(http://www.fsm.org/node/6179) As the food and climate crises worsen, and climate negotiations create false solutions, peasants and small farmers are cooling down the planet with agroecology, food sovereignty and other solutions. Let us come and strategise on how we push real solutions to the forefront.
This was one of a series of major seminars, jointly organised by a number of key organisations that are the driving force involved in the Climate Space (c.f. the excellent article by Pablo Solon: climate-connections.org/2013/02/04/strike-four-in-climate-change-a-climate-space-to-rethink-analysis-and-strategies/)
Urgenci was honoured to be asked to speak on some of the solutions provided by CSA and other short local distribution chains. This report is by Peter Rosset, La Via Campesina.
Moderators: Josie Riffaud, LVC; Shalmali Guttal, Focus on the Global South
“Can we change the disastrous climate direction that the world is going in? And at the same time eat tomorrow? We peasants are accustomed to coming up with solutions. Better than the false solutions of capitalism. Food sovereignty provides the framework for the real solutions. Changes in the models of production and consumption.”
“We don’t want ‘climate smart agriculture’ which is nothing more than farming without farmers.”
1. Silvia Ribeiro, ETC Group
Small scale food producers have only about 20% of the land in the world, but still produce 70% of all the food. But now the food market has become the largest global market, so TNCs want to take over the food system market.
About 20 TNCs have taken big chunks of this market. Seeds are now controlled by 6 TNCs, and 85% of commercial seeds are under IPR protection. The situation is similar for grain trading, supermarkets, inputs, beverages, etc. This of course includes Monsanto, with almost 90% of GMO seeds.10 TNCs control 95% of agrochemical markets (many the same companies as those that own the GMO seeds).
GMOs are causing super weed problems, dependence, health and environmental problems. Claim is that we need high tech seeds to address climate change: but this is a lie, because it is precisely the industrial food system based on commercial seeds generates the biggest chunk of deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions (more than 44%). So we need to get out of this system!
The latest is “synthetic biology” (extreme genetic engineering). Instead of taking genes from nature, they create them from scratch to make any biomass into any industrial product. It is a giant takeover of biomass for industrial capitalist purposes.
This is not just a fight for peasants’ rights, it is a fight for the survival of all humanity.
2. Simone Lovera, Global Forest Coalition
Intensive livestock production is one of the greatest examples of corporate takeovers. For example: in India 90% of all poultry is factory farmed. 80% of emissions come from intensive livestock operations. Confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), tiny cages… this is also an animal rights issue as part of Mother Earth. 5 kg of food for poultry produce only 1 kg of poultry meat, a scandalous waste in a hungry world. It is also a huge threat to small systems, the massive industrial monoculture production of livestock feed (i.e. GMO soy) massively displaces peasants and contaminates communities, while sucking up all the water, and it is a driving cause of deforestation. It also produces the most unhealthy meat you can eat – pesticide and antibiotic accumulation, etc (small farmer free range meat is much healthier). Many new human disease epidemics come from this intensive livestock production. So support must be redirected to small scale, integrated, agroecological and traditional production systems and respect land rights of peasants and pastoralists.
3. K.S. Nandini Jayaram, KRRS-LVC-India (farmer)
We want true solutions to climate change. No false corporate solutions to climate change. Natural, organic, agroeoclogical farming is the true solution, to keep carbon in the soil, to absorb carbon from the atmosphere. We need to stop the subsidies for farm chemicals. Small-scale farmers face soil depletion from subsidized chemical fertilizers, so it takes 3-5 years of natural farming to recover soil fertility. But we must get away from the chemical farming, and demand that governments change the subsidies from chemicals to supporting peasant farming in the transition to get off the chemical habit. Support farmers to implement chemical-free farming, this would be a true solution. We peasants have a lot of knowledge on natural farming accumulated over thousands of years. We need to promote the sharing of this knowledge instead of GMOs and chemical recommendations. We peasants can also reforest our land through sustainable agriculture with agroforestry. These would be true solutions. Not a false solution like agrofuels which actually waste energy and accelerate land grabbing. The latest report in India shows that fertilizer use has gone up about 20-30 times since the 1960s in order to acieve the same effect. They just don’t work any more. Everything the TNCs sell us is like that.
4. Bernard Pineau, Save Our Seeds-Germany-ABL-LVC (farmer)
Monoculture produces soil erosion after intensive chemical use. In Germany cereal yields in industrial production are starting to drop now (10-20%). The humus layer of the soil is destroyed, but in Biodynamic farming we can recover this, sometimes as much as 5% in the soil (which also absorbs a lot of greenhouse gas). A biological and sovereign agriculture with local inputs is the solution, as in my case as a biodynamic farming with has a cultural element of collective action, and is also based on the recovery and control of our own seeds. The loss of the peasantry in Europe has been one of the greatest catastrophes, Europe has lost its food sovereignty with health and spiritual consequences. We need to build a fraternal, collective activist agriculture.”
5. Judith Hitchman, Urgenci
Urgenci is the global network of Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), a social movement, and also represents the consumer side of the equation. We need to build new, short circuit, direct production-distribution-consumption networks. In this sense, CSA (originated in Japan, but now global) is one of the most powerful tools to build food sovereignty at the local level. A CSA can be farmer-driven or consumer-driven. A farmer can find a group of consumers, or a group of consumers can find a farmer (or collective/cooperative of farmers). It requires a year-long commitment were farmers and consumers negotiate fair prices for both, and regular income/cash flow for farmers. The risks and benefits of the production are shared. In many cases, the consumers visit and even contribute labour to the farms. This (re)builds social networks and contact with land and food production, including spiritual aspects.
We need a shift in the economic paradigm from commodification toward solidarity economy (this also includes local farmers’ markets, direct farm sales to consumers, also selling backyard surplus production, self-provisioning, community gardens, keeping seeds in the hands of local people, like “seed libraries,” or libraries that “lend” seeds, etc.). Local authorities are key to supporting (or destroying) local food systems (ie land planning, community farm land trusts, food vouchers for local farmers’ markets, public procurement of food from local farmers for institutional kitchens, etc).
So our paradigm shift is toward food sovereignty based on solidarity economy.