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Zimbabwe: Water Harvesting in a Changing Climate

By Pelum Zimbabwe - La Via Campesina, July 15, 2022

“Water harvesting, in every sense should start at the household level. Water is sacred, and we have to nurture that love and relationship with water”

In this brief video, Nelson Mudzingwa from the Zimbabwe Small Holder Organic Farmers’ Forum explains the different techniques of water harvesting that is followed in six block of farms, cultivated with help from the Shashe Agroecology School.

He explains the use of dead level contours in preventing water from flowing off the land, and allows its infiltration into the soil.

“In the arable land we have nine earth dams and in the grazing area we have three earth dams. All the dams are connected in the arable land by a contour line. Our longest contour is almost 700 metres long, cutting across the arable land and connecting to homesteads. We have other contours that are less than 200 metres long. These contours are connected to the earth dams,” explains Nelson.

“Earth Dams, that can collect upto 200 cubic metres of water during heavy rains is another example of land-use that enable water harvesting”, he says. “Micro basins, about two feet deep, also help in harvesting water.”

“We also follow some upland techniques of water harvesting here. We build barriers, that can prevent run-off. All these techniques help us conserve the little rainfall we receive every year. Wet soil carries life, and we have to rely on all these techniques of water harvesting to survive a changing climate”. Nelson adds.

New Zealand-EU: another free trade agreement against European farmers

By Morgan Ody, Andoni García Arriola, and Antonio Onorati - La Via Campesina, July 4, 2022

The European Commission concluded negotiations on a free trade deal with New Zealand on Thursday 30th of June. The European Commission is talking about a deal that “contains unprecedented sustainability provisions and that takes into account the interests of EU producers of sensitive agricultural products”.

But for the European Coordination of Via Campesina (ECVC), the voice of peasant’s farmers in Europe, this deal is still based on the obsolete trade paradigm, in which agricultural products are used in exchange with other commodities, disregarding the climate crisis and the income crisis European farmers are facing. With this additional free trade agreement the Commission loses all credibility in its proposals for the European Green Deal and the F2F by continuing to prioritize the agro-export business and the elites that benefit from it over the necessary changes that farmers, citizens and the planet need.

It is well known that New Zealand has much lower production costs than Europe for some animal products, such as milk, sheep and beef meat, which tend to depress world market prices. Opening new markets with New Zealand will impact even more the agricultural price crisis and farmers’ income crisis in Europe. Furthermore, New Zealand does not apply environmental, animal welfare and climate standards in the same way as European farmers do.

“How can such an agreement that includes sensitive agricultural products which can be sustainably and agroecologically produced in our territories be compatible with the Paris Agreement? Today, such kinds of agreements do not make any sense anymore” says Andoni García Arriola member of the coordinating committee of ECVC. “Agricultural trade should be considered as a sensitive sector and dealt separately from other trade commodities. The priority should be the construction of market regulation mechanisms that allow farmers everywhere in the world to get a fair income for producing for local sustainable food systems.”

“In the context of the current international food crisis and in order to reach the Farm to Fork objectives the EU should instead be engaging at an international level to promote a new Global Multilateral Framework for Executing International Trade, based on Peoples’ Food Sovereignty principles and per the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP)”, says Morgan Ody, General coordinator of the peasant international movement La Via Campesina. For more information on La Via Campesina’s position, you can read this statement following the WTO negotiations here.

La Via Campesina calls on States to exit the WTO and to create a new framework based on food sovereignty

By staff - La Via Campesina, June 15, 2022

La Via Campesina, the global peasant movement representing the voices of more than 200 million small-scale peasants from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas, has been mobilizing all week against the WTO. The food crisis that is currently hitting the world is further proof that free trade – far from bringing about food security – is making people starve.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has once again failed to offer a permanent solution on public stockholding for food security purposes. For more than eight years, rich countries have been blocking concrete proposals from African and Asian members of the G33 in this regard.

Jeongyeol Kim, from the Korean Women Peasant’s Association and an International Coordination Committee (ICC) member of La Via Campesina, points out that:

“Free Trade Fuels Hunger. After 27 years under the rule of the WTO, this conclusion is clear. It is time to keep agriculture out of all Free Trade Agreements. The pandemic, and the shock and disruptions induced by war have made it clear that we need a local and national food governance system based on people, not agribusinesses. A system that is built on principles of solidarity and cooperation rather than competition, coercion, and geopolitical agendas.”

