For a New Agrarian Reform based on Food Sovereignty!

First Manifesto/Call of Social Movements and Civil Society toward the “Land, Territory and Dignity” Forum, Porto Alegre, March 6-9, 2006

We are representatives of organizations of peasants, family farmers, indigenous peoples, landless peoples, artisanal fisherfolk, rural workers, migrants, pastoralists, forest dwellers, rural women, rural youth, and defenders of human rights, rural development, the environment, and others. We come from the whole world, and we are preparing to participate in our Forum in Porto Alegre, and we are determined to defend our dignity.

We call on our governments, on the FAO (with its founding mandate), on the rest of the United Nations system, and on the other actors who will be present in the International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ICARRD), and on our societies, to commit themselves to carrying out a New Agrarian Reform based on Food Sovereignty as the paradigm and fundamental strategy, which guarantees us, as peasants, family farmers, indigenous peoples, fisherfolk, pastoralists, landless peoples, rural workers and other rural communities, the effective access and control over natural and productive resources (land, water, air, forests, fishing areas, seeds, biodiversity, etc.) that we need to truly realize our human rights.

Food Sovereignty and Agrarian Reform

Food sovereignty includes policies concerning fair and equitable access to, and control over, natural and productive resources (including credit, appropriate technology, etc.) by peasants, indigenous peoples, fisherfolk, pastoralists and other rural communities; rural development policies using agroecological strategies based on peasant and family agriculture, and on artisanal fishing; trade and commerce policies that prevent dumping and that favor production by peasants and indigenous peoples for local, regional and national markets; and complementary public sector policies in health, education and appropriate infrastructure for rural areas.

Food sovereignty is based on the human rights to food, to self-determination, on indigenous rights to territory, and on the rights of rural peoples to produce food for local and national markets; as well as on the positive and negative lessons learned from past and on-going reforms. Food sovereignty defends agriculture with farmers, fisheries with fisherfolk, forestry with forest communities, and pastures with pastoralists…

In the context of food sovereignty, agrarian reform is seen as benefiting not just rural peoples, but rather all of society, providing affordable, healthy and culturally appropriate food, and social justice. True agrarian reform can put an end to the massive and forced rural exodus from the countryside to the city, which has made cities grow at unsustainable rates and under inhuman conditions; would help provide a life with dignity for all members of our societies; would open the way toward a more broad-based and inclusive local, regional and national economic development, that benefits the majority of the population; and could put an end to unsustainable practices of intensive monoculture that make wasteful use of water and poison our land and water with chemicals, and of industrial fishing that over-exploits and exhausts our fishing grounds and leaves the sea without life. For all these reasons, agrarian reform is not just needed in the so-called “developing countries,” but also in Northern, so-called “developed” countries.

Agrarian reform is a centerpiece of food sovereignty. It should consist of redistribution — without indebting its beneficiaries — of good quality land and/or other productive resources, to landless and land-poor peoples, and of the restitution and/or defense of the territories of indigenous peoples, and which at the same time respects our cultural diversity and meets the demands and rights of diverse actors, including women, men and young people, peasant and family farm communities and organizations, indigenous peoples, nomadic pastoralists, artisanal fisherfolk, forest-dwellers, rural workers, migrants, colonists on the agricultural frontier, and others, This genuine, integral and original agrarian reform should consider both collective and individual rights, and should be based on the organizations, knowledge, and self-management of rural peoples themselves. It should guarantee the control over natural resources (land, water, fishing areas, seeds, forests, biodiversity, etc.) by peasants, indigenous peoples, artisanal fisherfolk, pastoralists and other food producing rural communities, making it impossible to evict them from their means of livelihood in favor of industrial agriculture and fishing, mining, commercial enterprises or tourism, as has sadly been the case under neoliberal policies and structural adjustment programs, both in the South and in the North of our planet.

Recognizing the Concept of Territory

We use this opportunity to forcefully affirm our support and acceptance of the concept of TERRTORY as used by indigenous peoples, and which refers to the totality of the habitat of the regions occupied or utilized by peoples, and includes diverse aspects such as land, sub-soil resources, forests, water, air, wildlife, nature, local seed varieties, etc.; and the spiritual, cultural and political relationships of peoples with their land, including history, ancestors, sacred places, the community, family, and dignity. The new agrarian reform should be “territorial” in this sense, providing peoples and communities with their territories, and/or defending their territories, with collective rights over land and resources.

