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Agroecology in Puerto Rico

By Corbin Laedlein - Why Hunger, January 4, 2017

On November 11th to 13th, La Via Campesina member organization Organización Boricuá held the Campamento Agroecológico de Formación Política [Agroecological Encampment for Political Formation] at the Siembra Tres Vidas farm in the mountainous municipality of Aibonito, located one hour south of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The encampment’s 25-plus participants brought together members of Organización Boricuá, other activists involved in agroecology projects throughout the island, and activists and organizers involved in other social struggles. I participated in the three-day encampment as a representative of WhyHunger, to develop our understanding of the current context in Puerto Rico and to learn more about the organizing work happening on the island around agroecology.

The goal of the encampment was to bring people together to work and learn with one another and study agroecology as a tool of struggle within the current political context. The methodology of the encampment consisted of farm work in the mornings, followed by facilitated discussions on topics including the agrarian history of Puerto Rico, agroecology as a tool for social struggle and gender dynamics within social movements. Those facilitated discussions were followed by more informal conversations around a campfire, during which the participants further discussed ideas generated throughout the day. Tasks such as cooking and cleaning were shared among teams of participants during the encampment, and one team also assumed the task of note-taking during discussions. Towards the end of the process, they synthesized the ideas generated into a draft declaration that was then edited and approved by the encampment’s participants.

I had the great privilege to listen and participate in the rich dialogue and debates that took place that weekend. In thinking about how the conversations in the encampment compared to similar conversations I’ve participated in the U.S., I noticed that, similar to the way many conversations and work around food justice, food sovereignty and agroecology are grounded in an analysis of how U.S. historic and structural settler colonialism and racism have shaped and continue to manifest in the food system today, the conversations during the encampment about the need for agroecology were grounded in Puerto Rico’s history and current status as a colony and their own struggles for self-determination and decolonization.

That history begins with the Taíno indigenous people, who cultivated root crops like cassava, sweet potatoes, squash and corn in mounds called conucos. With the brutal colonization of the island of Borinken by the Spanish in the late 15th century, many Taínos fled to the interior of the island as the Spaniards introduced plantation-style agriculture in the lowlands. This form of agriculture was dependent on the labor of enslaved Taínos and Africans to produce crops to export to the Spanish Empire’s metropole. With the acquisition of Puerto Rico by the United States in 1898 following the Spanish-American war, the focus on the production of cash crops (sugar, coffee, tobacco) for export continued, with little support for jibaros/as, the islands peasant farmers who mostly farmed the mountainsides. Following World War II, small-scale agriculture in Puerto Rico declined further. Largely unable to access land and credit, neglected rural populations migrated to the newly industrialized cities in Puerto Rico and the United States in hopes of better opportunities and higher salaries. The introduction of the food stamp program in the 1970s transformed the diets and consumption patterns of Puerto Rican consumers, who began purchasing more imported and processed food at supermarkets rather than from local markets. Today, more than 80% of food consumed on the island is imported.

These processes resulted in the mass exodus from the mountains and the disconnection of many in the subsequent generations from the land and agriculture, and well as the widespread loss of jibaro/a growing techniques and peasant seeds. Luckily, a back-to-the-land movement similar to that of the United States grew in the 70s and young people returned to the mountains to start organic farms. Many of these folks built relationships with the few remaining peasant farmers and learned how to farm Puerto Rico’s tropical mountainsides. Some of these individuals now make up Organización Boricuá’s most senior members.

“Agroecology is a Way of Life”, an in-depth interview with students of agroecologic school EDUCAR

By Umut Kocagöz - The Dawn News, January 2, 2017

From the solidarity group of Çiftçi-SEN / Turkey (Confederation of Small-Farmers’ Unions). A Turkish version of this article is published on karasaban.net / to contact: ukocagoz@gmail.com

I was in Brazil to participate in the “International Encounter of Struggling Youth” as a Turkish delegate, which was held in Marica, Rio de Janeiro in June 2016. After the youth encounter, I had the chance to stay a couple of weeks in Brazil to visit some camps and settlements of the Agrarian Reform, some cooperatives and agroecology schools of MST.

