Women’s Rights Are A Precondition to Food Sovereignty
Henry Saragih is chairman of the Indonesian Peasant Union (SPI -- Serikat Petani Indonesia), and the General Coordinator of La Via Campesina. La Via Campesina is an organization of organizations, part of a global movement of peasants, family farmers, indigenous and landless people. The interview was conducted (and later edited) by Nic Paget-Clarke for In Motion Magazine on October 18, 2008 during the 5th International Conference of La Via Campesina. The conference was held at the FRELIMO Party School in Matola, Mozambique. Matola, Mozambique
Washington D.C. (April 16, 2009) - The U.S. Working Group on the Food Crisis, a group representing anti-hunger, family farm, community food security, environmental, international aid, labor, food justice, consumers and other food system actors, urges the G8 at the upcoming Agricultural Ministerial in Treviso, Italy to reject the failed policies of the Green Revolution. A recent landmark report backed by the UN and World Bank argues for agroecological and sustainable agriculture, rather than reliance on chemical-intensive practices and genetic engineering.
With thanks in part to $80,000 dollars in generous donations made to Grassroots International in response to the Gaza Crisis, our partners in Palestine have begun the process of rebuilding their communities.
Twelve days ago the United States, and the world, celebrated the inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama as the country's first African-American president. That the world celebrated as well was evident to many of us even then, but it's even more clear to me here in Belém, in the Brazilian state of Pará, where I am for the World Social Forum, where numerous people from around the world have repeatedly greeted those of us from the United States with a thumbs up sign and shouted "Obama!" celebrating not only his becoming president but, especially, the end of the Bush Administration. Bill Fletcher, Jr., a former Board member of Grassroots International, reflected on this historic moment in the shadow of Gaza - Nikhil Aziz.
The British solidarity organization, the Haiti Support Group, today wrote to Josette Sheeran, the Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), requesting information about the type of rice that the organization is distributing in Haiti.
The Haiti Support Group is concerned about the nutritional content of the rice that the WFP is distributing to hundreds of thousands of hungry and starving Haitians. In particular, the organization is seeking reassurance that the WFP is not distributing imported rice that has undergone the usual commercial milling process, thereby considerably reducing the rice's mineral, vitamin, and fibre content.
Global food prices have almost doubled in recent years, in large part due to U.S. policies, and now nearly 1 billion people worldwide - including 50 million here in the U.S. - are facing hunger. Keep reading to find out how you can take action for change.
The food crisis is not a crisis in the availability of food. In fact, there is more than enough food to feed everyone in the world. Over the last 20 years, world food production has risen steadily at over 2% a year, while the rate of global population growth has dropped to 1.14% a year.
On September 28, 2009, Ecuadorians approved a new constitution that includes an article granting nature the right to "exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution." The new constitution recognizes the right of all Ecuadorians to have access to sufficient resources to feed themselves in a sustainable manner with respect to cultural differences between people and communities. A priority is local food production, recognizing implicitly that the right to adequate food represents, among many things, the right of the small food producers, harvesters and fisherpeople to acquire appropriate resources and the right to rely on the laws, measures and programs that assist them in providing food.
The principle of food sovereignty places local control of food production and distribution at its core. Unfortunately, throughout the world industrial farms, corporations and the policies that benefit them take that control away from local farmers and communities. In a recent report , Grassroots International's colleagues at the Oakland Institute describe this situation and its dire consequences in Indonesia where "excessive dependence on global markets, followed by the collapse of traditional agricultural structures, as well as almost non-existent social policies, have manufactured widespread hunger in Indonesia today."
Several of Grassroots International's partners and allies in Haiti released a statement following the disastrous wave of hurricanes. In their own words, they describe the deeply rooted obstacles they must overcome to rebuild a better Haiti.
