Oxfam International Blogs - seeds http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/tags/seeds en Day 9: Who Will Feed Us All? http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/12-12-20-day-9-who-will-feed-us-all <div class="field field-name-body"><p><em><strong>If we are to survive climate change, we must adopt policies that let peasants diversify the plant and animal varieties on our menus. Only they have the know-how and patience to find out what plants and livestock will thrive where. A fundamental change in the regulatory machinery is needed.</strong></em></p> <p><em>By Pat Mooney, Co-founder and executive director of the <strong><a href="http://www.etcgroup.org" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">ETC Group</a></strong></em></p> <p>There has been a Pavlovian conviction that agricultural technology can meet our future food needs - and a pathological denial that industrial agriculture has contributed to today’s food crisis. Now, with climate change, the Global South’s food insecurity has morphed into a shared global challenge. Even soil-rich nations may not have the weather, water and other resources to feed themselves in 2050. </p> <p>Policy-makers are conventionally offered two options: the high-tech industrial food chain largely viewed as hyper-productive and efficient; or, the touchy-feely agro-ecological food web – the choice between the eco-foodie/fair traders’ 100 kilometer diet or agribusiness’s belt-busting 100 kilogram diet. The “smart menu,” of course, looks for the illusive middle ground – the best science while trading fairly and feeding sustainably.</p> <h3><em>“Is the food web just foodie romanticism?”</em></h3> <p>I am arguing that we are in a common and continuing food crisis; that the development ‘community’ is at the wrong starting point; that we don’t know very much; and, that we have to espouse the policies and practices of the peasant organizations that, today, provide humanity with at least 70 per cent of the food we eat. </p> <p>Is the food web just foodie romanticism? We tried to gather the facts that would prove the contribution of peasant provisioners (to describe both rural and urban food providers who are mostly outside the industrial food chain). But data on farm size and estimates on the number of rural peasants, for example, was at least a decade old and far from convincing. And, of course, farm calculations exclude hunting, gathering, fishing, and urban peasant production. </p> <p>In the end, we concluded that at least 70 of the food the world actually consumes every year is provisioned by rural and urban peasants. We could also conclude that only peasants have access to the technologies and resources we will all need in order to eat in 2050. </p> <p>Our 70 per cent estimate is inadvertently corroborated by the fertilizer industry  who worry that somewhere between 40 per cent and 60 per cent of the world’s food is grown without their synthetic chemicals. This is peasant production – farmers who either don’t want or can’t afford industry fertilizers. But, of course, many smallholders do use fertilizer so perhaps another 10 per cent or more of the world’s actual consumed foods are produced by peasants who do use chemicals. </p> <h3><em>“The suggestion that at least 70 per cent of consumed foods comes from rural and urban peasants seems modest.”</em></h3> <p>Beyond this, a significant share of the world’s food supply – conservatively, 15 per cent - comes from hunting and gathering – including artisanal inland and coastal fishers. Add to this the estimates that somewhere between 15 and 20 per cent of our food is produced in urban gardens and the suggestion that at least 70 per cent of consumed foods comes from rural and urban peasants seems modest.</p> <p>Looking at the question from the other end - the industrial food chain – strengthens the case. While the quantities are enormous, according to <strong><a href="http://www.fao.org/docrep/014/mb060e/mb060e00.pdf" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">recent FAO studies</a></strong>, at least a third of food produced is wasted either during production, transportation, processing or by rotting in the fridge. Then, calculate how much of our fishmeal and grain is fed to livestock or automobiles. </p> <p>We lose food before it can rot. What’s more, in OECD states (and increasingly in the global South) <strong><a href="http://www.researchgate.net/publication/5244304_Global_burden_of_obesity_in_2005_and_projections_to_2030" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">about a quarter of consumed calories are “waisted”</a></strong> - consumed unnecessarily, contributing to obesity.</p> <p>The unavoidable conclusion is that the industrial food chain is hugely ineffective. It only partly feeds people in the industrialized countries and has little left over for the rest of the world. The industrial food chain only gives us 30 per cent of our necessary consumption. </p> <h3><em>“The unavoidable conclusion is that the industrial food chain is hugely ineffective.”</em></h3> <p><em>The table below summarizes and updates our 2009 report, “Who Will Feed Us?” available at <strong><a href="http://www.etcgroup.org" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">www.etcgroup.org</a></strong>. Reference sources are available in this report and an upcoming sequel.