This was a moment great importance to discover, because MST was putting very much importance both on the theoretical and practical sides of agroecology. MST consider agroecology as a way of life, a way connecting to the society, as well as a struggle against agribusiness and the ongoing coup process put in forward by the neoliberal Temer government (1). This means that agroecology is not only a method of farming, but also a life vision, which is build up day by day in the camps and settlements, in the formal or informal agroecology schools, in political formation of the militants. In other words, each space of MST is based on the formation of agroecology, as a political paradigm against the transnational agribusiness hegemony over agriculture and food systems.

In order to achieve a powerful political vision, formation is very important for MST in all its spaces. In terms of agroecology, MST uses its formation and training processes beginning from camps and settlements, practically and theoretically, in schools, in fields, and in the political discourse proposed by its collective leadership.

MST proposes different kinds of formation programmes, some of which are recognised officially by the state and run by a collaborative process with some universities or the national educational system. These formation processes include some courses directly for militants, and some are considered the parts of joint university programs. Instituto Edcuar is one of these schools where militants of MST have the opportunity to deepen their studies on agroecology.

Educar is a school that aims to train farmers; young people settled and camped in the areas of Agrarian Reform(2). This education is based on agroecology, which aims to develop a form of agriculture that preserves and defends the environment. In other words, formation in Educar is a way of systematizing the “peasant agroecology” which is developed over years, which has some new technological inputs, and which is not only a technique of agriculture but as well a life paradigm. Thus, in Educar, and in other formation schools of MST, it is aimed to promote grassroots based projects and models that guarantees food sovereignty and a better life for the people living in rural areas.

Moreover, the formation process is not only limited with “technical” terms. Educar has a pedagogical strategy to work on the construction and training of young farmers with the capacity to analyze the political, cultural and economic realities of the society, discerning the alternative and appropriate technological frameworks for the development of the rural without a dependence on agribusiness.

I had the chance to meet and discuss with five young landless people on how they experience this educational process in order to listen the experience from firsthand. I am very thankful to them for giving me this chance, and MST as well, providing this opportunity to meet and experience agroecology as a way of life.

"Small really is beautiful", claims new report on England's farming

By Kathryn Hindess - The Ecologist, January 4, 2017

"Small-scale food production is more sustainable, provides work for more people, produces food which is consumed locally, has shorter supply chains, and provides greater returns to the farmers," argues author Miles King.

Post-Brexit, he believes: "An England farm support system could inject much more support into small-scale food production."

The Land Workers' Alliance (LWA) agrees. One of eight points raised in its proposed framework for British Agricultural Policy post-Brexit sounds the call: "End the discrimination against small farms".

The report states: "It is unjustifiable for Defra to continue to discriminate against small farms in the allocation of subsidies and collection of farm data."

Instead, Miles King proposes a shift to supporting "small-scale sustainable farming which benefits nature", including paying landowners for the delivery of public goods to society. Public goods "are defined as things which benefit society but do not create a private profit".

Some public goods are: features making up the fabric of the landscape (like hedges, ponds and streams); the provision of clean water, flood prevention; healthy pollinator populations; carbon storage and sequestration; as well as "the many valuable yet intangible things nature provides to people - inspiration, joy, reflection, solace, emotional and spiritual experiences."

"These features need protection and management, but it is right that landowners should be paid to carry out that protection and management on behalf of society," says King.

The EU's Joint Research Centre estimates that food accounts for around a third of the average European's impact on climate change, so policy changes will need to be coupled with awareness campaigns on the benefits of buying local, such as saving long cross-country journeys from farm to plate.

Support for this view is found in a 2013 report from the UN trade and environment review. More than 60 international experts came together to contribute to the Wake Up Before It Is Too Late report, which states that an holistic approach to agricultural management is needed, recognising that "a farmer is not only a producer of agricultural goods, but also a manager of an agro-ecological system that provides quite a number of public goods and services."

