Via Campesina marks World Food Day

(c) Via Campesina, World Food Day

The global peasant farmers’ movement Via Campesina greeted World Food Day this year (October 16) with a call to end the violence that peasant farmers face routinely. Agribusiness investments have the potential to be a force for good, yet land-grabbing in Africa has become extremely violent, Via Campesina warns.

Ibrahima Coulibaly, West African member of the International Coordinating Committee, understated the situation, declaring that: “…the multinationals investing in Africa do anything but benefit the most vulnerable.”

Kalissa Regier, a small-scale family farmer in Canada, and member of the National Farmers’ Union argues that: “rather than using large-scale private investments or public-private partnerships, states should mobilise public funding to support small-scale family farmers and peasants who grow most of the world’s food, and who play a central role in combating hunger.”

The World Committee for Food Security has been framing guiding principles for international agricultural investment policies. Via Campesina takes the view that: “These principles should not be a red carpet for the agribusiness multinational corporations.”

Around the world, violence against peasants is escalating. Rodolgo Gonzalez Greco, a member of the National indigenous people’s movement in Argentina explains: “The daily lot of the Argentinean peasants is threats, houses burnt to the ground, farmer’s leaders assassinated, livestock water poisoned, their herds slaughtered, roads blocked by barbed wire to stop their children from going to school, and their women from fetching water.”

All these acts are carried out by armed people who have been contracted by the agribusiness interests of the Argentinean soy bean sector, warns Via Campesina. The organisation is relaunching its struggle for food sovereignty, and denounces the daily violations of farmers’ rights, reminding the public that only small-scale farmers and peasants can feed the world.

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Peter Crosskey is based in the UK.