</em></p> <p><a href="http://blogs.oxfam.org/sites/blogs.oxfam.org/files/etc-schedule.png" target="_blank"></a></p> <p><strong>The first policy principle</strong> in any crisis is not to mess with what works. The second principle is to be led by those most affected – the peasants. They are the folks who are growing the food and have access to the diversity we will need to survive the challenges ahead. That is why the recently-reformed UN/FAO Committee on World Food Security (CFS) is becoming so important. Not only do we have all the governments and multilateral agencies around the table, civil society organizations and peasant movements are also there. The only thing peasants can’t do is vote. </p> <h3><em>“Africa’s enslaved peasants smuggled almost 50 crops when they were shipped to the Americas.”</em></h3> <p>Peasants bring unique resources to the table and need support to deploy them. Within the first century of the colonial era – without trains or telegraphs – much less blogs or Twitter - peasants adapted Mayan maize to almost every growing region of Africa, while Asian peasants accomplished the same success with sweet potatoes. Meanwhile, Africa’s enslaved peasants smuggled almost 50 crops when they were shipped to the Americas. </p> <p>The Columbian exchange of 500 years ago was preceded by an Arabic transfer and, before that, the Silk Road and the mud trail kept moving crops and livestock between and among Eurasia and Africa. More recently, in 1849, the US began shipping free packets of experimental seed to settlers to kickstart crop production west of the Mississippi. By 1897, more than 20 million packets of exotic experimental seed were being sent to settlers every year. The highly successful seed experiment only ended in the late 1920s when seed companies realized that public sector distribution was interfering with private sector profits.</p> <p>To address climate change, we need this kind of seed exchange once again. Over the past six decades, peasants have donated at least two million locally-bred plant varieties for storage in the world’s major <strong><a href="http://www.fao.org/docrep/013/i1500e/i1500e03.pdf" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">gene banks</a></strong>. Peasants are also the breeders and protectors of almost 8,000 rare livestock breeds of 40 species. Gene banks, as a policy priority, must multiply the peasant varieties and make them freely available to peasant organizations upon request. </p> <h3><em>“Over the past six decades, peasants have donated at least two million locally-bred plant varieties for storage in the world’s major gene banks. “</em></h3> <p><strong>If we are to survive climate change</strong>, we must adopt policies that let peasants diversify the plant and animal species and varieties/breeds that make up our menus. Plants and livestock are going to have to move around so that they can be used under the conditions in which they can thrive. There are, of course, phytosanitary considerations; support will be needed from FAO and perhaps from the Biodiversity Convention. </p> <p>The only people with the know-how and patience to experiment with crops and livestock are peasants. Peasants will require a fundamental change in the regulatory machinery – including intellectual property regimes - so they can exchange and develop seeds/breeds among themselves around the world. </p> <p>The rest of us urgently need to come together across all of the food web to see how we can collaborate. As cell phone technologies spread across every continent, our collective capacity to exchange information makes it possible for all of us to keep up with the innovative energies of peasants.</p> <p>Download: <strong><a href="http://blogs.oxfam.org/sites/blogs.oxfam.org/files/who-will-feed-us-all-mooney-dec2012.pdf" target="_blank">Who Will Feed Us All?</a></strong></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Day 9: Who Will Feed Us All?</h2></div><ul class="links inline"><li class="translation_fr first"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/fr/blogs/12-12-20-jour-9-qui-nous-nourrira" title="Jour 9: Qui nous nourrira tous ?" class="translation-link" xml:lang="fr">Français</a></li> <li class="translation_es last"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/es/blogs/12-12-20-dia-9-quien-nos-alimentara" title="Día 9: ¿Quién nos alimentará? " class="translation-link" xml:lang="es">Español</a></li> </ul> Wed, 19 Dec 2012 23:00:01 +0000 Pat Mooney 10172 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/12-12-20-day-9-who-will-feed-us-all#comments Day 8: The Future is Already Here http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/12-12-19-day-8-future-already-here <div class="field field-name-body"><p><em><strong>The future has arrived, it’s just not at the scale required. The spread of bottom-up approaches to farmer innovation, coupled with breakthrough technology developed by input companies, will make smallholders productive and profitable. Crucially, new technologies must be accessible, appropriate and affordable.