Within this approach, there should also be a significant shift from industrial production characterised by monocultures towards "mosaics of sustainable, regenerative production systems that also considerably improve the productivity of small-scale farmers."

Fruits and vegetables would be a useful place to start, suggests Miles King. Defra statistics show that 24 countries accounted for 90% of the fruit and vegetable supply of the UK (UK supplied 23%), but King argues that, "Many types of fruit and vegetable can now be grown in England both outside and under cover, on highly productive but small plots".

Worth noting though, is a point made by the EU GLAMUR global and local food chain assessment project which suggests that new policies will need to recognise the "hybridity and interconnectedness of global and local food systems".

The UK's food culture has been Europeanised since joining the Common Market in 1973, a study by City University (London) states. And nothing makes more apparent than the fact that pizza is now UK childrens' favourite food. Membership of the EU has eased the flow of food, yet at the same time local industries have been rebuilt (there are now approximately 100 more UK artisanal cheeses than in France according to the British Cheese Awards).

The study concludes, "Will the British have the confidence to move forward and accept this remarkable post-war culinary learning?"

Now, post-Brexit, this question is more pertinent than ever. Can new policies balance the need for a shift towards small-scale production (for example of pears and apples that don't need to be imported, but often are), while still satisfying consumer tastes?

Promote Peasant Agroecology as an alternative to migration: LVC in Dhaka

By staff - La Via Campesina, December 28, 2016

Dhaka, Bangladesh. December 2016.

La Via Campesina International Working Collective on Migration and Waged Workers represented the concerns of small farmers, indigenous people, landless workers, women and youth at the People's Global Action on Migration, Development and Human Rights. The People's Global Action is a parallel event to the 9th Global Forum on Migration and Development, and took place 5th December to the 8th of December. Hosted by the Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Workers' Federation (BAFLF) , the group of 31 delegates participated in the PGA process especially on issues connecting migration to climate change and peasant agroecology. Following the PGA, the delegation was hosted on a field visit by BAFLF.

On the 5th of December, Abdul Majeed (President of BAFLF), Nasrin Sultana (NWFA), Omoli Kisku (Bangladesh Adviasi Samiti) and Asma Begum (Bangladesh Krishok Federation) attended the Asia Civil Society meeting. They presented the situation of coastal Bangladeshi communities, rural farm workers and small holder farmers who are facing the brunt of the climate crisis.

Speaking at the working group, Omoli shared, "Very often, the scant attention on rural agriculture aggravates the distress induced by climate change. The depleting groundwater level in rural Bangladesh is forcing the small farmers to go deeper to look for water sources. In the process, they incur huge debts and place high demands on energy needs."

The energy crisis in the country in forcing the government to look for quick fix solutions leading to thermal plants coming up in the eco-sensitive areas of Sunderbans. These quick-fix solutions, she alleges, further endanger an already vulnerable region by forcing locals migrate. Asma Begum and Nasrin also highlighted the increasing micro-credit institutions that are coming up in the countryside are further worsening the debt crisis of small farmers.

"The decision to migrate is very often a forced choice, due to the developmental model that is focused only on production and profit. Unless we question this developmental model, and force the GFMD to acknowledge the linkages between migration and the neo-liberal developmental model, we are not going to address the root causes that lead people to flee their home land and communities", said Nasrin.

On the 6th and 7th of December, a wider delegation of La Via Campesina, comprising of leaders from All Nepal Peasant Federation (ANPFA), Bangladesh Krishok Federation, Bangladesh Adivasi Samiti, Bangladesh Kisani Sabha, BAFLF, Bharatiya Kisan Union (India) and SOC (Spain) intervened at two plenaries on Climate Change and Labor Markets.

