The Government of Ghana anounced that it's studying tariff and non-tariff measures to restrict the importation of poultry products, after local analysts warned that those purchases are harming the national economy. "Imported chicken is being sold at below the cost of local chicken, and farmers in Ghana cannot simply compete, resulting in the collapse of dozens of farms and the loss of hundreds of jobs," said Yaw Graham, expert of the Third World Network-Africa (TWN-A), focal point of Social Watch.
According to Vía Campesina, an international movement that coordinates farmer organizations from Asia, Africa, America and Europe, food sovereignty is the right of all peoples, their nations or unions of States to define their agricultural and food policies, without dumping involving third-party countries. Food sovereignty goes beyond the more common concept of food security, which merely seeks to ensure that a sufficient amount of safe food is produced without taking into account the kind of food produced and how, where and on what scale it is produced.
The concept of food sovereignty was developed by Vía Campesina and introduced into the public debate on occasion of the World Food Summit in 1996, with the aim of providing an alternative to neo-liberal policies. Since then, this concept has become a major issue of debate on the international agricultural agenda, even within the United Nations. It was the main subject of discussion in the forum of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that was held in parallel to the June 2002 World Food Summit of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Food sovereignty involves:
- prioritizing local agricultural production to feed the population and the access of women and men farmers to land, water, seeds and credit. Hence the need for agrarian reform, to combat genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to guarantee free access to seeds, and to keep water a public good to be distributed in a sustainable way.
- the right of farmers to produce food and the right of consumers to be able to decide what they want to consume, and how and who produces it.
- the right of all nations to protect themselves from excessively cheap agricultural and food imports (dumping).
- linking agricultural prices to production costs; this will only be possible if countries or unions of countries have the right to impose duties on excessively cheap imports, if they commit themselves to promoting sustainable rural production, and if they control domestic market production to prevent structural surpluses.
- engaging the participation of people in the definition of agrarian policies.
- acknowledging the right of women farmers who play a key role in agricultural production and in food issues.
Vía Campesina believes that neo-liberal policies undermine food sovereignty, as they give precedence to international trade over peoples’ food rights. It further believes that these policies have done nothing at all to eradicate world hunger. On the contrary, they have increased peoples’ dependence on agricultural imports and intensified the industrialization of agriculture, thus endangering the earth’s genetic, cultural and environmental heritage, and putting the health of the world’s population at risk. Lastly, it has driven millions of women and men farmers to abandon their traditional agricultural practices, forcing them into rural exodus or migration.
International institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the World Trade Organization (WTO) have applied these policies which are dictated by the interests of transnational corporations and the world powers. International agreements such as those of the WTO, other regional agreements like the Free Trade Agreement for the Americas (FTAA), or bilateral ones stipulating “free” trade for agricultural products, enable these corporations to control the globalized food market. Peasant organizations see the WTO as a totally inappropriate institution to deal with food and agriculture-related issues, and have thus demanded that such issues be taken out of the WTO’s remit.
Food sovereignty advocates are not against trade in products, but against the priority given to exports. Access to international markets is not a solution for farmers, whose problem is above all the lack of access to their own local markets, which are flooded with products imported at low prices. At present, the United States and the European Union, in particular, abuse government aid to lower their prices in domestic markets and engage in dumping practices to place their surplus production on international markets, thus destroying peasant agriculture both in the North and the South. The self-immolation of the Korean farmer Lee Kyung Hae during the WTO Ministerial Conference in Cancun (September 2003) became a tragic symbol of this desperate situation.
In November 2003, at the closing of the Second Ministerial Meeting on Agriculture and Rural Life, held in Panama, the Ministers of Agriculture of the Americas signed the Agro Plan 2003-2015 aimed at fostering the sector’s development until the year 2015. This programme of action emerged at a time when trade negotiations on the issue of agriculture were underway, both at the WTO (whose failure in Cancun was partly due to the discontent of developing countries over how the Ministerial Declaration dealt with agricultural issues), and in the FTAA and other regional free trade agreements.
Via Campesina believes that the solution to the current food price crisis lies in 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 puts the aspirations and needs of those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations. Food sovereignty prioritises local and national economies and markets and empowers peasant and family farmer-driven agriculture and food production. February 2008.
Food Sovereignty, the political philosophy introduced by Via Campesina, has become a hot geopolitical topic. For the first time in decades, food issues are rising high on the international agenda, pushed there by alarm over climate chaos; booming population growth; the fast-growing appetite for meat and dairy products; and, the land and price pressures imposed by agrofuels. All of this at a time when the major multilateral food and agricultural institutions are reverberating from tough performance reviews and as new philanthro-capitalists ramp up their influence over agriculture and rural development. January 2008.
The processing of food and drinks and their exports has traditionally been seen by developing countries as a way to diversify out of low-priced, volatile and environmentally damaging commodity production and trade, and to get more added value and foreign exchange earnings. This report analyses particular obstacles for the development and trade of processed food from developing countries, and the contribution the processed food industry can make to poverty reduction and sustainable development in the current national and international context. December 2006 (pdf version).
This book explores emerging alliances among farmer organizations, environmentalists, and scholars working to promote ecologically sound and economically just food and agriculture systems across the Americas. November 2006 (pdf version).
Food sovereignty is a solid alternative to the current mainstream thinking on food production. The struggle for food sovereignty incorporates such wide ranging issues as land reform, territorial control, local markets, biodiversity, autonomy, cooperation, debt, health, and many other issues that are of central importance to be able to produce food locally. In other words, it implies that the global food system should be turned upside down. May 2005.
Economic, social and cultural rights include the right to an adequate standard of living. The human right to adequate food is explicitly recognized as part of this broader human right. While the focus here is on food, social organizations have much to learn from the work that has emerged on health, education, housing, and other issues relating to an adequate standard of living (pdf version).
As corporate-driven economic globalization and runaway free trade policies devastate rural communities around the world, farmers’ organizations are coming together around the rallying cry of food sovereignty.
On 16 March, the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee presented a Preliminary study on discrimination in the context of the right to food to the Human Rights Council. The right to food is "the right to have regular, permanent and unrestricted access, either directly or by means of financial purchases, to quantitatively and qualitatively adequate and sufficient food corresponding to the cultural traditions of the people to which the consumer belongs, and which ensures a physical and mental, individual and collective, fulfilling and dignified life free of fear". March 2010.
Without a redistribution of power away from agribusiness, real solutions to hunger and food insecurity are not possible. Far reaching reform of national and international governance is required to prioritise the right to food, says a report by Agribusiness Action Initiatives. November 2009 (pdf).
This paper explains the importance of using human rights to build a global trading system. It explains why existing trade rules undermine human rights and makes proposals for a trading system that would instead support food systems that protect, promote and fulfil human rights. The paper focuses on the universal human right to food, as one of an indivisible body of human rights, encompassing civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. November 2008 (pdf).
Jean Ziegler is the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. He was appointed by the UN Commission on Human Rights in September 2000. As Special Rapporteur, his job is to raise awareness about how many women, men and children suffer from hunger and malnourishment today and to try to promote an understanding of the right to food.
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) defines rules on the international trade in goods and services, and these rules have consequences for national policies. The choices made at the WTO are of major importance for development, in particular in the field of agriculture, an essential socioeconomic sector in Africa. The purpose of this book is to provide guidance in understanding how the WTO institutions and agreements operate and to provide tools to better understand the stakes behind, and means for, participation in world trade. March 2008.