</strong></em></p> <p><em>By Kavita Prakash-Mani, Head of Food Security Agenda, <strong><a href="http://www.syngenta.com/global/corporate/en/Pages/home.aspx" rel="nofollow">Syngenta International</a></strong></em></p> <p>How can we develop smallholder farming in a way that is appropriate, equitable and helps to feed the 8 billion people who will inhabit the world in 25 years – including the 870 million who are hungry today – and still live within Earth’s planetary boundaries? New models are already being developed and tested, some led by donors and NGOs, others by multinational food companies or small entrepreneurs, and still others by multiple players working together. </p> <p>Successful examples of public-private partnerships can be seen in Brazil, Vietnam and increasingly in Africa. For example, the <strong><a href="http://growafrica.com" rel="nofollow">Grow Africa</a></strong> partnership platform that began in 2011, brings together governments from a number of countries including Ethiopia, Tanzania, Ghana, as well as donor agencies, local and multinational companies, and civil society organisations to invest in agricultural transformation by placing smallholders at the heart of development.</p> <p>However initiatives like this are not enough. Much more needs to be done – and even more important, to be done at scale. </p> <p><strong>The technology debate</strong>While farmers are stewards of their land and experts in their local cultivation practices, there is a role for other players and for technology to make the job of farming less hard, more productive, and more sustainable. Currently, there is disagreement on the impact of technologies and what intervention or techniques are appropriate. Will technology make the farmer profitable or will she get caught in a debt spiral? Will it create a dependency for the farmer or enhance farmer choice? Will it have a detrimental impact on the environment or conserve resources and ecosystems? </p> <h3><em>“Will technology make the farmer profitable or will she get caught in a debt spiral?”</em></h3> <p>Going forward, we foresee the need for ‘hybrid’ solutions tailored to different geographies, climates and crops. We see the debate moving on from the simple choice between organic versus technology-driven solutions to one where seemingly opposing approaches come together to create the most effective solution. </p> <p>For example, conservation practices which protect soil and water will be enabled by the use of crop protection solutions, and may also result in a decreased use of fertilizers. Pressure from pests will be reduced by crop rotation and integrated pest management approaches, including the use of beneficial insects and biological controls. Certified clean seeds, bred for local conditions and able to withstand changing weather patterns, will result in much higher yields and use less environmental resources. </p> <p><strong>Farmers as innovators</strong>Farmers know their land better than anyone else.  They have learned over generations what works on their farms – which crops do well, what to plant and when, how to manage their soil and water. They can often be risk averse and slow to adopt new ideas, but they can also be innovative and come up with new, locally relevant, economically feasible solutions. </p> <p>There is no doubt that farmers’ innovations will need further support. Even now, according to the FAO , $83 billion needs to be invested in agricultural research and downstream services, to support the development and scaling up of local knowledge and best practice. </p> <p>We see a future where there will be greater emphasis on learning from farmers and more investment to enable farmers to develop their own approaches to such challenges as soil fertility, seed productivity, fighting pests and diseases, and climate change. </p> <p>Greater government investment in local agricultural schools will make for better trained local scientists, agronomists and extension workers. Local universities will work with farmers to understand, catalogue and review the farmers’ own practices and use of inputs – and, in turn, invest in further developing and disseminating local best practice. </p> <h3><em>“Greater government investment in local agricultural schools will make for better trained local scientists, agronomists and extension workers.”</em></h3> <p>Development of local capacity should also help address the lack of investment in orphan or neglected crops. These are locally relevant crops such as sorghum, tef and cassava, which form the dietary staple for many resource-poor farmers and their families, but have seen no investment in research and development to improve their productivity. </p> <p>A bottom-up approach to innovation would be supported by multinational companies and research organizations through investment, training and student exchange. Donors would provide grants to local scientists and agronomists. Partnerships would be developed like the <strong><a href="http://www.gatesfoundation.org/agriculturaldevelopment/Pages/water-efficient-maize.aspx" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Water Efficient Maize for Africa initiative</a></strong>, where the private sector, development agencies, public research organizations and local research institutes work together to develop drought-tolerant maize varieties suitable for the African region. </p> <h3><em>“Geographic distance will not be a constraint in the future.” </em></h3> <p>In the decades to come, there will be much more open-source innovation and knowledge sharing. All types of organizations, whether multinational companies, research institutes or local NGOs, will recognize