Voices from the field

Voice from the field 1

Micherline Islanda, Union of Small Producers (Tet Kole ti Peyizan Ayisyen), Haiti

The term “food system” designates all the stages necessary to feed a population, from growing, harvesting, and packaging, to transportation, marketing, consumption, and waste.

Access to land is a huge problem in Haiti and a huge barrier to food sovereignty. The dominant industrial food system is not sustainable because it does not provide enough nutritious and culturally appropriate food to everyone and additionally compromises the health of the planet. Industrial agriculture is among the major polluters, threatening the survival of future generations. 

To address these challenges, we conduct training sessions based on LVC’s axes of struggle. We organise young people and gather to study the origin of this domination and economic exploitation. We analyse the actions of the State and the structural and systemic issues that prevent peasants from owning or accessing our territories. We also work on social and cultural domination, access to credit, marketing, processing, handicrafts, fisheries and fish farming, livestock, land tenure, environment, infrastructure, tourism, mining and energy resources, access to drinking water and sanitation. We study local agroecological systems that are important to build food sovereignty. We practise and share agricultural production that is centred on family farming practices.

Voices from the field 2

Chengeto Sandra Muzira, Zimbabwe Small Holders Organic Farmers’ Forum (ZIMSOFF), Zimbabwe

In Africa, the organised peasant youth of La Via Campesina play a significant role in pushing the agroecology agenda; we play a significant role in fostering a general understanding and appreciation of agroecology among the general public through a variety of avenues and platforms. Yet, the lack of adequate public policies or public-financial assistance to peasant youth as well as the increasing appropriation of peasant seeds by industry poses a great challenge for the youth here.

Various organizations in Southern, West and Eastern Africa have played a great role in addressing these challenges through capacity-building workshops on agroecological practices. Peasant youth are also encouraged to engage in the different Ministries of Agriculture during policy formulation and implementation. Young peasants in our organisations also receive training on the latest technological developments and the opportunities and threats. For instance, our workshops have debated the dangers of GMOs in the continent of Africa and the growing digitalisation of agriculture. 

Organizations such as Kenya Peasants’ League, Eastern and Southern Africa Farmers’ Forum (ESAFF) Uganda, Zimbabwe Small Holders Organic Farmers’ Forum (ZIMSOFF), Landless People’s Movement, West and Central Africa (WECAF) members, União Nacional de Camponeses (UNAC), and Confédération Paysanne du Congo (COPACO) have further continued to network and exchange knowledge between young peasant farmers through seminars, conferences and symposiums on agroecology.

Voices from the field 3

Marlan Ifantri Lase, Serikat Petani, Indonesia

The threat of a food crisis can be tamed in Indonesia because in many ways we are still a strong agricultural society. Yet, Indonesia is relying on food imports such as rice, meat, wheat, and also sugar. It is because of the continued application of ‘food security’ as an approach to agricultural and rural development that the food imports are threatening our society.

The government must accelerate the implementation of agrarian reform and protect our local market as ways to help food producers live in dignity, so that young people can find peasantry and agriculture/food production attractive.

Serikat Pateni Indonesia has helped to establish Food Sovereignty Areas (KDP) in our agricultural land and territories. KDP is an area where we make use of natural resources in the area in agroecological manners. We adopt agroecology to produce sufficient, safe, healthy, nutritious and sustainable food by and for the people. We create livelihood support by linking the harvest to dynamic peasant markets in our territories. We promote and practice the cooperatives’ economic system to ensure fair prices for the welfare of peasants and local consumers.

Voices from the field 4

Vimukti (Anuka) De Silva, Movement for National Land and Agricultural Reform, Sri Lanka

The economic, political and social instability in debt-based economies like Sri Lanka is crushing the dreams of young people. Peasant youth, already vulnerable in many ways, face a daunting future. Many of us desperately migrate to cities and other countries for very dangerous and insecure jobs. The micro-finance loans have trapped women and rural families in a vicious cycle of debt and indignity. Organised as the Movement for National Land and Agricultural Reform, we are constantly trying to build an alternative political and economic process by uniting the youth to stand up for their rights. The dominant capitalist model considers food as a commodity to trade. Food production in the capitalist framework does not find the answer to hunger in any way. Therefore, we are looking to agroecology and food sovereignty, real solutions for society and the food chain.


Box 1

African peasant youth in defence of Agroecology

Excerpt from a Declaration by the Peasant Youth Articulation members in Southern and Eastern African region of LVC.

“We the young peasants, members of La Via Campesina in Southern and Eastern Africa, recognize that agroecology has the ability to restore degraded agricultural ecosystems, including the loss of biodiversity, and sustainably feed many African countries’ rapidly expanding populations. Agroecological production systems are diverse and improve ecosystem health and services, making ecosystems more resilient to changing climatic conditions, significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and address socioeconomic barriers that perpetuate injustices and inequalities in our food systems. Additionally, the peasant agroecology approach is transversal, contributing importantly to various layers and dimensions of local social contexts.

We further recognize that Agroecology is the best way to adapt to climate change and mitigate its effects, because it uses farming techniques like crop diversification, conservation tillage, green manures, natural fertilizers, biological pest control, rainwater harvesting, and production of crops and livestock in ways that store carbon and sustainably protect natural resources.

We want our governments to take decisive action towards the domestication of the UNDROP which sets platforms for voices from rural communities to be heard and stresses that small-scale farmers, especially the youth, have a right to protect and conserve production resources and the productive capacity of their lands. Our governments must support the creation of conditions for strengthening the skills development of the youth to create ethical and profitable opportunities in areas and activities that protect and restore ecosystems. It is imperative to support peasant family farms in all the diverse ways as they are the key champions of agroecology, a lasting solution to achieve climate justice.”

Box 2

Latin American peasant youth in defense of food sovereignty

Excerpt from a Declaration by the youth representatives from 11 countries of South America, Central America, North America and the Caribbean.

“As in other productive sectors of the world, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been very negative in the agricultural sector, generating a great social and economic loss. Small- and medium-sized producers have been affected and the lack of government support in some countries aggravated the impact of COVID-19, worsening the social, political, health and economic crisis.

We, the youth, reaffirm our commitment to defend agroecology as an important part of the struggle for food sovereignty and the rights of peasants. We stand in solidarity with the countries of Cuba, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Colombia as they resist the interference by and influence of capitalist, neoliberal countries, where agribusiness and transnational corporations continue their indiscriminate onslaught. We denounce the criminalization of the struggles, attacking the sovereignty and autonomy of the peoples, provoking displacements, forced migrations and worsening of poverty in some countries. We call for guaranteed full respect for gender equality, the fundamental rights of the entire population and a life free of violence and insecurity. We also call for the guarantee of the universal right to health to all, and denounce the attempts to monopolise COVID-19 vaccines by the rich countries, thus violating the right to health of the most impoverished countries.”