This Centad working paper takes a critical look at the Hong Kong Ministerial text on agriculture and Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA). On the basis of this analysis, the paper suggests specific and important negotiating points for developing countries. March 2006 (pdf version).
A key question has taken centre stage in world trade talks: whether developing countries have the right to food security and to protect the livelihood of their farmers, or whether they must allow cheaper imports that may overwhelm local agriculture. Lately this controversy has been raging at the World Trade Organisation. May 2006.
World trade talks have collapsed in Geneva over United States' and Europe's refusal to cut the billions of dollars they provide in support to their agricultural sector. As developing countries contemplate the ruin this spells for their farmers, John Madeley looks into the reasons behind the North’s tragic intransigence. July 2006.
Worldwide, the trade in fresh vegetables and fruit is increasingly controlled by a small number of multinationals and supermarkets. The fact that free trade in agriculture and services has a negative impact on small farmers and producers in developing countries is being neglected in the WTO negotiations. The conclusions in this report emphasise the importance of this subject. June 2006 (pdf version).
In September 2003, the World Trade Organisation's Ministerial meeting collapsed, amidst scenes of great drama. This sudden stop to the negotiations, which were being held in Cancún, Mexico, was hailed by many millions around the world as a victory for their campaigns to stop governments pushing unwanted liberalisation and privatisation policies upon them.
Asking developing countries to dismantle their remaining defences in agriculture against the grossly unfair export thrust of the major developed countries is an example of wholly unreasonable demands and extreme insensitivity to the condition of agriculture in countries like India.
As the WTO majors - the European Union and the United States – increase the pressure to reach a "framework" agreement in the agricultural negotiations by July 2004, it now appears clearer than ever that the current trade distortions, endorsed by the unfair agreement on agriculture (AoA) rules, would be accentuated. In the following piece, Aileen Kwa argues that if a July framework comes together under the present conditions, all developing countries would lose out.
The USA and the EU are currently blocking a deal to make trade fair in the Doha Development Round. In the wake of findings by the WTO that US cotton subsidies and EU sugar subsidies are illegal, this paper presents powerful new research detailing a slew of other rich country subsidies of $13bn that are also on the wrong side of the law. December 2005 (pdf version).
Many developing countries are rightly skeptical that the Doha Round will bring them benefits even if cuts to subsidies and rich countries’ tariffs are made. This briefing report entitled "Sailing Close to the Wind: Navigating the Hong Kong WTO Ministerial" substantiates this skepticism, concluding that WTO rules serve the interests of multinational food companies rather than the interests of farmers - particularly those in poor countries. December 2005.
This article analyses the report issued by the the Chairperson of the WTO's agriculture negotiations that provides an assessment of key issues to be addressed in the agriculture negotiations by 31 July 2005, which is apparently the date by which the General Council session to discuss "first approximations" has to conclude. This article was first published on SUNS (South North Development Monitor). July 2005.
This publication is the first in a series designed to analyze the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Agriculture from a human rights perspective. It focuses on the characteristics of agricultural trade and the relevant global rules. It points out what the main human rights concerns are, and suggests some actions human rights advocates can undertake. March 2005.
The conference Sustaining a Future for Agriculture was hosted by a diverse group of civil society organizations, including IATP's Trade Information Project, in Geneva, Switzerland, Nov. 15-19, 2004. It aimed to bring together different constituencies working on agriculture and trade to discuss jointly the international dimensions of a just and sustainable food system and to prepare for the 2005 WTO Ministerial in Hong Kong.
January 1, 2005 marked the 10-year anniversary of the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Agriculture (AoA). When governments launched the agreement, they hailed it as a victory for farmers around the world: farmers were to benefit from more trade, greater access to markets and higher prices. A decade later, there is unquestionably more trade in agricultural products. However, higher and fair prices for farmers seem further away than ever. It is hard to make the case that the Agreement on Agriculture has done anything to benefit farmers anywhere in the world. February 2005 (pdf version).
The aim of this review, said the G20, is to ensure that the direct payments conform to the fundamental requirement that “they have no, or at most minimal, trade-distorting effects of effects on production.” It also gave details of what such a review should include. December 2004.
According to the European Union's plans for agricultural reforms, subsidies received by farmers will now become their entitlement until 2013. The big businesses that get most of these subsidies are quite happy; meanwhile the subsidies continue to create starvation and death in the developing world. November 2004.
A paper presented at the First Seminar of the International Food and Agricultural trade Policy Council’s (IPC) Capacity Building series, held at the Sandton Hotel and Conference Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa on 29 February, 2004 (pdf version).
If you raise the price of your product and offer a discount on the higher price, some people will get taken in by such 'sales'. The WTO has just pulled off this kind of scheme, says food and trade policy analyst Devinder Sharma. August 2004.
The draft framework text, Job(04)/96, issued on 16 July 2004 by General Council chair Shotaro Oshima and WTO Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi, aimed at restarting the stalled WTO negotiations, is a “Doha-minus”, both overall and in the agriculture annex.
It appears that the agricultural text drafted by Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez at the Cancun Ministerial Meeting will be the basis for further negotiations. This is a positive development – starting over would cause considerable delay. However, if the Derbez text is to be the basis for further negotiations it must be improved considerably to make sure that reforms are real and meaningful for both developed and developing countries.
The WTO’s Agriculture Agreement was negotiated in the 1986–94 Uruguay Round. It includes specific commitments by WTO member governments “to improve market access and reduce trade-distorting subsidies in agriculture.” These commitments are being implemented over a six year period (10 years for developing countries) that began in 1995.
More than 80 NGOs took part in a Hearing on the Review of the WTO Agriculture Agreement on 19-21 February 2003 in Geneva. They were very critical of the draft paper on modalities for agriculture negotiations prepapred by the Chairman of the agriculture negotiations group, Stuart Harbinson.
Steeped in the rhetoric of free trade that promised expanded agricultural trade and growth for developing countries, the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) took effect in 1995 under the World Trade Organization. Since then, AoA measures to liberalize trade in agriculture have had a tremendous negative impact on agriculture and the livelihoods of poor peasants in the South.
This briefing explores issues around agricultural trade, focusing on the effects of the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture on developing countries and on key issues for the next round of negotiations (pdf version).
“The growing power of transnational corporations in the food sector is changing the way we produce and eat, as a handful of companies seek to extend their control over seeds, water, chemical inputs, processing and even the genetic foundations of the world food system. Current WTO rules strengthen corporate influence, and the "Doha Development Round" of negotiations could take us further down this road.”
This discussion paper explores the recent history, politics and governance of trade policies in the agriculture sector and examines the impact of those policies on economic development and food security in South Asia. Focussing on the Agreement on Agriculture the paper looks at the political economy of agricultural liberalization examining in depth the issues and resulting political alignments of different countries in the negotiation process. It goes on to explore the food security implications of the 'liberalized' market that has emerged from this process.
The fervour with which foreign commercial interests are forcing their agricultural 'solutions' on the African continent represents nothing more than an established endeavour to protect profits and access to resources. For all that they are dressed up as 'help' and 'knowledge', these ostensible solutions are about one thing: Money. November 2009.
The paper is divided into three parts: Section I briefly introduces how developing countries have sought to protect the interests of small and marginal farmers in the on-going Doha round and the current state of play in those negotiations. Section II discuses the integration of Mexican agriculture in global markets under NAFTA and why the brunt of the adjustment was borne by small and marginal farmers. And finally, Section III proposes an alternate model of agricultural modernization centered on small-farmers and why for developing countries the stakes are much higher than for Mexico. June 2008.