Peasants still feed the world, even if FAO claims otherwise

By AFSA, et. al. - GRAIN, February 2, 2022

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has bumbled into a controversy over whether peasants or agribusiness feed most of the world. Eight organisations with long experience working on food and farming issues have written to the Director General of the FAO sharply criticizing the UN agency for a 2021 report that is statistically confusing and contradicts FAO positions. The open letter calls upon FAO to examine its methodology, clarify itself and to reaffirm that peasants (including small farmers, artisanal fishers, pastoralists, hunters and gatherers, and urban producers) not only provide more food with fewer resources but are the primary source of nourishment for at least 70% of the world population.

According to the letter’s signatories, the problematic study, “Lowder SK, et al.,(2021) “Which farms feed the world and has farmland become more concentrated?”, World Development, 142., reverses a number of well-established positions held by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as well as many other multilateral organisations and civil society.

The study:

  • Changes the definition of “Family Farmer” adopted by FAO and the UN Decade of the Family Farm by excluding artisanal fishers, pastoralists, urban food producers and other accepted categories. By extension it also excludes these food producers from the definition of “small farmer”.

  • Arbitrarily defines a “small farm” as less than 2 ha contradicting FAO’s own decision in 2018 to reject a universal land area threshold for describing small farms in favour of more sensitive country-specific definitions founded on the relationship between different variables.

  • Discounts or ignores recent FAO and other reports proving that peasant farms produce more food and more nutritious food per hectare than large farms.

  • Without evidence, maintains that policymakers are wrongly focused on peasant production and should give greater attention to larger production units.

The signing organisations also strongly disagree with the study’s assumption that food production is a proxy for food consumption and that the commercial value of food in the marketplace can be equated to the nutritional value of the food consumed.

The paper is not only a clumsy departure from FAO’s previous research and positions, it also feeds into an agribusiness narrative anxious to play down the importance and effectiveness of peasant production in order to build support for their proprietary technologies, subsidies, and regulatory needs.

Global Free Trade is on its deathbed. Globalized Solidarity and Localized Agriculture will bring food sovereignty: Korean Peasants’ League

By Lee Kyung Hae - La Via Campesina, September 10, 2021

In a statement issued to commemorate the International Day of Action against WTO and FTAs, the South East and East Asian members of La Via Campesina have issued a statement reminding that free-market economy has failed the world and food sovereignty is our future. Read the full statement below.

“WTO Kills Farmers!”—it is what Lee Kyung Hae, who took his own life during a protest against WTO in Cancun, Mexico, shouted out on September 10, 2003. The world was outraged by his death. Peasants from the world once again strengthened their will to fight against WTO at the global peasant funeral for Lee. The anniversary of Lee’s death has been designated as the International Day of Action against WTO and FTA.

18 years have passed since Lee’s death. For 18 years—even before Lee’s death, free trade with an arsenal of FTA, mainly led by WTO, has threatened the lives of the people all over the world, including peasants; it has influenced all parts of the world—from cities’ dense buildings, jungle and grasslands to deserts.

Over the past 30 years, free trade has only satisfied global capital’s appetite by emptying out people’s money and depriving freedom to peasants in smaller nations. And its result has been disastrous. Under different names, free trade has brought poverty, starvation, deprivation of resources, and destruction of environment; degrading food producers to food importers; privatizing water resources and public service; obliterating native seeds; and destroying a traditional mode of agriculture. Then, a nation has lost their own sovereignty, while multinational capital replacing for its place.

However, we are facing the end of free trade now. Every country has taken its leave of free trade, for national borders are closed with a movement restricted among nations due to COVID-19, and for the world is confronted with a new kind of food crisis from climate change. Those who used to insist free trade, claim protectionism now; agriculture is no exception. In the midst of this crisis, the world is struggling to secure foods to provide their people. The opportunity to achieve food sovereignty is right ahead of us.

Due to unjust capital and policies, free trade threatening lives of peasants and the people all over the world, has almost drawn its last breath; globalized solidarity and localized agriculture will fill in for it. Finishing free trade, peasants and the people will pave, on their own, the way toward a new era of food sovereignty.

Korea Peasant League resolves to lead this way, requesting as follows:

  • Against free trade threatening peasants’ right to live in the pursuit of the benefits of capital!
  • Against free trade bringing debt, poverty, hunger, and death!
  • Against free trade expelling peasants from the community!
  • Let’s build a new trade order based on peasants’ dignity, self-supply, and solidarity!

Food Sovereignty: 25 years in the making

By Jaime Amorim - La Via Campesina, July 28, 2021

Food sovereignty is intrinsically linked to the debate over what we envision for rural areas and what type of development should be applied, as well as what type of food to produce. And why do we want to produce?”

In the same year that La Via Campesina celebrates 25 years of defining, building, and fighting for “food sovereignty,” the United Nations (UN) will convene a summit for heads of state, members of large businesses and private corporations, multinationals and agribusiness representatives to discuss food systems processes.

