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Global Climate Jobs Conference: Food and Farming

The Youth in Peasant Agroecology: Peasant Agroecology Achieves Climate Justice

Nyéléni Newsletter: Food Sovereignty and Agrobiodiversity

By staff - La Via Campesina, September 12, 2022

The new edition of the Nyéléni newsletter is online! 

At a time when the media is sounding the alarm on high prices and shortages due to the war in Europe, even if there is not always an exact correlation, we are once again questioning the information that places large corporations as the suppliers of most of our food. Anchored to this fabricated image, the industrial agri-food system pushes a new assault on agriculture with the digitalisation of its processes, promotes “carbon sequestration” based on so-called “nature-based solutions”, continues its drive to control and regulate supply chains to benefit its interests, and even seeks to supplant the attempts of peasants in many parts of the world by sponsoring an “agroecology” that is now promoted by the same corporations and investment funds that for centuries have stripped peasants of the possibilities of an independent agriculture.

We are therefore committed to defending our Food Sovereignty: the possibility of being able to reproduce our seeds on our terms and in our spaces, i.e., in full freedom, and to maintain our total independence in producing our own food. For this, it will remain crucial to challenge land grabbing and to insist on autonomy and on the defence of peasant and Indigenous territories and even urban spaces of popular self-management within neighbourhoods.

IPC for Food Sovereignty, FoEI and GRAIN

Click here to download the English edition or read it directly in the website at www.nyeleni.org For any further information, contact info@nyeleni.org

Circulate it!

“It’s time to transform” LVC welcomes the UN Special Rapporteur’s report on COVID-19 and the right to food

By staff - La Via Campesina, September 6, 2022

After more than two years, the COVID-19 pandemic is still a reality in our daily lives. More people today still bear the brunt of the pandemic with health restrictions, limited access to markets, worsening hunger and poverty, inequality, and also repression to people’s fundamental rights. During this period, hundreds of millions of people have contracted COVID-19, and over six million people succumbed to death. For peasants and other people living in rural areas, the pandemic has shown the importance of local, peasants’ food systems that are feeding the people and preventing widespread hunger. It is time to transform. The rights of people, dignity, and solidarity, not profits, should be the foundation of the new society post-pandemic.

In similar notes, Michael Fakhri, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, examines the emerging issues concerning the COVID-19 pandemic and the right to food. The report, entitled “The right to food and the coronavirus disease pandemic” (document A/77/177, available in English, Spanish, French, Arabic, Chinese, and Russian).

In this report, Fakhri summarizes the current situation of pandemic and framing the problem during pandemic times: especially the lack of concerted actions by governments all over the globe and the exacerbated situations done by corporations in putting profits first before humanity. The Special Rapporteur goes further showing the fragility of our general food systems in these pandemic times, highlighting that “[The pandemic] has underlined the value of sharing and solidarity, and the importance of the application of traditional, local knowledge in times of extreme hardship. Communities persevered when they were not exclusively dependent on food value chain operations for their food security. Resilient solutions included localized markets, public food reserves and associated public food distribution systems, mutual assistance and the sharing of food, as well as jut transition to agroecology [as a means for adapting to climate change].”

The report benefited from a series of regional consultations with civil society and inputs from Member States of the United Nations. Therefore it is worth to mention that just transition for workers was raised as one of the solutions for immediate response to the pandemic and the current food crisis, along with upholding land rights and genuine agrarian reform, curtailing corporate power, developing action plans on the right to food based on the principles of solidarity, self-sufficiency, and dignity, addressing debt crisis and financial needs, and ensuring that international trade law and policy create fair and stable markets.

The important report also makes good references to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP), the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), provisions from International Labour Organization (ILO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), also the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).

Solidarity with Striking RMT Workers

By staff - Land Workers' Alliance, July 27, 2022

The Landworkers’ Alliance wishes to send a message of solidarity to the 40,000 members of the Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport (RMT) taking strike action today.

The workers taking this action include guards, signallers, maintenance and catering staff who are striking against a multipronged attack on their working conditions by Network Rail and the 14 Train Operating Companies. These including proposed £2bn of cuts to the rail system which will result in 2,500 fewer maintenance staff and 625,000 fewer hours of maintenance, the closure of 1,000 ticket offices, and an 8% pay rise over two years at a time when the RPI rate of inflation is already running at 11.4%. The RMT is striking against policies that threaten to make the railways less safe and less viable as a system of transport, when the extreme heatwaves of last week have foregrounded the necessity of transitioning to a transport system based on public provision rather than private vehicles.

This comes as likely Prime Minister-to-be Liz Truss pledges to restrict the fundamental right of rail workers to strike, and the introduction of new legislation that will allow companies to hire agency workers to replace strikers. These proposals will make it harder for everyone to defend themselves from companies who care more about their rates of profit than their workers and the people using their service.

These cuts also come shortly after the Train Operating Companies turned a £600m profit. In 2020, the Rolling Stock Companies, who own the trains, paid out almost £1bn in dividends to their shareholders. We recognise the similarities between the relationship that the Train Operating Companies have with the rail system and its workforce to the relationship that industrial agribusiness has with the food system. It is an extractive relationship that seeks to take as much value out of the system as possible, with little care for the damage that this practice does to the railways and the people that work them.