Rajbir Singh, a farmer from Bundelkhand region of India, presented the alarming situation of water scarcity and continuous droughts that have forced the region's farmworkers to migrate to the cities in hordes. He said that for farmers farm labour is increasingly hard to find in the region and very often small farmers turn to farm workers. Many a times, he says, cattle are unattended. The worst affected are women and elders who are left behind in the villages. He cited Bundelkhand as an example of how climate induced migration leads to more exploitation of workers in the cities, where they are left with little bargaining power and are often at the mercy of agents who promise work.

Sarita Bhusal and Bimala Kumari, representing the peasant women in Nepal, re-emphasized the increasing feminization of agriculture in and the additional burden on a woman peasant to manage her fields and home.

Speaking at the forum, Lal Bahadur Biswokarma presented the case of Dalit landless farmers who have yet to benefit from the promise of agrarian reform. He attacked the neo-liberal capitalist model that created the crisis of migration in the first place, while questioning its symbolic attempts to now address the same.

La Via Campesina insisted throughout the PGA that peasant agroecology is a solution to climate change and the need to call upon the nation states who are participating in GFMD to rethink the development model they are pursuing.

Young farmers in the group represented the need to make agriculture more viable for small farmers, particularly the youth by providing fair support price to their produce and by investing in rural infrastructure. Gaurav Tikait, Dharmendra Jumar (of BKU) and Pramesh of ANPFA made presentations that asked for implementation of the agrarian reform and increased investment in rural infrastructure that will encourage youth to take up farm and non-farm labour in their communities and country side.

Indonesia Peasants' Union protest against cheap import of potatoes

By Indonesian Peasants' Union - La Via Campesina, December 15, 2016

A large number of small farmers and peasants in Indonesia took out a massive protest against the cheap imports of potatoes, which has thrown the local varieties out of the market and has caused distress to local farmers. 

The statement issued by the Indonesian Peasants' Union read as follows;

We, potato and horticulture peasants from particularly peasants of Dieng Plateu were worried again by circulation of imported potatoes in traditional markets which have lower price than local potato. Noted that throughout January to September 2016, import volume of potatoes reached 65.195,11 tons. 

The importation of potato cause massive loss to potato peasants in Indonesia. Potato peasants of Dieng Plateu, Central Java, have allegedly lost Rp 24,000 on each hecatre. The total potato land area in Dieng Plateu around 15.000 hectare and the loss is estimated to be about Rp 360 billion annually.

In normal condition, peasant potato is usually sent to Jakarta and other areas. But, as a result of cheap potato import -particularly from China and Pakistan - Local potato varieties are pushed out of the market. In Jakarta Kramat Jati Market, on 24 October 2016, Peasants potato was sold around Rp. 8500/kg while import potato was only sold around Rp. 6.000/kg. After import potato spread into traditional markets, local potato was only appreciated around Rp.6.500/kg at the peasant level. By selling price around Rp. 6.500/kg, local potato peasants experienced many loss about Rp. 12 million/hectare at each planting season. Where in a year at least there is twice planting season. Meanwhile to fulfill capital, peasants have to selling potato at minimum price around Rp. 7.500/kg

Not only potato, based on data of data center and information system of agriculture ministry, some of horticulture crops throughout January to September 2016 was also imported and it spread into traditional markets. These are fresh carrot from China, Australia, Malaysia and New Zealand as much as 26.047 tons, 1.767 tons of fresh cabbage and 45 tons of fresh spinach from China, Australia and France. 

Free Trade Agreements pushed through WTO and bilaterally are the root cause of this price crash and crisis. The impacts of trade deals and partnerships such as the AEC (Asean Economic Community) and CAFTA (China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement) is devastating. The free trade mechanism will be more strengthened by approval of RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) leading to more distress. 

Even though RCEP is a new kind of agreement, but it is still maintain the form of free trade which previously exist. Even RCEP can be called as more expansive action of market expansion because it involved cooperation between ASEAN members and China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. It means that food and horticulture crops import policy, potato in this case, already done systemically and planned.