Since I started my internship with Grassroots International in May, I have come to realize the true magnitude of the food crisis. The way that the economic system produces and distributes food is leaving far too many people hungry and jobless. Throughout my research, I studied the effect that the crisis has had on women, and I believe that their role, though historically overlooked, is crucial to finding a sustainable solution. I believe, along with everyone at Grassroots International, that women's economic and land rights are not just rights that they deserve as people, but steps that must be taken in order to bring the world out of the food crisis.
In late June, Grassroots partner, the Landless Workers Movement (MST) made public a document they got a hold of that showed the intention of the Rio Grande do Sul state Public Ministry to "dissolve" the MST. The document is based on a meeting, on December 3, 2007, during which the state Public Ministry decided: to outlaw any mobilization of landless workers, including marches and walks, to intervene in settlement schools, to criminalize leaders and members, and to "deactivate" all the encampments in Rio Grande do Sul.
After nearly one year of a suffocating siege imposed on Gaza by the Israeli military establishment, a truce agreement was reached between Hamas and Israel. This followed months of dedicated Egyptian good offices. Rockets launched from Gaza against Israeli settlements were to stop in return for gradually lifting the blockade. A cease-fire sustained for six months would then roll over to the West Bank. Gilad Shalit, the hostage Israeli soldier, would be released in a separate deal involving exchange of Palestinian prisoners. Future negotiations would set the terms for opening the borders between Egypt and Gaza.
Grassroots International ally Phyllis Robinson of Equal Exchange recently wrote about the potential wedge driven between advocates of local foods (often called "localvores" in the current vernacular) and those working for Fair Trade. As she points out, Fair Trade and Buy Local advocates share many important concerns about the ways we can take back our food system so that it works best for small farmers and consumers, both locally and throughout the world – developing systems that promote food sovereignty. For more information, read her article.
Friends and supporters of Grassroots International may be familiar with Hesperian Foundation, a non-profit publisher of community health education materials, best known for Where There Is No Doctor, recognized by WHO as "the most widely-used health manual in the world." With this month's publication of the long-anticipated A Community Guide to Environmental Health, Hesperian celebrates more than just the release of another book. It allows us all to celebrate and learn from the myriad ways in which people at the grassroots can and do take control over their own environmental health.
International representatives of small farmers, fisherfolks, indigenous peoples, pastoralists and Non Governmental Organisations (NGO) have expressed their disappointment with the poor outcome of the High Level Conference on World Food Security in Rome. "The final declaration will not fill any plate. The recommendations for more liberalisation would lead to more violations of the right to food", criticised Maryam Rahmanian from the Iranian organisation CENESTA. During the official conference, the social movements held their own Forum "Terra Preta" ("black earth") to voice their demands to realize food sovereignty and the right to food of the millions of hungry people.
To the conference organizers (FAO, CGIAR, IFAD, WFP); the Heads of States; the General Secretary of the United Nations: bear responsibility to protect the Palestinian people who are exposed to poverty and hunger by the Israeli occupying forces.
The following is an English translation of a statement made by Judson Barros, the president of FUNAGUAS, as he protested the Bunge Corporation outside its annual stockholders' meeting in New York.
Bunge Food Inc. has been in the public eye over the last two months in many media outlets in Brazil (magazines, websites and newspapers) for two reasons:
On Friday night (May 2), a massive cyclone (hurricane) hit Burma. U.S. embassy officials now estimate the death toll may well climb to 100,000. Hundreds of thousands are homeless, without water and food prices have skyrocketed.
Worse, the military regime, which did practically nothing to warn the Burmese people of the cyclone, is still not opening the country to international aid in any significant way. This behavior is consistent with the military regime's denial of access for aid agencies to help victims of the military regime's war on civilians in eastern Burma.
By La Via Campesina
Prices on the world market for cereals are rising. Wheat prices increased by 130% in the period between March 2007-March 2008. Rice prices increased by almost 80% in the period up to 2008. Maize prices increased by 35% between March 2007 and March 2008 (1). In countries that depend heavily on food imports some prices have gone up dramatically. Poor families see their food bills go up and can no longer afford to buy the minimum needed.