Box 3

The future of family farming: Discussing intergenerational turnover

Contribution from International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC)

The future of family farming—including agriculture, fishing and pastoralism—is threatened by multiple factors such as the effects of climate change, the loss of traditional knowledge and the detrimental effects of food policies which, at different levels, favour corporations over small-scale farmers and profit-making over the right to food. The combined effect of these factors is leading to a gradual loss of family farmers, which undermines food security worldwide. In this already difficult context, the survival of family farming is at greater risk due to the difficulty to ensure generational turnover.

According to the Global Action Plan of UN Decade of Family Farming (UNDFF), “generational turnover” refers to “the capacity to retain young people on farms and in rural communities” and is one of the preconditions to keep agriculture and food production “viable and sustainable”. In its recent report on Youth Engagement and Employment in Agriculture and Food Systems, the High-Level Panel of Experts of the UN Committee on World Food Security refers to the notion of “generational sustainability” defining it as “intergenerational collaboration and the evolving, dynamic balance between generations”. In the report, generational turnover is connected to the degree of youth engagement in food systems and particularly: “a carefully built and maintained inter-generational balance and multi-directional exchange of generation-specific knowledge, resources and livelihood strategies can enhance the role of young people in leading successful and endogenous innovation in food systems and contributing to sustainable agrarian, rural and urban transformations”.

What are the barriers which globally prevent generational turnover in family farming? And which visions, policies and actions are needed to overcome such barriers and ensure generational sustainability while at the same time meeting the needs and aspirations of different generations?

Between May and October 2022, the Youth Working Group of the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC) has carried out a dedicated global consultation to address these questions. The consultation intended to create a space for youth and non-youth IPC members from around the world to gather, discuss their needs and share ideas. Although the analysis of results has not been finalised, the consultation made visible the existence of multiple obstacles which are common across all regions of the IPC. Among them:

• The marginalisation of family farmers in food systems, including unsupportive legal and policy environments.

• The lack of adequate legal services, enabling policies and physical infrastructure to facilitate the intergenerational transfer of natural resources, farm assets and knowledge and skills, especially outside the family domain.

• The reproduction of socio-cultural barriers rooted in patriarchy and colonialism which make it difficult or impossible for young women, gender/sexually diverse youth and Indigenous youth to access inheritance rights.

• The low economic viability of family farming makes it difficult or impossible for a young person to live and work as a peasant/food producer.

• The decreasing attractiveness of family farming for young people due to the persistence of a social stigma related to being a peasant as well as to the lack of respect for the social status of family farmers.

• The decreasing attractiveness of family farming for young people due to the emerging difficulties of producing food in a changing climate.

• The increasing youth exodus from rural to urban areas due to the lack of adequate infrastructure and services to meet the needs of today’s rural youth.

• The marginalisation of youth in decision-making spaces at different levels (regional, national, international), which often makes youth participation merely performative and undermines the possibility of enhancing youth agency.

• The lack of suitable spaces to ensure intergenerational dialogues about generational turnover as a two-sided process and not only a unilateral transfer from older to younger people.

During the consultation, the IPC Youth WG identified the need to keep our attention on the issue of generational turnover in family farming and continue working on it in close collaboration with other WGs in all regions and with all constituencies as a topic concerning everyone and not only the youth. The aim could be to identify a common IPC position and global strategy to improve generational turnover in family farming. The youth have also discussed the importance of using the outcomes of the consultation to continue influencing the agenda and work of the FAO, particularly in the context of the UNDFF.

Box 4


In this video, peasant youth from Europe, organised by the European Coordination of La Via Campesina (ECVC), sing the popular protest song L’estaca by the Catalan songwriter Lluís Llach—one of the symbols of resistance against Francoism. In the song, fascism and all forms of oppression are described as a pole (“l’estaca”) to which we are all chained but which, if we pull hard and together, we will manage to bring down. The song has been translated into a multitude of languages, becoming a universal hymn of liberation from all kinds of authoritarian and oppressive regimes and a call to unity towards freedom from all constraints.

The original song in Catalan:

Read here the translation of the song in English.

L’avi Siset[1] em parlava
de bon matí al portal
mentre el sol esperàvem
i els carros vèiem passar.

Siset, que no veus l’estaca
on estem tots lligats?
Si no podem desfer-nos-en
mai no podrem caminar!

Si estirem tots, ella caurà
i molt de temps no pot durar,
segur que tomba, tomba, tomba
ben corcada deu ser ja.

Si jo l’estiro fort per aquí
i tu l’estires fort per allà,
segur que tomba, tomba, tomba,
i ens podrem alliberar.

Però, Siset, fa molt temps ja,
les mans se’m van escorxant,
i quan la força se me’n va
ella és més ampla i més gran.

Ben cert sé que està podrida
però és que, Siset, pesa tant,
que a cops la força m’oblida.
Torna’m a dir el teu cant:

Si estirem tots, ella caurà
i molt de temps no pot durar,
segur que tomba, tomba, tomba
ben corcada deu ser ja.

Si jo l’estiro fort per aquí
i tu l’estires fort per allà,
segur que tomba, tomba, tomba,
i ens podrem alliberar.

L’avi Siset ja no diu res,
mal vent que se l’emportà,
ell qui sap cap a quin indret
i jo a sota el portal.

I mentre passen els nous vailets
estiro el coll per cantar
el darrer cant d’en Siset,
el darrer que em va ensenyar.

Si estirem tots, ella caurà
i molt de temps no pot durar,
segur que tomba, tomba, tomba
ben corcada deu ser ja.

Si jo l’estiro fort per aquí
i tu l’estires fort per allà,
segur que tomba, tomba, tomba,
i ens podrem alliberar.

[1] “Siset” is short for “Narcis”. It seems to refer to Narcís Llansa, an old man with whom Llach went fishing when he was young.

In the spotlight

In the spotlight

Climate chaos, COVID-19 and armed conflict have sent shockwaves through the global economy, and these overlapping crises are impacting world food security in unprecedented ways.

The current global food crisis worsened with the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, nearly 3.1 billion people could not afford a healthy diet, and about 2.3 billion people faced moderate or severe food insecurity in 2021.

As indicated by all-time record highs on the UN FAO’s food-price index, the global food crisis was aggravated again in March 2022, largely due to supply-and-demand imbalances in grain, oilseed, fuel and fertilizer markets following a spate of geo-political conflicts and wars.

