We, La Via Campesina Southern and Eastern Africa youth articulation delegates from eight organizations (ESAFF Uganda, ZIMSOFF, Kenyan Peasant League, COPACO, Landless People Movement, Agrarian Campaign for Food Sovereignty, União Nacional de Camponeses [UNAC], MVIWATA) gathered at Mutuko, Zimbabwe for the Youth training, are concerned about the current precarious state of the youth in our region and the African continent.
We, coming from 8 countries (South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Mozambique) have observed unprecedented unemployment among the youth. This has left them vulnerable to manipulation by politicians and, led many to delinquency.
Also, the lack of political education among the youth has led many of them to be captured by capitalism and are trapped in debt following industrial agriculture using chemical inputs and agro-toxins which puts their health at risk.
We lack adequate support of our governments to nurture and develop our talents, enterprises and activities to earn a living. Our African governments are preoccupied with attracting foreign direct investments (FDIs) to promote economic growth. In agriculture, this rush to increase FDIs has led to land grabbing and evictions in the rural areas and relocated to marginal and unfertile lands with poor natural resources endowment. Sustaining life in such areas has been hard. Thus, many fellow youths, seeing no future in the countryside, have migrated to the cities exposing themselves to worst forms of exploitation, urban drudgery and xenophobia.
We are concerned by the negligence of our governments in issues of climate change. They, contrary to wisdom, promote extractive industries which emit more greenhouse gases which cause global warming. We face a crisis due to weather variability and seasonal shifts. Many of our communities are facing a severe drought and starvation in Kenya, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa etc. Again, recently, our communities in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe were affected by Cyclone Idai and Kenneth in March and April respectively, killing over a thousand people and destroying their crops and livestock. Many youths were affected. Our governments should change their development based on extractive industries and take action now to address climate change before it is too late.
We are concerned about the increase of misguided western initiatives supposedly to fight hunger and poverty through the expansion of industrial farming methods in the countryside. The G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa and other pro-industrial agriculture initiatives such as Grow Africa, African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), Farm Input Promotions Africa (FIPS-Africa), Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), the entrenchment of UPOV seed laws through regional economic and political blocs COMESA and SADC only promote debt, poverty and entrench inequality.
What we need is to build resilience based on our peasant agroecology and rich knowledge diversity; a food diversity based on crop diversity, founded on traditional farmer saved seed systems of the small scale farmers. We believe therein lies an effective way to fight malnutrition and our best hope of truly addressing hunger and poverty.
We, the youth despite being the present and the future are neglected and our participation and representation in policymaking thin and weak. We lack adequate legal protection. We demand that our rights be safeguarded meaning that human rights be equal for everyone, taking into consideration that the farm is our source of livelihood. We would like that consideration to be given to the future problems that will affect the health of the youth, the next generation and the future.
We, call for urgent and deep structural transformations including true agrarian reform, to protect and keep territories (land, oceans, forests, etc) under the control of rural small scale and peasant farmers, pastoralists, indigenous women, mountaineers and fisherfolk. Our governments should prioritize and adopt better public policies that support agroecology, food sovereignty, traditional seed systems and smallholder territorial markets. Again, they should redirect public sector investments to support smallholder farmers and peasants, and provide adequate agricultural financing that supports smallholder farmers.
We, the LVC SEAf youth articulation, have decided to take steps to realise the future we want by:
- Firstly initiating the process within the LVC SEAf Youth Articulation to build and launch 3 campaigns on against land grabbing and evictions, protection and promotion of indigenous seed rights
- Secondly, starting to build popular education to create awareness and political consciousness to help the youth to resist all forms of manipulation and exploitation.
We, the LVC SEAf youth delegates and our allies express our solidarity with all struggles against corporate capture of land, seeds, markets and false climate solutions. We express our condolences and solidarity to all communities affected by the recent Cyclone Idai and Kenneth. We continue the struggle for climate justice, food sovereignty and agroecology.
Globalise the Struggle! Globalise Hope!
La Via Campesina Youth Articulation Training Meeting, May 24, 2019