They catch the fish you eat and harvest the rice you stir-fry. But there’s something that sets these farmers apart. They’ve taken on farming methods that has influenced the way they think about food and changed their way of life.
Hear and watch more about their stories below.
“A Sustainable Catch” – Thailand
Back in 2006, Jirasak Meerit, a 42 year-old fisherman from Ao Khan Kadai in Prachuap Khiri Khan province, southern Thailand, saw things differently. As a small-scale fisherman he had been using the same techniques for about 30 years. So when he began to hear about more commercial fishing methods that other communities were employing he decided to switch tactics. At first, the change was good – his catch increased and he was able to sell much more than usual. But after a while he began to realise that the fish stocks in the area were taking longer to recover, and the population had drastically reduced.
“Maybe it was good for a month, but then we had to wait a year until they grew again and became big enough for us to catch,” says Jirasak.
Determined to find a solution, Jirasak and his fellow peers joined forces to prevent them from suffering an overfishing crisis. They set up regulations in the Ao Khan Kadai community to promote the use of sustainable methods, such as catching only mature sea animals and using non-destructive fishing gear, and eventually their catch and income began to increase.
“We wanted to tell his story and offer sustainable solutions to destructive fishing methods,” says writer and director Biel Calderon from Greenpeace Southeast Asia. “After spending a day with Jirasak, I felt inspired by his devotion to his work, community and the ecosystem. He’s a hard worker, not only as a fisherman, but also as an advocate for sustainability in the oceans.”
“Farmed With Love” – China
China is no stranger to food scandals. But on the outskirts of bustling Shanghai a former office worker has turned her back on city life, to return to the countryside near where she grew up.
“At first I wanted to learn farming methods from the local farmers but they are all used to using chemicals, fertilisers and pesticides,” says farmer Hou Xueying. “I wanted to find a way to farm naturally, [but] to the farmers this seemed impossible.”
Hou Xueying has proven that farming organically and in plentiful amounts is possible. Flocks of ducks waddle in her rice fields, helping to fertilise the soil and pick out weeds; and she only feeds organic produce to her chicken, pigs and sheep. Whilst she may no longer live in the city, she still makes sure she remains connected by selling her products online.
“Consumers have the power to change the agricultural market and hopefully influence the government to ensure food safety,” says Li Yang, producer of Farmed With Love at Greenpeace East Asia. “Even I buy ecological produce now. It’s healthier and it tastes better too!”
For Hou Xueying, her next project is to use the farm as a platform to educate kids about nature.
“When I asked some of the co-op member’s children where they think vegetables come from they told me “markets”, or “fridges”. Their answers were very cute but also pretty sad because those children have no idea where the food they eat comes from.”
You can watch the film here.
Shuk-Wah Chung is a Content Editor at Greenpeace East Asia. Follow her on Twitter @shookiewah
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