When tens of thousands of people staged demonstrations in Mexico last year to protest a 60 percent increase in the price of tortillas, many analysts pointed to biofuel as the culprit. Because of US government subsidies, American farmers were devoting more and more acreage to corn for ethanol than for food, which sparked a steep rise in corn prices. The diversion of corn from tortillas to biofuel was certainly one cause of skyrocketing prices, though speculation on biofuel demand by transnational middlemen may have played a bigger role. However, an intriguing question escaped many observers: how on earth did Mexicans, who live in the land where corn was domesticated, become dependent on US imports in the first place? May 2008.
The paper presents case studies for Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa and Arab countries and Asia, documenting experiences of problems with agricultural liberalization, which has caused disruption to the livelihoods of small farmers in many of the developing countries. April 2006 (doc version).
The 20th century was a terrible blight on small farmers everywhere. Today, perhaps the greatest threat to small farmers is free trade. And the farmers are fighting back. They have helped, for instance, to stalemate the Doha round of negotiations of the World Trade Organization (WTO). This tug of war between farmers and free trade is nowhere more visible than in Asia. April 2007.
The Europeans want to get rid of farmers' limited entitlement to save seed. The Americans want to restrict the exemption by which breeders have the free use of each other's commercial varieties for research purposes. In both cases, the point is to reduce competition and boost profits. In the short term, the victims will be farmers, who will probably end up paying the seed giants an additional US$7 billion each year. February 2007.
This paper fills a gap in the body of literature around food and agriculture in relation to gender. It seeks to draw together analysis done on recent trends in food and agriculture from a gender perspective with the wider literature on how trade and investment have affected food security and agricultural development. January 2007 (pdf version).
The right to food vs international trade commitments. That's the balance that developing countries have to strike in a globalised world. Increasingly it's the food security of their populations that is being sacrificed, with developing countries having to negotiate the right to food within the World Trade Organisation. January 2007.
Babacar Ndao writes that rich countries are not concerned with the development agenda, but are interested in an agenda that aims to pursue their own interests. This means “...maintaining large subsidies and high tariffs to suit large multi-national agribusinesses, whilst doing very little for their own producers.” January 2007.
Globalisation is often taken to mean a process that is synonymous with liberalisation, or the opening up of the local and national markets to the global market. However, the economic globalisation process is much more nuanced than this simple or automatic linkage between globalisation and liberalisation. June 2006 (doc version).
As one of the key issues that deadlocked the 5th WTO Ministerial in Cancun and triggered its collapse, the debate over agricultural trade liberalization continues to escalate, and in doing so appears to be breaking the boundaries of the free market fundamentalism that has dominated the minds and actions of policy-makers for over two decades.
For years, social movements in Thailand have been challenging the export-oriented economic strategy of the government. The success of the agribusiness sector has led to farmers’ bankruptcy, ecological devastation and social disaster. In their diversity, organisations of farmers, consumers, urban poor, NGOs and even some government bodies are now suggesting ways to break away from the cash-crop export-oriented strategy and to move towards a national strategy of food sovereignty.
Back in the 1960s "seed laws" referred to rules governing the commercialisation of seeds: what materials could be sold on the market under what conditions. From the 1960s through the 1980s, agencies like FAO and the World Bank played a very strong role in getting developing countries to adopt seed laws. These articles analyse how many countries are being pushed into embracing some of the world's most repressive laws: seed laws. July 2005.
The top 10 multinational seed firms control half of the world's commercial seed sales (a total worldwide market of approximately US$21,000 million per annum). Corporate control and ownership of seeds - the first link in the food chain - has far-reaching implications for global food security. With control of seeds and agricultural research held in fewer hands, the world's food supply is increasingly vulnerable to the whims of market maneuvers. (PDF document). September 2005.
This study provides an in-depth analysis of the potential implications for biodiversity of a reduction in and reform of agricultural support activities. It is an update an earlier note prepared by the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) which gave a broad analysis of the different impacts trade liberalisation may have on agricultural biological diversity. July 2005.
State of Agricultural Commodity Markets (SOCO) is a new report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that analyzes global trends in agricultural production and trade and documents the inequity and unfairness of the global trade system in terms of its impact on the poorest nations and their small farmers. The study’s findings, based on the examination of 40 years of international trade in agricultural products, expose that the developing countries, and above all the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), do not benefit from integration into the international trade system. The study shows how economic integration has actually contributed to the economic and social decline of the LDCs. March 2005.
Report of an inter-sessional workshop held September 11, 2003 in Cancun, Mexico, on the occasion of the 5th WTO Ministerial Meeting. Submitted to: The UN Food and Agriculture Organization Intergovernmental Working Group for the elaboration of a set of voluntary guidelines to support the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security.
The reemergent Mexican farmers' movement reflects not only the serious crisis in the country's rural sector but also a crisis of faith in free trade itself. With the common slogan "El campo no aguanta más" (The countryside can't take it anymore), a wide range of rural organizations have set off a national debate on NAFTA. As a result, some of the fundamental myths of the free trade model are being questioned as never before in Mexico.
This presentation is based on the research findings of the Gender and Economic Reforms in Africa (GERA) Programme Phase II / Third World Network-Africa. These findings resulted from the participatory research carried out by local multidisciplinary teams led by women researchers in Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique and Burkina Faso on the effects of agricultural trade liberalization on gender relations and women farmers. Over 100 participants took part in the interviews and focus group discussions that were undertaken as part of the action research in each of these countries.
This report provides the first summary by the UN of how climate change, water stress, invasive pests and land degradation may impact world food security, food prices and how we may be able to feed the world in a more sustainable manner. The report examines the need to get smart and more creative about recycling food wastes. While major efforts have gone into increasing efficiency in the traditional energy sector, food energy efficiency has received too little attention. March 2009.
Participants of a Conference on Ecological Agriculture: Mitigating Climate Change, Providing Food Security and Self-Reliance for Rural Livelihoods in Africa called for the promotion and implementation of ecological agriculture in the continent. This is because ecological agriculture holds significant promise for increasing the productivity of Africa’s smallholder farmers, with consequent positive impacts on food security and food self-reliance, as well as has environmental benefits, including allowing adaptation to and mitigation of climate change. December 2008.
The report of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), approved on 12 April 2008 by 54 governments in Johannesburg, is a sobering account of the failure of industrial farming. It calls for a fundamental change in the way we do farming, to better address soaring food prices, hunger, social inequities and environmental disasters. Civil society statement on the outcome of the IAASTD — from AGENDA (Tanzania), Consumers International, Friends of the Earth International, Greenpeace, International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, Pesticide Action Network, Practical Action, Third World Network, Uganda Environmental Education Fund and Vredeseilanden. April 2008.
World agriculture has entered a new, unsustainable, and politically risky period. Agriculture—and the natural resources it depends on—has been overexploited ecologically, has suffered from underinvestment, has recently been exposed to ill-designed bioenergy programs, and has been politically sidelined for too long. It is now at a critical point. Appropriate responses to the food and agriculture price and productivity crises are lacking. A global initiative for accelerated agriculture productivity is necessary now; such an initiative makes economic sense, is pro-poor and sustainable, and serves security. February 2008 (pdf version).
