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Korean Women Peasant’s Association Awarded the Food Sovereignty Prize

October 2012

Last Wednesday, October 10th, in New York City, I had the privilege of witnessing the US Food Sovereignty Alliance award the fourth annual Food Sovereignty Prize to the Korean Women Peasant’s Association (KWPA).

Grassroots International is a founding member of the US Food Sovereignty Alliance (USFSA) and this year’s honoree is a member of our partner organization, the Via Campesina.

The USFSA – a growing alliance of farmer, farmworker, food chain worker, food justice, policy, advocacy, faith-based, and environmental/climate justice organizations both rural and urban – has been working since 2007 to build a movement for food sovereignty in the United States. The alliance formed as a direct response to our partners in the Global South like the Via Campesina calling on U.S. allies to work domestically to further food sovereignty and make it a reality here at home as well as abroad.

The USFSA instituted the Food Sovereignty Prize to both recognize efforts inside and outside the United States towards achieving our shared vision of food sovereignty and to raise awareness within the United States about these important issues.

Like the Right Livelihood Award (widely seen as an alternative to the Nobel Peace Prize), the Food Sovereignty Prize is an alternative to the World Food Prize founded by the late Norman Borlaug, the “father of the Green Revolution.” The World Food Prize champions increased production based on high-tech and heavy inputs (including water, chemical fertilizers and pesticides etc.) that have been cornerstones of the Green Revolution; and which have not ended hunger and, in fact, led to serious health and other environmental problems.

The Food Sovereignty Prize – grounded in the vision and values of food sovereignty – champions solutions put forward by small farmers and other food producers that are environmentally sustainable, socially just, and economically viable for the vast majority of the world’s food producers. These include small farmers, fishers, herders, farmworkers and food chain workers – who are also the majority of those who still go hungry.

Previous winners have included other Grassroots’ partners and allies, including the Via Campesina and last year’s recipient, the Landless Workers Movement (MST).

The 2012 Food Sovereignty Prize was awarded to the KWPA by a national committee that included Grassroots’ staff member Saulo Araujo. The KWPA has been working on women farmers’ issues as well as generally fighting for the rights of Korean family farmers in the face of growing threats to their livelihoods in the form of neoliberal economic policies such as the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (KORUSFTA) and the new Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Additional winners of the 2012 Food Sovereignty Prize include other Grassroots allies: Sri Lanka’s National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO), Honduras’ United Peasant Movement of Aguan (MUCA), and Florida’s Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). NAFSO has been a leader against industrial fishing off Sri Lanka’s coastline, and in the context of a decades-old civil war, also working to bring together small fishers from across Sri Lanka’s ethnic communities. MUCA has been fighting for land reform in the agriculturally rich Bajo Aguan region of Honduras that has been at the center of violence against peasants and numerous human rights violations. CIW has been an internationally recognized leader in the US for farmworker rights, and won successful campaigns against multinational corporations like Yum Brands and Chipotle.

Grassroots International is proud – and privileged – to work with these amazing movements and organizations in the Global South and the United States towards resource rights, climate and trade justice, and food sovereignty. Graphic courtesy of the KWPA.


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