Import of Food and horticulture has clearly hurt peasants and threatened food sovereignty. In fact, peasants in potato central production such as from West Java, Central Java, East Java, North Sumatra, North Sulawesi and Jambi Province have been able to fulfill national needs. Currently, the national potato consumption is around 2,1 kg/capita per year or if it is calculated, the national potato consumption is around 542 thousand ton per year. While national potato peasants production in 2105 reached 1.219.277 tons. 

Fulfilment of potato, horticulture and the other national food needs must be undertaken by food sovereignty principles which was already decanted in constitution number 18 of 2012 in terms of food and fulfillment on the rights of peasants such as which was also decanted in constitution number 19 of 2013 in terms of protection and empowerment on peasants.  

NFU expresses solidarity with Indigenous land protectors at Standing Rock

By Katie Ward - La Via Campesina, December 1, 2016

(Saskatoon, SK, November 30, 2016) – The 47th Annual National Convention of the National Farmers Union (NFU) resolved to denounce the repression of peaceful protesters, including Indigenous land protectors, and expressed its support for the rights of people to engage in acts of civil disobedience in defence of the preservation of water, air, land and wildlife for future generations.

"With this statement, the NFU joins the many thousands of grassroots groups, unions, and Indigenous communities around the world in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe as they defend the land and water on their traditional territories," said Katie Ward, NFU Women's Vice President. "As family farmers, we are also people of the land who, like the Indigenous water protectors in North Dakota, want our children and their children after them to be able to cultivate healthy soils, drink clean water and live in a just society."

Since April 2016, the Standing Rock Sioux and their allies have put their bodies on the line to stop construction of the 1,172-mile Dakota Access Pipe Line (DAPL) in North Dakota. DAPL plans to go through Sioux territory because its original route under Bismarck was changed due to the town's concern for their water. The DAPL not only threatens the Missouri River and Lake Oahe reservoir which are the drinking water sources of the Standing Rock Sioux, but also burial grounds and sacred sites essential to the community's traditions and practices. In September, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples called on the USA to halt construction of the DAPL.

The water protectors' peaceful camps have been attacked by heavily militarized Morton County police and the pipeline company's private security guards using dogs, tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannons and concussion grenades. Hundreds of people have been injured.

"The Dakota Access Pipeline struggle comes out of a long history of racism and colonialism in North America that has pushed Indigenous people to the margins of society," continued Ward. "It also signals that today, thousands of people from hundreds of Indigenous nations along with non-Indigenous supporters, are able to come together to resist the oil industry's power and create a space to live on the land in a good way."

What would it take to mainstream “alternative” agriculture?

By Maywa Montenegro and Alastair Iles - Ensia, July 25, 2016

This Voices piece is published in collaboration with the academic journal Elementa. It is based on “Toward thick legitimacy: Creating a web of legitimacy for agroecology,” a peer-reviewed article published July 20 as part of Elementa’s New Pathways to Sustainability in Agroecological Systems forum.

The industrialized food system, studies have shown, is linked to greenhouse gas emissions, algal blooms, pesticide pollution, soil erosion and biodiversity loss, to name a few ecological troubles. Add to this a long list of social ills, from escalating rates of obesity to the demise of the family farmer and deadening of rural landscapes and rural economies across much of the U.S.

In 2010, the National Academies of Science updated its seminal 1989 publication “Alternative Agriculture” with a fresh look at the state of food and farming in America. Its expert panel concluded, “Growing awareness of unintended impacts associated with some agricultural production practices has led to heightened societal expectations for improved environmental, community, labor, and animal welfare standards in agriculture.”

Yet that growing awareness and those heightened expectations haven’t led to alternative agricultural systems becoming the norm in the U.S. Organic has made some headway, but many organic growers have been forced to imitate industrial farming: grow bigger, resort to monocultures instead of truly diversified fields, and sell to large supermarkets — forgoing many of the benefits alternative agricultural systems offer, such as natural pest control, pollination from native bees, and a smaller production scale conducive to family farmers and local food economies.

So, what gives industrialized agriculture such staying power despite its adverse impacts, even as alternatives offer such benefits? And how can more wholesome food production methods such as agroecology become conventional instead of alternative? To achieve real change in how food is produced and eaten, we need to change people’s expectations of what “normal” agriculture should look like.