Current global modes of production, consumption and trade have caused massive environmental destruction including global warming that is putting at risk our planet’s ecosystems and pushing human communities into disasters. Global warming shows the failure of a development model based on high fossil energy consumption, overproduction and trade liberalization. Farmers (men and women) around the world are joining hands with other social movements, organizations, people and communities to ask for and to develop radical social, economic and political transformations to reverse the current trend. November 2007.
The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has come out in favour of organic agriculture. Its report Organic Agriculture and Food Security explicitly states that organic agriculture can address local and global food security challenges. Organic farming is no longer to be considered a niche market within developed countries, but a vibrant commercial agricultural system practised in 120 countries. September 2007.
The Mixteca region of Mexico's Southern Oaxaca state has a tragic, but well-deserved reputation: it has the highest rate of immigration from Mexico to the United States. According to statistics from the Mixteca Center for Integral Peasant Development, a quarter of all young men have emigrated in search of survival for themselves and their families. The region confronts the double challenge of fighting the negative impact of erosion on their lands and the effects of free trade. Faced with this challenge, CEDICAM offers innovative solutions to forge a sustainable, ecological future based on the ancient culture of the Mixtec people. October 2006.
"Breaking down the fences of the large estates was not as difficult as fighting the technological packages of the transnationals," Huli Zang recounts. He says the campesinos of Brazil's Landless Rural Workers' Movement (MST, for the Portuguese initials) dreamed for years of reclaiming their land, believing that it would solve all their problems: food for their children, a dignified life of hard work on the farm, education, health, and housing. However, the reality would prove much more difficult, for surprises they had never imagined lay ahead. September 2006.
The Ban Terminator Campaign, a global coalition of over 500 organisations, released new financial calculations indicating that Terminator seeds will impose a burden of billions of extra dollars in seed costs on some of the world's poorest nations. March 2006.
Prof. Miguel Altieri at University of California, Berkeley, in the United States tells us why ecoagriculture is miles away from the agroecology that can truly deliver food security and sustainability, alleviate poverty and enhance biodiversity. November 2005.
Unless we make more concerted efforts to address rural poverty, we will not be able to reduce overall poverty and meet our international poverty reduction targets, says Atiqur Rahman -the lead strategist and policy coordinator for the International Fund for Agricultural Development- in the following article. November 2004.
Industrial agriculture contributes enormously to global warming, it is increasingly unproductive and heavily dependent on oil that’s fast running out. Nor can it feed us once climate change really gets going. A very different agriculture is needed, says Edward Goldsmith. December 2004.
Various ecological, social and economic challenges must be addressed if agriculture is to be truly sustainable. Martin Khor, Director of the Third World Network, discusses the choices facing developing countries and policy makers, and suggests some ways forward. November 2004.
The “Our World is not for Sale” network is a loose grouping of organizations, activists and social movements worldwide fighting the current model of corporate globalization embodied in global trading system.
Network of researchers and social movements committed to the promotion and advancement of the fundamental rights of individuals and communities to land, and to equitable access to the resources necessary for life with human dignity.
International movement which coordinates peasant organizations of small and middle-scale producers, agricultural workers, rural women, and indigenous communities from Asia, Africa, America, and Europe. It is an autonomous, pluralistic movement, independent from all political, economic, or other denomination. It is integrated by national and regional organizations whose autonomy is respected.
A member-supported, nonprofit 'peoples' think tank and education-for-action center, Food First’s work highlights root causes and value-based solutions to hunger and poverty around the world, with a commitment to establishing food as a fundamental human right. Food First produces books, reports, articles, films, electronic media, and curricula, plus interviews, lectures, workshops and academic courses for the public, policy makers, activists, the media, students, educators and researchers.
Loose global coalition of peasant-farmer organizations and NGO's working on food and agriculture issues. It grew out of the Our World Is Not For Sale Coalition in order to provide specific attention to globalize of food and agriculture issues in the WTO.
The majority of Africans still depend on farming to make a living. But the European Union is putting up barriers to stop them selling the produce they grow. ACTSA is campaigning to allow African farmers the freedom to grow.
Hundreds of thousands of landless peasants have taken onto themselves the task of carrying out a long-overdue land reform in a country mired by an overly skewed land distribution pattern. Less than 3% of the population owns two-thirds of Brasil's arable land.
Global initiative developed by governmental and non-governmental organisations involved in agricultural initiatives in Africa, Asia and Latin America, in cooperation with Northern partners. Its purpose is to strengthen the ongoing work of farming communities in conserving and developing the agricultural biodiversity that is vital to their livelihood and food security.
Non-governmental organization comprising a national office and eight affiliated land rights organizations. The NLC actively assists poor black rural people across eight (of nine) provinces to access land rights and development resources.
A global alliance of intergovernmental, governmental and civil-society organizations. The Coalition works together with the rural poor to increase their secure access to natural resources, especially land, and to enable them to participate directly in policy and decision-making processes that affect their livelihoods at local, national, regional and international levels.
SPP seeks to achieve a transfer of power and resources to the most marginalised and unorganised, especially women, through supporting rural communities in struggles pertaining to rural development, and land reform in particular.
The report "Africa: up for grabs" by Friends of the Earth that looks at 11 African countries, found at least five million hectares of land – an area the size of Denmark – is being acquired by foreign companies to produce biofuels mainly for the European market.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) have published a joint report, “The State of Food Insecurity in the World, 2009: Economic Crises- Impacts and Lessons Learned”, which documents the impact of the economic crises on global food insecurity, and highlights the need for immediate and sustainable responses to end hunger. An unprecedented one billion are now suffering from hunger. October 2009.
While the mainstream media doesn’t always ignore the pressing issue of hunger in Africa, it rarely explores the root causes of this problem. Behind most news on the issue, there’s an assumption that casts hunger as a natural result of unfortunate weather conditions, coupled with bureaucratic inefficiency and bad economic planning. August 2008.
During the last year, rice has doubled in price in Bangladesh and food cost increased in 40% in Haiti and Egypt. The same situation has occurred in Côte d’Ivoire, Bolivia, Indonesia, Mexico, Philippines, Pakistan, Mozambique, Peru, Yemen, Ethiopia… And this list could go on. Although, today the problem is not the lack of food; the difficulty is due to the impossibility of the poor people in Southern countries to afford the established prices. It is, therefore, a problem of food access. July 2008.
In October 2005, the Oakland Institute published its report, Food Aid or Food Sovereignty? Ending World Hunger in our Time. Since then the issue of food aid has taken center stage in foreign aid, global hunger, and development discourse, sparking interest and debate amongst policy makers, media, and civil society internationally. The current food price crisis has further intensified the debate and the need for reform of international food aid. April 2008 (pdf version).
Together with the Rockefeller Foundation, the Gates Foundation has pledged a total of $150 million the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). But a group of small-scale farmers, pastoralists, organic and civil society organizations from 25 African and 10 non-African countries dares to question the relevance of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation initiative. April 2008.
In today's world, access to food is highly, and unacceptably, uneven. There is massive overproduction and over-consumption, and yet millions experience scarcity and hunger. The Future Control of Food: a guide to international negotiations and rules on intellectual property, biodiversity and food security looks at some of the forces and rules shaping the food system and who has control over it. In particular, it focuses on rules on intellectual property (for example patents, plant breeders' rights, trademarks and copyright) and their relations to other rules on biodiversity, an essential requirement for food security. March 2008.
