(Jakarta, 9 November 2009) About 40 farmers from 25 countries around the world, members of the international farmer's movement La Via Campesina, will gather in Rome for the FAO World Summit on Food Sovereignty and the civil society Forum from November 13 to 18. “Time for talking is over” said Nettie Wiebe, a Canadian farmer leader of the movement. “If the world is serious about eradicating hunger, there are not many options. We have to support and encourage small farmers to produce food for their communities in sustainable ways. A genuine solution to the food crisis means that small scale farmers, not transnational corporations, must regain control over food producing resources such as land, seeds, water and local markets.”
Even though the world produces enough to feed every mouth, the number of hungry people has climbed to over one billion this year for the first time in human history – and 80% of the hungry people are farmers, displaced farmers or farm workers. For far too many families around the world hunger is not a figure. It is an ugly reality.
Ironically, this unprecedented food crisis has seen the development of initiatives that are going in the same direction as the policies that have created the current disaster. This is the case of the Global Partnership for Agriculture and Food Security and the World Bank Food Security Trust Fund supported by the G20. They finance the development of “green revolution” technologies that increase farmers’ dependency on the market as well as destroying soils. Those initiatives promote more free trade policies and work hand in hand with the agro-industry.
However, large companies have no interest in saving the world from hunger. Their focus is on increasing their own market share and profit margins. What happened during the food price crisis in 2007 is instructive: agri-business companies made tremendous profits(1), while millions of new people were falling into hunger and poverty. Currently, agricultural land has become a profitable investment and companies are grabbing huge tracks of land around the world, kicking out local farmers, in order to produce food for export or agro-fuels.
At the FAO Summit in Rome, La Via Campesina will defend the need for a new governance for food and agriculture in order to solve the food crisis as well as the current climate crisis. Food policies should not be left in the hands of the “donor clubs” and financial institutions. A democratic governance system – such as the one being discussed within the FAO Committee on World Food Security – has to be implemented immediately to make sure that countries and people around the world have the right to implement food sovereignty. Food sovereignty is the right of communities and nations to implement their own food policies and promote local food systems respecting people's livelihoods, cultures and the environment.
"We will serve organic food from the local farmers to the Civil Society Forum in Rome. On a daily basis, we also provide 150.000 organic school meals all over Italy" explained Andrea Ferrante from the Italian Association for Organic Agriculture (AIAB), an organisation member of La Via Campesina. "Food sovereignty starts everyday, at every meal. It is already implemented locally in many places and with some political will, it can spread around the world and solve the current food crisis", he said.
(1) For ecample, Cargill, the world’s largest grain trader, reported an increase in profits of nearly 70 per cent over 2007 – a 157 per cent rise in profits since 2006. (http://www.grain.org/seedling/?id=592)
Media programme :
Participation at the People”s Food Sovereignty Forum (see the forum media activities): http://peoplesforum2009.foodsovereignty.org/
16 November: Action and press conference: “Farmers and social movements say No to Land Grabbing!” (organised by Grain and La Via Campesina) 10 a.m., Food sovereignty corner – Tent in front of the FAO building
18 November: Final press conference by La Via Campesina
13:30, Food sovereignty corner – Tent in front of the FAO building
Information for the media and interviews with farmers
Phone : +32474847280 (until November 11) and +39 3312861096 (From November 12 to 18)
More on www.viacampesina.org
La Via Campesina is an international movement which brings together millions of peasants, small producers, landless people, rural women and agricultural workers around the world. Our movement is made up of 148 member organisations active in 69 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.