India, Food sovereignty in Manipur

Manipur has had two historic people’s democratic movements against the artificial food scarcity. One in December 1939, popularly known as Anisuba Nupi Lan (2nd Women’s Agitation) and another one is 27 August 1965 popularly known as Chaklam Khongchat (Hunger Marchers’ Day). Every year, we used to observe the two events. Now, government and many organisations continue to observe the Manipuri women’s movement of 1939 after MACHA LEIMA pioneered the observation since 1973. The All Manipur Students’ Union (AMSU) continues to keep up the spirit of the 1965 event by observing 27 August as Hunger Marchers’ Day every year. These two events always remind us about the people’s fearless challenge against the authority when their right to food is denied.

On the other hand, hunger is a pressing issue for the world. According to the United Nations World Food Programme Statistics, 2010 – Hunger is the world’s number one health risk, killing more people every year than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. The 925 million people do not have enough to eat, 98 percent of them living in developing countries. There are more hungry people in the world than the populations of the USA, Canada, and the EU combined. The 60 percent of the world’s hungry are women. The 10.9 million children under five years of age die every year in developing countries. Sixty percent of these deaths are from malnutrition and hunger-related diseases.

And still many people and organisations at various levels including both governmental and non-governmental talk about the food security in Manipur too. Here one pertinent question can be asked. Is it meaningful to talk about food security or is it really practicable to guarantee food security without food sovereignty?

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Europe, Civil Society statement for FAO regional meeting

Hunger is increasing in all parts of ECA. The root-causes are agricultural policies that are not used to support local small-scale producers. Agricultural production is linked to the International Financial Insitutions, international trade and speculation. Increasing informal and casual labour, the loss of social protection in rural areas and low wages are pushing more waged agricultural workers into poverty and hunger.

In the ECA, many small-scale producers and waged agricultural workers, especially seasonal workers are excluded from social protection and have difficulty surviving cold winters without income. The current crisis has also led to generalised austerity programmes ; new segments of the population now suffer from poverty and hunger. The most vulnerable groups are the aged, youth, migrant workers and small-scale food producers

Public legislation and civil society must jointly protect the Commons and the public provision of goods and services. There is a decrease in land available for local food production, due to increased property speculation in urban areas, land-grabbing for industrial food and agro-fuel production. Water must remain a common good, with guaranteed free access and sanitation for private households and small-scale agro-ecological production. It must be protected from big privatised projects such as dams.

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Food sovereignty as a transformative model of economic power

Jenny Allsopp, 22 April 2012

The argument is being made that “food sovereignty” is an organising principle so demonstrably strong that it has the potential to transform economic power. Can we really invest in it as the ecological principle to take us into the 21st century? Jenny Allsopp reports from the AWID Forum 2012 ↑

About the author
Jennifer Allsopp is the Student Nework Co-ordinator at Student Action for Refugees (STAR) ↑ in the UK, and a Contributing Editor for openDemocracy 50:50

In order to advance women’s rights and justice globally we need a new ecological principle that can operate at the micro and macro level and serve both the practical function of a livelihood and the aspirational breadth of a “utopia”. When Francisca Rodriguez, a Chilean feminist activist from the international Via Campesina movement, responded to this call in the AWID ↑ plenary by arguing that "food sovereignty" should be instated as the guiding economic principle and a challenge for a new economic model, she was met with resounding applause and ululations. At once an axis of rural life and a radical call for global transformation, women from across all continents – urban and rural, from the North and South - are looking to the transformative potential of this concept as an answer to the environmental ravages wrought by capitalism and a challenge to the “mercantilisation of nature” instituted by the so-called ‘Green Economy’.

Today’s workshop on ‘Economic Power and Development Alternatives’ provided an opportunity to critically examine the “emancipatory potential” of this call. Peasant, indigenous and feminist activists from all across Latin America reiterated that “food sovereignty” is an organising principle so demonstrably strong that it has the potential to transform economic power. Francisca defines “food sovereignty” as a democratic extension of “food security”, “the right of people to democratically decide on their own food and agricultural systems” and produce food on one’s own land in a way that is environmentally sustainable.

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