On Women and Youth

We recognize the fundamental role of women in agriculture and in the use and management of natural resources. There can be no genuine agrarian reform without gender equity, thus we demand and we commit ourselves to ensuring that women receive full equality of opportunities and rights to land and natural resources, and that past discrimination against rural women and the social disadvantages they have faced be redressed. We also recognize that without young people who stay in the countryside there is no future for our societies. The new agrarian reform must give priority both to women’s’ rights and to guaranteeing a future with dignity for today’s rural youth.

Privatization of the Seas and the Land, Counter-Agrarian Reforms, Neoliberal Policies for Land and Access to Resources, and the Dominant Model of Production and Development

We will continue to resist the neoliberal polices imposed by the World Bank and other actors, and implemented by our governments, with all our ability. These destructive policies include so-called land administration, cadastre, delimitation, titling and parceling of lands, and the policies of decollectivization, all with the goal of privatization of land in individual hands; the promotion of markets for buying, selling and renting of lands, “land banks,” the end of land distribution programs; the return of reformed lands to former landlords, the reconcentration of land; the privatization of water, the sea, seeds, forests, fishing areas, and other resources, as well as services of extension, credit, transport and marketing, roads, healthcare, education, etc., and the dismantling of public sector support for peasant production and the marketing of their products. We roundly oppose the introduction of transgenic seeds and the suicide or “terminator” seed technology, that expropriates control over seeds from rural communities and transfers it to a handful of transnational corporations.

By the same token, we will continue to resist the dominant model of production and development, with its processes of neoliberal globalization, the transformation and insertion of farming, fishing and forestry into the production chains of transnational corporations, industrial agriculture, forestry and fisheries (contract production, export monocultures, plantations, big-boat fishing, biofuels, genetic engineering and GMOs, nanotechnology, etc.), and the displacement of rural peoples by agribusiness and large-scale monoculture, so-called “nature reserves,” tourism projects, so-called “reconstruction” after natural disasters and wars, green neolberalisms (ecotourism, biopiracy, payment for environmental services, etc.), and the trade and financial polices that drive further exodus and destruction in the countryside (WTO, FTAs, CAP, Farm Bill, International Financial Flows, etc.).

We extend a warm and fraternal greeting to all who individually or collectively resist the dominant model of production. We will struggle for the rights and dignity of all who have been or are being displaced by these evil processes, for the migrants and for the rural workers. We are building concrete alternatives, day by day, to a socially unjust and environmentally unsustainable model.

No to Repression, Militarization, Military Occupation, the so-called “War against Terrorism,” and the Labeling of our Movements as Criminal!

We raise our voices to denounce the repression that we face, that any person who fights for agrarian reform faces, in almost all countries–in the Americas as in Asia, in Europe, in Africa. We denounce the militarization and military occupation that displaces our peoples from our territories, the so-called “war against terrorism” that serves as a pretext to repress us, and the criminalization (labeling us as “criminals”) of our movements. To fight for our rights and dignity is an obligation; and it is our human right to do so.

On Land Occupations, and the Recovery and Defense of Territories

We defend our actions of land occupation and the recuperation and active defense of our land, territories, seeds, forests, fishing grounds, housing, etc. If our day-by-day experience in the struggle for human dignity has taught us anything, it is that direct actions like land occupations, and recuperations and active defense of territories, are absolutely necessary in order to move governments to fulfill their obligations and implement effective policies and programs of agrarian reform. We pledge to keep carrying out these non-violent actions for as long as is necessary to achieve a world with social justice, which gives each and everyone the real possibility of having a life with dignity.

We find ourselves in this Forum having come from all over the world to share our experiences in struggle, our strategies, our specificities, and our willingness to build together a broad, common and effective way to defend “Land, Territory and Dignity,” that is, to defend our lives and the human right of every one of us, women men and young people, to adequate, quality and culturally appropriate food, without dangerous substances,

Land for Life, Land for Dreams, Land to Affirm our Dignity, NOW!