Next week an international farmers' conference will take place in Mali to stop land grabbing. Organized by La Via Campesina, it is aimed at opening a space to listen to and learn from local peasants, mainly from African countries, on what they have to say about land grabbing and to unite forces to resist the process and build future strategies.
In Africa there is a story that has been passed down through the years about a woman from Mali named Nyéléni, who challenged patriarchal power by excelling at something that was considered “men's work”: agriculture. As well as defeating her male opponents in farming competitions, she also managed to overcome the arid climate and domesticate crops like fonio and samio, which made it possible to feed the whole population of Mali .
Known by its historical past because of the vast and powerful empire that surprised European visitors in the XIV century, nowadays the Malian territory comprises more than 1,200,000 square kilometres in West Africa, over the Sahara desert in the north, the Sahel grasslands in the centre and the savannah region in the south. In the Sahel, human life as well as that of the flora and fauna follow the Niger River's annual flood cycle, with high water levels between August and November.