they play in ensuring food security around the world. And we also see the challenges they face: limited access to land, unaffordable expenses of fuel and farm inputs, lack of capital for clean and innovative technology.
Sistema.bio has worked over the years in providing affordable biodigesters to smallholder farmers so that they can produce their own energy. Our biofertilizer also helps improve soil health, therefore improving farm health and boosting crop yields.
There are several ways we can contribute to making things right. As consumers, we can opt for locally produced, fair trade organic products. As citizens, we can push for agrarian, energy and market reforms that defend farmer’s rights and keep lands in the hands of those who work it. As clean technology investors, we can facilitate innovation on a local level so that smallholder farmers can continue to make the most out of their lands.
In Sistema.bio we are aware of the impact that empowering small farmers will have. Which is why we focus on them, the true heroes of our time.