Tag Archive: food security

May 04

Nature & Progrès: Food Sovereignty First!

The issues of food and hunger around the world question the current systems of production, processing and marketing of agricultural products. Peasants represent 70% of the hungry.

Yet, the right to food appears in the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food”. Also, in 2007, at the Forum for Food Sovereignty in Mali, the declaration of Nyéléni underlined that all people have the right to safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food, produced sustainably and ecologically.

Food sovereignty is the right for countries and peoples to define their own agricultural and food policies, and must be the engine of peasant and citizens mobilization.

Food sovereignty breaks with the current organization of international agricultural markets and is the answer for more equitable, sustainable and respectful food systems.

Food sovereignty rejects the idea that food products should be products like any other, only managed by the agro-food industry and subject to the strategies of multinationals and to the adverse effects of international trade.

Food sovereignty implies that farmers should get a fair income for their production.

Food sovereignty adds value to an agriculture respectful of life, food habits and traditions, hence creating social bonds between men and women living close geographically and socialy.

Food sovereignty opposes the standardization of agricultural and food production.

Food sovereignty tends to develop agricultural systems focused on national and regional needs, hence reducing dependence to international markets.

Food sovereignty opposes the privatization of natural resources, even allowed by law.

Food sovereignty connects producers and consumers, rural and urban communities, for them to exchange and to master their food production.

Nature & Progrès and its partners calls out to citizens and policy makers to promote healthy food for all, in their campaigns “Alimentons” (“Alimentons l’Europe” in 2009, “Alimentons les regions” in 2010, and “Alimentions” in 2012)

By developing Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) in organic production, Nature & Progrès takes action to support knowledge exchange and develop new and transparent relations between organic stakeholders in France, e.g. peasants, craftsmen and citizens.

Message to Rio+20

Nature & Progrès alerts NGOs and policy makers on the transformation of elements of biodiversity into commercial goods or services. Any patent, or any financial value given to elements of biodiversity is the beginning of their destruction. A collective asset taken outside of its social system, or an ecosystem service outside of its ecosystem, no longer fulfill their social or ecological function: they become mere speculative products on the financial markets.

The market is unable to ensure the equitable distribution of land, water, seeds and other elements of biodiversity essential to life. Their conservation first and foremost depends on the respect of local communities’ rights to use and manage their resources sustainably.

Nature & Progrès

Mar 12

HIVOS: A Greener and more Inclusive Agricultural Sector at RIO+20!

Starting this week Dutch Prime Minister Rutte and the governing parties are engaged in a new round of discussions on how to reduce the budget deficit to an acceptable level. The economic crisis is hitting the Netherlands hard and the politicians aim to cut back on a wide range of programs and services, including development aid. Unfortunately there is no sign of interest to not only reduce expenditures but to also look at possible solutions that take sustainability as a starting point. Why not use the crisis to change Dutch policies and ensure that we respect the planetary boundaries and include people’s well being all over the world?

Can Rio+20 play a role in motivating politicians like those in the Netherlands to look beyond their own backyard and open the door for necessary transformations in for instance the agricultural sector? The green revolution has been for years the mantra of agricultural ministers and presented as the solution. We are now witnessing the unintended results. More farmers than ever before are faced with serious debts leading to an alarming number of suicides. And how do we explain an increase in hunger around the world and especially in rural areas where food is produced? We must have taken a wrong road somewhere.

Hivos Working Team of the Green Entrepreneurship Program

Over the last 20 years Hivos worked with farmers and their organizations around the world to come up with solutions for a real green agricultural sector that enables farmers to have a decent life. Their insights and experiences show that practices that take biodiversity serious offer not only a lot to the men and women farmers themselves but also to the world at large. Data show that such practices  like  low external input, organic farming or agroforestry are able to produce enough to feed the world also in times of climate change and growing population. There are many advantages that Hivos witnessed in the fields but only writing about them will hardly impress someone.

These positive experiences have developed on their own, without a lot of support from the government. What if governments would change their policies, become really green and help these islands of success to become oceans of change? I am not very hopeful about the Dutch politicians. There is little acknowledgment of the positive impacts of resilient agricultural practices on people and environment. There is for instance no sign they will cut back on subsidies for fuel based fertilizers or chemicals.  But luckily there are a number of Southern governments making moves that will impresse the world, including the Dutch. So, If the Dutch Prime Minister Rutte– probably empty handed – decides to travel to Rio this might inspire him to include a longer term perspective when cutting in his budget. The farmers around the world that have developed such successful resilient agricultural practices deserve it.

Willy Douma
Programme Officer Green entrepreneurship Hivos
www.hivos.nl or www.hivos.net (for documents on smallholder farmers in a globalizing market, on biodiversity, poverty and livelihoods or on foodsecurity)


Feb 27

ILEIA: Small-scale Farmers Deserve Recognition!

A few years ago I had a series of interesting discussions with small-scale farm families in South India who had shifted from conventional to organic cotton production. I asked them what the most significant changes were which they had experienced. There were some remarkable answers. One woman farmer said: “Since the pesticides have left our house we can sleep peacefully. There is no more harassment from the pesticides dealer who comes in the night to collect his money”. Another woman explained: “Now that the cotton is grown organically, we can intercrop it with sorghum and vegetables for home consumption. Finally we can eat our own vegetables”. A farm labourer calculated that by working on an organic cotton farm she would spend Rs 3,000 less per year on hospital bills, and would earn 10 “extra” days of income because she did not fall sick any more due to over-exposure to pesticides. These women told in very concrete terms what sustainable farming means to them: it is about human dignity and peace of mind, about growing and eating your own food, and about healthy working conditions. And of course it is about earning a reasonable income, as the male farmers emphasised. The shift from non-sustainable to sustainable farming can literally mean the difference between misery and a decent life.

Photo_ILEIA_1Sustainable family farming is not only the way forward to these Indian cotton farmers, it is a possible future for 400 million small-scale farmers – and it is essential for the future of our planet. By facilitating the exchange of concrete experiences world wide, ILEIA and its AgriCultures Network partners in Latin America, Africa and Asia have contributed to an increased awareness and conviction, at local and global levels, that sustainable family farming is part of the solution (we use the word “sustainable” as we want to include all forms of agriculture that respect people and nature, even though they may not be strictly organic). Over the past decades we have collected, published and shared several thousands of experiences, and the body of knowledge on sustainable farming continues to grow every day. It forms a living testimony of the wisdom and resilience of family farmers around the world. Our key message to Rio therefore is: Sustainable family farming deserves recognition.

While many policymakers still believe that family farming is inefficient and something of the past, things are beginning to change. There is a growing consensus among farmers’ and civil society organizations and among scientists and influential actors within the UN institutions that sustainable family farming means better livelihoods for millions of people in the rural areas, and is also key to the future of the planet. The paradigm shift that has been called for is on its way as many millions of farmers are already practicing and developing sustainable methods every day. But it needs to be completed and there are major obstacles to be removed. IFOAM plays a very important role in this process of building a growing and inclusive organic+ movement. Let’s join forces on the way to Rio, and beyond.

Edith van Walsum
ILEIA – Centre for Learning on Sustainable Agriculture

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