For this edition, there was a special focus on women's leadership; the four women from COPAGEN were very interested in studying DDS's grassroots model for women's empowerment and leadership development. They were also eager to share back the results of the three-year participatory research project on GM cotton that COPAGEN conducted in collaboration with Inter Pares, as the study's methodology was based on DDS' own similar study a decade earlier.
For their part, DDS members were thrilled to hear of how COPAGEN's farmer-led research study contributed to growing public debate in Burkina Faso on that country's use of Bt cotton, the form of GM cotton that is also grown in India. In 2017, Bt cotton was phased out entirely, as Burkinabé cotton companies could not find any buyers for the Bt cotton, which proved to be of inferior quality. Despite hundreds of thousands of suicides across India since Bt cotton was introduced - suicides which have been directly attributed to the terrible debts farmer incur through expensive Bt cotton cultivation that have brought low yields of poor quality - it is still cultivated in India. DDS members were also very interested to learn more about the success in advocacy and public mobilization that COPAGEN members have had in different countries.
When participants bade each other warm farewells, it was clear that this relationship was one that would last and continue to grow. Inter Pares is honoured to work with both DDS and COPAGEN to promote agroecology and food sovereignty as we walk the path together.