“Why food production has the face of a woman”
Chulumani, Tablas Monte, Cochabamba – Bolivia
Groups from Bolivia, Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Cuba, United States, Spain, and England convened on April 11th and 12th, 2012 in the community of Chulumani, in the district of Tablas Monte, Cochabamba, Bolivia, to participate in and reflect on the development of agro-ecology as a key tool for the food sovereignty of our communities. In doing so, we specifically addressed the role of women as central to the process of attaining an agricultural system without the need for agro-chemicals, and increasing our food sovereignty in balance with nature.
The structural crisis and devastating logic of the capitalist system threatens both nature and the survival humanity as a whole. On a global scale, this system has created endless social, political, economic, and cultural conflicts, along with climate change and the global food crisis that we are facing today
The need for the industrialized world to reduce its dependence on oil has created an interest in alternatives such as biofuels, which now pose a serious potential threat to our communities, as they begin producing for this new energy market instead of growing food for their own population. Added to this is the financial insecurity of agricultural work, unfair rules imposed by transnational businesses, and false competition with first-world farmers who are heavily subsidized by their countries.
We understand that the global food crisis is fundamentally caused by a world-wide system of agro-industrial, capitalist food production. This model of agricultural production is characterized by the domination of large transnational corporations that monopolize food production, land tenure, the use of transgenic seeds, and promotes monocultures, intensive and mechanized land use, and the application of agro-chemicals that eventually destroy our lands and natural cycles. Large transnational companies control decisions along the entire food production chain, from the farm to the market, which encourages both profiteering and speculation.
It is for this reason that large companies are threatened by the presence of indigenous and farmer organizations that pose sustainable alternatives to the capitalist, for-profit production that is not harmony with the land. We are the rural and indigenous people of world, and through our labor, we are the people who produce and guarantee food for the world community. Large corporations, which are part of the capitalist agricultural development model, prioritize “the market,” commodity production, and the accumulation of wealth and profit for few, but they do not prioritize the food sovereignty of humanity. For that reason, we reaffirm the need for international and global partnerships in order to combat all manifestations of the capitalist system, and to replace that system by building real alternatives within our communities, from our world view, from what we understand as agro-ecology and food sovereignty, with our families, our communities, our country and the peoples of the world.
The struggle and victory of Bolivian women for greater participation in decision-making, greater recognition and greater respect for their rights has been one of the great accomplishments in the process of developing the Plurinational State of Bolivia. However, this victory is not the final judgment of their struggles but is the platform upon which our social organizations should consider new challenges facing the construction of an alternative world to the capitalist logic. Eighty six percent of Bolivian women work in rural areas, particularly agriculture. This number indicates the importance of women as vital to current agricultural production, as well as for the transition to a production model that attains food sovereignty in balance with nature and the land.
Capitalism is the main enemy of food sovereignty for our countries. Indigenous farming communities are, from the capitalist standpoint, the greatest obstacle to extraction and commercialization of our mother earth. The promotion and implementation of agro-chemical systems, genetically modified seeds, and chemical fertilizers are not only company strategies that create a system of farmer dependence, but they also constitute a large-scale attack on our land and natural areas. The erosion of our soils, destruction of biodiversity, global warming, and the spread of diseases in our communities, are a few of the consequences of the capitalist agricultural production model.
In this sense, we believe the deployment of key initiatives to promote information and training is integral to creating a new type of production which has as its central objectives the recovery of ancestral knowledge of our communities and the concept of working in partnership with nature. We find it essential to promote action that will to enable us to maintain control over the seeds we use for planting, to increase awareness about rational water use, and to access water projects that strengthen agriculture in our community. All action pursued by the State and/or social organizations promoting agro-ecological production should be in collaboration with rural communities, recognizing regional languages, cultural practices, and nationalities.
This conference represents a place where organizations from the Americas and Europe could exchange their experiences of struggle and knowledge, and contribute to the sense of unity of our communities, thus strengthening the self-determination of our countries against the plunder of our commons. In this sense, we find that the harassment of our indigenous farming communities, the eviction from their lands and consequent profiting by national and transnational companies from large-scale monoculture production for global export, and the open-air mega-mining projects that threaten our water resources, are all different sides of extractive capitalism that oppresses our people and threatens the food sovereignty of our nations.
Finally, we express our commitment to this issue and announce our plan for a National School of Agro-Ecology using the dialogue from this conference as a foundation to begin the process. This is not a local but rather an international fight against agro-chemicals and the method of capitalist production that uses the commoditization of life as its base. And so, we will remember the path of the native indigenous women and men and the workers of the world, and we will continue to promote food sovereignty for our people.