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.”
Grassroots International is working in the United States with groups like the National Family Farm Coalition, the Rural Coalition, the Federation of Southern Cooperatives and the Border Agricultural Workers Project to help build those alliances and to develop educational materials for the different sectors.
Rossett noted that the main goal of the social movements and organizations that had gathered in Mali to debate food sovereignty was to develop a set of common strategies that could be implemented collectively as well as in their individual contexts, and that Africa would lead the global struggle for food sovereignty.
International trade and agriculture, traditional knowledge, production models, natural resources, territories, migrations and social movements’ responses to natural disasters: all these issues were discussed during the second day of activities of the World Forum on Food Sovereignty.
According to Peter Rossett, member of the Forum’s Steering Committee, the main goal of the movements and organizations that participate in the forum won’t be “to look for consensus on a concept or paradigm, but on a group of common strategies” aimed at building other food systems, alternative to the corporate and transnational current model.
“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”, Rossett—who is a member of the Center for Studies on Rural Change in Mexico (CECCAM)—said.
Rossett said these important steps are being taken and the process of the World Forum on Food Sovereignty is an example of this. According to Rossett, there have been advances in the struggle for food sovereignty, both at a regional level—mainly in Africa—and in the strategy to build alliances between diverse sectors.
Rossett said there is exchange and coordination at the forum. “It is a forum aimed at making proposals, shaped as a dialogue between diverse sectors that are interested in building other food systems for their peoples”.
“Peasants were aware of the food sovereignty concept, but the perspective of the indigenous peoples is also very interesting, because the concept refers to peoples, not countries”, Rossett said.
“The exchange between these sectors, [peasants/family farmers] fishermen, herders, consumers and environmentalists, is what enriches this forum”, he added. Regarding the advances achieved in Africa, Rossett said “it is the place where we can move forward faster. Even the governments cannot stand the free trade and imports model or the ‘dumping’ humanitarian aid. Although I believe Africa is arriving late to the debate, it will lead the struggle for food sovereignty”.