Genetically altered crops will rescue Africa from endemic shortfalls in food production, claim corporate foundations that have announced a $150 million "gift" to spark a "Green Revolution" in agriculture on the continent. Of course, U.S.-based agribusiness holds the patents to these wondercrops, and can exercise their proprietary "rights" at will. Are corporate foundations really out to feed the hungry, or are they hypocritical Trojan Horses on a mission to hijack the world's food supply - to create the most complete and ultimate state of dependency. June 2007.
The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) concluded its 32nd session on Saturday (4 November) by adopting a report that illustrates the process of the session but says little on tangible commitments by governments to improve food security, particularly for the poor. It was a dismal end to what was essentially the World Food Summit - Ten Years Later. November 2006.
Throughout the world, the press decries the latest Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) statistics: 852 million people lack adequate food, 13% of the world's population is "food insecure." Hunger and famine exist on every continent. World Food Day, commemorated on October 16, has become more of an exercise in expiation of sins than a renewal of a serious commitment to end hunger. October 2006.
The Sahel, which stretches over 3,500 km from Mauritania in the west to Chad in the east, is one of the most dangerous places in the world for children. According to the United Nations some 300,000 children under the age of five face the risk of death from malnutrition each year in the region. In light of this ongoing crisis, the Oakland Institute's new report examines the 2005 food crisis in Niger to explain the cause of this chronic emergency and recommends strategies that can help make hunger in Sahel a thing of the past. October 2006 (pdf version).
For people to be hungry in Africa in the 21st century is neither inevitable nor morally acceptable. The world’s emergency response requires an overhaul so that it delivers prompt, equitable, and effective assistance to people suffering from lack of food. More fundamentally, governments need to tackle the root causes of hunger, which include poverty, agricultural mismanagement, conflict, unfair trade rules, and the unprecedented problems of HIV/AIDS and climate change. The promised joint effort of African governments and donors to eradicate poverty must deliver pro-poor rural policies that prioritise the needs of marginalised rural groups such as small-holders, pastoralists, and women. August 2006 (pdf version).
Drawn from 11 different countries around the world, the interviews in this paper illustrate a sample of the challenges for agricultural workers and food security in the face of liberalized trade policies. These testimonies demonstrate that the AoA's championed trade system is, in the majority of instances examined, a threat to domestic food security and the right to food.
This paper examines food security in the context of conflict in West Africa. The analysis developed in the paper recognises the importance of defining conflict type and the trends in conflict so that conflict and post-conflict policies may be implemented. The relationship between food security and conflict is analysed (pdf version). January 2004.
This paper first considers food security, setting the context in which food aid should operate. The paper next briefly reviews the mechanics of food aid: who gives what food, in what ways, to whom, looking primarily at the U.S. but using other donor states and multilateral institutions for comparison. The paper then looks at sub-Saharan Africa, where food deficits and food-related crises are most heavily concentrated, to understand how food aid interacts with the wider context of food security and agricultural development. July 2005.
The 47-page report, "U.S. Food Aid: Time to Get It Right", calls for a major overhaul of food aid programmes, including untying the assistance from U.S.-origin and shipping requirements, as well as the practice of monetisation --that is, providing food to NGOs or local governments for sale so that the proceeds can be used for aid work or other purposes. July 29, 2005.
This paper discusses the importance of agriculture, food security and nutrition within the context of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). It discusses each of the eight MDGs in turn, analysing the main challenges and opportunities in reaching the specific targets set for the year 2015.
The international community has identified the reduction of poverty and hunger as one of the overarching goals for development policy in the new millennium.The Millennium Development Goals outline a framework for development actions, as well as benchmarks for measuring development progress. At the 1996 World Food Summit, reducing hunger and food insecurity was declared an essential part of the international development agenda.A commitment to the right to food was articulated in the International Code of Conduct on the Human Right to Adequate Food, initially proposed before the World Food Summit.The International Code of Conduct was pioneered by concerned nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). In essence, the proposal introduced a rights-based approach to food security. This concept has evolved to the point where states are developing voluntary guidelines for the progressive realization of the right to adequate food, including consideration of state obligations. To facilitate this process, an intergovernmental working group was established by FAO. November 2004 (pdf version).
Inspired by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the report makes the case that the role of nutrition in development goes far beyond providing an indicator of progress towards the MDGs. Specifically, the 5th Report outlines how reducing malnutrition is central to the achievement of the MDGs, and then cites evidence that links nutrition to a range of other development outcomes. March 2004 (pdf version).
While episodes of severe hunger such as famines receive considerable press coverage and attract much public attention, chronic hunger and malnutrition is considerably more prevalent in developing countries. It is estimated that at least 12 million low-birth-weight births occur per year and that around 162 million pre-school children and almost a billion people of all ages are malnourished. In poorly nourished populations, reductions in hunger and improved nutrition convey considerable productivity gains as well as saving resources that otherwise would be used for the care of malnourished people who are more susceptible to infectious diseases and premature mortality (pdf version).
Africa may at last be poised to make real progress on achieving food and nutrition security. Although the number of Africans who are undernourished has been on the rise for decades and now stands at about 200 million people, a new commitment to change has emerged both among African leaders and in the international community (pdf version).
Civil wars continue to threaten peace in some of the poorest parts of the world. While the disastrous consequences of civil wars on agriculture, food security and hunger are relatively well studied and documented, the reverse line of causality has been much less explored and understood. It poses much more complex questions: under what circumstances can poor agricultural performance fuel violent conflict and how can robust agricultural development facilitate peace and security, especially in countries prone to civil war? (pdf version).
Pre-Independence India suffered repeated famines, drought and food shortages. But following the Green Revolution in the ’60s, yields and foodstocks rose manifold. Now, 30 years later, Indian farmers have realised the follies of their tryst with intensive agriculture. Despite 70 per cent of the population being engaged in agriculture and allied activities, declining foodgrain production and access to food remain the two biggest problems confronting the country. Liberalisation has made things worse: commercial crops are eating into the fertile land tracts meant for essential foodgrains. And years after the World Trade Organisation came into existence, the anticipated gains for India from the trade liberalisation process in agriculture are practically zero.
The world's leading expert on the causes of famine, Nobel prize-winning economist Amartya Sen, answers crucial questions on why people starve when democracy falters. Leading Indian ecological activist Vandana Shiva disagrees with Amartya Sen's analysis of global hunger and argues that famine has returned to democratic India.
In an extract from his forthcoming book Food Wars, Walden Bello critiques the orthodox views of economist Paul Collier on the global food price crisis. Collier argues that not enough food was produced to meet increased demand from Asia, thanks to a failure to promote commercial farming in Africa, the European Union ban against GMOs and the diversion of American grain to biofuels production. July 2009.
As GRAIN reported in 2008, "The two big global crises that have erupted over the last 15 months – the world food crisis and the broader financial crisis that the food crisis has been part of – are together spawning a new and disturbing trend towards buying up land for outsourced food production." June 2009.
This policy brief analyzes the IMF's Exogenous Shock Facility (ESF) which has been the main loan instrument used by the IMF to boost the lines of credit for developing countries during the global food crisis of 2008. In particular, it analyzes the macro-economic adjustments which were attached as conditionalities to these loans. December 2008 (pdf).
While there has been widespread reporting of the riots that have broken out around the world as a result of the global food crisis, little attention has been paid to the way forward. The solution is a radical shift in power away from the international financial institutions and global development agencies, so that small-scale farmers, still responsible for most food consumed throughout the world, set agricultural policy. Three interrelated issues need to be tackled: land, markets and farming itself. In this edition of GRAIN's Seedling magazine, a collection of articles highlight the less discussed aspects of the food crisis and responses to it. July 2008 (pdf).