Food Sovereignty: A Strategy for Environmental Justice

By David Barkin - Climate and Capitalism, November 11, 2016

ABSTRACT:

Dominant approaches to rural development have proven unable to confront the structural challenges posed by a system where progress itself generates hunger and increasing environmental damage.

This article places its accent on the direct action of communities to organize themselves to satisfy their food and other basic needs and those of their regions with self-help strategies that could be applied in both rural and urban areas.

While generally applicable, this focus draws its inspiration from the experience of La Via Campesina, the largest social organization in the world, with chapters in more than 80 countries and 200 million members.

The food sovereignty approach offers a forward-looking strategy to social mobilization, confronting the scourge of rural disintegration while also addressing the pressing issue of environmental balance.

It proposes to direct political and social actions to the collective organization of communities to promote local mobilization and cooperation within and among communities, on a regional as well as on a much broader geographic scale.

It functions by integrating experts into a well-proven farmer-to-farmer approach for the exchange of information and materials conducive to improving productivity and promoting diversity in accordance with local customs while also creating possibilities for improving the quality of foods being produced and their nutritional impact.

Most organizations promoting food sovereignty consider agroecology to be the most effective approach to organizing production, emphasizing the use of locally available inputs and technologies as well as a diversity of cropping system adapted to local conditions.

Cooling the Planet: Frontline Communities lead the struggle

By staff - La Via Campesina, November 22, 2016

A new Hands on the Land publication highlights how communities of small scale food producers are increasingly confronted by the grabbing of natural resources and systematic violations of human rights. Download the Publication (English

Also available in Spanish and French 

Small-scale food producers and consumers, including peasants, indigenous peoples, hunters and gatherers, family farmers, rural workers, herders and pastoralists, fisherfolk and urban people – the frontline communities – are increasingly confronted by the grabbing of natural resources and systematic violations of human rights. Already pushed to the fringe, frontline communities additionally face the increasingly frequent natural disasters and impacts of climate destruction that are caused by the climate change – and the inability of governments to agree to real solutions.

Land, water and ocean grabbing, as well as food and climate injustices are not stand-alone issues but deeply intertwined and find common expression through the current dominant economic approach for the use, extraction, conservation and governance of natural resources. Powerful actors, driven by narrow economic interests rather than long-term sustainability are concentrating the political power to determine how resources are to be used, by whom, and for what purposes. In this process, natural resources are wrested away from their social and ecological dimensions of protecting the millions of people whose way of life, culture and traditions are tied to the access and control over their territories.

The Global Convergence of Land and Water Struggles is a response to these injustices by frontline communities from all over the world. During a public event held in Paris in December 2015 at the time of the COP21, representatives of frontline communities discussed and denounced the false solutions to the climate crisis, and promoted the real solutions that are rooted in peoples’ knowledge and experiences. They stressed how converging provides hope, opportunities and solidarity and, importantly, advances the struggle for systemic change.

The purpose of this report is to amplify the voices of frontline communities and to share the political messages of the 16 social movement leaders – who spoke at the meeting – with the masses who form the base of social movements all over the world. The report is meant to trigger deepened political consciousness and to support mass based movements in their resistance against the privatisation agendas promoted by the political and economic elites.

The report itself is a product of collaboration between many social movements and allied organisations from all over the world. More than twenty groups have contributed to the writing of the report and many more assisted with preparations and the implementation of the public event in Paris. A list of all the groups is provided on the back cover.

Our land is worth more than carbon: Civil Society Statement COP 22

By staff - La Via Campesina, November 16, 2016

The Paris Agreement required the 196 Parties to the UN Climate Convention to limit temperature increases to 2° or 1.5°C below preindustrial levels. While COP21 benefitted from a high degree of mobilization linked to the adoption of an international agreement, COP 22 on the other hand has received rather less attention. 

Yet the stakes remain significant. 

