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.

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