The UN Food Systems Summit, or FFS, will take place in September of 2021 during the week of the High-Level panel of the United Nations’ General Assembly. Before the Summit, a pre-Summit will take place in Rome at the end of June.

I will take advantage of this space to debate(discuss?) the two subjects which complement each other in two separate articles. In this first one, I will discuss the 25th anniversary of the debate for food sovereignty. In the second will concern the contradictions surrounding the realization of the Summit on food systems, which will be convened by the Secretary General of the United Nations. This is the decade in which the UN and its member states must accomplish the activities and actions to which they committed by 2030, the objectives defined in order to reach their goals for building Sustainable Development.

The Summit on Food Systems will be held just as the world is experiencing a pandemic that has taken the lives of more than four million people worldwide, victims of COVID-19. At the same time, we see, as a consequence of the crises, the rise in the number of people who suffer hunger worldwide, as well as an increase in unemployment, poverty and violence.

Position Document on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Reform

By Pier Francesco Pandolfi de Rinaldis, Berthe Darras, Jean-Matthieu Thévenot - European Coordination Via Campesina, July 13, 2021

Today the Youth Articulation of ECVC has released a Position Document on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Following the latest agreement between the EU Commission, EU Parliament and European Council, the young members of ECVC want to express their opinions, concerns and proposals for the reformed CAP and its application at the national level.

“We fear that the reformed CAP will continue to neglect the real needs of young farmers, and in particular small, agroecological farmers. Moreover, we expect that the CAP will continue to miss one of its main objectives: facilitating the entrance of new farmers (…). The CAP policies significantly affect us, yet we have no say in its reform process. It is not sufficient that the role of young farmers is acknowledged on paper, we want effective policies to support us and the right to participate in decision-making. As there can be no future for EU agriculture without young farmers.”

Read the text (PDF).

Why we need a UK Food Sovereignty Movement

By Staff - Land Workers Alliance, June 16, 2021

“Food sovereignty” as a term and a movement has become more prominent in the last few decades, but its reception by governments and institutions in wealthier countries, including the UK, has been unenthusiastic, to say the least.

What is food sovereignty?

“Food sovereignty” is a relatively new way of describing and unifying longstanding aims and methods of the work of peasants, indigenous people, and communities as well as that of various food justice campaigns and organisations. Its six unifying principles are providing food for people; valuing food providers; localising food systems; centring local control; building knowledge and skills; and working with nature. By centring these 6 key principles, the food sovereignty movement seeks to guarantee and protect people’s space, ability and right to define their own models of food production, distribution and consumption.

Where has it grown from?

In 2007, more than 500 people gathered at the Nyéléni forum in Mali, so-called after a Malian peasant farmer who developed crops to feed her people. This forum brought together many diverse groups and individuals working on food issues, and united them under the Declaration of Nyeleni. The food sovereignty movement transformed from being disparate and lacking in visibility into being an interconnected movement, with strong underlying principles, coordination and solidarity between countries, communities and activists working together towards a common goal.

The path of Peasant and Popular Feminism in La Via Campesina

By various - La Via Campesina, June 8, 2021

La Via Campesina, presents the publication “The Path of Peasant and Popular Feminism in La Via Campesina” with the aim of strengthening the training processes of the Movement and to build Peasant and Popular Feminism as a political tool against oppression and violence. This document compiles the historical knowledge accumulated by Peasant and Popular Feminism in identifying the political challenges that exist in the historical moment that we live in, and thus contribute to the analysis and collective reflections to build a plural movement that respects diversities.

The publication is split into four parts: the first one looks back at the conquests of women inside LVC, up to Peasant and Popular Feminism as something to be built collectively. The second chapter highlights the role of women in the Peasants’ Rights Declaration adopted at the UN and highlights the rights achieved with this tool. The third chapter focuses on La Via Campesina’s Global Campaign “End Violence against Women”, the way the campaign is organized and its experience in different territories. Finally, in the last chapter in order to further expand reflections and discussions, we provide a virtual toolbox that will facilitate training and communication processes.

Since its very beginning La Via Campesina has sought to encourage the participation of rural women at all levels of action, power and representation in the building of an international movement that is broad, democratic, politically and socially committed to the defense of peasant agriculture, Food Sovereignty, the struggle for land, justice, equality and to eradicate all forms of gender discrimination and violence.

Recognizing the contribution and participation of women in member organizations has not been an easy task, notably because of patriarchy and the sexism rooted in societies. These have a negative impact even on the practices of comrades and of the organizations that belong to the movement. LVC’s women speak of two revolutions: one that burdens problems with gender relations within the movement, and a broader one aimed at making a revolution inside societies for justice, equity and the emancipation of human beings.

Read the text (PDF).

Anti-imperialist Manifesto in Defense of the Environment

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