India’s historic farm struggle explained
The Agricultural Producers’ Market Committee (APMC) in India provide a regulated space for farmers to collectively trade their produce, protected from market volatility. Minimum Support Price (MSP) is another policy that provides a minimum remuneration for farmers, ensuring they can recover their costs of cultivation and make a profit.
However, in 2020, the Indian government passed three laws without consultation that sparked protests from farmers across the country. The first law allowed private entities to set up de-regulated private markets, which farmers feared would end the APMC system and their collective bargaining power. The second law allowed for contract farming, leading to concerns about corporate concentration in agriculture and land disputes. The third law removed stocking limits and other regulatory mechanisms on agricultural commodities. Farmers alleged that these laws pushed for a massive privatisation of the Indian agricultural system without any legal safeguards for the MSP in place.
The farmers across the country mobilised against these laws, and after a 15-month long protest, the Indian Government repealed the three controversial laws in 2021, bowing to public pressure. However, more than 750 farmers reportedly lost their lives during the struggle. While the functioning of APMC markets must improve, the farmers’ struggle highlights the need to consult with stakeholders before passing legislation and the importance of protecting farmers’ collective bargaining power and MSPs in the Indian agricultural sector.
Roadmap to the Nyéléni Process
After a one year period of exchange and discussion within the IPC’s members, we have now started the process to build alliances with other sectors. During the following year and a half, the Nyéléni process will enter its main phase.
Currently (June 2023) the first Stocktaking meeting of the International Nyéléni Steering Committee is taking place in Rome. During this meeting we aim to create solid basis for a dynamic coordination with those sectors that are not part of the IPC.
The Steering Committee will then serve to create guidelines to conduct six regional meetings (Latin America, Asia and Pacific, North America, Africa, Europe, and North Africa and Middle East) that will take place from September 2023 to September 2024. Different actors from different sectors will participate into these regional fora to gather an all-inclusive regional perspective.
During the final phase, the Global Nyéléni Forum will build on the regional consultations’ outcomes to conduct cross-regional, cross-thematic discussions and prepare a final analysis and proposals. Concurrently the forum will aim to achieve the other goals: such as (re)energizing and strengthening the food sovereignty movement, fostering solidarity between actors and sectors, creating momentum to make the voices of grassroots organizations and people heard, and giving a common direction to the social movements for the years to come.
The main objective of the Nyéléni process is not the Forum itself, but rather the implementation of the decisions taken, and the guidelines adopted throughout the process.
Power, violence, and food systems: Insights from an address by Michael Fakhri, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
“The right to food is about celebrating life through food in communion with others”. This was the practical definition of the right to food favoured by Michael Fakhri, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, during a keynote address given at the Peace Palace in the Hague in April. Fakhri shared that he was inspired to become a Special Rapporteur by the global food sovereignty movement, which gives the right to food its power. This is a power built on reciprocal relationships as opposed to the power of the rich which is built by acting as ‘gatekeepers to the necessities of life’.
He outlined four forms of violence in our food systems that are necessary to confront in order to advance the right to food including: 1) Discrimination as a result of denying people their right to food based on their class position or other markers of identity; 2) Bodily harm that is inflicted on people as a result of armed conflict or other forms of domination and submission; 3) Ecological violence wrought by the industrial food system both on the climate and on nature; 4) Erasure of people by emptying landscapes to make way for resource extraction and capital accumulation.
These four forms of violence in food systems pose a significant challenge to the food sovereignty movement and beyond. They illustrate the urgency of building up counter-power through processes of convergence and alliance building that stand at the core of the Nyéléni global gathering. Harnessing the power of the global food sovereignty movement has been demonstrated to prove effective, whether it be through the negotiation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants or by exposing the corporate sham of the UN Food Systems Summit. Given that hunger and malnutrition are, as Fakhri stated, always a political problem, not a consequence of scarcity, there is much to be fought for.
 A video recording of the lecture is available here.