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Newsletter no 20 - In the Spotlight 3

Wednesday 3 December 2014, by Manu

Transformation made possible:
Agroecology, a popular, solidarity-based economic model

Is it possible to think about another way of doing economics, a way which goes beyond the hegemonic model of production-distribution-exchange-consumption of foodstuffs at a global level, characterized supply chains controlled by a few large transnational corporations which exclude other actors and retain the majority of the profits?

Can this model, this agro-mining-export model cohabit with an economy based on principles of cooperation, reciprocity, autonomy, justice and solidarity - an economy which progressively redistributes means of production which have been concentrated in the hands of a few: land, capital, technology and access to knowledge?

Can openings be made in this dominant economic model to build another economy based on exchange and restitution – in place of extraction – between society and nature, on collective responsibility and on forms of collective, community, mixed, public and other types of property different from private property, which remains the basic principle of the rights system in capitalist societies?

It is only possible to think of building “another economy” if we obtain People’s Food Sovereignty – and to achieve this there is no other route but Agroecology. Family farmers, peasants and indigenous peoples have developed another way of thinking and living which make Agroecology possible – from the production to the system of values and social relations which exist behind the food we eat. We need agriculture and food policies which distribute equitably and build politically from the level of local markets – there is no Food Security for People unless there is Sovereignty and respect for their cultures.

The peasant farmers and practitioners of Agroecology of MAELA (Agroecological Movement of Latin America and the Caribbean) and its organisations have developed, in the last two decades, diverse forms of socio-economic and productive organisation based on the right to life which is permanently violated by the existing dominant economic system. This process has made us aware that the production, sales, distribution and access to foodstuffs are part of a political process of interactions, a cause for individual and collective rights which can bring dignity to life in the field as well as in the city.

From the local to the global and in that order of priority, actions are conceived and developed to open breaches in this commodifying system for food:
Creating local agroecological markets with identities which build direct links between producers and consumers at the same time as providing a space of political and social exchange and information and which generate labels or alternative guarantee systems;
Fortifying traditional peasant markets through the defence of their cultural identity and the restitution of the productive agroecological peasant identity;
Generating agreements with urban actors for the development of healthy and equitable peasant agrifood systems;
• Creatively building methods of regional and international exchange with an agroecological identity, through solidarity channels north-south, south-south, or peasant to peasant;
• Implementing diverse strategies for avoiding the entry of peasants into traditional value chains which are controlled by and at the service of national elites and transnational corporations.
These systems and processes have allowed us to live an agroecological revolution, based on social, economic, cultural and organisational pillars to reach people’s Food Sovereignty.