Today’s the International Day of Peasants’ Struggle, and there’ll be over 60 actions taking place around the world to celebrate it.
The day is as good as any to write about a concern that every writer about social movements has to face. It’s a question about representation. While I’ve certainly got some ideas about the structure of the modern food system, and am happy to share them, the voices of the people most directly involved can often get muffled by voices like mine.
So, on the contact form, I’ve wangled a way for folk (particularly the media) to get directly in touch with farmers and peasant movements in Via Campesina. Can’t think of something more appropriate for today than for me to get out of the way of farmers and landless people speaking for themselves.
And here’s a press release from Via Campesina, offering insights not only into the current food crisis, but what we can do about it.
Farmers mobilise around the world and propose solutions to the food price crisis
Thursday, 17 April 2008
Small farmer’s organisations and their allies are today celebrating the International Day of Peasant’s Struggle commemorating the massacre of 19 landless workers, women and men struggling for land in Brazil 12 years ago. Today dozens of groups, communities and organisations in more than 25 countries around the world are organising more than 50 actions such as farmer’s markets, conferences, direct actions, cultural activities and demonstrations to defend their right to food and their right to feed their communities.
In Jakarta, the Indonesian Peasant’s Union together with trade unions, human right groups, fisherfolk, women’s organisations and others are holding a general assembly against transnational corporations. Opening this event, Henry Saragih – general coordinator of the International Peasant’s Movement La Via Campesina said: « Today is the day where the silenced communities are raising their voices. Farmers and rural populations represent almost half of the people on earth, but our voices are not heard and our concerns are ignored. Too often we are marginalised, impoverished and oppressed. But on the 17th of April, we celebrate our struggle for life!».
In Argentina, the National indigenous and farmers movement is gathering in seven provinces and organising marches against large soya producers who are grabbing land and destroying soils, organising actions against Syngenta and Monsanto; marches for life and against the plundering of land, water and seeds by transnational companies. In Germany, a whole week of actions have been organised by a coalition of several grassroots-groups, NGOs and networks active in the field of global agriculture in and around Berlin. They include a picture exhibition, a biodiversity window in an organic shop, a special selection on global agriculture in a bookshop, a bicycle rally and action at a GMO-research-field of the chemical giant BASF and many others.
In Cameroon, the Rural council for the development of agriculture and fishing (CORDAP) is organising a conference in Yaoundé discussing “What kind of food policy do we want to develop in Cameroon in the era of rising international food prices?”.
(A full list of activities is available on www.viacampesina.org)
This global mobilisation is taking place as hunger is back on the public agenda. Food prices have been rising dramatically over the past year and hunger riots are happening in various parts of the world. For La Via Campesina, the current food crisis is largely due to speculation and trade liberalisation in the agriculture sector.
Large food traders are now speculating on expected future shortages and rising prices artificially, creating hunger and increasing poverty. On the other hand, the steady dismantling of state mechanisms (such as buffer stocks and import controls) over the past decades has left countries extremely vulnerable to food price volatility.
Mobilised today, farmers organisations members of La Via Campesina and all their friends and allies believe that sustainable family farming and local food production can solve the current crisis. They are ready to take up the challenge.
Media contact: Isabelle Delforge: +62-21-7991890, +62 81513224565,