The Via Campesina stresses the need for public policies for rural areas

Press release – the Via Campesina

(Mexico, October 3, 2012) More than 100 peasant farmers, both men and women, from over 30 countries came together in Mexico City on September 28th – 30th, 2012 in order to discuss public policies for food sovereignty and to receive concrete proposals on the issue.

In a context of a crisis of capitalism and a new wave of neoliberal privatisation, public policies do not always contribute to structural changes that benefit society. However, for the peasant organisations present, the fight for public policies at all levels is an important step towards improving rural living conditions and ensuring that peasant farmers are able to produce healthy and sufficient food for their communities and their countries.

It is evident that all public services and infrastructures must be maintained and developed in order to guarantee that peasant farmers and their communities can live a life of dignity. Of these, it is education, healthcare, housing, and support and protection services for children and older people that are most indispensable. These services must recognise and strengthen indigenous and peasant identities, and be in keeping with our cultures.

Public policies must recognise and value the role of women in the food sovereignty process and in community maintenance and development. Therefore, it is vital to develop infrastructures that facilitate their productive labour – such as land, labour, loans, economic income, and child care programmes – and safeguard their reproductive rights.

Peasant-based agriculture requires specific programmes for participatory research, markets and sanitary standards in order to strengthen this production and consumption model, as opposed to the current so-called standards that serve only to tighten the stranglehold of the multinationals.

Agro-ecological programmes and programmes for local seed and breed recovery must be introduced. Common goods, such as land and water, must regain their social and collective value, and be protected from commoditisation. Policies for public food stocks and market regulation are needed in order to ensure fair prices for producers and consumers.

Specific policies must be developed to facilitate the inclusion of young people in peasant-based agricultural projects and support the transfer from one generation to the next.

Finally, there must be a guarantee that these policies will be implemented.

As peasant organisations,