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International in-person convening for Grassroots Technological Innovations for Agroecology

18 to 21 of October 2023, Italy

Fostering collaboration between grassroots agricultural innocation networks

What is this gathering?

This convening will bring together organizations and local networks whose work uplifts smallholder farmers’ capacity to co-create their own agricultural technologies. The convening is part of a broader initiative to build an international Assembly of organizations cooperating to make technological

sovereignty a reality. This gathering centers a core group of organizations who are active in on-the- ground grassroots innovation work, as a foundational step towards weaving together a larger global

Assembly that will continue to collaborate into the future. Around 15 grassroots organizations will meet in Italy, from 18 to 21 of October 2023 (arrivals are foreseen on 17th). The 4-days meeting will be the opportunity to explore collectively how we develop adequate, affordable, adaptable technologies (physical and digital) with rural communities and smallholders farmers. A detailed agenda will be suggested early September based on online discussion. The meeting will be held in English and will allow one representative per organization only due to budget limitations.

Why does it matter?

This gathering takes place as industrial agriculture becomes increasingly dependent on data-use, digitalization, and other complex technologies. We want to explore what these trends mean for us as smallholders around the world. Are these emerging technologies suitable for our farming activities? Are they responsive to our needs? How do they affect individual and community rights such as our rights to privacy, land, and food? Despite the fact that family farmers produce 80% of the world’s food, mainstream technology continues to serve and promote bigger and bigger farms. Smallholder farmers have overcome this lack of appropriate technologies through cooperative innovation. These grassroots technologies allow small farms to adapt, to be financially viable, to process our own products, to save resources, and to share knowledge. As smallholders face increasing pressure from environmental crises and corporate consolidation, now is the time to strengthen our networks to advance technological autonomy and sovereignty for smallholders.

Who is the gathering for?

The gathering is for organizations and local networks who are promoting the technological sovereignty of small-scale food producers. “Technology” encompasses physical tools, equipment, and digital tools. We welcome organizations that representpeasants, fisherfolks, pastoralists, seed savers, local food-processors, etc. We will collectively continue to clarify the types of organizations needed in this international network as it evolves.

What will we do together?

In the first global gathering of this network, we will exchange experiences with the potential to unlock innovations that multiply and enrich our local work. This includes sharing knowledge about critical dimensions such as organizational models, policy work, institutional arrangements, funding strategies, digital tools, challenging the mainstream top-down culture, and alliances with agroecology movements, social movement, academia, IT experts, and much more. We aim to build solidarity and trust amongst organizations that are working towards our shared goals of agroecology and food sovereignty by supporting community-led innovations. We see the value of collective intelligence that emerges through collaboration across geographies and organizations. Just as co-creation at the community scale can overcome local challenges, international and regional collaboration can catalyse innovation and partnerships to address systemic challenges. We understand that collaboration moves at the pace of trust, so the future strategy and work of the network will be developed by the network itself as we explore the specific opportunities for global collaboration to create meaningful change.

Want to learn more?

See the background white paper Technological autonomy not autonomous technology

See the OpenGrains video on the emergence of grassroots agricultural innovation networks