The underlying causes of food insecurity are closely linked to structural poverty and unjust trade relations between countries, and similarly to the food price crises of 2008 and 2011, the present-day food crisis is significantly influenced by financial speculation and price volatility in global markets.

La Via Campesina (LVC) and our allies of the global food sovereignty movement continue to resist industrial agribusiness and the false solutions of neoliberalism. We are alert and organized toward the implementation of real, popular solutions for profound social change. End WTO! Build international trade based on peasants’ rights, agroecology, and food sovereignty!

The youth are the protagonists of social transformation 

The youth are political subjects that have a unique role to play in exercising democratic control over food systems. First and foremost, young people are tasked to learn from history. A historically-informed analysis of social, political, economic, and environmental issues is indispensable to coordinating effective strategies and concrete actions that address their root causes.

Young people are also tasked to analyse the present moment with clarity and precision from our own particular generational perspectives, utilizing concepts like food sovereignty and tools like UNDROP[1] which we’ve become equipped with through LVC’s training processes.

In addition, it is essential that the youth continue to seek solutions to existing problems while concurrently striving to secure the rights and well-being of future generations. 

The youth are central to food sovereignty struggles—they have the vital task of widening participation and forming new leadership. Over the last decade, several members of our global food sovereignty movement, who converged and organised at the Nyéléni meeting in 2007 in Mali, have emphasised the need for young peasants and activists to take the mantle of the struggle forward. As a result, over the years, through spaces such as the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC) and others, we have built a unified struggle and created platforms of education and training for young people in the movement coming from peasant, Indigenous, fisherfolk and pastoralist communities.

Meaningful opportunities for the participation of young people at all levels of the struggle for food sovereignty have enabled us to become increasingly integrated into the movement, and through our autonomously organized spaces, we have been articulating our political priorities and proposals for action.   

The youth are demanding radical solutions to the current food crisis

Over the last three decades, grassroots social movements have stepped up the pressure on governments to bring in the political and economic democratization of food and agricultural systems. From the beginning we have fought to ensure the direct, effective participation of peasant and Indigenous organizations in the elaboration, implementation, and monitoring of agricultural policies and rural development programs.

Core issues that led to the formation of the international food sovereignty movement remain highly relevant and at the forefront of our political agenda today, including external debt, international trade, and environmental protection, as well as agroecology, gender equality, women’s and LGBTTQI+ rights, and peasants’ rights. The youth are raising these banners of struggle in mass mobilizations, communication campaigns, and political education processes. We are also advancing in policy negotiations and advocacy efforts across UN spaces.

Between May and October 2022, LVC youth engaged in consultations organized by the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC), in collaboration with the FAO and under the framework of the UN Decade of Family Farming (UNDFF). The regional consultations revolved around Pillar 2 of the Decade[2], addressing topics such as youth migration, gender inequalities, land and market access, and the intergenerational transfer of productive resources and knowledge. The process provided space to identify common challenges and discuss policy approaches related to generational turnover in family farming, and its outcomes are intended to contribute to the implementation of the Decade’s Global Action Plan. The consultations clearly underscored that comprehensive and genuine agrarian reforms, agroecology training, and adequate farm succession plans are urgently needed to enable the youth to have a future in the countryside.

In June, the youth joined the mobilization against the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference in Geneva. We contributed to internal debates for contextual analysis of the global food crisis as well as public dialogues held in activist spaces and at a university. The youth were also actively part of the delegation that stayed in Geneva to advance peasants’ rights advocacy in the UN Human Rights Council. We arranged and attended meetings with Member State representatives in order to gauge their political will to support a forthcoming resolution in the Council to initiate a special procedure for the implementation of UNDROP.

We have also greatly contributed to a policy process in the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS), titled “Promoting youth engagement and employment in agriculture and food systems.” For over two years, we have been coordinating and actively participating in the youth working group of the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism (CSIPM).

We now have political opportunities to organize at the national level and pressure States to implement the relatively good aspects of the CFS policy document, such as recommendations in support of human rights, dignified livelihoods, informal markets, public procurement, urban agriculture, and gender transformative policies, as well as the connection drawn with the UNDFF and the reference to redistributive reforms in the context of the CFS Voluntary Tenure Guidelines.  

The long-term sustainability and impact of our collective movement for food sovereignty lie in creating and expanding our alliances across allied sectors, joining forces with both urban and rural movements, workers’ unions. An equal emphasis must also be placed in organizing processes that greatly depend on the meaningful engagement and training of youth across the entire movement and allied sectors. The continuity, coherence, and ongoing relevance of the food sovereignty movement relies upon generational renewal through capacity-building for young people, the facilitation of intergenerational dialogue, and mobilizing everyone for transformative social change.

[1] UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP).

[2] Pillar 2–Transversal. Support youth and ensure the generational sustainability of 28

family farming.

Newsletter no 50 – Editorial

Youth and the democratization of food systems

Illustration: Sophie Holin for LVC, Instagram: @soph.ieholin

It’s December. Yet another year in our cycle of life is drawing to a close as we search for hope and solidarity in the face of daunting adversities. The world is marred by rising temperatures, erratic weather events, extreme poverty, hunger, wars, conflicts and violence.

A systemic model that placed the interests and profits of the few over those of the many has created this catastrophe. The global industrial food system is a case in point—it is among the largest polluters on the planet. It uses nearly two-thirds of the world’s resources but can only feed a quarter of the world’s population, leaving behind a trail of destructive and polluting practices along its supply chain. In contrast, peasant agriculture, which still feeds 70% of the global population, sustains harmonious and healthy cycles of food production, distribution and consumption.

It’s high time we reminded global food governance institutions and governments that the real solutions to the global food crisis lie in giving peasant communities, Indigenous Peoples, migrant workers, landworkers, small-scale fishers and pastoralists the power and the autonomy to build food sovereignty in our territories. We must rally behind food systems built by and for the people in an agroecological way that respects the cycle of life in all its forms. A vital element in protecting and multiplying these diverse, decentralized and resilient food systems are the conditions available to the young and future small-scale food producers to engage in the production process. This edition of the Nyéléni newsletter delves into the democratization of people’s food systems and the critical need to keep the role and future of the peasant youth in this process.

La Via Campesina Youth Articulation

Voices from the field

Voice from the field 1

To manufacture food or to grow it? The new and old GMOs of Europe, a battle spanning over 30 years

Antonio Onorati, ECVC European Coordination Via Campesina, Italia

The European Union, the world’s largest exporter of agricultural products and the world’s largest importer, boasts an agricultural system that relies on small farms, 77% of which are less than 10 hectares in size and 69% of which have an economic size of less than €8,000.