This Global Policy Forum /Friedrich Ebert Foundation paper analyzes the global food crisis and the role played by population growth, unsustainable consumption, biofuels, international trade and agribusiness, climate change, soil depletion and water shortage, rising oil prices, the falling dollar and speculation. Authors James A. Paul and Katarina Wahlberg argue for effective short-term aid and longer-term transformation of the agricultural system to make it more justly distributive, resilient, and sustainable for the future. July 2008 (pdf).
A proper analysis of the food crisis is a matter that cannot be left with trade negotiators, investment experts, or agricultural engineers, writes Yash Tandon. It is essentially a matter of political economy. A crisis for some is an opportunity for others. Any analysis of the present food crisis carries with it its own prescription, and these prescriptions have the potential to bring benefits for some and losses for others. June 2008.
The causes of and remedies for the food crisis are hotly contested; how this rupture in the status quo is resolved will have decisive implications for the roles of the IFIs as well as more broadly for global food security and ecological sustainability. June 2008.
This briefing explains why the media have a crucial and ongoing role in highlighting food security - not just in times of crisis - and illustrates how academic research can provide the back-story to events and help journalists broaden the debate. February 2007.
This statement -presented at the FAO Food Security Summit in Rome, on 4 June 2008- deals with the crisis of food prices and shortages, and also the issue of agriculture and climate change. The importance of food security and of expanding sustainable agriculture practices in its economic, social and environmental aspects is stressed. June 2008.
Even a year ago, few people would have predicted that a global food crisis would make headlines as one of the major concerns for the future of the world. Yes, critics of agrofuels warned that food shortages and price hikes would result from the headlong rush to divert land from food to fuel production. And climate change experts predicted that global warming would hit small farmers—who even in today's world of industrialized agribusiness still produce much of what we eat—the hardest. Agricultural economists alerted the world to the dangers of leaving the food supply to a highly concentrated international market. May 2008.
For some time now the rising cost of food all over the world has taken households, governments and the media by storm. From Haiti to Cameroon to Bangladesh, people have been taking to the streets in anger at being unable to afford the food they need. In fear of political turmoil, world leaders have been calling for more food aid, as well as for more funds and technology to boost agricultural production. Cereal exporting countries, meanwhile, are closing their borders to protect their domestic markets, while other countries have been forced into panic buying. Is this a price blip? No. A food shortage? Not that either. We are in a structural meltdown, the direct result of three decades of neoliberal globalisation. April 2008.
Eyes all around the world are turned toward agricultural markets. Climate change, the rising price of oil, biofuels, speculation on financial markets and income growth in emerging economies are some of the factors that have combined over the past two years to cause an unexpected rise in commodity prices. April 2008 (pdf version).
It is essential to understand the underpinnings of this food crisis before rushing to adopt policy solutions. Over the last few decades liberalization of agriculture, dismantling of state run institutions like marketing boards, and specialization of developing countries in exportable cash crops such as coffee, cocoa, cotton, and even flowers, encouraged by international financial institutions backed by rich countries like the U.S., has driven the poorest countries into a downward spiral, directly threatening food security and economic sustainability. April 2008.
The World Bank finally decided to publish its much anticipated report on the global farmland grab. Most of the report is smoke and mirrors talk about potentials and opportunities. There is a huge disconnect between what the World Bank says, what is happening on the ground and what is truly needed.
In a statement, the movements and organisations denounce the Bank's proposals as an attempt to "reduce the risk of social backlash" while pushing ahead with the take-over of agricultural land by corporate investors. April 2010.
The World Bank has played a prominent role in shaping agricultural policy in Africa. Under structural adjustment conditionality of the 1980s, the World Bank’s prescriptions became largely mandatory for the debt-ridden national economies of the continent. Its influence over a country’s policies is now generally in direct inverse proportion to that country’s economic strength. Thus, most African countries have to greater or lesser degrees espoused and implemented World Bank development policy for the last 25 years, and African agricultural sectors, in effect, demonstrate through continuous low growth rates and deepening rural poverty, the impact of World Bank policies. March 2008.
In its World Development Report for 2008, released on October 19 and entitled "Agriculture for Development," the World Bank stressed the importance of a renewed emphasis on agriculture. The report argues that "for the poorest people, GDP growth originating in agriculture is about four time more effective in reducing poverty than GDP growth originating outside the sector. AfricaFocus presents excerpts from two related reports that have received much less press attention. The first is a highly critical report of the World Bank's record on agriculture from its own Independent Evaluation Group. The second, a report from the EcoFair Trade Dialogue on "What the World Bank Missed", is excerpted in the link below. October 2007.
In its World Development Report for 2008, released on October 19 and entitled "Agriculture for Development," the World Bank stressed the importance of a renewed emphasis on agriculture. The report argues that "for the poorest people, GDP growth originating in agriculture is about four time more effective in reducing poverty than GDP growth originating outside the sector. AfricaFocus presents excerpts from two related reports that have received much less press attention. The first (see above) is a highly critical report of the World Bank's record on agriculture from its own Independent Evaluation Group. The second, a report from the EcoFair Trade Dialogue on "What the World Bank Missed”. October 2007.
Both women and men play critical roles in agriculture throughout the world, producing, processing and providing the food we eat. Rural women in particular are responsible for half of the world's food production and produce between 60 and 80 percent of the food in most developing countries. Yet, despite their contribution to global food security, women farmers are frequently underestimated and overlooked in development strategies.
This fact sheets are part of a joint collaboration between International Gender and Trade Network (IGTN) and Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) and the entitled project Transforming Women’s Livelihoods in relation to food, agriculture and trade. March 2007 (pdf version).
Today’s food and financial crises have, in tandem, triggered a new global land grab. On the one hand, “food insecure” governments that rely on imports to feed their people are snatching up vast areas of farmland abroad for their own offshore food production. On the other hand, food corporations and private investors, hungry for profits in the midst of the deepening financial crisis, see investment in foreign farmland as an important new source of revenue. As a result, fertile agricultural land is becoming increasingly privatised and concentrated. If left unchecked, this global land grab could spell the end of small-scale farming, and rural livelihoods, in numerous places around the world. October 2008.
Could the FAO provide space for an alternative approach to the issue of land and agrarian reform? Sofie Monsalve Suárez examines this possibility. She shows that the FAO, unlike the World Bank, has the potential to deal with agrarian reform in a multi-dimensional rather than a purely economic way. September 2008.
Vía Campesina’s ‘Global Campaign for Agrarian Reform’ has made a significant impact (inter)nationally in reshaping the terms of the land reform debates, but its impact on other land policy dynamics has been marginal. May 2008 (pdf version).
This paper reviews recent policy and practice to secure access to land for poor people. Emphasis is on Africa, Latin America and Asia, while reference also is made to Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States. Despite the widely different observations from the various places, the paper identifies some general trends and challenges. February 2006 (pdf version).
The policies of market-led agrarian reform are incapable of challenging the political and economic power of large landowners and are unlikely to meet the land needs of the rural poor and landless. The future of agrarian reform lies not in a return to the top-down, statist models of the past, but in new forms of partnerships between progressive political forces and peasant movements that go beyond the confines of the market to redistribute land and create sustainable livelihood opportunities for the rural poor and landless. November 2007.
