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10 June 2014 | | | |

GRANECO: an agroecological grain production cooperative in Montevideo, Uruguay

Through the testimony of Mauricio Vives, Real World Radio learned more about an unprecedented experience in Uruguay: the production of agroecologcal whole-wheat flour by family farmers in Montevideo.

The GRANECO cooperative is made up of a dozen family farmers from the rural area of the department of Montevideo. Although 50 per cent of the total population of the South American country lives in this department, almost half of its territory is considered of rural use and a large part of the legumes and fruits consumed in the city come from here.

However, a new experience of grain cultivation (especially wheat) began three years ago and a year ago this cooperative started producing whole-wheat flour traded in local markets or at “Eco Tienda”, an ecological shop created by the Uruguayan Agroecology Network.

Mauricio Vives, member of GRANECO and the Network for the Saving and Revaluation of Native Seeds of Uruguay, a joint project by Future Earth (Sweden), REDES – Friends of the Earth (Uruguay) and the University of the Republic, talked to Real World Radio about this experience and the principles behind it.

Of an initial area of six hectares, today GRANECO aims to broaden its membership and reach 60 hectares of winter crops, rotating them with summer crops, harvested with an old thresher which perfectly adapts to the needs and conditions of the cooperative members.

Agroecology, family farming and a production-value chain that integrates all processes, from the farmer to the final consumer, are the “pillars” of GRANECO, said Mauricio to Real World Radio.

He considered this experience is “innovative” since it uses a “no-till farming” technique, without the use of herbicides or agrotoxics. The seeds used are improvements by local populations facilitated by the National Agricultural Research Institute (INIA).

This experience has meant the development of their own logistics and the main challenge today is to supply an increasing demand for agroecological food, directly from the rural family lands.

The grounding of the flour, in addition to capacity-building events by GRANECO have been carried out with the support of the Rural Montevideo Unit of the Government of Montevideo. GRANECO has an agroecologically certified mill at the Agricultural Activities Park of the local government.

Imagen: www.montevideo.gub.uy

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