THE BLOG
01/31/2011 07:06 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Grassroots Grow Anti-Starvation Gardens

A small community garden, situated in a remote rural backwater, is breaking new ground towards sustainable, organic, healthy food production. Twenty-one women have converted their subsistence gardens that once barely produced enough to feed their own families into a robust community garden producing a surplus for sale at the local market.

In the words of the group's treasurer, "Many of our neighbors use artificial fertilizers and chemical pesticides, but we now have the skills to be able to produce naturally and successfully." Her name is Mrs. Mncube. She and her neighbors live in the KwaHhohho region of South Africa.

To counter rural South Africa's ongoing food crisis, Biowatch has established indigenous seed banks to empower Ms. Mncube and other farmers to preserve local "food sovereignty" with sustainable, organic food production methods. You can watch a video about Mrs. Mncube and her campaign for food justice below.

"The reason people go hungry today has nothing at all to do with a gap between the amount of food in the world....There's more than enough food on earth today to feed the world one and half times over," according to Raj Patel in the Value of Nothing. The challenge, Patel concludes, is lack of economic and political empowerment.

One out of seven people in the world is slowly starving to death -- a de facto global concentration camp of hunger. One billion people lack the basic daily calories needed to survive. This is what the policy wonks mean by "food insecurity."

Casting aside the sterile language of the economic development geeks, imagine if one out of seven people lacked "clothes security" and walked around nearly naked part of the year. Global hunger should make you sad or mad.

Consider Biowatch's American collaborator, IDEX (International Development Exchange). Recently awarded a coveted Fellowship to the 2011 Opportunity Collaboration, IDEX is not your typical top-down, know-it-all economic development nonprofit. Started in 1985 by a handful of ex-Peace Corps volunteers who believed "small grants targeted to grassroots groups -- who had the trust of their neighbors and the knowledge of what was needed in their own communities -- [would be] more effective than traditional large scale philanthropy."

Biowatch is one example of IDEX's commitment to nurturing innovation and problem-solving at the village and community level. IDEX currently works with grassroots partners in Guatemala, India, Mexico, Nepal, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

None of us wants to get tricked or trapped into responding to a genuine problem, like mass hunger, with phony philanthropy. None of us wants to go through the senseless activity of appearing to help people without taking into account the "unseen cemetery of invisible consequences."

Want to make a growing difference? IDEX is your answer.