2023 | October Newsletter: Highlights from La Via Campesina’s member organisations around the world

(Bagnolet, 8th November 2023) In October, in the framework of the Day of Action for Peoples’ Food Sovereignty and against transnational corporations #16oct23, more than 160 actions of training, exchange and denunciation took place around the world.

We shared a number of solidarity efforts with Palestine during the past month. La Via Campesina collected nearly 2,900 signatures calling for immediate action and an end to the violence in Gaza. During the CFS negotiations in Rome, several organisations also expressed their solidarity, and called for peace and the right to food in Palestine.

On October 29th, La Via Campesina and allies also organised an exchange with testimonies from the conflict zone and several member organisations have carried out various solidarity actions from their territories.

We are almost a month away from our 8th International Conference, scheduled from 1st to 8th December 2023 in Bogotá, Colombia. We share a series of key materials for its promotion and dissemination. Here is our press and accreditation kit

In addition, we continue to promote international solidarity, denouncing the violation of human and peasants’ rights. Below we share a brief informative update of the main actions and activities carried out by our member organisations in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas this month.

In India, our member organisation KRRS and the Namdu Farmers’ Cooperative commemorated Gandhi Jayanti by organising a farmer-to-farmer exchange workshop at Grama Swarajya/Village Republic, visualising total sovereignty for farmers. The event was held at a farmers’ camp in the district of Chamarajanagar. Farmer leaders from Mandya, Mysore, Chamarajanagar, Shimoga and Ramanagara districts participated and received training on agroecology and strengthening farmers’ markets from experienced farmers.

All Nepal Peasant Federations (ANPFa) organised a public march in Kathmandu on the occasion of World Food Day and demanded the proper implementation of food sovereignty enshrined in the Constitution, as well as the implementation of the UNDROP in Nepal.

In Sri Lanka, a statement issued on 16th October, the International Day of Action for Peoples’ Food Sovereignty, by the Movement for Land and Agrarian Reform (MONLAR) highlighted the dubious role played by international financial institutions in indebting the country. They also warned of threats to food sovereignty, as 5.3 million people remain affected by food insecurity in the country.

In Thailand, the Assembly of the Poor (AOP) organised a public seminar to commemorate Food Sovereignty Day (16th October) where around 2,300 farmers gathered in the streets near the Government House. Speakers gave an overview of the threats posed by financialised policies to find solutions for the climate crisis, food sovereignty and farmers’ rights. They also pointed out that government policies of carbon neutrality and zero net emissions, as well as the carbon credit scheme, will violate peasants’ rights. The testimonies gave real examples of the state grabbing land, forests and mangroves to feed corporate carbon sequestration projects.

In Quezon City, Philippines, on 15th October, some 200 women from Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan & PARAGOS – La Via Campesina, with allied organisations, World March of Women, SENTRO, Alyansa Tigil Mina, Oriang, SOS Yamang Bayan Network, and CATWAP, marched to the Departments of Agriculture, Agrarian Reform, Environment and Natural Resources in defence of land rights.

In Zimbabwe, farmers from the Shashe Agroecology School of the #ZIMSOFF Central Cluster (Masvingo) joined the world to celebrate #WorldFoodDay2023, La Via Campesina’s day of action for food sovereignty and against transnational corporations. Farmers prepared traditional foods and fed more than 375 people, including school children. This initiative aimed to familiarise children with traditional foods and improve their nutritional knowledge about traditional foods. It also aimed to emphasise the importance of preserving traditional recipes and ingredients in the face of dietary changes towards processed and genetically-engineered foods.

ESAFF Uganda organised a meeting with the mainstream media in Kampala, Uganda on 16th October. Small-scale farmer leaders addressed the media and called on the government to support peasant agroecology, for farmers to manage seed systems and to protect their rights to land.

More than 15 MVIWATA networks in Tanzania (Mpwapwa, Tanga, Kongwa, Bahi, Tunduru, Kyela, Masasi, Kyerwa and Shinyanga) organised different actions during the week of action for peoples’ food sovereignty and against transnational corporations (#16oct2023). Actions included holding local seed and food fairs, local cooking demonstrations and dialogues on #agroecology and #foodsovereignty.

In Kenya, the Nyamagana Women’s Collective of the Kenya Peasant League worked on harvesting potatoes to ensure Food Sovereignty as part of #16Oct23 action.

On October 16th, World Food Sovereignty Day, CLOC-Via Campesina in the Caribbean Region launched a campaign under the slogan “Sowing Seeds of Freedom”. This campaign seeks to raise awareness about the agroecological experiences of young people, women and peasant families. It is the result of a process of systematisation of the experiences of peasant organisations and territories in the Caribbean region.

In Puerto Rico, the Boricua Organisation presented the documentary “Our Agroecology, our Future” as part of the “Agroecological Cinema from the Farm” project. This film explores the successes and challenges of the Cuban agro-food system from the voices of peasants and specialists who promote and practice agroecology as a vehicle to achieve Food Sovereignty.

Amidst so much devastating news at the moment, here is some positive news: this year’s Food Sovereignty Award winners were officially announced, and the award went to Haiti’s Mouvement Paysan Papaye. Mouvman Peyizan Papaye (MPP, or Mouvement Paysan Papaye) was established in 1973 and has grown to represent more than 60,000 members. The movement empowers rural agricultural workers and focuses on food sovereignty as a tool to reclaim Haiti’s independence in the face of a multi-faceted political, economic and environmental crisis.

La Via Campesina Honduras, in the framework of the World Food Sovereignty Day, held the Peasant Fair “Let’s gather the seeds and fruits” which sought to recognise the work and the working spirit of the Honduran peasantry in the struggle for Food Sovereignty.

