Participants arrive at the camp built specially for the Food Sovereignty Forum in 2007, in Selingue, Mali (Photo: Donkeycart)
Food sovereignty is about the right of peoples to define their own food systems.
Advocates of food sovereignty puts the people who produce, distribute and consume food at the centre of decisions on food systems and policies, rather than the demands of markets and corporations that they believe have come to dominate the global food system. This movement is advocated by a number of farmers, peasants, pastoralists, fisherfolk, indigenous peoples, women, rural youth and environmental organizations.
Movements of people across the world are fighting for food sovereignty. La Via Campesina is the largest social movement in the world bringing together more than 200 million small and medium-scale farmers, landless people, women farmers, indigenous peoples, migrants and agricultural workers from 70 countries.
There are many local and even some national success stories. In 2012 WDM campaigners, Heidi and Miriam went to Venezuela - one of a handful of countries to make food sovereignty part of national policy. Below is a photo of an urban garden growing salad in the centre of Caracus.
Neoliberal policies implemented under structural adjustment programmes overseen by the World Bank and IMF have involved many governments in the global south cutting back support for farmers (such as research and extension services) and dismantling mechanisms designed to help stabilise food prices, such as grain reserves. This has resulted in greater poverty and hunger.
Alongside this, big business has been able to extend it's control of our food system. Only a small handful of large corporations dominate the production, processing, distribution, marketing and retailing of food. This concentration of power enables these businesses to wipe out competition or dictate tough terms to their suppliers.
The Austrian delegation welcomes people to the Nyeleni Europe forum
In 2011 more than 400 people from 34 European countries from the Atlantic to the Urals and Caucasus, from the Arctic to the Mediterranean, as well as international representatives from diverse social movements and civil society organisations, met in Krems, Austria to plan the development of a European movement for food sovereignty.
The objectives were to strengthen local actors, build a sense of common purpose and understanding, as well as a joint agenda for action, celebrate the struggle for food sovereignty already underway in Europe and inspire and motivate people and organistions to work together.
Since 2011 there have been numerous Europe wide gatherings and actions, such as the Good Food March. This is where citizens, young people and farmers came together to call for a greener and fairer agricultural policy in Europe, as well as more democratic reform of Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy.
Food sovereignty now! Producers and activists at the UK gathering in July (photo: War on Want)
Building on what has already been achieved in local communities across the country and taking inspiration from the European forum, July 2012 saw people came together to galvanise the food sovereignty movement in the UK. Over 100 farmers, community gardeners, co-op workers, campaigners and activists from all corners of the country took part in a weekend of discussions, action planning and skillsharing.
Now the UK movement has gathered together it is looking to do more and more in the way of campaigning, research and events. To find out more, visit the UK food sovereignty website here
Donate to WDM to help us strengthen the food sovereignty movement here
In every town across the UK there are community projects you can get involved with to further the relience of the local food system. Search for local community gardens, food cooperatives, community supported agriculture, anti supermarket campaigns and community meals.