Monday, 15 April 2013

Aussie First: Australian Family Farmers join the 200 million farming movement

Today we are launching Reciprocity's and Food Connect's first crowding funding project. 

The goal of this amazing project is to raise funds to get an Australian delegation of 4 family farmers and 2 supporters to the 6th La Via Campesina International Conference being held at Jakarta in June this year.  To support this project go to:

For the first time ever, Australian family farmers (not those soulless corporate clones of giant agribusiness) have been invited to join with representatives of the 200 million strong, global family farming movement (La Via Campesina) at their 6th International Conference in Jakarta, Indonesia in June 2013.

This is an incredible, once in a generation opportunity, for Aussie voices and views to connect with those of famers from 58 other countries in La Via Campesina’s 20-year long struggle to end the globalization of hunger.

Our goal is to get a six-member Australian delegation to Jakarta.

And we need your support to get them there!

This small but dedicated delegation of family farmers and their supporters will form our core Australia connection with the 200 million and work to build our contribution to the struggle in ending the globalization of hunger and making a better world possible.

Please help us take up this important opportunity and make your contribution to a better world today

The facts as we know them:

  • Small-scale agriculture, based on agroecology and food sovereignty, is the only model of food production that offers a sustainable future for the planet and its peoples;
  • The corporate-driven industrialised model of agriculture seeks to deliberately destroy this small scale agriculture and the lives of those who practice it;
  • La Via Campesina, as the authentic voice of the peasant, is the only organisation capable of maintaining the integrity and legitimacy of this model of sustainable agriculture and protecting the rights of those who practice it
  • If they are to survive, Australian family farmers can no longer remain isolated from the knowledge, experiences and global solidarity that comes from meaningful engagement with the global family farming community that is La Via Campesina
On their return from Jakarta, the delegation members will form the core of the Australian- LVC connection. Their role will be to:

  • Build on and strengthen the LVC/Australia family farmer alliance;
  • Coordinate ongoing LVC/Australian family farmer cultural exchanges;
  • Initiate a range of activities to share their learnings and experiences with other family farmers across Australia; and
  • Help to establish an Australian Family Farming Organisation which can be accepted for formal membership of La Via Campesina.
Delegate profiles:


Garry Fetherston

Garry produces bananas on his farm, Featherview, in Mullumbimby, Northern New South Wales. Garry has been converting his farm to a biological system that relies on nutrients from organic mulch, chipped branched wood, composted banana trash and brewed compost tea. He grows his bananas without using any chemical pesticides ie. fungicides, herbicides or insecticides.

Cris and Lee-Anne Geri

Cris and Lee-Anne’s farm, Rawganix is in Tansey in South East Queensland. They are currently producing certified organic eggs, olives, grain, beef and sheep. Their long term aim is to provide produce from their farm with no disruption to the biological systems in which their food is produced.

Samantha Palmer

Samantha and Ray Palmer’s small family farm, Symara Organic Farm, grows a large and constantly changing selection of vegetables, herbs and fruit, and is located just north of Stanthorpe in the heart of Queensland's Granite Belt. Their passion is to grow quality organic food, sustainably, for their local community, using and sharing new and old knowledge and at the same time caring for the fragile, natural bushland abundant on their farm.

Dianne James is a partner in Reciprocity, a self funded, profit-for-purpose, social enterprise business dedicated to the evolution of a strong and united global peasant movement – La Via Campesina. For the past 5 years, Reciprocity has been a key contributer to initiating long term relationships between La Via Campesina and the Australian family farming community.
Luke Sbeghen is Procurement Manager at Food Connect, fuelled by the knowledge that Food Connect's vision of connecting ecologically friendly family farms directly with subscribers is helping to reinvigorate respect for farmers and the land they nurture.
Project costs:

Total cost of the project is $12,000

This will be spent on airfares for 6 people, Brisbane/Jakarta and return, food and accommodation for each delegate for 10 days, and transport to and from airports and regional farms, and airport and visa taxes.

 To support this project go to:

Monday, 25 March 2013

Hundreds of Haitian farmers demand ‘food sovereignty’

Hundreds of small farmers have converged on the central Haitian city of Hinche to demand more space to grow their own crops in a country that imports more than half of its food.

“Yes to land reform. Yes to environmentally-friendly agriculture,” chanted the 300-some farmers gathered for the 40th anniversary of the Papaye Peasant Movement, a group aiming to promote “food sovereignty for the people.”

