We, Small Farmers, are the Solution to World Hunger

Distributed by Via Campesina at the CBD pleanry meeting on May 22, 2008

Historically, we, small farmers, have developed and preserved agricultural biodiversity by reproducing our seeds, exchanging and adapting them to climate change. This has guaranteed the continuity of agriculture, local food supplies and food sovereignty.

In the face of a dramatic global food crisis, corporate interests are advocating for a new Green Revolution in Africa as a strategy to increase productivity. Although they use concepts such as “sustainability”, “participation”, and “biodiversity management”, the production model is the same as that which has created the present crisis and growing loss of biodiversity.

The Green Revolution has been implemented in Latin America and Asia over the last 50 years, generating an extreme dependency on chemical inputs derived from petroleum. It has been responsible for the degradation of biodiversity, soils and water, land concentration and the expulsion of peasants, indigenous peoples and small farmers. The process of industrialization of agriculture has intensified the use of fossil fuels, both in the production as well as in the transport of foodstuffs. 

Its failure shows that we will not find answers to world hunger by continuing to implement the Green Revolution model, whether in the short or in the long term.

On the contrary, we, small farmers, have the ability to feed the world. Peasant agriculture promotes food diversity, sustains traditional cultures and does not burden the environment. Moreover, small-scale, local and ecological production is an effective and immediate way of reducing carbon emissions and cooling down the planet.

Therefore, a real alternative for Africa, as well as an effective response to the global food crisis is not a new Green Revolution, but the implementation of Food Sovereignty.

Food Sovereignty defines the right of people to determine their own policies for producing and distributing food, using local technologies in a culturally and environmentally adequate manner. It puts small farmers, artisanal fisheries and shepherds at the center of food systems.

For these reasons we believe that is the duty of COP9 delegates to develop a strategy for the conservation of agricultural biodiversity that recognizes the leading role of small farmers and their centrality in the struggle against hunger and climate change. On the eve of the Food Crisis Summit organized by FAO in Rome, it is time to recognize the importance of small farming communities and to secure their full participation in the discussions on the food and environmental crisis.