Agrarian reform is back at the center of the national and rural development debate, a debate of vital importance to the future of the Global South and genuine economic democracy. The World Bank as well as a number of national governments and local land owning elites have weighed in with a series of controversial policy changes. In response, peasants landless, and indigenous peoples' organizations around the world have intensified their struggle to redistribute land from the underutilized holdings of a wealthy few to the productive hands of the many. November 2006 (pdf version).
“The magnitude of the Government's land acquisition blunder defies belief. It also defies all attempts to measure its likely impact or even the level of destruction so far. However, with each passing month the evidence is mounting that Government's actions will rank among the most destructive in the history of Africa. That is, unless they are swept aside before too many more months have passed.”
On October 2002 the World Bank board of executive directors approved a new rural development strategy Reaching the Poor. In addition the Bank published in May 2003 its Land Policy Research Report- Land Policies for Growth and Poverty Reduction. The policies that the aforementioned documents assume will deepen the process of land privatization and continue impoverishing and depriving women and rural communities of their means of life. In this document Global Campaign for Agrarian Reform, promoted by FIAN and La Vía Campesina, is presenting a critical analysis of the new policies.
This paper provides a civil society perspective on agrarian reform and rural development, developing the concept of food sovereignty as an overarching framework or paradigm. Food sovereignty essentially defines the policy package that would be needed so that policies of agrarian reform and rural development might truly reduce poverty, protect the environment, and enhance broad based, inclusive economic development. January 2006 (pdf version).
This paper asserts that the recognition of indigenous peoples' (IP) rights to land and self-determination should be essential elements of any program for agrarian reform. Because of the long history of struggle and continuuing efforts of indigenous peoples around the world, these inherent rights of indigenous peoples are increasingly being asserted on the ground and are now legally recognized through various international instruments and conventions. February 2006.
This Research and Policy Brief reviews UNRISD research findings which show that the new generation of land tenure reforms introduced in the 1990s is not necessarily more gender equitable than earlier efforts, even though women's ability to gain independent access to land is increasingly on the statutes. February 2006.
In June 2005, the FAO Committee on Agriculture unanimously approved the proposal for FAO to convene an International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development in 2006 (ICARRD) as a critical element of FAO’s programme to fulfil its international commitments and the Millennium Development Goals. The road from the 1979 World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (WCARRD) to the 2006 International ICARRD will build on the consensus processes ongoing during the last ten years, particularly the World Food Summit (WFS), the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) and the Millennium Development Goals Summit. ICARRD will be an opportunity to bring back the agenda of agrarian reform and rural development. February 2006.
There’s a World Bank offensive going on over the formulation of the agrarian policy of the national States with a double objective: to market land access and to alleviate rural poverty in a focused manner, specially on situations where social tensions on the countryside may reach “dangerous” levels for the safety of private capital and/or the stability of the present political order. (pdf format) November, 2005
The Alliance of Land and Agrarian Reform Movements (ALARM), a broad coalition of non-governmental organisations that promote land rights, urged officials at the National Land & Agrarian reform Summit - held 27-31 july 2005 - to implement without delay resolutions on land reform. August 2005.
Improving the performance of African agricultural production systems (efficiency); promoting sustainable natural resource management practices (sustainability); and ensuring access to and control over land for poor and marginalized rural households, women, and groups (equity) are critical policy objectives for promoting agricultural growth and combating poverty in Africa.To address these efficiency, equity, and sustainability issues, governments throughout Africa have introduced land tenure and other reforms. February 2005 (pdf version).
The WFAR defines itself as a space for dialogue, experiential interchange, reflection and the drawing up of processes and proposals, where agricultural and social organizations, experts, NGOs and governmental institutions from different continents can engage in Earth issues, and to consider the influence of Agrarian Reforms on the social and economic processes which are needed in order to achieve food sovereignty and which create the conditions necessary for the sustainable development of the world population. See the special event on the WFAR held from 5 to 8 December 2004 in Valencia, Spain.
"Agrarian Reform and Strategies of Struggle for Land and Natural Resources" was the title of the seminar carried out on Thursday, January 27, 2005, in one of the warehouses at Cais do Porto, one of the areas where the World Social Forum (WSF) 2005 activities took place. Leaders from Brazil, Indonesia, Honduras, Egypt and South Africa shared their experiences and impressions with regards to the struggle for the right to land and the access to natural resources. Several aspects of this issue were analysed, including the participation of women, the neoliberal policies, the recent historical processes and the main challenges and goals that should be outlined by global mobilisation. January 2005.
The World Bank has a clear policy regarding the so-called "land markets". Its strategy includes the following programs: land surveys and mapping, land titling with alienable titles, facilitation of land markets, credit based on the "willing-seller / willing-buyer" formula, "partnerships" between rural workers and landowners, and privatization of all land and natural resources. The Bank ideology defends the idea of keeping "small governments". Its policies benefit large landowners and corporations, increasing land concentration. According to these policies, small farmers should become more "efficient" by incorporating themselves into the agrobusiness sector.
Civil society organizations from around the world are looking to the upcoming Conference in The Hague with concern. Hosted by Government of the Netherlands in cooperation with the Governments of Ethiopia, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Vietnam, the World Bank and the FAO, the conference aims to produce a roadmap of “concrete actions linking agriculture-related investments, policies and measures, to the transition to lower carbon-emitting climate resilient growth.”
A final declaration of farmers and civil society organizations, in which they express their dissatisfaction with the process and the contents of the High-Level Meeting held in Madrid on 26-27 January 2009 (doc).
The High Level Conference on Food Security in Madrid on the 26th and 27th of January excluded the main stakeholders in the debate on the food crisis from meaningful participation. It was a forum dominated by the World Bank, IMF and WTO, as well as transnational companies such as Monsanto, and it was an outrage that they were given space on the panels of discussion while representatives of small farmers - who produce 80% of the world's food – were left only a few minutes on the floor to give their position. January 2009 (pdf).
The entire world is in crisis, a crisis with multiple dimensions. There is a food crisis, an energy crisis, a climate crisis and a financial crisis. The solutions put forth by Power – more free trade, more GMOs, etc. – purposefully ignore the fact that the crisis is a product of the capitalist system and of neoliberalism, and they will only worsen its impacts. To find real solutions we need to look toward Food Sovereignty as put forth by La Via Campesina. October 2008.
Prices on the world market for cereals are rising. Wheat prices increased by 130% in the period between March 2007- March 2008. Rice prices increased by almost 80% in the period up to 2008. Maize prices increased by 35% between March 2007 and March 2008. Some analyst have been exclusively blaming agrofuels, the increasing world demand and global warming for the current food crisis. But actually, this crisis is also the result of many years of destructive policies that have undermined domestic food production. May 2008.
An International conference on food sovereignty, agrarian reform, and peasants’ rights was held on August 29th to 31st in Nepal, a country well-known as the mecca for international climbers. Yoshitaka Mashima (vice-chairperson of NOUMINREN), Ayumi Kinezuka (vice-president of NOUMINREN youth division, also an interpreter), Masaaki Sakaguchi (secretary general of SHOKKENREN) participated in the conference under the invitation of the All Nepal Peasants’ Federation (ANPFa) and La Via Campesina. September 2007.
Representatives of 30 organizations of pastoralists, indigenous peoples, smallholder farmers and NGOs from 26 countries in both the North and the South came together in Wilderswil, Switzerland, at the “Livestock Diversity Forum: Defending Food Sovereignty and Livestock Keepers’ Rights”. The meeting took place in parallel with FAO’s International Technical Conference on Animal Genetic Resources held in Interlaken. September 2007.