“Forty years of struggle for social change. We want true land reform.”

The high point of the summit is a march expected to see 40,000 farmers protest to air their grievances Friday.

MPP leader Chavannes Jean-Baptiste strongly opposed the introduction of hybrid and genetically modified seeds from American giant Monsanto after the devastating 2010 earthquake that leveled much of Haiti.

“Farmers need to get the same consideration as all other Haitians. They must be respected and included in national decisions,” he said.

“We have to show that we are a force in Haiti.”

Haitian farmers are seeking land reforms that would allocate a plot to all workers to feed their families and supply local markets.

Those protesting believe that by using banning chemical fertilizers and pesticides while steering clear of genetically modified crops they can provide better yield while also reducing poverty.

With about 1.5 million hectares (3.7 million acres) of cultivated land, Haiti has about 800,000 small farming businesses.

Hurricane Sandy, which swept through the most impoverished nation in the Americas late last year, left an estimated $150 million in damage to the farming sector, triggering a sharp rise in food prices.

In Hinche, small farmers were offered aid by organizations from France, Canada, Brazil and the United States to attend the gathering.

“We foster the same values. We are bringing an ideological collaboration to small Haitian farmers who need to take their future in their own hands,” explained Yves Altazin, director of the French NGO Freres des Hommes.

He said his group is buying 40,000 tonnes of seeds for Haitian farmers thanks to an online fundraiser.

Representatives of Brazil’s Landless Workers’ Movement, the Latin American branch of the international peasant movement Via Campesina and Canadian groups were also present.

Beverly Bell, coordinator of US-based Other Worlds, has supported Haitian workers for 30 years.

“I am a militant. I am trying to take into account the situation of Haitians who don’t need luck but need international solidarity to make it,” she said in near-perfect Creole to prolonged applause from the farmers.

Altazin insisted that “Haiti will emerge from the crisis if farmers are helped and supported.” He called for France to increase its aid to small farmers.

Source:  The Raw Story

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Nyéléni Declaration on Food Sovereignty

“Every struggle, in any part of the world for food sovereignty is our struggle.” 

At the World Food Summit in 1996, La Via Campesina (LVC) launched a concept that both challenged the corporate dominated, market driven model of globalised food production and distribution, as well as offering a new paradigm to fight hunger and poverty by developing and strengthening local economies. Since then, food sovereignty has captured the imagination of people the world over - including many governments and multilateral institutions - and has become a global rallying cry for those committed to social, environmental, economic and political justice.

Food sovereignty is different from food security in both approach and politics. Food
security does not distinguish where food comes from, or the conditions under which it is produced and distributed. National food security targets are often met by sourcing food produced under environmentally destructive and exploitative conditions, and supported by subsidies and policies that destroy local food producers but benefit agribusiness corporations. Food sovereignty emphasizes ecologically appropriate production, distribution and consumption, social-economic justice and local food systems as ways to tackle hunger and poverty and guarantee sustainable food security for all peoples. It advocates trade and investment that serve the collective aspirations of society. It promotes community control of productive resources; agrarian reform and tenure security for small-scale producers; agro-ecology; biodiversity; local knowledge; the rights of peasants, women, indigenous peoples and workers; social protection and climate justice. 

In 2001, delegates from peasant, fisher-folk, indigenous peoples, civil society, and
academic organisations met in Havana at the World Forum on Food Sovereignty to elaborate the different elements of food sovereignty. From 2000 onwards, campaigners against the WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture demanded public support for sustainable, family based food production and called for Priority to Peoples’ Food Sovereignty and WTO out of Food and Agriculture.

The International Forum on Food Sovereignty in 2007 in Mali was a defining milestone
for food sovereignty and brought together more than 500 people from 80 countries to pool ideas, strategies and actions to strengthen the global movement for food sovereignty. The Declaration of Nyéléni encapsulates the vision of the movement and asserts:

Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their
own food and agriculture systems. It puts those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations. It defends the interests and inclusion of the next generation... Food sovereignty prioritises local and national economies and markets and empowers peasant and family farmer-driven agriculture, artisanal-fishing, pastoralist-led grazing, and food production, distribution and consumption based on environmental, social and economic sustainability… Food sovereignty implies new social relations free of oppression and inequality between men and women, peoples, racial groups, social classes and generations.

