This article first appeared on Telesur on 19 April 2020
International peasants organisation La Via Campesina (The Campesino Way) marked Friday the International Day of Peasant Struggle, a particularly important commemoration against the backdrop of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.
“This April 17 (the International Day of Peasant Struggle) was of vital importance because we put on the table the issue of the food situation in the context of a pandemic,” Nury Martinez, who is among the International Coordination Committee members of La Via Campesina told teleSUR.
“The pandemic has revealed the importance of having diverse, agroecological food systems that guarantee healthy food for everyone at fair prices and that are sustainable with the environment.”
She added that with their allies they are “trying to denounce the agribusiness model, which is a model that poisons, that is based on monoculture, that is not sustainable and that does not work.”
La Via Campesina stated on the occasion of this celebration that time has come to “globally, structurally, and profoundly” reform the agri-food systems.
“States must ensure their populations’ access to healthy, appropriate food and prevent shortages,” the organisation stated in a release on its website. “They must act now to end all forms of commodity speculation as practised by transnational agribusiness monopolies.”
While the economic and health crisis affecting almost the entire world has led millions of people to unemployment, exacerbating thus a hunger crisis due -among other reasons- to the neglect of peasant farming in dozens of countries, La Via Campesina urged governments to “invest in peasant agriculture and support local peasant markets.”
On Friday, the Campesino movement whose organisations are present in every continent, urged its members and allies “to stay at home but not silent,” and to denounce the multiple killings, evictions, mass layoffs, along with the economic sanctions imposed on a number of countries hampering their response to the spread of the virus.
La Via Campesina also called on activists and communities to voice and expose the continued criminalisation of peasants, and to point out the precarious conditions of rural economies.