“Some of the poorest and most disempowered people in the world are being cast aside.”
One of the most touching experiences of the Farmageddon journey was hearing the plight of indigenous people thrown off their ancestral land after it was sold off for industrial farming.
They lived deep in the forests of north-eastern Argentina, an area so remote and impenetrable that early Spanish settlers called it the Impenetrable Forest. Some still survive in the shrinking wilderness. Many, like those I met on the outskirts of Rosario, have been displaced into the suburbs.
My time with the once proud people of the Toba Qom tribe was deeply troubling. They were living in extremely basic housing in an area rife with crime. We met in the community centre where ten men sat round the table in a poorly-lit room. We drank maté together, a bitter herbal tea made from the yerba plant served in a communal cup with curved nickel straw.
It was a difficult few hours, complicated by the fact that the Qom have their own language. Through a translator, I learned how their people have been pushed into smaller and smaller territories.
The secretary of the group told me how a multinational company had bought the land they were living on; “The provincial government sold our land, with us included in the price, because we happened to be there. We had no value of course… they fenced off the land and installed armed guards.”
The land was ploughed up to grow GM soya for export as soya meal to feed industrially reared animals in Europe and China.
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