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Agriculture and Autonomy in the Middle East

The Deaver Wellness Farm at Lankenau Medical Center.
Photo Credit: Lankenau (via Yes! Magazine)

In Rojava, a segment in Syria also famous as North Kurdistan, a groundbreaking examination in community living, social justice, and ecological vitality is holding place. Devastated by polite war, Syria is a place where a relinquishment of hostilities mostly seems like the many that can be hoped for. But Rojava has set its sights much higher. What started as a transformation for domestic liberty in the city of Kobane has blossomed into an try to build a radical pluralist democracy on the beliefs of community oneness — with food security, equivalence for women, and a localized, anti-capitalist economy at its core.

The Mesopotamian Ecology Movement (MEM) has been at the heart of Rojava’s approved series given its inception. The Movement grew out of single-issue campaigns against dam construction, meridian change and deforestation, and in 2015 went from being a tiny collection of internal ecological groups to a bone-fide network of “ecology councils” that are active in every canton of Rojava, and in adjacent Turkey as well. Its mission, as one of its many distinguished first members, Ercan Ayboğa, says, is to “strengthen the ecological impression of the Kurdish leisure transformation [and] the Kurdish women’s movement.”

It’s not an easy process. Neoliberal policies, fight and meridian change have done for an considerable register of challenges. Crop farrago has been undermined due to longstanding subsidies for monocultures. Stocks of internal seeds are declining. The segment has been hit by trade embargoes from Turkey, Iraq, and the executive Syrian government, and villages have been theme to forced banishment and depopulation. Groundwater pot are diminishing, and meridian change is shortening rainfall. Many wells and farms were broken by the self-described Islamic State, and many farmers have been killed by land mines. Much of the segment is but electricity. And there has been an liquid of refugees from the rest of Syria, journey polite war.


As MEM sees it, the solutions to these overlapping problems must be holistic and systemic. Ercan gives an considerable outline of MEM’s priorities: Decreasing Rojava’s coherence on imports, returning to normal water-conserving cultivation techniques, advocating for ecological policy-making at the metropolitan level, compelling internal crops and stock and normal construction methods, organizing educational activities, operative against mortal and exploitative “investment” and infrastructure projects such as dams and mines — in short, “the mobilization of an ecological resistance” towards anything guilty of “commercializing the waters, commodifying the land, determining inlet and people, and compelling the expenditure of hoary fuels.”

In 2016, MEM published a stipulation of its social and ecological aims, and it is a thing of beauty. “We must defend,” it says, “the approved republic against the nation-state; the community economy against capitalism, with its quick-profit-seeking proof and monopolism and vast industries; organic agriculture, ecological villages and cities, ecological industry, and choice appetite and record against the rural and appetite policies imposed by entrepreneur modernity.”

Getting children concerned in all of this is critical. Schools in Rojava learn ecology as a elemental principle. In 2016, with the support of Slow Food International and the Rojava Ministry of Water and Agriculture, MEM helped build a series of school gardens in villages around the city of Kobane, in sequence to yield a ‘laboratory’ for children to learn about the region’s biodiversity and how to caring for it. These gardens are flourishing fruit trees, figs and pomegranates instead of corn and wheat monocultures. Some have been planted on land that was once probably broken by ISIS. In Rojava, even cultivation comes inherently infused with a suggestion of resistance. “We grew up on this land and we haven’t deserted it,” says Mustafa, a teacher whose school was one of those to accept a new garden in 2016. “As a people of farmers and stock breeders, we have always tended the crops using the own techniques, which are thousands of years old.” As the MEM stipulation says, “Bringing ecological alertness and sensibility to the orderly social globe and to educational institutions is as critical as organizing the own assemblies.”

The suggestion of insurgency is as alive in the area of multitude and economics as it is on the land. The mild economy in Rojava is booming. Michel Knapp, a longtime romantic in the Kurdish leisure transformation and co-author of the book Revolution in Rojava, observes that many cooperatives in Rojava are “small, with some 5 to 10 members producing textiles, rural products and groceries, but there are some bigger cooperatives too, like a mild nearby Amûde that guarantees many of the keep for over 2,000 households and is even means to sell on the market.”

The supervision of Rojava is approved and decentralized, with residential communes and internal councils giving people liberty and control over decisions that impact their lives. Municipal-level supervision bodies are evenly integrated into the operations of MEM, in a one-of-a-kind partnership between the open and nonprofit spheres. And the jail complement is being radically reformed, with internal ‘peace committees’ profitable courtesy to the social and domestic measure of crime in flitting judgment. Most cities enclose no some-more than one or two dozen prisoners, according to Ercan.

And to top it all, women have taken a heading role in every facet of the revolution. Women’s cooperatives are a common steer in Rojava, as are women’s councils, women’s committees, and women’s confidence forces. Women’s ecovillages have been built both in Rojava and opposite the limit in Turkish Kurdistan, directed at assisting victims of domestic assault and trauma. Patriarchy is just one some-more aspect of the neoliberal program being expel aside in Rojava, on the highway towards building what MEM describes as “a radical democratic, communal, ecological, women-liberated society.”

Originally published on the Economics of Happiness Blog 

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