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Nyeleni newsletter - Now is the time for food sovereignty!

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Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It puts the aspirations and needs of those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations. (…) Declaration of Nyeleni.

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Newsletter no 28 - In the spotlight 1

Edited excerpts from

Declaration of the International Forum for Agroecology

- Nyéléni, Mali, 27 February 2015

We are delegates representing diverse organizations and international movements of small-scale food producers and consumers, including peasants, indigenous peoples, communities, hunters and gatherers, family farmers, rural workers, herders and pastoralists, fisherfolk and urban people. Together, the diverse constituencies our organizations represent produce some 70% of the food consumed by humanity. They are the primary global investors in agriculture, as well as the primary providers of jobs and livelihoods in the world.

In 2007 many of us gathered here at Nyéléni, at the Forum for Food Sovereignty… Similarly, We gather here at the Agroecology Forum 2015 to enrich Agroecology through dialogue between diverse food producing peoples, as well as with consumers, urban communities, women, youth, and others. Today our movements, organized globally and regionally in the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC), have taken a new and historic step.

Building on the past looking to the future
Our ancestral production systems have been developed over millennia, and during the past 30 to 40 years this has come to be called agroecology. Our agroecology includes successful practices and production…we have developed sophisticated theoretical, technical and political constructions.

Our diverse forms of smallholder food production based on agroecology generate local knowledge, promote social justice, nurture identity and culture, and strengthen the economic viability of rural areas.

Agroecology means that we stand together in the circle of life, and this implies that we must also stand together in the circle of struggle against land grabbing and the criminalization of our movements.

Overcoming multiple crises
The industrial food system is a key driver of the multiple crises of climate, food, the environment, public health and others. Free trade and corporate investment agreements, investorstate dispute settlement agreements, and false solutions such as carbon markets, and the growing financialization of land and food, etc., all further aggravate these crises.

We see agroecology as a key form of resistance to an economic system that puts profit before life.

Agroecology at a crossroads
Popular pressure has caused many multilateral institutions, governments, universities and research centers, some NGOs, corporations and others, to finally recognize “agroecology”. However, they have tried to redefine it as a narrow set of technologies, to offer some tools that appear to ease the sustainability crisis of industrial food production, while the existing structures of power remain unchallenged. This co-optation of agroecology to fine-tune the industrial food system, while paying lip service to the environmental discourse, has various names, including “climate smart agriculture”, “sustainable-” or “ecologicalintensification”, industrial monoculture production of “organic” food, etc. For us, these are not agroecology : we reject them, and we will fight to expose and block this insidious appropriation of agroecology.

The real solutions… will not come from conforming to the industrial model. We must transform it and build our own local food systems that create new rural-urban links, based on truly agroecological food production by peasants, artisanal fishers, pastoralists, indigenous peoples, urban farmers, etc…we see [agroecology] as the essential alternative to the industrial model, and as the means of transforming how we produce and consume food into something better for humanity and our Mother Earth.

Our common pillars and principles of agroecology
The production practices of agroecology are based on ecological principles like building life in the soil, recycling nutrients, the dynamic management of biodiversity and energy conservation at all scales. Agroecology drastically reduces our use of externally-purchased inputs that must be bought from industry. In agroecology there is no use of agrotoxins, artificial hormones, GMOs or other dangerous new technologies.

Territories are a fundamental pillar of agroecology. Peoples and communities have the right to maintain their own spiritual and material relationships to their lands…this implies the full recognition of their laws, traditions, customs, tenure systems, and institutions, and constitutes the recognition of the selfdetermination and autonomy of peoples.

Collective rights and access to the commons are a fundamental pillar of agroecology.

The diverse knowledges and ways of knowing of our peoples are fundamental to agroecology. Agroecology is developed through our own innovation, research, and crop and livestock selection and breeding.

The core of our cosmovisions is the necessary equilibrium between nature, the cosmos and human beings. We reject the commodification of all forms of life.

Collective self-organization and action are what make it possible to scale-up agroecology, build local food systems, and challenge corporate control of our food system. Solidarity between peoples, between rural and urban populations, is a critical ingredient.

The autonomy of agroecology displaces the control of global markets and generates self-governance by communities. It requires the re-shaping of markets so that they are based on the principles of solidarity economy and the ethics of responsible production and consumption.

Agroecology is political ; it requires us to challenge and transform structures of power in society. We need to put the control of seeds, biodiversity, land and territories, waters, knowledge, culture and the commons in the hands of the peoples who feed the world.

Women and their knowledge, values, vision and leadership are critical for moving forward. All too often, their work is neither recognized nor valued. For agroecology to achieve its full potential, there must be equal distribution of power, tasks, decision-making and remuneration.

Agroecology can provide a radical space for young people to contribute to the social and ecological transformation that is underway in many of our societies. Agroecology must create a territorial and social dynamic that creates opportunities for rural youth and values women’s leadership.

The full declaration at http://www.foodsovereignty.org/agroecologynyeleni2015/