Joint Press Release ROPPA-Via Campesina

Network of farmers organisations and agricultural producers from Western Africa (ROPPA)
S/C CNCR – BP 249 Dakar- Sénégal- tel 221 824 57 71 fax: 221 824 57 65
JOINT PRESS RELEASE Brussels, May 17, 2001 Following the seminar " Solidarity in Agricultural Policies and Trade" organized in Brussels, May 12-13, 2001 by OXFAM-Solidarity-B, Collectif Stratégies Alimentaires (CSA), European Farmers Coordination (CPE) / Via Campesina, Belgian sugarbeet producers Confederation (CBB) , in the framework of the UNCTAD conference on less developed countries (LDCs), Vía Campesina and the Network of Farmers organisations and Agricultural Producers from Western Africa (ROPPA) publish the following statement:
Access to export markets or access to its domestic market ? Trade deregulation, world prices, or food sovereignty ?

Vía Campesina and ROPPA denounce the "liberalization" of farm products exchanges promoted by WTO as well as the dumping policies implemented by large export countries on third countries, particularly LDCs. These policies ruin their production capacity and food habits and provoke the disappearance of family farming in the North and South.

For instance, the export of European food surpluses to LDCs at prices that are much lower than the prices in Europe and the LDCs has ruined these countries’ production.
The EU decision to open up its agricultural market to LDC products without tariffs is the contrary of a solution for these countries. It has been adopted more to justify the penetration of LDCs’ markets by EU exporters rather to give LDC farmers a genuine opportunity to sell their production in Europe.

For Vía Campesina and ROPPA, priority should be granted to healthy, good quality and culturally appropriate subsistence production, for the domestic market and for the sub-regional or regional market in each region of the world.

In LDCs, the first priority of farmers is to produce for their families, then to seek access to their domestic market, before seeking to export. The EU decision is only going to strengthen the profit of large companies that use the resources and labour force of LDCs to grow cash crops aimed at the EU market. It will decrease the resources and labour force dedicated to the production of food for rural and urban populations whilst increasing food insecurity. ./..

The farmers from Vía Campesina and ROPPA reassert:

  • The RIGHT of the populations and their States to define their agricultural and food policies, at national level, next at regional level, in favour of family farms, provided these policies exclude dumping towards third countries: that’s we call food sovereignty;
  • The right to have access to resources (land, water, seeds, …) to be able to produce and live in dignity. It is the very problem of Southern farmers to whom these rights are currently denied; 
  • The right for countries/groups of countries from the South and the North to protect their agriculture and market to be able to fairly remunerate labour and products from family farms; 
  • The world market should not be a surplus market anymore but a market based on fair exchanges of regional products at fair prices. The international markets have to be regulated to put an end to the deterioration of exchange terms, particularly for Southern farmers who export tropical products.

They ask Southern and Northern governments: 

  • to introduce or reform agricultural policies to guarantee the viability of family farms;
  • to refrain from granting support and subsidies, in the framework of international cooperation, submitted to the obligation of "liberalization" and privatisation that are not in conformity with the countries’ priorities; 
  • to grant priority to the development of domestic markets (local, national and regional) and not to export; 
  • to give priority to people’s expectations in terms of food and other vital, environmental needs, and not to the trade of transnational companies;
  • to prohibit life patenting and the production and export of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs.


Via Campesina International farmers movement
operative secretariat: Apdo Postal 3628 Tegucigalpa, MDC Honduras, Tel: + 504 2359915 & fax : + 504 2322198 E-mail:

Network of farmers organisations and agricultural producers from Western Africa (ROPPA)
S/C CNCR – BP 249 Dakar- Sénégal- tel 221 824 57 71 fax: 221 824 57 65