The Community Food Security Coalition and the US Food Sovereignty Alliance will announce on World Food Day, October 16th 2011 that the Landless Workers Movement of Brazil (MST) has been awarded the 2011 Food Sovereignty Prize. The MST is a Grassroots International partner and member of the Via Campesina.
Inaugurated in 2009, the Food Sovereignty Prize recognizes leaders in the global movement for food sovereignty. The movement works to ensure the right of all people to control their own food and agriculture systems in the face of a food crisis that has driven over a billion people into hunger worldwide. The MST has been recognized as the 2011 Food Sovereignty Prize winner for addressing the extreme disparities in land access in Brazil by organizing over 350,000 landless rural families to resettle and farm formerly idle land. “With the worldwide debate over the future of agriculture heating up, this prestigious prize affirms the kind of agricultural practices and policies—rooted in ecology and culture—that family farmers as well as leading scientists across the world believe are indispensable for ending hunger and combating global warming and the loss of biodiversity,” says Emily Becker of the Community Food Security Coalition. Honorable mentions for the annual prize include the Movimiento Campesino-a-Campesino/ Farmer-to-Farmer Movement of Latin America, the South Central Farmers of Los Angeles, CA, and the Grow BioIntensive Agricultural Centre of Kenya. Despite their diversity in geography and scope, the honorees are united in an approach to ending hunger that counters the conventional thinking of the Green Revolution, focused on industrial-scale, chemically intensive production. “This prize is a refreshing alternative to the World Food Prize created by ‘the father of the Green Revolution,’ the late Norman Borlaug,” says Christina Schiavoni of WhyHunger’s Global Movements Program. “The Food Sovereignty Prize challenges the notion that we can produce our way out of the current food crisis through technological packages or by focusing solely on food access. With a billion hungry people in the world—the majority of whom are food producers and landless workers—we need a drastically different approach to ending hunger, one that is based on equitable distribution of resources, sustainability, and dignity for those who produce our food. The honorees exemplify this.” The Food Sovereignty Prize is hosted by the Community Food Security Coalition and run by a committee of nationally recognized food system leaders. Further information on the nomination and selection process is available at www.foodsecurity.org. The 2011 Food Sovereignty Prize honorees will be recognized on November 6th at the 15th Annual Conference of the Community Food Security Coalition at a free public event at the Marriott City Center in Oakland, CA, from 4-7 PM. The Prize is supported by the Small Planet Fund, the Lawson Valentine Foundation, the Community Food Security Coalition, and WhyHunger, with in-kind support from Grassroots International and other organizations. Past honorees include the Via Campesina international peasant network and the US-based Family Farm Defenders. ABOUT THE FOOD SOVEREIGNTY PRIZE HONOREES: Winner: The Landless Workers Movement (MST) of Brazil has been a leader in social action for agrarian reform and food sovereignty for more than 25 years, organizing landless workers to reclaim, obtain legal title to, and use idle land productively. Through these efforts, more than 350,000 families have been settled on over 17 million hectares, with an additional 90,000 families organized in encampments awaiting titles. Their actions have called domestic and international attention to unequal land distribution and to the need for agrarian reform, food sovereignty and gender equity. Honorable Mentions: Movimiento Campesino a Campesino (Farmer to Farmer Movement) has helped farming families in Central America and beyond to improve their livelihoods while conserving natural resources. The farmer-promoters demonstrate that, given the chance to generate and share agroecological knowledge among themselves, smallholders can develop sustainable agriculture despite highly adverse conditions. Since its inception, Movimiento Campesino a Campesino has spread across Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia, improving the farms and livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers.
South Central Farmers began their fight for food sovereignty when their 14-acre urban farm in South Central, Los Angeles, CA, was threatened by development in 2006. The farm had existed for 14 years as an urban oasis where predominately Meso-American families grew their traditional vegetables and herbs. Although the 14 acres were bulldozed in 2006, South Central Farmers still advocate for the restoration of traditional, local and organic foods, and recently developed a worker-/farmer-owned co-op in California’s central valley that provides affordable food to low-income Los Angeles families. The Grow BioIntensive Agricultural Centre of Kenya (G-BIACK) has trained thousands of small-scale farmers in agroecological farming in a region suffering from ongoing drought, high rates of HIV/AIDS, hunger and the effects of chemical-intensive agriculture. G-BIACK hosts a demonstration farm, community library, seed bank and classroom. They work with the most marginalized communities, including widows, people living with HIV/AIDS, orphans, women and poor farmers. G-BIACK’s programs empower communities to build food systems free from corporate control and rooted in self-determination, local knowledge and ecological sustainability. ABOUT THE COMMUNITY FOOD SECURITY COALITION The Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC) is a non-profit, North American organization dedicated to building strong, sustainable, local and regional food systems that ensure access to affordable, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food for all people at all times. CFSC seeks to develop self-reliance among all communities in obtaining their food and to create a system of growing, manufacturing, processing, making available, and selling food that is regionally based and grounded in the principles of justice, democracy, and sustainability. CFSC has over 500 member organizations. www.foodsecurity.org ABOUT THE US FOOD SOVEREIGNTY ALLIANCE The US Food Sovereignty Alliance (USFSA) works to end poverty, rebuild local food economies, and assert democratic control over the food system. The members of the USFSA share the conviction that all people have the right to healthy, culturally appropriate food, produced in an ecologically sound manner. As a US-based alliance of food justice, anti-hunger, labor, environmental, faith-based, and food producer groups, the USFSA upholds the right to food as a basic human right and work to connect local and national struggles to the international movement for food sovereignty. www.usfoodsovereigntyalliance.org