As a union of landworkers, peasants and small farmers, we try to place ourselves in the traditions of the wider labour movement. The Tolpuddle Martyrs, who were famously deported to Australia in 1834 for breaking the Combination Laws that prevented workers from forming trade unions, were agricultural workers themselves. We also recognise the essential role that the fight for better wages and working conditions plays in the struggle for a better food system. For too long cheap, mass- produced food has been used by successive government as an alternative to social policies that would increase incomes for working people. Only through the maintenance of an industrial food system, whose true costs of environmental destruction and superexploitation of agricultural workers are not reflected in their price at the supermarket, can a system that continually seeks to reduce wages sustain itself.

In light of this, we encourage our members to attend the RMT’s picket lines at their local stations. You can find details of the locations and times of these picket lines on the RMT’s website. If you can make it to a picket line, we encourage you to wear LWA merch and bring LWA banners to show our solidarity, and to share your photos on social media by tagging @LandworkersUK on Twitter, or @landworkersalliance on Instagram.

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.”

Let Nature Play: A Possible Pathway of Total Liberation and Earth Restoration

By Dan Fischer - Green Theory & Praxis, April 2022

Many argue that we are running out of time, but perhaps the problem is time itself. Or rather, it is the alienated time that we spend working on the clock, obsessively looking at screens, letting consumption of commodities dominate our free time and even invade our dreams. And it is the perception we often have of the universe as a giant clock, an inert machine to be put to work. Too often, there is no sense that nature, ourselves included, has a right to relax, a right to be lazy, a right to play.

While Autonomist Marxists define capitalism as an “endless imposition of work” on human beings (van Meter, 2017), we could add that the system also imposes endless work on nonhuman animals and nature. Moving even beyond van Meter’s broad conception of the working class as inclusive of “students, housewives, slaves, peasants, the unemployed, welfare recipients and workers in the technical and service industries” in addition to the industrial proletariat, Jason Hribal (2012) describes exploited animals as working-class. He points to animals’ labor for humans’ food, clothing, transportation, entertainment, and medicine. Corroborating such a perspective, capitalists themselves label exploited ecosystems as “working landscapes” (Wuerthner, 2014), exploited farm animals as “labouring cattle” (Hribal, 2012), genetically modified crops as “living factories” (Fish, 2013), and extracted hydrocarbons as “energy slaves” (Fuller, 1940). As summarized by Indigenous Environmental Network director Tom Goldtooth (2015) the dominant worldview posits that “Mother Earth is a slave.” This endless work has been disastrous for the planet. Humans’ long hours of alienated labor contribute to deeply destructive economic growth (Hickel & Kallis, 2019; Knight et al., 2013). So does the exploited labor of animals, with livestock taking up some 76% of the world’s agricultural land (Poore & Nemecek, 2018). Working landscapes “suffer losses in biological diversity, soil health, and other ecological attributes” (Wuerthner, 2014). And even the cleanest “energy slaves,” wind and solar power, can require large amounts of resources and land in the context of a growing economy (War on Want & London Mining Network, 2019).

#8March – Declaration of the Peasant Women of La Via Campesina Southern and Eastern Africa

By staff - La Via Campesina, March 31, 2022

Declaration of working women of La Via Campesina and Allies during the two days’ workshop held at MVIWATA Headquarters, Morogoro, Tanzania

We women, representing our fellow working women from the smallholder farmers’ organizations from 10 countries under the umbrella of La Via Campesina, Political parties and Social movements from various African countries including Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, Mozambique, Ghana and Eswatini.

Our two days meeting aimed to advance our struggles and we have identified the following:

  1. Despite the differences we have in terms of cultures, geography and environmental conditions, together we have similar challenges that require our unity and solidarity in addressing it including the right to acquire, own and use land, commercialization of women bodies and social services including education, water, and health; the increasing violence against women and children and the general oppression of the working class, especially working women. This manifest itself in various forms of economic, social, physical and psychological.
  • These challenges are systemic and are indicative of the system’s failure to recognize and protect working women and their rights in economic, social, political and cultural spheres.
  • The existing women and men relationship are the product of a wide-ranging system of exploitation and oppression whose signs and symptoms manifest themselves in the face of increasing sexual violence especially against women, exploitation of one sex by the other, mistrust between the two sexes. The rising assumption that these two sexes are enemies, the collapse of family values ​​and the disintegration of families with the aim of pursuing employment.
  • That oppressive systems, hidden within neo-liberal policies and that use a man as a tool to abuse women through patriarchy that manifests itself through various economic, social, cultural and political relations in our society have continued to affect us and our society as a whole.
  • Gender-based violence has long and deep roots rooted in the patriarchal system that has been plagued, created and expanded over the years and so the revolution of that system is the solution to violence against women.
  • The solution to these challenges is a systematic change to create equal rights that require strategies built through unity and solidarity of peasant women and men, activists and all friends who support the struggle to overthrow the abusive, oppressive and perpetual system of violence against women.

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