Food Sovereignty Prize Honors Grassroots Initiatives in Haiti, Brazil, Basque Country, Mali and India

August 13, 2013

NEW YORK CITY—Five innovative grassroots groups from across the globe working for democratic access to land, seeds, water and food have been honored with the 2013 Food Sovereignty Prize, the US Food Sovereignty Alliance announced today.

Winners of the fifth annual Food Sovereignty Prize were chosen from among more than 40 inspiring projects creating on-the-ground solutions to hunger and poverty, said the alliance, a network of food justice, anti-hunger, labor, environmental, faith-based, and food producer advocacy organizations.

Top honors go to the Haitian Group of 4 (G4) and the South American Dessalines Brigade, an international peasant-to-peasant collaboration working to rebuild Haiti’s seed, soil and agricultural systems.

Honorable mentions were garnered by Tamil Nadu Women’s Collective of India; National Coordination of Peasant Organizations of Mali; and Basque Country Peasants’ Solidarity of the Basque Country in Europe.

“The Food Sovereignty Prize symbolizes the fight for safe and healthy food for all peoples of the earth,” said Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, G4 Executive Committee member. “It’s a fight that must be waged both locally and globally, and requires deep solidarity among all organizations fighting for food sovereignty.”

Flavio Barbosa, of the South American Dessalines Brigade, added: “Receiving this prize for the partnership between the Group of 4 and the Dessalines Brigade is an incentive for others to participate in long exchanges such as the one we are experiencing in Haiti. And it charges us with even greater responsibility to continue our defense of peasant agriculture and agroecology as a way to produce sustainable, healthy chemical-free foods accessible for all.”

The US Food Sovereignty Alliance will present the awards at a ceremony in New York City on October 15, 2013, at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. The ceremony will be hosted by WhyHunger and feature keynote speaker Shirley Sherrod, former USDA regional director and longtime advocate for family farmers. The evening will also feature musical entertainment. Subsequent events with the Food Sovereignty Prize honorees to highlight issues of food sovereignty in the US will take place in Des Moines, Iowa, and Detroit, Michigan, on October 16-21.

Since its launch in 2009, the Food Sovereignty Prize has garnered international attention for its recognition of community-based efforts that promote food democracy. In contrast to the World Food Prize, which emphasizes increased production through technology and this year rewarded scientists from transnational biotechnology corporations Monsanto and Syngenta, the Food Sovereignty Prize honors organizationsand movements around the world fighting for the right to food for all people and dignity for those who put food on our plates.

“With this prize, we’re honoring real-world, sustainable solutions to poverty, social instability and food insecurity,” said Montana farmer Dena Hoff, North American Co-Chair of La Via Campesina, the first winner of the Food Sovereignty Prize in 2009. “With 40 nominations from 21 countries and a selection committee comprised of food justice activists, community leaders and academics from the US and Canada, the Food Sovereignty Prize recognizes effective and inspiring examples of communities making creative and truly lasting change in their food security–and in their democracy.” Hoff is the Vice President of National Family Farm Coalition, a founding member of the US Food Sovereignty Alliance.

2013 Food Sovereignty Prize Honorees: Snapshots and Background

Winner: Group of 4, Dessalines Brigade/Via Campesina, Haiti & South America

In 2007, Haiti’s largest peasant organizations—Heads Together Small Farmers of Haiti (Tet Kole), the Peasant Movement of Papaye, the National Congress of Papaye Peasant Movements, and the Regional Coordination of Organizations of the South East Region—joined forces as the Group of 4 (G4), a national alliance to promote good farming practices and advocate for peasant farmers. The G4, representing over a quarter of a million Haitians, invited South American peasant leaders and agroecology experts to Haiti to work cooperatively to save Creole seeds and support peasant agriculture. Together, the G4 and the Dessalines Brigade, as it became known—named for 19th- century Haitian independence leader Jean Jacques Dessalines and supported by La Via Campesina—have collaborated to rebuild Haiti’s environment, promote wealth and end poverty. The partnership also provided immediate and ongoing support to the victims of the 2010 earthquake, and the Group of 4 made global headlines when they rejected a donation of hybrid seeds from Monsanto.

Honorable Mention: Basque Country Peasants’ Solidarity (EHNE), Basque Country

In Europe’s Basque Country, the struggle for food sovereignty is embedded in a broader struggle for political and cultural autonomy. A founder of the international peasant movement La Via Campesina in 1993, EHNE continues to be at the forefront of innovative and political food sovereignty approaches. Locally, EHNE offers its more than 6,000 members educational and economic support; its youth program has helped young people return to farming; and it is working to build new relationships between the countryside and regional cities. Due in part to the Basque Country’s vibrant network of small farms, cooperative business and strong local food system, all supported by EHNE, the region has weathered the financial crisis better than much of Europe.

Honorable Mention: National Coordination of Peasant Organizations (CNOP), Mali

CNOP is composed of 11 federations of farmers’ organizations on a national scale, representing the interests of nearly 2.5 million farmers and peasants. Family farming, primarily by small producers, is the dominant farming model in Mali; CNOP’s mission is to strengthen the structure of farming organizations and build their members’ capacity to influence agricultural policy. CNOP was the prime contractor for the development of Mali’s first agricultural policy, passed by parliament in September, 2006, which made Mali one of the first countries to put the principle of food sovereignty into law. In February, 2007, CNOP hosted Nyeleni, the first global forum on food sovereignty, in Mali, and has led the hard fight against land grabbing and for the rights of small farmers.

Honorable Mention: Tamil Nadu Women’s Collective (TNWC), India

In the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, as in much of India, women have little social, economic or political power, and often struggle to feed their families. Lowest-caste Dalit women, indigenous, and widowed women face even greater hardships. Through the Tamil Nadu Women’s Collective, 100,000 marginalized women are organized, many in unofficial worker unions or small collective farms, to strengthen their food sovereignty and thus their broader power. In addition to organizing locally and nationally on issues from their own families’ food security to land rights to opposition to genetically modified seeds, the Collective encourages cultivation of native millet varieties – the hardy traditional grain is nutritious, drought-resistant, and easier to grow in the region than wheat or rice.

For event updates and background on food sovereignty and the prize winners, visit