But 4 of the 6 companies that dominate the world seed market are European, the largest of which has a sales volume three times greater than the second largest. The market power of the companies in the seed market – which is already highly concentrated – increases when one moves from the conventional seed market to the GMO seed market, and from the GMO seed market to the market for the control of digital sequence information (DSI).

In this context, the strategy of the farmers’ movement, also shared by many environmental movements, can only be articulated on a number of levels. From mobilisation with direct actions of disobedience, such as the mowing of fields sown with GMOs – old or new – to legal action and recourse to the courts, such as the action at the European Court of Justice, which is currently blocking any attempt to avoid applying the current legislation on “new” GMOs (new genomic techniques [NGTs], products with CRISPR or in vitro mutagenesis[1]). In addition, there is the construction of useful legislation to protect the farmers’ seed systems and prevent the cultivation of GMOs (as in Italy, a country with “GMO-free” agriculture since 2000, or in France).

How a society wants its food to be produced is a purely political issue. This is why mobilisation must continue.

More info here and here.

Voice from the field 2

Peasant seed systems and the implementation of farmers’ rights in national legal frameworks – the case of Mali

Alimata Traore, COASP – West African Peasants’ Seeds Committee, Mali

Our farmers’ seeds are freely reproducible and thanks to our practices and know-how, we are able to select them by reseeding them each year in our fields. Thanks to their diversity, they evolve and adapt to our needs, our fields, and our techniques.

Our farmers’ seeds are our identity, they are our life.

Our farmers’ organisations provided information and training on farmers’ rights. After analysing the status of their implementation in our national laws, we held discussions with our government representatives on the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) and Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) focus points.

Together, in 2017, we created a national consultation framework with a mandate to ensure that peasant seed systems and farmers’ rights are recognised and implemented in national legislation. This is chaired by the Ministry of Agriculture and the secretariat is provided by the National Coordination of Farmer Organisation (CNOP). The basis of our proposals was as follows:

1.  A clear definition of the varieties of seeds (including traditional and local).

2.  The recognition of specific regulations that guarantee the quality of our peasant seed systems, and ensure the protection of peasant knowledge through collective rights defined by the community according to its habits and customs.

3.  The right of farmers to sell their seeds without the obligation of registration in the official catalogue.

4.  The right of farmers and their organisations to participate in decision-making with mechanisms to ensure transparency.

5.  Supporting and strengthening farmers’ seed systems, farmers’ seed houses[2], farmers’ seed festivals and markets.

Voice from the field 3

We need diverse livestock breeds to combat future pandemics

Tammi Jonas – Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance

Australian farmers produce 93% of the food we eat, even while exporting some 70% of what is grown, and the export focus is framed within a moralising discourse that Australian agriculture is ‘feeding the world’. Yet, the reality is that exports are directed not to countries suffering widespread food insecurity, but rather the ‘highest value markets in developed economies and to the middle classes in developing countries’.[3]

This productivist paradigm has led to a steady decline in breed diversity in Australia and globally, and in the Global North, 90% of cattle belong to just six breeds, with 20% of livestock breeds at risk of extinction.[4] A decline in breed diversity means a loss of livestock adapted to local conditions and a life on pasture, and also the danger of creating what Rob Wallace calls ‘food for flu’ – because ‘raising vast monocultures removes immunogenetic firebreaks that in more diverse populations cut off transmission booms’.[5] The incidence of COVID-19 globally, Japanese Encephalitis Virus further south in Australia than ever before, and now Foot and Mouth Disease becoming a growing regional threat, make it ever more obvious that we must stop narrowing the genetic diversity of livestock and crowding them in unhealthy conditions.

In Australia, there is a growing movement of smallholders growing heritage and rare breed livestock to reverse this trend, collectivised within the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance (AFSA) and supported in their in situ conservation efforts by the Rare Breeds Trust of Australia. In a pandemic world, moves to conserve and promote diversity at the genetic, species, and ecosystem levels will literally save lives.

Voices from the field 4

Agroecology, agroforestry and community-based forest management: powerful tools for defending peoples’ rights, livelihoods, and the natural assets of forests.[6]

Nuie anak Sumok – Residents’ Association of Sungai Buri, Sarawak, Malasia

Known to her friends as Superwoman for her work ethic, Nuie anak Sumok fights for her family, her community, and the environment by farming on her roadside plot in Sungai Buri, northeast Sarawak, Malaysia.

With the women’s group and the Residents’ Association of Sungai Buri on the northeast coast of Sarawak, we have been strengthening our resistance to the imposition of palm oil monoculture through agroecology, agroforestry and community-based forest management. Through these practices, we have also been reversing the damage caused by this monoculture and forest destruction, and challenging the destructive development model.

We do not have the luxury of planting just one crop, we have to do what is most beneficial for us. And no one can tell us what to do.

We have chilli, pineapple, courgette, bananas, native forest species, daun long… and the forest gives us seeds, fruit trees, other food, water, wood, fuel, shelter, biodiversity, honey, medicine. and animal feed. Also, materials to make our crafts. We do our best to help the community to plant local species of trees.

With sister organisations in Marudi, Long Miri and Long Pilah we set up a seed exchange scheme where different groups collect seeds from their locality – merbau, jelayan, rattan, engkabang, meranti – and fruit trees such as durian and langsat, and our nurseries are enriched.

Through this work we also protect our rights and those of all communities as well as our livelihoods and the natural assets of the forests”.

Voice from the field 5

The Latin American Agroecological Institute under construction and the role of agroecology

Aldo González, IALA Latin American Agroecological Institute, Mexico

Nowadays, more and more young people from Indigenous and peasant communities have the opportunity to study. Many receive scholarships and leave the community to go to university, in most cases the idea of progress gets into their heads: the city offers them modernity, and many do not return, school has taken away their identity.

Faced with this panorama, the organisations that make up La Via Campesina in Mexico decided to set up the Latin American Agroecological Institute (IALA-Mexico), with the aim of going beyond simple technical training. At the IALA we are interested in contributing to the strengthening of struggles in defence of territories, cultural identity, and Food Sovereignty.

For us, agroecology is a way of life, based on principles that recognise that there is a diversity of territories and that these generate a diversity of cultural relations between human beings and nature. This care, rooted in ancestral peasant traditions, is based on common principles that must take into account ecological, cultural, and economic aspects that respect Mother Earth.

These relationships have generated forms of family and community organisation that allow us to survive. For example, the guelaguetza or guzun that is practised among the Zapotec Peoples of Oaxaca, has its similarities among many peoples of Mexico and the world, and is based on reciprocity in order to get the “milpa” ready (as  agricultural fields are called in Mexico), build a house, hold family or community celebrations, etc. The IALA is interested in strengthening these forms of organisation.