In its haste, COP 22, being called the “action COP” or the “agriculture COP”, is in danger of adopting various misguided solutions for agriculture. Last May at the Climate Convention HQ in Bonn, discussion on this sector was a source of tension between countries. They studiously avoided the key question of differentiating between agricultural models according to their impact on climate change and their ability to provide food sovereignty to people. At the same time, and outside official negotiating channels, voluntary initiatives, especially in the private sector, have expanded and may well become incorporated in countries’ future public policies. 

Although 94% of countries mention agriculture in their strategies for combating climate change, the Paris Agreement fails to mention the word “agriculture” even once. You have to read between the lines to understand what is really at stake. 

It is really the highly political subject of agriculture that hides behind the use of the expression “carbon sink”. It is true that the soil plays an important role in sequestering CO2 (carbon dioxide), turning it into a genuine “carbon sink”, like forests. Yet that is not soil’s only role, particularly if farming land that is central to food sovereignty is involved. Unfortunately its use (employing the expression “land use”) in combating climate change represents a huge opportunity currently for those promoting misguided solutions and serves as an excuse for public inaction. 

In searching for a balance between emissions and absorption by greenhouse gas sinks, the Paris Agreement enshrined the principle of compensation in dealing with the climate crisis. This notion does not mean that emissions actually have to decrease but that emissions and absorption can cancel each other out. This approach has already begun with forests through the highly controversial REDD+ mechanism and, to an increasing degree, is now targeting farming land, the new carbon Eldorado. 

We must remember that unlike avoided emissions, natural carbon sequestration is reversible and has a limited lifetime. So rather than attempting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions drastically, agriculture is becoming a unit of accounting permitting emissions to continue or even increase. Consequently, though roundly condemned by civil society and social movements, various initiatives have arisen around climate discussions that appear to many to be misguided solutions. This is the case with climate-smart agriculture and its global alliance (GACSA) which, in the absence of clear criteria, does a balancing act between promoting agroecology and the use of GM seeds and their herbicides. Moreover, 60% of GACSA’s private sector members are companies in the pesticide and agricultural input sector. 

This alliance and its concept are nothing more than an empty shell that agro-industrial multinationals can hide in to continue the industrialization of agriculture, to the detriment of smallholders. 

Similarly, the 4 per 1000 initiative fails to make clear choices in promoting transition in farming systems. Its scattergun approach to the problem fails to take account of considerations beyond carbon sequestration such as the use of herbicides for example. 

Unless there is a real re-examination of agro-industrial models that are highly dependent on chemical inputs and based on exports, such initiatives have absolutely no place in the list of solutions. 

Quite apart from the question of the agricultural model there is also the danger of pressure on land and the financialization of natural resources. Therefore by putting a value, through compensation, on farming land as a tool in combating climate change, you increase the pressure on it. So the small scale farmers who were already the first victims of climate change become doubly threatened. If we are to encourage investment in agriculture to sequester more carbon, especially from private sources, much greater expanses of land will be needed with an increased risk of land grabbing. This danger would be multiplied if the race for land were accompanied by mechanisms linked to carbon finance. Numerous studies on similar mechanisms developed for forests (like REDD+) have already demonstrated the dangers of an approach that pays scant consideration to protecting human rights. This approach to combating climate change opens the door ever wider to endangering small scale farmers’ rights and their acquired knowledge, food sovereignty and ecosystem integrity. 

Our organisations deprecate this rush towards compensation to tackle the climate crisis. Only immediate, drastic reduction of greenhouse gases will prevent a dramatic increase in the impact of this crisis even though it will still only limit it. Farming land cannot become an accounting tool for managing the climate crisis. It is fundamental to around a billion people in the world who are working towards food sovereignty, an inalienable right of people who have already been harmed enough. We support the continued existence of agriculture suited to meeting the agricultural challenges already magnified by the climate crisis. Such farming methods, based on peasant agroecology which, in addition to a store of good practice, imply socially- and ecologically-based farming rooted in its home territory and a rejection of the financialization of Nature.

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