Food sovereignty makes sense for people in both, rural and urban areas, and poor and
wealthy countries. It is as much a space of resistance to neoliberalism, free market capitalism, destructive trade and investment, as a space to build democratic food and economic systems, and just and sustainable futures. Its transformative power has been acknowledged by the Special Rapporteurs to the Right to food, Jean Ziegler and Olivier de Schutter, and in key policy documents such as the IAASTD (International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development).

The majority of the world’s food is produced by over one billion small-scale
food producers, many of who, tragically, are hungry themselves. We will not find lasting solutions to catastrophic climate change, environmental deterioration and economic shocks unless we amplify their voices and capacities.

The story of food sovereignty is a story of struggle and hope. The March 2013 edition of the
Nyéléni newsletter is dedicated to the struggles that help us to hope for a better world. 

Now more than ever is the time for food sovereignty.

Read more

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Feeding The World Conference 'missing the boat'

The conference 'Feeding the World' will take place on January 30 in the Amsterdam Hilton hotel. At this controversial event organised by magazine The Economist, Dutch princess Máxima is taking the stage together with pesticide multinational Monsanto. Critics label the event as misleading because it promotes industrial agriculture as the solution to solve world hunger.

The way the conference is organized shows that it mainly aims to promote further intensifying of agriculture, based on higher profits and increased use of fertilizers, energy and pesticides; products that are being produced by Monsanto. These targets are also elaborated on in "The 9 Billion-People Question", an article published by The Economist, which is used as a starting point for the conference (1). The price for a ticket to the conference at 1600 euros ensures an audience of mostly large companies, that will listen to talks of their colleagues from the DSM, BASF, Nestlé and Rabobank. There is not a single farmer programmed as a speaker. (2)

Nina Holland, who is following the lobbying practices of multinationals for Corporate Europe Observatory, is critical regarding the conference: "The meeting at the Hilton is a PR-act for the companies that have more interest in extending their monopoly power over the seed and food market, than to find solutions for hunger in the world. Industrial farming increases the dependence of farmers, and threatens food security by eliminating local food production."

Critics say that there are many better solutions available that can feed the world in a sustainable way, but that these solutions are not mentioned during the conference.

Janneke Bruil of ILEIA, a knowledge center on sustainable agriculture, states: "This conference is missing the point. The solution for world hunger lies with 400 million small scale farmers, and the scientists and consumers that together can make the switch to sustainable, healthy and fair food production. Such a system of production is based on a combination of knowledge and practices of local farmers with new innovations, and will aim to prevent soil degradation, making long lasting cultivation possible, also under extreme weather conditions." (5)

Greet Goverde of Platform ABC says: "The best way to ensure food security is by paying farmers fair prices. Then food can be produced in a sustainable way if that is needed, and people will start investing again in agriculture."

In the report of EEA (the European Environmental Agency) that was released this week, intensive agriculture based on GMO's is being compared to agro-ecological farming methods that are increasingly applied by farmers in the Global South. The report shows that the risks of GMO's are being structurally underestimated, while the benefits are being (6)overestimated.

Princess Máxima is opening the conference at the Hilton. A lot of toxic chemicals are being discharged on the 20 million acres of soy plantations in her homeland Argentina. Because of this the local population suffers from health problems. The 'soy desert' causes deforestation, water contamination, land degradation, land struggles, conflicts and increased poverty. (7) Flip Vonk of ASEED Europe, an environmental organisation in Amsterdam says: "It is just ironic that Princess Máxima volunteers to pimp this conference. Being from Argentina, she knows like no other the damage that companies and Cargill can do to people and to the environment."

Signing organisations:

Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO)
Platform Aarde Boer Consument
ILEIA - Centre for learning on sustainable agriculture
Transnational Institute (TNI)
ASEED Europe
Voor Mondiale Duurzaamheid
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)
Burgers voor gentechvrij voedsel Nijmegen
Groene Ruimte maken
Slowfood Amsterdam
Gevoel voor humus
TEAM Ecosys
Stichting OtherWise


(1) The Nine Billion Question:

(2) Agenda:
Participants fee: € 1600.

(3) Speakers:

(4) Agriculture responsuble for climate change emissions:

(5) It is possible to do it in a different way, for example:

(6) EEA report:

(7) See for example the video Growing Doubt' from Greenpeace about the experiences farmers in the US have with pesticide resistant crops: