The world is caught in a series of crises generated by the inherent greed of the capitalist system, characterized by control by Capital over natural resources. These include the food crisis and the climate crisis.
The fact that the number of hungry people in the world has risen from 800 million to one billion in recent years, coupled with the terrible famine in Somalia, shows us that the dominant corporate food system is unable to feed the world, while greenhouse gas emissions produced by the same agricultural model heat up the planet and threaten the Mother Earth.
Capital, represented by its transnational corporations, the media, formal education, landowning elites, and agribusiness, have now changed their discourse by appropriating terms and concepts constructed over generations by peoples’ movements.
La Via Campesina (LVC), on the other hand, defends peasant, indigenous and community-based agroecological farming as a cornerstone in the construction of food sovereignty. This model of agriculture produces healthy food, based on crop diversification and on new relationships between men, women and nature, while eliminating the use of pesticides and GMOs reducing dependence on the capitalist system.
We must protect our traditional knowledge from corporations that try to transform everything into a commodity, we cannot let them steal our concepts and use them as private property at the service of a capitalist logic. Today we face a situation where the World Bank, bought off governments and transnational corporations want to steal the concept of agroecology through the COP-17 and Rio+20 processes. Their aim is to justify their deception of soil carbon markets. Faced with this threat, we say that Agroecology is Ours and is Not For Sale.
Peasant agriculture is part of the structural transformation of our society as well part of the solutions to the current crisis of the system. In this context we reaffirm that indigenous, peasant and family farm agroecology feed the world and cool the planet.
La Via Campesina has organized several regional and continental meetings where we have had the opportunity to deepen our debates on how we view the world and on our different models and visions of agroecological farming.
In August 2009, the first Continental Encounter of Agroecology Trainers in LVC took place at the Paulo Freire Latin American Institute of Agroecology (IALA) in Barinas (Venezuela). Following this in May 2010, the Asian continent of LVC held a meeting on agroecology in Colombo (Sri Lanka). In the African continent, LVC agroecology trainers met in Masvingo (Zimbabwe) in June 2011.
Thus, we have developed a process for approaching the concept of agroecology, which has enabled us to strengthen the foundations that guide the organizations of La Via Campesina. We recall that the 1st. Continental Encounter of the Americas said that agroecology:
• “is necessary for ensuring food and energy sovereignty for human emancipation, in addition, agroecology is vital to peoples’ struggles toward building a society without private ownership over the means of production or natural recourses, a society without any kind of oppression or exploitation, whose final aim is not accumulation”
• “it should be massive and international, so that the knowledge accumulated by the people, contributes to the development of new productive forces of nature and human labour, so that we have time and resources to organize all the other dimensions of our life such as our struggles, communities, culture, education, and festivals, among other things. “
• “includes the care and protection of life, of food production, of political consciousness, moving forward in strengthening cooperation and collective small-scale agroindustries, exchanging experiences and promoting a alliance between the people of the city and countryside. “
This first meeting also noted that the second meeting should deepen our dialog in LVC between historical materialism and the indigenous and peasant cosmovisions, which we have done here.
In the II Continental Meeting Agroecology Trainers in LVC which took place from 28 July to 3 August of 2011 in Chimaltenango, Guatemala, we peasants, family farmers, farm workers, indigenous peoples and afro-descendents, representatives of 49 organizations in 20 countries, wish to reaffirm our commitment to the construction and defence of agroecology.
We denounce the capitalist system of production and its domination through agribusiness and mining, its land-grabbing and re-concentration of resources, its displacement and criminalization of organized peasants and indigenous families and its over-exploitation of the workforce and nature. Additionally, this system imposes a production model based on monocultures, declining biodiversity, pesticide use, GMOs and the patenting of peoples’ cultural heritage (seeds, ancestral knowledge, technologies and practices).
We defend genuine and comprehensive Land Reform as part of transformative Food Sovereignty policies, strengthening people’s autonomy and self-determination. We defend the right to decide our own agricultural policies and to develop new relationships and values between men, women and nature.
We believe in agroecology as a tool in the construction of another way to produce and reproduce life. It is part of a socialist project, a partnership between workers and grassroots organizations, both rural and urban. It should promote the emancipation of workers, peasants, indigenous peoples and afro-descedents. True agroecology, however, cannot coexist in the context of the capitalist system.
We affirm that agroecology is based on ancestral knowledge and practices, building knowledge through dialogue and respect for different knowledges and processes, as well as the exchange of experiences and use of appropriate technologies to produce healthy foods that meet the needs of humankind and preserves harmony with Pachamama (the Mother Earth).
We as La Via Campesina, a multicultural network of organizations and movements, will continue to recognize and strengthen the exchange of experiences and knowledge among peasants, family farmers, indigenous peoples and afro-descedents, spreading and multiplying our training and education programs “from Farmer-to-Farmer” (“campesino a campesino), through both open, formal and informal education spaces as well as in community-based and territorial processes.
We recognize the fact that this meeting has been held on Mayan territory, where the campesino-to-campesino movement began, based on a process that builds unity, erases borders and creates horizontal and comprehensive exchanges of experiences and knowledge.
We understand that there are no standardized methods or recipes in Agroecology, but rather principles that unite us, such as organization, training and mobilization.
Our quest to understand our world in relation to time, to its creative energies and forces and to our historical memories (of agriculture and humanity) is complemented by a historical materialist and dialectical interpretation of reality. Together we seek to develop our political and ideological understanding through a dialog among our cosmovisions to achieve structural change in Society, thus liberating us and achieving buen vivir (the indigenous concept of “living well” in harmony with the Mother Earth) for our peoples.
System Change, Not Climate Change!
The Mother Earth Cannot be Bought nor Sold, She Can be Recoverd and Defended!
Agroecology and Seeds are the Heritage of our Peoples Which We Place at the Service of Humanity!
Globalize Struggle! Globalize Hope!
CLOC-Vía Campesina, Chimaltenango, Guatemala, August 2011.