"We will not feed people by allowing big business to continue to grab land and resources from local communities," says Henry Saragih, General Coordinator of the 200 million-strong farmers organisation La Via Campesina.
While the economic crisis is pushing more people into hunger and poverty, transnational companies are acquiring vast expanses of agricultural land to establish industrial export-oriented plantations, while local food producers are expelled and deprived of their means of subsistence. Kalissa Regier, a young farmer from Canada says: "La Via Campesina urges the CFS to reject the World Bank principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment (RAI) and demands strong Guidelines for the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries, and Forests in order to guarantee people's access to land and life resources".
The issue of investments in agriculture will also be at the core of negotiations in Rome. "The CFS has to guarantee that small-scale farmers remain the main investors in the agricultural sector and that they receive support to develop local food production," says Andrea Ferrante, an Italian farmer leader. The corporate sector is trying to control agriculture and food production by investing massively in commercial and industrial agriculture. To feed the world, priority should be given to local and sustainable food production and not to export commodity crops.
The CFS meeting will also address the issue of price volatility that has become endemic since the 2007-2008 food crisis. Price stability is vital to guarantee stable food production. It is urgent to develop local markets, to protect domestic markets against cheap imported products and to build public reserves. Food sovereignty should underlie all public policies to face the current economic and food crises.
Meetings with the press:
- Wednesday 19 October, 1 pm-1.30 pm: Press conference and symbolic action by la Via Campesina "Small farmers for a corporate free agriculture" -In the Food Sovereignty tent in front of the FAO building (Angelo Salita di San Gregorio)
- Thursday 20 October (afternoon) : Action against landgrabbing (more information will follow)
Contacts for the media (To interview Via Campesina farmers in Rome)