Grassroots International


  • Agroecology Declaration lays out the path for a sustainable, healthy planet

    Small-scale food producers and global movement leaders gathered in Mali earlier this year to lay out a plan to transform and repair our food system and the rural world that has been devastated by industrial food production. Their declaration (below) spells out specific values, strategies, challenges and next-steps to not only feed the world, but also address climate change by advancing agroecology.

    Hosted by Grassroots International grantee CNOP (the National Coordination of Peasant Organizations) and La Via Campesina, among several other leading agroecology organziations, the International Forum on Agroecology outlined agroecology is a key form of resistance to the commodification of food and seeds, and moves toward a healthy planet.

  • If Farming Is Hard, Free Trade Makes It Harder

    Being a farmer is hard.  This is true no matter what policies exist. The work itself is difficult, and making money from farming requires many, many factors to line up just right.  Get too much rain, too dry a season, too many bugs and the crop can be destroyed.  Prices might be higher, but there’s just not that much to sell.  Even a big harvest when everything goes well doesn’t guarantee success. A bumper crop means that there are a whole lot of tomatoes, corn, peaches, or eggplants at the market, so prices go down.

  • From Food Security to Food Sovereignty

    In the article below, Antonio Roman-Alcalá discusses what food sovereignty is, how it differs from food security and how the food movement is shifting the conversation toward sovereignty. Along with our partner the Via Campesina—which pioneered the concept of food sovereignty in 1996—Grassroots International has been advocating this alternative model around the world. As explained in the recent Nyeleni newsletter

    Food sovereignty is different from food security in both approach and politics. Food security does not distinguish where food comes from, or the conditions under which it is produced and distributed. National food security targets are often met by sourcing food produced under environmentally destructive and exploitative conditions, and supported by subsidies and policies that destroy local food producers but benefit agribusiness corporations. Food sovereignty emphasizes ecologically appropriate production, distribution and consumption, social-economic justice and local food systems as ways to tackle hunger and poverty and guarantee sustainable food security for all peoples. It advocates trade and investment that serve the collective aspirations of society. It promotes community control of productive resources; agrarian reform and tenure security for small-scale producers; agro-ecology; biodiversity; local knowledge; the rights of peasants, women, indigenous peoples and workers; social protection and climate justice.

  • A Global Alliance Emerges in West Africa

    Selingué, Mali—Early morning on day one of the first peasant-organized international conference to stop land grabbing held in Nyéléni, Mali, delegates from more than 30 countries took their seats for the opening ceremony. Many fumbled with the bulky and crackling radios that would provide simultaneous translation, while a small group of women from across Africa gathered in the center of the open-air conference hall, their feet sinking into the sand. In a long-standing tradition of the Via Campesina, the global peasant movement, the women kicked off the events with a mistica—a ceremony intended to depict socio-political struggles and incite debate.

  • We Are the Solution: Celebrating African Family Agriculture!

    According to Grassroots International ally Fahamu, “Agriculture… remains the main source of income of a rural population generally estimated at 70% of the total population… [W]omen remain an essential link in agricultural production, accounting for 70% of food production, managing nearly 100% of processing activities, responsible for about 50% of the maintenance of the family herds and also responsible for some 60% of sales activities in the markets.” Any solutions to the problems of African agriculture, therefore, must include women. In fact, African women are saying, “We Are the Solution.”

  • Towards Food Sovereignty: Reclaiming Autonomous Food Systems now available online

    The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), an independent international research and development organization, recently published a book that should be of interest to Grassroots International's supporters. Available free online, Towards Food Sovereignty: Reclaiming Autonomous Food Systems offers great analysis and links to video and audio files that show farmers, indigenous peoples and consumers all working to promote food sovereignty.

    Throughout the world, social movements are the driving force behind a new food sovereignty policy framework, which aims to guarantee and protect people's space, ability and right to define their own models of production, food distribution and consumption patterns.

  • Notes from Learning Call on Food Sovereignty in Africa and Nyeleni 2007: Forum for Food Sovereignty

    Presenter: Diamantino Nhampossa is the Executive Coordinator for the National Small Scale Farmers Union in Mozambique and a Member of International Coordinating Committee of the Via Campesina for the Africa Region. (Contact information for Diamantino Nhampossa:

    Presenter: Anna Lappé is the author of the best selling book "Grub" and a past Kellogg Foundation Food and Society Policy Fellow.

    Moderator and Presenter: Corrina Steward, Resource Rights Specialist, Grassroots International. Corrina was a participant in the Forum on Food Sovereignty along with a number of Grassroots International partners.

  • What Kind of Aid Does Africa Need?

