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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 33 - Kids and Food Sovereignty
Voices from the field

Voices from the field : Testimonies from children belonging to food producer’s communities

COLOMBIA

My name is Juan Simón Briceño Ávila and I’m 7 years old. I come from a town called Barinitas in Venezuela. Now we live in a hamlet called Brasil in Viotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia. We live in the country and I like living here, because I’m free to walk and play. My favourite game is boy superheroes, and I play football with my school friends. My favourite dish is egg salad, with lettuce and carrot.

The eggs come from some chickens that we have in the coop behind our house. The lettuces come from seeds that we plant in our vegetable patch, and the carrots come from seeds that we also plant in our vegetable patch. The lettuces are ready to be picked when they’re big and have many leaves, and the carrots are ready when they have big leaves and the stem is sticking out (the neck of the carrot). I like this salad because I know how to make it, but how I make it is a secret.

When it comes to household tasks, I like to give the corn to the hens, although sometimes when I go to collect the eggs I drop them, and sometimes they break. I also feed the rabbits. We have two rabbits : Ramona and Pepe. Ramona is sweet-natured but Pepe doesn’t like being cuddled. They really like the leaves from a plant that’s called Yellow Dock, but there’s another plant that we don’t give them because it’s bad for them. Its leaves are wrinkled and dark green. I also plant sweet corn and beans with my mum. These are both multicoloured, like a rainbow, and I plant potatoes with my dad and little brother Martin. We like planting lots of things so we always have different things to eat.

SPAIN

My name is Salome Schranz Moreno and I’m 12 years old. I go to the Doce Olivos school in Órgiva, La Alpujarra (Granada, Andalucía). My family and our friends go to an allotment to work on a collective vegetable patch project. A few days ago we went there for a specific reason : some weeds had grown in the allotment that stopped us from planting. So we decided to do a “torna peón”* there to speed things up. I put myself in charge of the kids because they’re all between the ages of 3 and 6 years old, and I’m 12.

While the mums and dads got to work getting rid of the bad weeds, I looked after the little ones. First I told them some stories and then we went to a nearby park. We played, laughed and had fun. Eventually it was dinner time. We went back to the allotment to go for dinner. There was omelette and every kind of vegetable-based thing to eat. We ate, and we enjoyed it.

We also go to that allotment to do other things, like sowing and planting. My mum, my dad, Yvon and Raúl, who are two friends of ours, my brother and I, we all went there to harvest olives, including my brother who’s 3 years old. When we harvest, we do it from 10am until 5 or 6pm. From 10 to 10.30am we prepare the netting, from 10.30 till 1.30pm we harvest, from 1.30 to 2.30pm we rest and have lunch, and finally from 3pm to 5 or 6pm we carry on harvesting. After a few days we take the olives to the press and then we share out the oil.

*El torna peón is : when someone offers to help a friend in their allotment or farm, and after the person has been helped, they in turn help their companion.

PHILIPPINES

Elsa Novo, president of the NKP (Aeta Womens Federation) and Fernando Luis, area manager of Peoples Development Institute (PDI) conducted an interview based on three questions (1) What are your favorite dishes ; 2) What tasks in food production do you like most ? ; 3) What are your favorite games and places to play and have fun ?) with 10 Aeta indigenous kids in Zambales participating, ages ranging from 7 to 13 with 5 males and 5 females respectively.

From the group, Miss Elsa Novo, president of the Women Federation of the Aeta Indigenous People in Eastern Barangay of Mt. Pinatubo, Municipality of Botolan facilitated the workshop on drawings, while Fernando Luis noted the answers during the interview.

Of the ten kids, six of them like Filipino meat dishes like sinigang pork, pork adobo and chicken adobo while the other four like fruits and Filipino vegetables dishes like pinakbet, kare-kare and others. On the second question regarding agricultural activities, four of them like planting vegetables, root crops and legumes, two like watering the plants and the other two kids like weeding, but one Aeta child likes plowing and the other one likes to do fallow work. On the question of games, three of them like basketball and badminton, and 7 Aeta kids like to do traditional games such as hide and seek and Chinese garter.

Voice from the field 4 : Breastfeeding and food sovereignty for infants and young children – experience from India

Dr. JP Dadhich MD, FNNF [1]

The Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and continued breastfeeding for two years or beyond along with appropriate complementary feeding after six months. Breastfeeding is a sustainable and sovereign method of providing food and nutrition to infants and young children, which is critical to the survival, health, and development of children as well as health of their mothers.

In India, about 25 million babies are born each year out of which only 41.6% infants are breastfed within one hour of birth. Moreover, only 54.9 infants under age 6 months are exclusively breastfed and only 67.5% children continue breastfeeding at age 20-23 months [2]. It means, a large proportion of children below 2 years are deprived of their right to have a sovereign method of feeding and are dependent on commercially manufactured and marketed products. This is more critical in infants below 6 months for whom breastmilk is the only recommended food.

The underlying reason for the dismal status of breastfeeding practices is a very slow action over a decade on various policies and programmes on infant and young child feeding. This is evident from the World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative (WBTi [3]) report , which reflects there is a need to effectively implement the law to protect breastfeeding (IMS Act [4]), universalize maternity protection, provide access to breastfeeding counseling services by trained and skilled personnel to all pregnant and lactating mothers including during special circumstances like emergencies and HIV and effective monitoring and evaluation of breastfeeding programmes.

[1] Director – Technical, Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI) and member, International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) Global Council.

[2] http://rchiips.org/NFHS/pdf/NFHS4/India.pdf y https://data.unicef.org/topic/nutrition/infant-and-young-child-feeding/

[3] http://www.worldbreastfeedingtrends.org/GenerateReports/report/WBTi-India-Report-2015.pdf

[4] The Infant Milk Substitutes, Feeding Bottles and Infant Foods (Regulation of Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 1992 as Amended in 2003 (IMS Act).