An international campaign for the rights of the producers of crops declared to be illicit, of which TNI is a member, announces its intention to hold the First Global Forum of Producers of Crops Declared to be Illicit in February 2008. April 2007.
The 17th of April is the International Peasant's Struggle Day, established after the massacre of 19 landless peasants belonging to the Landless Movement (MST) in Brazil on the 17th of April 1996 during the second conference of La Via Campesina in Tlaxcala, Mexico. In commemoration of that day, La Via Campesina and its allies are organizing activities and actions all over the world. April 2007.
More than 500 representatives from more than 80 countries, of organizations of peasants/family farmers, artisanal fisher-folk, indigenous peoples, landless peoples, rural workers, migrants, pastoralists, forest communities, women, youth, consumers, environmental and urban movements have gathered together in the village of Nyéléni in Selingue, Mali -from 23-27 February 2007- to strengthen a global movement for food sovereignty. 27 February 2007.
The failure of the WTO announced in Geneva by Pascal Lamy is a victory for La Via Campesina that has always opposed agriculture trade liberalisation. The Doha round is dead! Long life food sovereignty! July 2006.
This Charter of demands was adopted by more than 3000 landless delegates from communities across South Africa and their landless allies from around the world at the Landless People's Assembly held in Durban on 30 August, 2001 at the 3rd United Nations World Conference Against Racism. Further amendments were made following the Meeting of Landless Rural Women in Kimberley, in October 2001.
Via Campesina, a world-wide organization of rural women, peasants, small farmers, rural workers, indigenous people and afro-descendants, from Asia, Europe, America and Africa, met in Itaici, Brazil, from 14-19 June 2004.
The final declaration of the "Land, Territory and Dignity" Forum held in Porto Alegre, in March 2006, call on the International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ICARRD), the States, and FAO to "assume a real political will that defeats the hunger and poverty from which millions of the men and women in the world suffer." March 2006.
The peasant movement has been one of the social actors with more weight in Ecuador’s recent history. Together with the indigenous movement, it has played an active role in defeating some neo-liberal policies. Not only has it played a leading role in social struggles in Ecuador, but has participated in the process of the World Social Forum from the very beginning. At the World Social Forum in Caracas, Venezuela, Choike had the chance to talk to William Trujillo and Andrea Encalada, two leaders of the National Peasant Confederation (CNC). January 2006.
Gathered in Dakar from 19 to 21 May 2003, a few months before the WTO negotiations in Cancun, the representatives of farmers organisations and agricultural producers from Africa, Americas, Asia and Europe publish the Dakar Declaration critical of the impact of WTO policies of liberalization of trade on farmers (pdf version).
Gathered in the city of Chapecó (state of Santa Catarina, Brazil) from 21 to 23 January 2005, representatives of family farmers’ and agricultural producers’ organizations from 4 continents, with the support of development NGOs and agricultural economists, publish the following call after the declaration of Dakar (pdf version).
From November 15th to 19th, approximately 150 representatives from different civil society organizations around the world participated in the conference “Sustaining a Future for Agriculture,” held in Geneva, Switzerland. The conference provided an opportunity to hear different perspectives, to discuss possible rules to better manage international trade in agricultural commodities, to meet and discuss WTO developments with government negotiators, and to start developing our common strategies for the Hong Kong Ministerial (pdf version).
Day by day, the poverty, hunger, and injustice are increasing in Indonesia and worldwide. This fact occurred because of the market oriented agriculture model, and unfulfillment of the people’s rights to control agrarian resources which are very crucial to their life. Joint Action Statement 18 April 2005.
From December 5, we, representatives from more than 200 peasant, workers’, women’s, indigenous peoples’, and human rights organizations, non-governmental organizations, and academic and public institutions from 70 countries and five continents came together at the World Forum on Agrarian Reform in Valencia, Spain. Over three days of sharing and discussion, they concluded that rural communities and the countryside are being systematically destroyed in every part of the world and that the continuing agrarian crisis has grave consequences for all of humanity. After identifying the historical and contemporary roots of this crisis, they crafted alternative strategies for agrarian reform based on peoples’ struggles and the principles of human rights and peoples’ food sovereignty. This is their final declaration. December 2004 (doc version).
In the following statement, presented at the high-level session of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on 30 June 2003, Martin Khor, Director of Third World Network, highlights the manifold imbalances in agriculture trade and suggests how developing countries may be enabled to shield their farmers from these ruthless iniquities.
The social movements, farmer, fisherfolk, pastoralists', indigenous peoples', environmentalist, women's organizations, trade unions, and NGOs gathered in Rome, 8 – 13 June, 2002, express their collective disappointment in, and rejection of, the official Declaration of the World Food Summit: five years later.
120 participants from 40 countries, representing farmers, workers, agricultural trade unions, women, scientists and health, environmental, consumer and development activists belonging to the international Pesticide Action Network (PAN) and its partner organizations, gathered in Dakar, Senegal for the Fifth International PAN Conference from May 18-21, 2000.
Significant poverty reduction will not be possible in Africa without rapid agricultural growth. Only improved agricultural productivity can simultaneously improve welfare among the two-thirds of all Africans who work primarily in agriculture as well as the urban poor, who spend over 60% of their budget on food staples. International Conference on Successes in African Agriculture - Building for the Future, December 01-03, 2003 Pretoria, South Africa.
In a statement affirming the basic human right to food, the NGO Forum to the World Food Summit asserted that global food security is possible and set out its own proposals for the attainment of this goal.
The Madrid high-level meeting on food security, convened by the Government of Spain and the UN, brought together a broad range of committed stakeholders from more than 126 countries. They came from national governments, civil society, trade unions, private sector, academia, donor agencies and multilateral organizations: the purpose was to accelerate progress in meeting MDG 1 and address the effects of price fluctuations in vulnerable populations. They worked together to review progress achieved since the Rome High Level Conference (June 2008), to agree on ways to move forward, quickly, with short-, medium- and long-term actions, and to establish mechanisms for better coordination. February 2009 (pdf).
The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) is a unique international effort that will evaluate the relevance, quality and effectiveness of agricultural knowledge, science, and technology (AKST); and effectiveness of public and private sector policies as well as institutional arrangements in relation to AKST. The IAASTD is a three-year collaborative effort (2005 - 2007), launched as an intergovernmental process, with a multi-stakeholder Bureau, under the co-sponsorship of the FAO, GEF, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO, the World Bank and WHO.
Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and debate policy. FAO is also a source of knowledge and information that helps developing countries and countries in transition modernize and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices and ensure good nutrition for all.
The World Food Summit was called in response to the continued existence of widespread undernutrition and growing concern about the capacity of agriculture to meet future food needs. It took place in Rome, Italy, from 13 to 17 November 1996. The Summit adopted the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and the World Food Summit Plan of Action.
This new Summit, held from 10 to 13 June 2002, called for an international alliance to accelerate action to reduce world hunger. It also unanimously adopted a declaration calling on the international community to fulfil an earlier pledge to cut the number of hungry people to about 400 million by 2015.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a specialized agency of the United Nations, was established as an international financial institution in 1977 as one of the major outcomes of the 1974 World Food Conference. IFAD was created to mobilize resources on concessional terms for programmes that alleviate rural poverty and improve nutrition.