On the 25th and 26th of October, the Meeting of Central American Women with the CLOC – Via Campesina in Central America took place in Honduras, in preparation for the 6th Women’s Assembly and the 8th International Conference of La Via Campesina. It was a space for study that showed the journey of women within the movement, deepened the understanding of Peasant and Popular Feminism and allowed for an analysis of the different oppressions that women face in this region.

Our organisation the National Farmers Union participated in farmers’ markets in Canada.  Farmers’ markets are a one-stop shop for all local food needs. You can sample the seasonal bounty and stock up on local foods there.

The Family Farm Coalition of the United States, on a podcast, discussed how the Farmers’ Farmland Act fits into the #FarmBill of 2023. They further stated how farmland must remain affordable for real farmers, rather than providing an opportunity for corporate entities to capitalise on high land prices, while raising those prices into a stratosphere that no mere mortal could reach. During the interview they stated that food sovereignty depends on these measures.

In Brasilia, Brazil, from October 13th to 17th, the National Camp “Youth fighting for land and popular sovereignty” took place, a space for debate, exchange and political construction, where more than 3,000 delegates from the 10 organisations of La Via Campesina Brazil participated. In addition, in this space there were moments of study on the importance of Food Sovereignty, the care of seeds, training and also analysed the main effects of agribusiness on communities and youth.

In Colombia, the International Seminar National Food Self-Sufficiency: Industrial Agriculture vs. #Community and Family Agroecology was held. In this space, the coexistence of agro-industries and community peasant crops was evaluated, which could lead, once again, to the predominance of industrial agriculture and the subordination of agroecological peasant production. The event also included an analysis of the global situation of agribusiness vs. agroecological peasant agriculture from different regions, at the international and national level.

In Europe, farming and food systems are facing increasing challenges, such as a rural population reaching retirement age in the next ten years, control of land by non-agricultural sectors, declining soil health, rural depopulation, and growing climate and biodiversity crises. Faced with this reality, the European region of La Via Campesina, ECVC, has put forward a proposal for a European directive on agricultural land, fundamental for food sovereignty, rural vitality, agroecology and climate justice. Often ignored in policy debates, ECVC called on the European Union to take action and put land regulation on its agenda, during an event organised in the framework of the Food Sovereignty Action Day.

Also in October, ECVC denounced the leaked version of Mercosur’s response to the proposed EU trade deal, which shows growing differences in the negotiations. Critics condemn the use of agriculture as a bargaining chip, putting farmers’ rights at risk. This agreement prioritises profit over people, calling for its rejection and the reform of international food trade.

The European agricultural and agro-food system is highly diversified, with numerous small and medium-scale farms. In Italy, in October, the Italian Rural Association denounced attempts by the Italian government and research centres to introduce deregulated genetically modified organisms (GMOs), as this could disrupt established production systems, with a negative impact on small-scale agriculture and local trade.

In France, the Ministry of Agriculture plans to introduce a vision of food sovereignty in the rural code, diverging from the UN’s official stance. In this context, on 16th October, the Confédération Paysanne presented the peasant proposals of the global movement and exposed the deception of the government and the French agribusiness union, whose definition of food sovereignty suggests compatibility with free trade agreements. He further stressed that food sovereignty is about allowing communities to control their food policies and have priority access to land for food production.

In the UK, our organisation Landworkers’ Alliance published the Manifesto for Food, Farming and Forestry, an advocacy document in the run-up to the UK general election in 2025. The manifesto sets out the British peasantry’s vision for food systems, the agricultural system and democratic access to land and the commons. It is a statement of why Food Sovereignty is necessary for the country, agroecology and respect and recognition for those who produce food. 

In Spain, a new edition of the School for Peasant Action was held, which brought together dozens of peasants and agricultural producers from all over Spain. This time, the EHNE-Bizkaia trade union hosted the event, which was attended by representatives of COAG and its youth, Friends of the Earth, Justicia Alimentaria, Colectivos de Acción Solidaria and the Institute of Sociology and Peasant Studies (ISEC). The School arises from different organisations being committed to creating a space for political action that connects the agrarian sector and the rest of the social organisations in the movement for Food Sovereignty.

The Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) in Palestine, has been working since 7th October to help farmers in the West Bank harvest their olive trees. As armed settlers attack farmers on their land, either kill them or threaten them into leaving their land, UAWC is working to provide these farmers with machines for a quick harvest. The goal is to help them minimise the time they spend working in the fields because of the threats posed by the colonists. In addition, the UAWC is working to document the attacks against farmers, how the Israeli occupation is using hunger as a weapon, and to provide updates on the situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

In Tunisia, on 28th October, the organisation Million Rural Women and the organisation of the Landless organised a training workshop on UNDROP for farmers in the agricultural region of Seliana.

In Morocco, a successful protest organised by the Agricultural Sector Section of the National University in Sidi Kacem, took place in front of the National Social Security Fund agency in Sidi Kacem. This protest is part of the ongoing campaign led by the National Union of Agricultural Workers under the slogan: “We demand the issuance of a comprehensive decree that votes for the annual implementation of equal pay until 2028”. The campaign period runs from 25th October to 5th November 2023.

If there are any important updates that we have missed, please send the links to communications@viacampesina.org so that we can include them in the next edition. We only include updates from La Via Campesina members. For a comprehensive update on various initiatives from October 2023, please visit our website. You can also find the previous editions of our news wrap on our website. In addition, condensed versions of our newswraps are accessible as a podcast on Spotify.