Iles de Paix’s activities focus on promoting sustainable family agriculture and responsible food.
The number of people living in sometimes unbearable poverty remains high: food security is still a central challenge for humanity. The industrialised system of food production spreading worldwide is particularly toxic: it contributes to climate change, it destroys ecosystems, it excludes small farmers, it threatens the health of populations and it generates huge amounts of waste. Moreover, the system is extremely vulnerable to climate instability, the inevitable end of cheap energy, the scarcity of minerals such as phosphorus, used to make fertilisers, the depletion of water resources and economic crises. Iles de Paix believes the transition to more environmentally friendly forms of agriculture is the only possible option.
Since Iles de Paix was created over 50 years ago, most of its programmes have concentrated on family agriculture, processing the resulting products and bringing them to market.
Iles de Paix teams in the field ask three questions:
- How can we produce more?
- How can we produce at the right time?
- How can we make more profit?
- To produce more, it is essential to use the right seeds, have better access to water to irrigate fields, fertilise the soil with low-cost natural fertilisers, fight erosion, keep animals healthy and feed them a balanced diet etc.
- Food prices vary over the year. If everyone harvests at the same time, everyone will want to sell at the same time. Prices will collapse. Deferring or storing production enables better business.
- To make more profits, crops need to be processed. This might involve selling maize couscous rather than maize kernels, for example. Or cheese and yoghurt rather than milk. The benefits are considerable.
We want people to have more to eat, and we want the income generated by their work to cover their other basic needs (education, healthcare etc.).
Projects on a human scale
Iles de Paix has chosen to remain close to local populations. By working on a small scale, we reach out to beneficiaries and give them training that is truly valuable. Neighbours can imitate a successful project if its size makes it accessible. A farmer can more easily copy the layout of a market garden, for example. We seek to achieve the famous “ripple effect”.
We give an initial helping hand and support projects in their early stages. Through their own actions, people then realise they are responsible for their success. They are convinced they have the potential to manage by themselves.
The essential is invisible to the eye
A henhouse or a borehole are clear evidence that living conditions are improving. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. These achievements reflect intense, far-reaching changes. Even though it can’t be seen, people have come together to take action with the support of Iles de Paix, contributing their strength, their energy and their motivation.
They have greater confidence in themselves and their own abilities. This confidence enables them to engage in new activities and initiate a virtuous circle of development.
Clearly, the essential is invisible to the eye…