Our farming systems, such as shifting cultivation, wrongly called “slash and burn”, are ways of farming that were developed in the past and are important to reclaim from agroecology. Sustaining life in the soil, recycling nutrients, and conserving energy from the local to the global are principles that have been practised in traditional agriculture and that we will continue to promote.

We are heirs to a great biodiversity, as well as the wealth of knowledge associated with it. However, the science produced by our peoples is disqualified by research centres; in spite of this, it is urgent that we establish a dialogue from our own corners with Western science that will allow us to combine the knowledge that we safeguard for the good of humanity and thus generate new knowledge that will be put at the service of the peasants of Mexico and the world.

[1] More info on “new” GMOs, here.

[2] Seed houses in West Africa are places where seeds are collected and sorted, identification sheets are made, storage and conservation techniques are improved, practices are exchanged and training is provided.

[3] Muir 2014: 5

[4] FAO 2019

[5] Wallace, et al. 2021: 195

[6] More information here.


Box 1

Community-based forest management: historical practice for transformation and resistance [1]

Community Forest Management (CFM) is a way of life and a cultural and spiritual – thus historical – practice developed by Indigenous Peoples and local communities to politically control and manage, in an organised and planned way, the land and its natural assets and resources. It is a political process that, through horizontal decision-making mechanisms, including transparency and accountability to the rest of the community, achieves conservation and sustainable use of Nature as well as social, environmental, cultural, and economic benefits.

CFM also involves aspects of appropriate technology, ancestral knowledge, and community practices of planning and organised resource use, but goes beyond simple technical management, such as in so-called sustainable forest management (advocated for by popular forestry science), which often destroys forests and biodiversity in favour of corporations.

CFM is closely linked to Agroecology. They are both broad, holistic, dynamic, and diverse approaches that respond and adapt to the geographical, ecological, and cultural conditions of each territory, its shared goods, and associated traditional knowledge. While agroecology focuses on the central elements of food, such as soils, seeds, goods on which harvesting peoples or artisanal fishing communities depend, waters and fishing or grazing areas, among others, CFM directs its actions towards the other natural and cultural goods managed, used, and protected in forests, such as trees, forest seeds, wood, fibres, fauna, and even the health of the ecosystem.

Box 2

Digitalization of agriculture and food systems

We increasingly hear that the digitalization of all aspects of life is an inevitable future that we must gladly accept. In the case of agriculture and food, there is talk of the ‘Digital Food Chain’ being the only option for solving hunger and climate problems. Digitalization, they say, will enhance agroecology, strengthen communities, and promote independence. In reality, the digitalization of agriculture opens the door to an even more extreme commodification of nature by the same old toxic agribusinesses, now in league with Big Tech giants. This includes the use of digital tools in the design of new transgenic crops, financial speculation relating to the carbon in agricultural soils, and “sustainable intensification”.

The digitalization of agri-food systems is defined as the “application of digital tools, strategies and business models to food and agriculture.” But this innocent-sounding definition hides the fact that increasing dependence on Big Tech’s digital tools can exacerbate corporate extractivism and displace human labour; that digital strategies are built on the looting of information, spying on communities and manipulating consumers; and that digital business models are about achieving more control of biodiversity and production systems and human de-skilling, through data grabbing and automated and digital processing technologies (from robots to artificial intelligence). Corporations’ aim is to be in control of what is grown, how the harvest is processed and who gets to eat it, and what is destroyed in the process.

It is important to measure the immense number of people and families who carry out agroecology within the framework of the CFM in order to reaffirm the importance of forests for the right to food.

[1] Article based on the Friends of the Earth International article, Community Forest Management and Agroecology. Links and Implications.

In the spotlight

In the spotlight 1

Agricultural biodiversity and agroecology: peasants, families, artisans and Indigenous People’s relationship with nature

Peasants, farmers, pastoralists, forest dwelling people, artisanal fisherfolk, Indigenous Peoples and other small-scale rural and urban food providers are considered a part of our global biodiversity. According to many ancestral worldviews, nature, Mother Earth, maintains a mutual nurturing relationship with human beings as a family – we are not separate from her. This ancestral relationship of mutual interaction shapes our existence in a type of “co-evolution”. Peasant practices that care for our biodiversity are not only determined by food and material needs, but also by spirituality, culture, health, and emotion.

Despite the pressures associated with modernisation, where traditional worldviews and practices are still in place, biodiversity continues to respond to this mutual nurturing. In places where these practices had been lost and are now being reclaimed, biodiversity is being revived in new forms. These practices and the caring of farming communities and families – the systems of knowledge of small-scale food providers – are at the heart of what the international community refers to as “biodiversity”.

This agricultural biodiversity supports – and is the fruit of – ancestral peasant strategies for subsistence, health, and autonomy. It manifests the creativity and knowledge of peasants and their relationship with the natural environment. As a tapestry of dynamic relationships, agricultural biodiversity embodies a constantly changing mosaic between people, plants, animals, and other organisms, water, the forest, and the “environment”. Agricultural biodiversity can be seen as the result of the interaction – in all ecosystems and over thousands of years – of cultural diversity and biological diversity.

Some agricultural production systems exhibit an extraordinary variety of crops, animals, and associated species. Small-scale food providers not only develop and sustain most of the planet’s biodiversity, they also provide most of its food.

Despite the challenges posed by the powerful trend towards the homogenisation of lifestyles and food habits, and the strains on territories, there are significant local actions of resistance. There are a wide range of initiatives such as improving the diversity of household gardens in rural and urban areas, undertaking agroecological cultivation, restoring mangroves, developing sustainable fishing protocols, and managing waters. These and other practices contribute to promoting food and nutritional sovereignty, and conserving and protecting ecosystem functions.

Peasant-led, agroecological agriculture, practised by small-scale food producers, is an essential tool for building Food Sovereignty and defending Mother Earth. Communities committed to producing food for themselves and others in an independent, non-corporate way know that caring for biodiversity and practising agroecology is a way of life and is the language of nature. It is not a mere combination of technologies or production practices, nor is it universally applicable in all territories.

Agroecology is based on principles that are similar everywhere, but which require specific features and careful respect for the local environment and culture. Thus, agricultural biodiversity is fundamental to autonomy and agroecology. The food autonomy that a peasant agroecology allows for displaces the control of global markets and promotes collective self-governance.

