Preparations for the opening of Nyeleni 2007-Forum for Food Sovereignty are complete. It is expected that more than 500 delegates from organizations of peasants, women, indigenous communities, fisherfolk, shepherds, etc. from all over the world will take part in the event, which will run from 23 to 27 February in Selingue, a village in rural Mali, 140 km from Bamako, the capital.
The press conference to introduce the Forum to the local and regional media was held this morning, 21 February, attended by representatives of regional and international peasants’ and women’s social movements. Alberto Gomez, leader of the Mexican peasant organization UNORCA and a member of Via Campesina’s International Coordination Committee, set out the political objectives of the Forum: the creation of common strategies in the fight for the right to food sovereignty, a fight which, as Gomez pointed out, includes defending peasant agriculture and confronting the industrialized, export-oriented agriculture of the multinationals. According to Gomez: “in order to achieve food sovereignty it is essential to promote public policies that foster peasant and family agriculture and combat social exclusion”.
The director of Friends of the Earth Swaziland, Thuli Makama, said that Nyeleni 2007-Forum for Food Sovereignty is a process and an opportunity for organizations of women, peasants, fisherfolk, etc. to engage in debate and establish working strategies in favour of food sovereignty. Makama explained the seven themes on which the Forum is based and said that the most important element in all of them will be “the local control of resources, which will determine food sovereignty”.
On 22 February, immediately before the Forum begins, a meeting of women was held in Selingue coordinated by the World March of Women with the aim of discussing common strategies and contributions in favour of food sovereignty. Nana Aicha Cisse, coordinator of the World March of Women and Secretary of CAFO, the Coordination of Feminist Organizations of Mali, introduced the day-long meeting, stressing the need to articulate the struggle and the defence of natural resources (seed, land, water, etc.) as humankind’s inheritance.
Finally, the coordinator of ROPPA, the Network of Peasant Organizations and Producers in West Africa, Magha Mohamoud, pointed to the Structural Adjustment Policies promoted by the World Bank and the IMF as the main culprits responsible for the food dependency of countries in the region, causing the break-up and privatization of basic services. Mohamud [sic]defended the food capacity of the countries of the South to provide for their own peoples.
Esther Vivas 21 February 2007