Ma. Estrella Penunia
Ms. Ma. Estrella “Esther” Penunia is secretary general of the Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA), a regional farmers organization (FO), currently with 22 national farmers’ organizations (FOs) in 16 Asian countries, with around 13 million family farmers as members, engaged in crops, livestock, fisheries, forestry, herding and pastoralism. AFA promotes a six-point agenda which includes rights to natural resources; sustainable, integrated, diversified, organic, agroecological systems in farms, fisheries and forests; viable farmers cooperatives and their enterprises; women farmers’ empowerment; youth in agriculture and quality management of FOs. Its programs include capacity building, knowledge management and policy advocacy. Esther spent more than three decades of professional years in the field of rural development, working in various capacities as community organizer, primary health care worker, participatory action researcher, trainer, gender advocate, consultant, campaigns coordinator, chief executive officer, board member and networker. She and her husband are currently working in partnership with a farming family in developing a 2-hectare upland farm through sustainable, integrated, diversified, organic practices.