ASSEFA: a growing forest

Publish date 21-10-2022

by Gianfranco Cattai

In 1967 Giorgio Ceragioli and Edo Gorzegno, two well-known names, with Lent of Fraternity of the Turin Catholic Center against hunger in the world, financed the first Sarvodaya farm for about 7.5 million lire - about 3,800 euros today but obviously to be revalued.
After this project, ASSEFA (Association for Sarva Seva Farms) was legally established in 1970 on the initiative of Giovanni Ermiglia, which today involves 10 million people! Moreover, in recent decades many boys and girls from village schools have continued their studies, some graduating and one became a Catholic priest and parish priest in a village. In the United Nations Encyclopedia on the economy of social solidarity, ASSEFA is recognized for a new economy as an alternative to capitalism and socialism by expert groups around the world.

«The mission of ASSEFA has its roots in the Gandhian philosophy of Sarvodaya (a path of non-violence) which aims to give life to a society in which equality and freedom towards all human beings are central. It is a rural development plan that adopts a decentralized approach to democracy, decision making, and collective action ”.
ASSEFA is currently operating in 10,000 villages and affects the lives of over 1,845,700 rural families in Tamil Nadu. Most of the rural people are involved in the agricultural economy and depend on agriculture for their survival.
ASSEFA at the village level engages in a holistic set of interventions that includes improving the quality of life, incorporating health and hygiene, education, gender equality, and justice and community resources for sustainability, which are associated with more than one of the Millennium Goals.
An example of effective economic and sustainable village level programs are dairy farms undertaken by families, especially women, which involve caring and milking cows. This impact SDG (Sustainable Development Goal) 5 on gender equality, SDG 8 on the creation of economic opportunities, SDG 10 on addressing inequality, and SDG 12 on consumption and production ».

«Yvon Porirer and Kumar Logathan (2019) describe ASSEFA as a large-scale organization that embodies all aspects of development, namely women's empowerment, business development, and environmental concerns, as well as human rights, l 'housing, and the food needs of the poor'.
I gladly wanted to mention this experience as a good practice, also for having followed it directly with many friends. Including the Sermig.
But I did it mainly because it saddens me that this kind of results are not endorsed and publicized by the system of international cooperation, by the mass media, by those of us who have central and local government positions and must give legs to a state law. which provides for the enhancement of the results achieved.

Gianfranco Cattai
NP June / July 2022

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