Each year, the Food Sovereignty Prize helps to raise the profile of organizations who champion real solutions to hunger. It is seen by movements, activists, and community-based organizations around the world as an important grassroots alternative to awards like the World Food Prize.
For this year’s award, USFSA has selected Zimbabwe Smallholder Organic Farmers Forum (ZIMSOFF) and Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA). USFSA lauded both organizations’ longtime commitments to promoting access and community control of food and agriculture in harmony with the planet, and their resistance to corporate domination of food systems.
International Winner: Zimbabwe Smallholder Organic Farmers Forum (ZIMSOFF)
ZIMSOFF represents over 10,000 smallholder farmers and protects their welfare by promoting organic farming and democratic, sustainable land use planning. It is a member-organization of La Via Campesina (LVC), the global peasant movement and Grassroots International partner, and currently hosts LVC’s International Operational Secretariat.
In recent years, ZIMSOFF has fought the introduction of harmonized seed laws, which would introduce intellectual property restrictions and other benefits for corporate agriculture.
As corporations like Monsanto have pushed GMO seeds and contract farming across the region, ZIMSOFF has played a crucial role in protecting Zimbabwean smallholder farmers’ interests. In the words of Elizabeth Mpofu, chairperson of ZIMSOFF:
“Peasant farmers without the resources to produce enough food are pressured to accept these contracts and new means of production. They are forced to pay corporations back for what they’ve received [GMO seeds or loans]. If a season doesn’t go well, they are left to suffer, selling their livestock or being jailed for not being able to pay.”
On the other hand, ZIMSOFF has also promoted the sort of real solutions needed to address food crises facing our communities. As ZIMSOFF member Nelson Mudzingwa told the Guardian during a drought last December:
“What we have learned is that if you go for monocultures, you are vulnerable to disaster. Diversity is a weapon to protect farmers and provide food… Is it possible for our kind of agro-ecological farming to feed all of Zimbabwe? Yes. And the message is getting through.”
Domestic Winner: Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA)
NAMA is a fisher-led organization that links strong fishing communities with robust marine ecosystems. It has helped to address industrial overfishing in U.S. waters by promoting Community Supported Fisheries (CSFs) and challenging corporate Catch Share policies.
Like Community Supported Agriculture, CSFs connect small-scale harvesters and fisheries with local consumers. NAMA has organized summits and education to promote CSFs as an alternative to industrial trawling. In just a few short years, their LocalCatch.org network has expanded to over 400 CSF pickup locations.
NAMA also serves as the anchor organization of the Fish Locally Collaborative, a network helping to connect over 400,000 fishing families across the U.S., Canada, Latin America, and Europe to protect the rights of local fishermen and fishing communities.
Building an alternative to the corporate fishing industry becomes more urgent by the year. Brett Tolley, a community organizer at NAMA, has said fishermen and oceanic resources are approaching a “tipping point”:
“[F]isheries are getting pushed toward a model of industrialization which we know has displaced small and medium-scale food producers on the land and created enormous ecological damage… I know I’m in the right place when I’m building power with the fishing communities. We’re trying to find solutions and make change.”
NAMA is a close ally and a member of the National Family Farm Coalition. In May, it co-hosted our Climate Justice Forum at the Boston Public Library.
Join us October 17th
Grassroots International is a founding member of USFSA. The Food Sovereignty Prize continues to play a crucial role in lifting up the voices of communities on the frontlines to build a more just food system for us all.
Please join us Tuesday, October 17th at 12:00 PM Eastern/ 11am Central/ 10am Mountain/ 9am Pacific time for the live stream of the award ceremony. RSVP to reserve your spot today!