In this way, Indigenous Peoples and peasant communities reduce the consumption of purchased products, which come from outside. As the people who feed the world, having control over their native seeds is fundamental to Food Sovereignty. Millennia-old connections between people and crops perpetuate innovation, research, selection and breeding of their own crops and livestock. Communities like this do not produce raw materials or commodities for export, but are the ones who produce the majority of food, and care for biodiversity and territories.

Fundamental to this is:

● Respecting the collective rights of everyone who maintain and enhance peasant agricultural and food biodiversity, and uphold their knowledge and the integrity of their crops through the use of agro-ecological principles and the exchange, breeding, and above all self-reproduction of their own seeds, livestock breeds, and fish.

● Strengthening our interconnected and collective rural-urban food systems and networks and local markets, promoting agricultural biodiversity and agroecology.

● Promoting comprehensive agrarian reform.

● And the most important thing is to promote and ensure the self-determination of rural and urban peoples, communities, and collectives that care for biodiversity and the integrity of their territories, and ultimately a life of justice and dignity.

Food Sovereignty, a healthy environment, and above all our future, depend on it all.

In the spotlight 2

Biodiversity’s planned dispossession

The Green Revolution established the ascent of corporations in their push for control over the growing of food. It urged peasants in different parts of the world to boost “agricultural productivity in what is today the global South”. The promoters said they were concerned with “filling hungry stomachs”, and insisted that traditional agriculture was redundant.

Corporate executives and government policy makers disregarded the enormous amount of work, and the centuries-long continuity involved in the careful relationship peoples have with Nature, with their land, forests, and waters, with seeds and their infinite transformation. This relationship is responsible for “the incredible biodiversity and cultural prowess that brought us crops like wheat, maize, rice and potatoes”.[1]

The promoters of the Green Revolution replaced all the above with “radically standardised, so-called high-yielding types. The new seeds, as farmers would come to learn, required a package of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, and irrigation to grow well”.[2]

Of course, all this move was not taken lightly and “met deep resistance from peasant farmers, local communities and civil society at large”.[3]

But although there was resistance, the damage was done. The era of research institutes assuming the role of international agricultural crop and seed developers substituted the millenary knowledge and strategies of thousands of real life agricultural communities in the world and pushed a corporate narrative that is still in place: that peasants do not know what they do, that their cultivation strategies are wrong, that their yields are extremely poor. This opened space for hybrids and even GMOs. The effects were devastating for the peasant population and for small farmers. For anyone that relied on native seeds and traditional methods of growing food or taking care of their animals.

Industrial agriculture went to impose techno-fixes to raise the yields with a lot of agrochemical toxic substances involved. It diminished the varieties and even the species involved in growing food, and the livestock breeds that before were normal.

According to FAO’s figures, since the 1900, some 75 percent of plant genetic diversity “has been lost as farmers worldwide have left their multiple local varieties and landraces for genetically uniform, high-yielding varieties… Today, 75 percent of the world’s food is generated from only 12 plants and five animal species”.[4]

The Green Revolution is not the only culprit, although there were huge sudden losses during its implementation. Free trade agreements, intellectual property rights, the incisive attitude of contract farming, luxury fashions in export crops (berries, avocados, agaves, tomatoes, and other greenhouse varieties) are also to blame. Now synthetic biology wants to substitute the whole agricultural process.

Resisting industrial agriculture and its monocultures involves enormous efforts if communities want to remain independent. But it is crucial for biodiversity to stop these schemes.

In the spotlight 3

Nature Based Solutions: a corporate smokescreen that won’t stop biodiversity loss

The concept of Nature Based Solutions arose from large conservation organisations as a way to promote funding for their vision of protected areas. Despite using the word “nature”, the vision of NBS promotes the idea of “natural capital” i.e., a capitalist approach of paying for services provided by ecosystems. This often goes hand in hand with the commodification and financialisation of nature.

More recently, the driving force of NBS comes from the need for nature to be a climate solution. This is driven by the escalation of so called “net-zero” climate targets where the “net” is carbon emitted minus the carbon removed from the atmosphere. So, trees, soils, and lands are needed to provide carbon offsets and carbon removals to enable fossil fuels, agribusiness and other corporations to expand their emissions and extraction heavy plans. This comes with several dangers: land grabbing, further commodification of carbon and nature, enclosures of land, failure to stop climate chaos and the destruction of nature. It can also allow corporations to profit from new nature based market schemes.

Just the scale of land required for NBS to be a climate solution is a danger for biodiversity. The most influential paper on ‘Natural climate solutions’[5] advanced the claim that “nature based solutions”[6] could help mitigate up to 37% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The calculations in the paper on closer inspection appear to be technically problematic, implausible, and politically unrealistic.[7] For example, it suggests that an area of 678 million hectares is potentially available for reforestation. This is twice the area of India, or more than two-thirds of the United States! The paper also suggests up to 10 million hectares of new tree plantations, to make NBS profitable and therefore worthwhile for companies to pursue.

Even if only a fraction of the corporate net zero pledges are pursued through “nature based solutions”, it will significantly deepen and expand corporate control over land. This is because of the sheer scale of emissions released by the corporations and therefore the need for them to find forests and lands to claim they are offsetting their emissions.

NBS is a vaguely defined term with very little political analysis behind it. Therefore, anything can be defined as a nature based solutions, from monoculture plantations to agroecology. Brazilian company Suzano, the biggest producer of pulp is just one of those taking advantage of vaguely defined NBS to promote their genetically engineered plantations as achieving nature based solutions to climate change.

Conservation organisations and corporations are also rebranding discredited REDD+ schemes which do not value the role of local communities and Indigenous Peoples in managing forests and have caused huge divisions, and displacement of forest communities as NBS.

[1] GRAIN, Funding industrial agriculture vs agroecology: not a simple binary

[2] Ibidem.

[3] All the above passage is in the blog by GRAIN.

[4] FAO, What is happening to agrobiodiversity

[5]  Griscom et al, 2017. Natural climate solutions, PNAS, October 31, 2017. vol. 114. no. 44. 11645–11650.

[6]  The Nature Conservancy calls them Natural Climate Solutions

[7] REDD-Monitor. Offsetting fossil fuel emissions with tree planting and ‘natural climate solutions’: science, magical thinking, or pure PR? , 2019

Newsletter no 49 – Editorial

Food sovereignty and agrobiodiversity

Illustration: Colour drawing on amate bark-paper by the artist Abraham Mauricio Salazar. Reproduced for informational purposes from the book El ciclo mágico de los días, by Abraham Mauricio Salazar and Antonio Saldívar. CONAFE, Mexico, 1979.

