Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 1990
This description of John Wilson's work was prepared when John Wilson was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1990.
John Wilson is both a teacher and an agricultural reformer. Because the sort of sustainable farming he is introducing requires each farmer to think and plan creatively, he is both protecting Zimbabwe's natural resource base, which is increasingly at risk, and pressing the essence of development: the people's skill and will to think and take charge. Having seen how introducing farmers to this approach to agriculture changed them, he is now also developing it into a course that he hopes will become part of the elementary schools' curriculum.
The New Idea
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person


As well as the ongoing facilitation work outlined above, in the last couple of years I have been focusing on three areas in particular (all in Zimbabwe): establishing the Phiri Award for Farm and Food Innovators, the Zimbabwe Traditional and Organic Food Forum, and the Zimbabwe Seed Sovereignty Programme. The first is about recognising indigenous/local innovation in our food systems and giving these much more prominence. The second is about civil society working much more collaboratively to promote healthy eating, including increasing the link between farmers and consumers. The third brings together 7 organisations in Zimbabwe, including a farmers' network to strengthen the all important community based seed systems, that are so closely tied to nutrition.

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