    My country – Mozambique – is one of those African countries in which the consequences of colonization, neo- or re-colonization, and structural adjustment programs are visible. There is a growing number of poor people living in rural areas without basic public services like water, health services and education, while our main urban centres are showing a concentration of wealth in the hands of a small group of people. The suburbs are becoming more crowded than ever, and everyday life is a big challenge.

  • Harvest of Shame: Bush’s Guatemala Visit Masks CAFTA’s Rotten Produce

    In the wake of President Bush's visit to Guatemala as part of his 5 nation Latin America tour, the National Labor Committee (NLC, New York) and the Center for Studies and Support for Local Development (CEADEL, Guatemala) just released a joint report "Harvest of Shame" that details the exploitation and human rights violations of children in Guatemala.


    Nyéléni Village, Selingue, Mali

    We, more than 500 representatives from more than 80 countries, of organizations of peasants/family farmers, artisanal fisher-folk, indigenous peoples, landless peoples, rural workers, migrants, pastoralists, forest communities, women, youth, consumers, environmental and urban movements have gathered together in the village of Nyéléni in Selingue, Mali to strengthen a global movement for food sovereignty. We are doing this, brick by brick, have been living in huts constructed by hand in the local tradition, and eating food that is being produced and prepared by the Selingue community. We give our collective endeavor the name “Nyéléni” as a tribute to and inspiration from a legendary Malian peasant woman who farmed and fed her peoples well.

  • Peasants Cannot Do it Alone, Need Strong Alliances with Consumers, Environmentalists, Indigenous Peoples and Others

    Peter Rossett, from the Center for the Study of Rural Change in Mexico (CECCAM), is a member of Grassroots International's Resource Rights Advisory Group. He was in Mali for the Nyeleni Food Sovereignty Forum this month and in a piece that was first posted on the Nyeleni website, he stressed the need for different sectors to collaborate, pointing out that "It is clear that the peasant sector cannot change the food system alone; it needs strong alliances with consumers, environmentalists, indigenous peoples, women, fishermen and even herders."

  • Borders, Walls and Other Barriers: Farmers and Farmworkers from Palestine and North America Meet

    I had the incredible opportunity to coordinate a meeting between the Union of Agricultural Workers Committees (UAWC) and the U.S. farmers and farm worker delegates to Nyeleni.

    Present at the meeting were Omar Doanna, UAWC and Stop the Wall, Fuad Abu Sail, UAWC, Khalid Hedmi, UAWC, Zakaraya, a Palestinian farmer, Dena Hoff, NFFC, John Kinsman and John Peck, Family Farm Defenders, Carlos Marentes, Border Agricultural Workers.

    The meeting was a rare chance for farmer-activists from very different places to share farming experiences, compare notes on movement-building strategy and show that human connection can conquer political divides.

  • Food Sovereignty: A Vision of Inclusion

    Christina Schiavoni, International Coordinator of World Hunger Year reports from Nyéléni 2007

    Greetings from Sélingué, Mali, where the Forum on Food Sovereignty, Nyéléni 2007, is going strong. As I write, djembe music is pulsing through the air, and I catch fragments of conversations interspersed with French, English, Spanish, and the local Bambara, among other languages unfamiliar to my ears. The energy here is palpable, and well it should be. Today has been intense yet energizing, as each of the 500+ participants worked by thematic group (seven in total--mine was "Trade and Local Markets") on the drafting of an action agenda for achieving food sovereignty.

  • North and South Come Together in Sélingué

    Margaret Curole, North America Co-coodinatorWorld Forum of Fish harvesters and Fish workers (WFFF) writes from Nyeleni:

    Today was a perfect day. I started it by just trying to organize a meeting between fisherfolk.

    Sometimes it feels like a lesson in futility but then when success comes by way of chance encounter with people willing to help, it’s all worth it.

    As an American, in meetings like this, I can feel very unwanted and insignificant. I usually try to blend into the background.

    Today I found my voice. I told the trade working group that trade agreements hurt not just developing countries, but developed ones as well. It is not a North v. South issue.

  • Mr. President…

    Dena Hoff, a farmer and rancher from Montana, United States is a member of the Northern Plains Resource Council, the National Family Farm Coalition and the Via Campesina. Dena addressed President Amadou Toumani Touré of Mali at the World Forum on Food Sovereignty:

    "Welcome, Mr. President.

    Nyeleni inspires us because she saw what needed to be done, and she did it.

    We are all people of conscience, and we are people of action.

    We know that our governments are not responsive to the needs of their people. They choose to ally themselves with those who would take the bread from our mouths,take our land, our liberty and our lives.

    Like Nyeleni, as people of action, we see what needs to be done, and we will do it.