At a time when the media is sounding the alarm on high prices and shortages due to the war in Europe, even if there is not always an exact correlation, we are once again questioning the information that places large corporations as the suppliers of most of our food. Anchored to this fabricated image, the industrial agri-food system pushes a new assault on agriculture with the digitalisation of its processes, promotes “carbon sequestration” based on so-called “nature-based solutions”, continues its drive to control and regulate supply chains to benefit its interests, and even seeks to supplant the attempts of peasants in many parts of the world by sponsoring an “agroecology” that is now promoted by the same corporations and investment funds that for centuries have stripped peasants of the possibilities of an independent agriculture.

We are therefore committed to defending our Food Sovereignty: the possibility of being able to reproduce our seeds on our terms and in our spaces, i.e., in full freedom, and to maintain our total independence in producing our own food. For this, it will remain crucial to challenge land grabbing and to insist on autonomy and on the defence of peasant and Indigenous territories and even urban spaces of popular self-management within neighbourhoods.

IPC for Food Sovereignty, FoEI and GRAIN

Voices from the field

Latin America and Caribbean – Alianza

The nights are sacred for the gatherings of my Kuna people in Panama. There, we nourish ourselves with oral history, with the struggles for self-determination of other peoples. There, we embrace the universe, and organize ourselves in the defence of Mother Earth. Nyéléni is the Peoples’ Assembly for Food Sovereignty, where we share global struggles, feed ourselves with the strength of the people and the embrace of our sisters and brothers from other continents. For over 500 years the problems have remained the same. The struggle for life, water, territory, have other names and other forms, but continue to be the same problems that each generation must face with new strategies and tactics. The Nyéléni process is an opportunity for coordination between diverse organizations focused on the defence of Mother Earth and the Food Sovereignty of the peoples. Now, it is extremely important to weave alliances and organizational work in the face of the threat of megaprojects and extractive projects, as well as to define strategies to overcome the impacts of COVID 19.

As with every starry night, with or without the moon, with the sea choppy and storms approaching, the Kuna communities discuss how to solve social, cultural or spiritual problems in the same way that the Nyéléni process is a moment in time to gather the peoples of the world, to sing, to dance, to dream, to understand that we are part of Mother Earth, of Grandmother Sea, of Grandfather Sun and they call us from their shells to start a conversation around the fire, between social movements and Indigenous Peoples, to organize ourselves in the defence of Mother Earth.

Europe and Central Asia – Nyéléni ECA

Our world, including Europe and Central Asia, is undergoing a series of inter-related crises: armed conflicts and civil unrest associated with humanitarian crisis caused by war and political instability in many parts of our region. It is an economic crisis that manifests itself in food and energy price increases, and increased vulnerabilities related to loss of employment, access to healthy affordable food, the on-going COVID 19 pandemic, and the on-going climate crisis. The latest crisis is the war in Ukraine, which affects both people and the land, and impacts food security policies in the region and beyond. This crisis has shown us the level of local communities’ resilience and the importance of local food systems and of the central role of the Nyéléni space, allowing different constituencies to come together in solidarity and to work on policies related to our struggles.

Just like Nyéléni, the legendary Malian peasant woman who farmed and fed her people, small-scale food producers (farmers and fishers alike) in Ukraine, courageously struggle to continue feeding local populations in times of war, including the recent destruction of the national seed bank. But little is written about this, nor is much support provided to them.

The war also contributes to the aggravation of longer-term issues such as climate change. The majority of women and children in several regions are either internally displaced or have sought refuge in European countries. While in Russia, Indigenous Peoples and human rights defenders continue to be repressed.

The Nyéléni process implies a duality of influencing public policies at all levels and independent social movement-building. Social movements of the various constituencies are brought together through this work in intersectional support. The process also includes a broader, more intersectional, and much-needed approach to address the deep multiple crises of economic, social, and environmental issues around the world.

IPC African region

As the national government and private sector continue tightening the space for the family farmer to produce what they eat and eat what they produce by the introduction of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides, this destroys the environment. The Nyéléni processes support the promotion of agroecological approaches which encourages socially acceptable, economically viable, and environmentally friendly production while also protecting the natural environment. This approach ensures the promotion and protection of biodiversity conservation. The process further discourages the corporate powers that prevent our family accessing territorial markets with their cheap food and food that puts our health at risk and damages the environment. food sovereignty cannot be obtained where food, land, seeds, fish and livestock are in the hands of corporate control.

The Nyéléni process helps to prevent the privatisation and commodification of native seeds from the introduction and use of new and old GMOs in our farming and food system. We are continuing to face land grabbing by corporate powers, corporate capture of our territorial markets, and challenges created by climate change and other external factors such as COVID 19 and other conflicts.

We believe that the Nyéléni process can support the social movements on the ground in strengthening and promoting collaboration and participation in regional policy dialogues where changes in national public policies happen. The stimulation of movements and the intersectionality of struggles can help in promoting land justice, agroecology, and territorial markets. Together we can enhance advocacy on land, seeds, and water for small-scale food producers.


In the North African region, food sovereignty is commonly understood as a tool for democratisation that can provide major support to rural populations in order to include demands relating to the various threats identified. In this case, water contamination, privatisation of rural land, and the commodification of our food. In contrast, in the Middle East region, food sovereignty is seen more from a political perspective, particularly because of the people’s aspirations for the liberation of occupied and/or semi-occupied territories. The new context today calls, more than ever, for a synergy between the discourse and practice of food sovereignty in order to implement the principles in the daily work of the actors involved in the production, distribution and consumption of food.

It should be noted that the past Nyéléni meetings presented a strategic vision for achieving food sovereignty that recognises the contribution of women to peasant agriculture, yet these documents do not take into consideration the issue of gender relations.

On the other hand, food sovereignty must be understood as a multifaceted political project in constant evolution, whose substance is highly likely to vary according to the type of collective actors who claim it. In this sense, the Nyéléni process can support social movements in the MENA region to strengthen the convergence among movements of different constituencies. This is key to ensuring the development of the capacities of the social movements via the capacity building of the movements’ youth and leaders around food sovereignty.

IPC Asia and Pacific

Asia and the Pacific, home to 60% of the world’s population, is faced with a multitude of challenges in terms of food sovereignty.

All around the world, over 2.5 billion small-scale farmers, pastoralists, forest dwellers and artisanal fisherfolk grow, collect, and harvest food for human consumption. Such localised food systems provide the foundations of our nutrition, incomes, economies, and culture throughout Asia and in the world.

The COVID 19 pandemic is exacerbating pre-existing challenges to food security such as climate change impacts, disaster risks, shrinking natural resources and degrading environments, use of GMOs, changing demographics and labour profiles, and infrastructure deficits, among others. In the context of growing populations, increasing urbanization, and changes in the food value chain and food industry, the food sovereignty debate is quite crucial.

