“To forget how to dig the earth and care for the soil is to forget ourselves”. (Mahatma Gandhi)
After the conquest, an intensive agricultural system was introduced in the Canary Islands for the export of products such as sugar, wine and dyes. These monocultures gradually depleted water reserves and altered the landscape. The final blow came with the introduction of bananas, an extremely water-demanding crop. In the middle of the 20th century, galleries (sometimes several kilometres long) began to be dug in order to tap into the groundwater. With the extraction of groundwater reserves and the progressive fall in the water table, the once abundant springs, waterfalls and natural streams on many of the islands of our archipelago began to disappear.
Throughout the second half of the 20th century, the islands underwent profound changes linked to the transformation of the agricultural economy into an economy based on tourism. As a result, the midlands of the islands have been the scene of a real rural exodus, with a progressive abandonment of farmland. This has led to an exceptional increase in food imports from abroad, with the consequent problem of dependence and, in addition, the pollution caused by transport. At the same time, on a global scale, the so-called Green Revolution was experienced, which allowed food production to increase through the use of more resistant cereals and the intensive application of chemicals, at an absolutely unsustainable environmental cost.
It is therefore essential, both globally and perhaps even more so on our islands, to promote a transition to agricultural practices that regenerate the ecosystems in which they are implemented.
Photos: Jonathan García
From the Foundation we understand that regeneration is only possible if we relate to the land from a perspective of absolute respect, where it ceases to be a resource for exploitation and becomes the support of life of which human beings are just another part that has to recover its function within the ecosystem to contribute to its care and maintenance. It is our responsibility to regenerate what we ourselves have degraded. Recovering a vision that supports the maintenance of life means transforming our relationships with other people and other species, thus promoting justice, equality and health. Promoting the reduction of agrotoxins, the use of local seeds, the repopulation of native flora, bringing life to the soil, moving from monoculture to polyculture and favouring subsistence and local consumption, where the local population can recover their food sovereignty and therefore fairer and healthier relationships, are fundamental lines of action for our Foundation.
“It is a paradigm shift within our consciousness, greening the inner desert as well as the outer desert, from monoculture to polyculture, from simplification to diversity, from separation to unity, from fear to trust, from lies, exploitation and manipulation to respect, cooperation and interdependence. Moving from the intervening individual to the participant in the ecosystem. Without this profound redefinition of vision, we run the risk of changing fundamentally nothing”. (Presentation by Carlos Pons in the book Sowing in the Desert by Masanobu Fukuoka, published by Red de Permacultura del Sureste Ibérico).