Radical Actions by Radical Farmers

Regional Revitalization in the Okitama Basin of Yamagata Prefecture

Author: Darrell Gene Moen

Abstract:

This report describes the ways in which a group of organic farmers in Yamagata Prefecture have been able to effect basic structural changes that contribute to the social transformative process of counter-hegemony. Members of the Okitama Farmers' League (OFL) have initiated a regional revitalization plan that is based on the concept of eco-circularity in which local household food wastes and other organic materials are converted into compost for use by area organic farmers. By forming organic farmers' collectives, members provide farm-related work in rural areas during the long winter months. The women farmers in the group formed a support group for farm wives to fight collectively against female subordination within the household as well as to improve the overall position of women in the Okitama area. They are challenging the dominant culture's values and social assumptions, and are engaged in creating new cultural values and definitions of self in relation to others. The OFL offers a vision of a noneconomistic, democratized, and environmentally sustainable society centered on universal principles of human rights, social justice, and popular participation in the reformulation of the meanings attached to work, authority, culture, family, community, gender, and consumption.

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September 2002
© FAO/Giulio Napolitano