Local people’s loss of capacity for autonomy and self-determination is a direct consequence of the expansion of the industrial, heteronomous model of development rooted in commodity production. We as IPC need to collectively assert and advance the principles and policies that constitute food sovereignty and reject those that aim to further embed corporate interests in our food systems.

The notion of ‘food sovereignty’ is perhaps best understood as a transformative process that seeks to recreate the democratic realm and regenerate a diversity of autonomous food systems based on equity, social justice, and ecological sustainability.

Gender equity and respecting the voices of the very poor and marginalised remain urgent challenges for the food sovereignty movement and civil society at large. The Nyéléni process can strengthen the organizations of women, men and young people, Indigenous Peoples, farmers, pastoralists, forest dwellers, migrants, rural workers, fisherfolk and others.

IPC North American region

On April 5 and 12, 2022 the U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance (USFSA) organized two online consultations for the North America region (United States and Canada) as part of the Nyéléni process. The dialogues brought together a diverse range of small-scale food producers, rural worker organizations, Indigenous and Native Peoples, scholar-activists, and civil society organizations to discuss the future of the food sovereignty movement and build common priorities for navigating the inter-related food system crises in the region.

Over the past two years, COVID 19 has laid bare the fragility of concentrated corporate food value-chains in North America, with farmers forced to dump milk and destroy crops, workers falling sick due to lack of protective equipment and corporate collusion, and rising food insecurity in marginalized communities. These challenges, coupled with mobilizations against racial injustice and the impacts of the climate crisis on rural communities, have shaped new opportunities for farmer-worker solidarity and union organizing, greater awareness and investment in resilient local food systems, and policy action on equity and justice in agriculture. In this context consultation participants emphasized anti-capitalist, racially just, anti-imperialist, and radically feminist approaches to organizing around land access, dismantling corporate monopolies, advancing agroecology, the right to food, and strengthening indigenous sovereignty.

Since the first forum in Mali in 2007, the political declarations and relationships that have emerged from Nyéléni have shaped the direction and strength of the food sovereignty movement in North America and solidarity actions beyond the region. As this collective work continues, the Nyéléni process provides a dynamic forum for building rural power within and across our communities as we advance the principles of food sovereignty in our local food systems and international policy spaces.


Box 1

The Right to Food Sovereignty

The International Forum on Food Sovereignty in Sélingué, Mali in February 2007 was the beginning of the Nyéléni journey to build a global movement for food sovereignty. The concept of food sovereignty was introduced by La Via Campesina (LVC) in the 1996 International Food Summit a year after the establishment of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), with its infamous agreements on agriculture, intellectual property rights, industrial policy, standards, and investment. Social movements, unions, activists, and academics knew that “food security” and “development” were smokescreens to camouflage the expansion of corporate power that WTO rules were designed for.  The call for food sovereignty was thus, as much a rejection of corporate, market domination of food, agriculture, and the economy, as it was a rallying cry for people all over the world to reclaim agency, autonomy and capacity to build a paradigm of progress centred on human rights, justice and respect for the planet.

As the concept gained support from a wide array of actors including the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, LVC joined hands with other social movements and civil society actors to convene an autonomous and international forum to elaborate on food sovereignty for different constituencies and regions, based on diverse, lived experiences and contexts.

The first Nyéléni forum brought together more than 500 representatives from over 80 countries and numerous constituencies to share knowledge and discuss the multiple dimensions of food sovereignty, from land and water to seeds, breeding, and labour, recognizing the central role of women. These deliberations are summarised in the Declaration of Nyéléni and the Women’s Declaration on Food Sovereignty. At Nyéléni in 2007, we started to construct a new right: the right to food sovereignty.

Box 2

Global alliance against land-grabbing

In November 2011, we, peasants, pastoralists, Indigenous peoples and their allies gathered together in Nyéléni to share our experiences and struggles against land-grabbing with each other. We came to Nyéléni in response to the Dakar Appeal, which calls for a global alliance against land-grabbing for we are determined to defend food sovereignty, the commons and the rights of small scale food providers to natural resources.

In this meeting, we clearly identified that land-grabbing is a global phenomenon led by local, national, and transnational elites and investors, and governments with the aim of controlling the world’s most precious resources. The global financial, food, and climate crises have triggered a rush among investors and wealthy governments to acquire and capture land and natural resources, since these are the only “safe havens” left that guarantee secure financial returns. Pensions and other investment funds have become powerful actors in land-grabbing, while wars continue to be waged to seize control over natural wealth.

Land-grabbing goes beyond traditional North-South imperialist structures; transnational corporations can be based anywhere in the world. It is also a crisis in both rural and urban areas. Land is being grabbed in Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe for industrial agriculture, forest plantations, mining, infrastructure projects, dams, tourism, conservation parks, industry, urban expansion, and military purposes.

But we are not defeated. Through organisation, mobilisation, and community cohesiveness, we have been able to stop land-grabbing in many places. Furthermore, our societies are recognising that small-scale food production is the most socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable model of using resources and ensuring the right to food for all.

Recalling the Dakar Appeal, we reiterate our commitment to resist land-grabbing by all means possible, to support all those who fight land-grabs, and to put pressure on national governments and international institutions to fulfil their obligations to ensure and uphold the rights of peoples.

Box 3

International forum for agroecology – Nyéléni 2015

At the end of February 2015, organisations and social movements of small-scale food producers, workers, women, Indigenous Peoples, consumers, environmentalists, and human rights organisations met at the Nyéléni Forum to agree on a common multi-sectoral vision on agroecology and strategies to defend and promote it.

Agroecology, it was agreed, is a way of life, a way of producing food, a science, and a movement to transform food systems for food sovereignty and social, racial, gender, economic, intergenerational, and environmental justice. It is based on similar principles that are implemented in diverse ways across a wide diversity of territories.

It was also agreed that the fundamental pillars of agroecology are: solidarity; local territories and the right of peoples and communities to preserve the spiritual and material links to them; collective rights and access to the commons; organisation and collective action; and the different knowledge and ways of knowing of our peoples, and the Dialogue of knowledge (Diálogo de saberes) as a way to develop, innovate and research.

The forum made it clear that agroecology seeks to transform power structures in society, so that the people control seeds, biodiversity, land and territories, water, knowledge, culture, and other common goods, and ensure a collective way forward to overcome crises.

The forum is a central milestone of the movement, and its agreements are a driving force for the broadening of alliances for the promotion and defence of agroecology and food sovereignty. Read more here.