18 March 2008

Sustainable family farming can feed the world

The International Peasant Movement, La Via Campesina, has recently issued a press release entitled "A response to the Global Food Prices Crisis: Sustainable family farming can feed the world".

On this document they refer to the recent dramatic increase of staple food around the world, with consequent aggravating difficulties for the poorest communities.

"Over a year, wheat has doubled in price, maize is nearly 50% higher than a year ago.

(...) Prices are increasing because part of production is now diverted into agrofuels, global food reserves are at their lowest in 25 years due to the de-regulation of markets by the WTO, and extreme weather has effected crops in some exporting countries such as Australia. But prices also increase because financial companies speculate over people's food as they anticipate that agriculture prices will keep rising in the near future. Food production, processing and distribution falls increasingly under the grip of transnational companies monopolising the markets.
"

Via Campesina state that in order to protect livelihoods, jobs, people's health and the environment, food has to remain in the hands of small scale sustainable farmers, calling out for the principles of food sovereignty.

Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and the right of their governments to define the food and agriculture policies of their countries, without damaging agriculture of other countries. It includes:
  • "prioritizing local agricultural production in order to feed the people, access of peasants and landless people to land, water, seeds, and credit. Hence the need for land reforms, for fighting against GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms), for free access to seeds, and for safeguarding water as a public good to be sustainably distributed;
  • the right of farmers, peasants to produce food and the right of consumers to be able to decide what they consume, and how and by whom it is produced;
  • the right of Countries to protect themselves from too low priced agricultural and food imports;
  • agricultural prices linked to production costs : they can be achieved if the Countries or Unions of States are entitled to impose taxes on excessively cheap imports, if they commit themselves in favour of a sustainable farm production, and if they control production on the inner market so as to avoid structural surpluses;
  • the populations taking part in the agricultural policy choices;
  • the recognition of women farmers’ rights, who play a major role in agricultural production and in food."
This concept was developed by La Via Campesina and brought to the public debate during the World Food Summit in 1996. It represents an alternative to neoliberal policies, which prioritise international trade, instead of food for the people.

"International institutions such as IMF (International Monetary Fund), the World Bank, and WTO (World Trade Organization) have implemented those policies dictated by the interests of large transnational companies and superpowers"...

Food Sovereignty: Now!

Links:
A response to the Global Food Prices Crisis, La Via Campesina
Food sovereignty, La Via Campesina
Can sustainable agriculture feed the world?, Food First
IPC Food Sovereignty
Nyéléni 2007, Forum pour la Souverainté Alimentaire

1 comment:

Sofia said...

Great summary Pedro!
Glad you're helping to spread the word about this important movement for an alternative agricultural development model :-)
For more information on Food Sovereignty you should see the Nyeleni Forum website: http://www.nyeleni2007.org/
And for more info on agricultural production and trade in general, a short policy brief I wrote (might as well advertise it! hehe): ftp://ftp.fao.org/SD/SDA/SDAR/sard/SARD-AgTrade%20-%20english%20electronic%20version.pdf