Annual Report: 2021

La Via Campesina’s latest annual report is now here!

2021 marked a quarter-century since La Via Campesina put forth the vision of ‘Food Sovereignty as a framework for developing and executing public policies on food and agriculture. At the 1996 World Food Summit, in a debate about organizing our global food systems, La Via Campesina coined food sovereignty. It insisted upon the centrality of the small-scale food producers, the accumulated wisdom of generations, the autonomy and diversity of rural and urban communities and solidarity between peoples as essential components for crafting policies around food and agriculture. 

As we marked 25 years of this collective struggle, our rallying call of “No Future Without Food Sovereignty” once again brought together the global food sovereignty movement members. This solidarity is vital as Big Corporations gain a larger foothold inside institutional spaces to influence policymaking. The UN Food Systems Summit of 2021 (UNFSS) was a classical case in point that saw mainstream philanthropists organizations and the lobbyists of Agribusiness Corporations trying to formulate the “future of the food systems” by excluding and marginalizing food producers’ movements. The COP26 in Glasgow was yet another moment when the corporate capture of global policymaking was on full display. In response, La Via Campesina joined several social movements and allies in creating a counter-narrative by co-organizing social media campaigns (#NotInMyName and #FoodSystems4People) with other members of the Civil Society and publishing several op-eds in leading news outlets.  

All the thematic collectives of La Via Campesina organized a series of workshops, forums, and training sessions – targeting women and youth on the different pillars of Food Sovereignty throughout the year. These spaces provided a platform to delve deeper into specific topics such as – the relevance of the UN Declaration on Rights of Peasants (UNDROP); the impending threat posed by monopolistic control over digitalization of agriculture; the facade of ‘nature-based solutions’ pushed by corporate lobbies; the role of youth and women in promoting peasant agroecology; and the urgent need to develop a global solidarity pact for migrants and refugee peoples. 

During the year, La Via Campesina also released training modules and graphic illustrations meant to aid formation and training processes on UNDROP, Peasant Seeds and Popular Peasant Feminism. 

As part of its work to promote public policies that respect peasant’s rights, La Via Campesina ensured its active participation within the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism (CSM), the UN Decade of Family Farming (UNDFF) and scores of other national and regional spaces of these institutions. In September, La Via Campesina took on the second vice-chair position in the International Steering Committee (ISC) of the UN Decade of Family Farming (UNDFF). In addition to this, throughout the year, nominated delegates on behalf of La Via Campesina spoke at different forums, such as the High-Level Special Event by CFS in February, a panel on scaling up sustainable agri-food systems (May), the Global Conference on “Family Farming at the core of Sustainable Food Systems” (November) and a series of preparatory meetings of the Steering Committee of the UN Decade (UNDFF). La Via Campesina was present at the International Opening Plenary of the COP26 People’s Summit or ‘Digital Rally for Climate Justice. LVC intervened for the first time in the Official Opening Plenary of COP26 and insisted on the need for inclusive public policies that dignify life in the countryside and recognize the role that rural communities play in taking forward climate solutions.

While the work progressed on many fronts, 2021 presented numerous difficulties and disruptions in the lives of peasants, workers and indigenous peoples worldwide.

By the end of the year, the pandemic had already taken over two million lives globally and impacted the livelihoods of millions of workers worldwide. Inequity in access and availability to vaccines have crippled all efforts to rebuild and recover, especially in the poorest countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America. As La Via Campesina, we demanded the right to public and free health care for all peoples as defined in Article 23 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants (UNDROP), including prevention processes, vaccination,,, and long-term treatment. Vaccines should not be patented, neither should they be left under the control and profit of large transnational corporations. 

Geopolitical tensions and trade disputes between advanced economies also created major disruptions that affected the global supply chains.

It impacted the global food prices and the prices for globally traded farm inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides and even fuels. The FAO Food Price Index* (FFPI) averaged 140.7 points in February 2022, up 5.3 points (3.9 per cent) from January and as much as 24.1 points (20.7 per cent) above its level a year ago. This increase in food prices also coincides with Global Hunger, steadily on the rise since 2015. The hunger crisis is worsened by the pandemic situation and the conflicts, famine, climate vagaries – also exposing the inability of the global agri-food system, dominated by transnational corporations, to step up to challenges faced by humanity. 

However, in 2021, all was not gloom and doom either.

The pushback from people and indigenous communities also found its place in the year. India witnessed one of the world’s largest peasant mobilizations in recent history, directed at a set of market reforms that the national government pushed through with little consultation with farmers’ organizations. The massive agitation, which lasted for more than a year, displayed the resilience and unity of social movements. The uproar finally forced the Indian government to withdraw the three controversial laws. It promised to set up a consultative process to define a legally guaranteed and viable support produce for crops. The Indian mobilization and their victory inspired peasant movements worldwide, with several members of La Via Campesina expressing solidarity through the year under the hashtags of #ShineOnIndiasFarmers and #SaluteToIndiasFarmers. 

2021 also marked a moment of transition in the life and growth of La Via Campesina.

On 30th November, La Via Campesina’s International Operative Secretariat (IOS) officially moved to Bagnolet, France, to be hosted by Confederation Paysanne on behalf of the European Coordination Via Campesina (ECVC), the coordination of LVC member organizations in Europe.

This move keeps up with the global movement’s tradition of rotating its IOS every few years. Founded in 1993, La Via Campesina (LVC) – the international movement of peasants now comprising 182 member organizations in 81 countries – has had its IOS located at Brussels (1993-1996), Tegucigalpa, Honduras (1996-2005), Jakarta (2005-2013) and Harare (2013 – 2021). Morgan Ody, a small-scale vegetable grower from Brittany, France, was named the General Coordinator of La Via Campesina, previously held by Elizabeth Mpofu of ZIMSOFF, Zimbabwe (2013-2021). Morgan is also a dynamic leader of Confederation Paysanne, La Via Campesina’s member organization in France. She is also a member of the International Coordination Committee of LVC (representing Europe) and a leader of the European Coordination Via Campesina.

With this move to Europe, the global movement has completed the first full circle of its rotation, bringing a rich history of peasant mobilizations, struggles, and victories. Over the three decades, La Via Campesina has worked with allies and unions worldwide to build a collective vision, plan and platform to bring food sovereignty to all territories. The movement’s insistence on Agrarian Reform, Social Peace and Peasant Feminism as an essential pre-condition to achieve this goal now finds resonance among all progressive societies. The transition to Europe allows the movement to bring this rich history and experiences right to the doors of global governance institutions based in this continent. 

The International Operative Secretariat (IOS) in Europe will continue to receive its mandate from the International Coordination Committee (ICC) of La Via Campesina. The ICC is a collective of 22 elected peasant and indigenous leaders from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. It seeks to implement the decisions taken at the International Conference that La Via Campesina held every four years.