Family farmers gain dignity and solidarity while changing the world


Vth Conference of Via Campesina in Mozambique
(Maputo, 19 October 2008) The international peasants movement Via Campesina begins its Vth International Conference today in Matola, near Maputo in Mozambique, on the rhythm of African dances and drums. Under the banner “Food sovereignty now! Unity and struggle of the people!” , 600 farmers, men and women, representatives of farmers organisations from approximately 60 countries celebrated the inauguration of their congress with the presence of the president of Mozambique, Mr. Armando Emilio Guebuza. Henry Saragih, General Coordinator, spoke about the progress of Via Campesina in the past four years by stressing that the movement has strengthened its struggle through training, peaceful mobilisations and most importantly, through solidarity among its members organisations.

In every continent, the face of Via Campesina has changed since its last major gathering held in Brasil in 2004. In Asia, the number of member organisations has increased, in Europe the movement has restructured itself and is now stronger. Meanwhile, the power and the creativity of the farmers organisations in Latin America continue to inpsire the whole movement. In Africa, La Via Campesina is emerging and is gaining real presence at the international level, with 7 new countries becoming formally members of Via Campesina.

This global movement of family farmers, landless people and agricultural workers has gained legitimacy over the past years as a result of its proposal to solve the crisis in the agricultural sector by implementing food sovereignty. Food sovereingty is the right of the people to design their own food policies to protect rural livelihoods, local comunities, health and the evironment. This vision of food sovereignty is now increasingly shared at local, national and international levels and some goverenments from Nepal to Bolivia have included it in their constitutions.

Ossmane Ismael, Chairperson of the General Assembly of UNAC (Farmers Union of Mozambique), addressed the international conferency by stating that “Even though neoliberal policies  – a new form of colonialism – are invading our lives, we continue to demand food sovereignty, a new approach that affirms our determination to produce food in a social and environmentally sustainble fashion and that agriculture should first feed our people and strengthen our sovereignty”.

“Via Campesina is a movement that embraces the humble people of the world: The rural workers living in in villages, men and women whose voices are usually ignored. Through our movement, we have become proud to be peasants, we have reclaimed our dignity. This give us the strength to solve the curent crisis and to change the world”, said Henry Saragih.

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