When Gabriela Blanco tells other Cubans that she works in an organic vegetable cooperative and is getting ready to study agronomy at the university, she gets surprised looks.
“The people are the only thing that matters,” says agronomist Miguel Ángel Salcines, who then goes on to list a series of other “secondary” factors that have turned Vivero Alamar, an urban farm on the outskirts of the Cuban capital, into a rare success story in the country’s depressed agricultural sector.
The wake of the global financial crisis, as many national governments in Europe cut back on services to citizens and used public money to rescue banks, taught many people a valuable lesson.
Nora Padilla, one of the six winners of this year’s Goldman environmental prize, dedicates her days to organising informal recyclers in the Colombian capital, where the city’s eight million inhabitants are just now reluctantly starting to classify their garbage at source.
International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) initiatives working to overcome poverty and improve food security in the Colombian countryside can make a positive contribution to government efforts to tackle some of the most neglected problems facing this South American country.
Toiling beneath a blazing sun in the humid heat of the Amazon, Waldemar dos Santos, 60, tends the community garden he shares with other landless peasant farmers in the Brazilian state of Pará, as they wait for agrarian reform to provide them with the opportunity for a better life.
Wholemeal rye bread, lettuce and chard are some of the products on offer from the El Caminito urban vegetable garden at the small organic produce market in this southern Spanish city, with prices set in "comunes", one of more than 30 social currencies circulating in the country.
“For the past five years we’ve collected garbage by traditional means: donkey and cart,” says Abdel Rahem Abulkumboz, director of health and environment at the Municipality of Gaza. The municipality of Gaza alone produces 700 tons of waste daily, Kumboz says. More than half of this waste is collected daily by 250 donkey carts.
Separating Maria Gomes Morais’ farm and a school in Rio de Janeiro are fields, hills and dirt roads that are impassable when it rains. But a school meal programme has forged a path linking the fresh produce harvested by small farmers like her with the need to provide nourishment to 45 million schoolchildren around Brazil.
The residents of San Crisanto, a small communal village nestled in an idyllic setting in the southeastern Mexican state of Yucatán, have learned that valuing and protecting natural resources can generate employment and income.
The execution-style killing of a leader of the Landless Workers' Movement in a sugarcane plantation in the southeastern Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro, where bodies of opponents of the dictatorship were incinerated in the 1970s, recalls one of the most tragic chapters in this country's history.
On a hillside overlooking Port-au-Prince, a muscular Haitian man in a green tank top raises a heavy steel pry bar over his head and brings it down into a hole, shattering a bit of Haiti’s limestone skeleton.
A World Bank-funded community development project in Haiti appears to have inadvertantly harmed or even dissolved some of the grassroots organisations it was designed to strengthen.
"We never used to eat carrots, but now we like them," said Rebeca Soba, admiring her vegetable garden, an island of diversity in the midst of a vast sugarcane plantation.
Vegetable gardening has been introduced at the Capanda Agroindustrial Pole (PAC) as a source of income for local small farmers.
"Canjinjin has special powers," said Deize Coelho de Barros. The recipe for this local liquor, made from a mixture of herbs, was handed down from her African ancestors, and is seen as a sort of traditional "Viagra" in her homeland, the western Brazilian state of Mato Grosso.