local knowledge and disseminate it more widely – farmer to farmer, region to region. Innovative solutions shared through cloud sourcing and social media will enable farmers globally to freely access and share their own experience and learning. We know farmers learn best from other farmers. Geographic distance will not be a constraint in the future. </p> <p>Such grassroots innovation should result in lower cost, locally applicable and globally adaptable solutions that also provide an economic benefit to the farmer innovator. </p> <p><strong>Technology that is appropriate, accessible and affordable</strong>While bottom-up farmer-led innovation will make a substantial difference to smallholder productivity and profitability, farmers cannot develop all the solutions required. They will also need investment in breakthrough technology in the form of better seeds, fertilizers, crop protection, mechanization, irrigation and even better agronomy practices. Given the scale of investment required to develop such technologies, agriculture input companies will continue to play a critical role. </p> <p>The challenge of how to make these inputs accessible, available and affordable for smallholder farmers will be addressed. For one, more farms will be profitable in the future and more farmers should have the income to access these solutions. But it is likely that there will be a subset of farmers who can’t afford them or can only afford them through loans at very high interest rates. In a profession that is plagued by disasters − environmental forces such as droughts or floods, or through pests and disease − the risk to the farmer is very high. </p> <p>With more public investment in agricultural R&amp;D, the cost of development could be subsidized. Newer techniques, such as marker-assisted breeding and precision agriculture, greater collaboration between public and private entities, open-source idea generation, virtual teams and collaboration, should all enable faster and cheaper technology development. Working more closely with the farmers themselves will enable companies to target more clearly identified needs and develop more appropriate responses.  </p> <h3><em>“Working more closely with the farmers themselves will enable companies to target more clearly identified needs and develop more appropriate responses.”</em></h3> <p>More investment in infrastructure, clarity of regulation and opening of markets will in turn facilitate easier distribution of these technologies to those who need it most, even in remote areas – and not at exorbitant costs. </p> <p>In addition, providing credit at fair terms, pricing products so they are affordable, enabling farmers to secure a purchase with affordable insurance to reduce their financial risk, setting up contracts for farmers to sell their products, are all methods being tested in the market now to enable farmers to access inputs and technology without high risk. Such financial solutions will be the norm in the future.</p> <p>In many ways, the future is already here. It’s just not at the scale required to make a significant impact. While we need to invest in bottom-up innovative solutions as well as global technologies, we have to ensure that these are accessible, appropriate and affordable to the farmers who need them most. That’s both the challenge and the opportunity facing us. Only then can we secure economic growth for 500 million smallholder farmers and achieve food security globally. </p> <p>Download: <strong><a href="http://blogs.oxfam.org/sites/blogs.oxfam.org/files/future-already-here-prakash-mani-dec2012.pdf" target="_blank">The Future is Already Here</a></strong></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Day 8: The Future is Already Here</h2></div><ul class="links inline"><li class="translation_fr first"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/fr/blogs/12-12-19-jour-8-avenir-est-deja-la" title="Jour 8: L’avenir est déjà là" class="translation-link" xml:lang="fr">Français</a></li> <li class="translation_es last"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/es/blogs/12-12-19-dia-8-el-futuro-ya-llego" title="Día 8: El futuro ya llegó" class="translation-link" xml:lang="es">Español</a></li> </ul> Tue, 18 Dec 2012 23:02:00 +0000 Kavita Prakash-Mani 10167 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/12-12-19-day-8-future-already-here#comments Day 7: Working harder isn’t working http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/12-12-18-day-7-working-harder-isnt-working <div class="field field-name-body"><p><em><strong>Striving to produce ever more food is the wrong starting point for achieving food security. Instead, let’s focus on reducing inequalities by giving small-scale farmers’ more control, valuing their knowledge, and removing barriers that hamper women’s ability to farm on equal terms.</strong></em></p> <p><em>By Rokeya Kabir, Executive Director of <strong><a href="http://bnps.org/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Bangladesh Nari Progati Sangha</a></strong> (BNPS)</em></p> <p>Every year it seems we have to relearn the hard lesson that producing more food is no guarantee of ending hunger. This decade, Bangladesh has gradually increased rice production, saving the national economy a significant amount of foreign exchange that once went to pay for imported rice. Thanks to our farmers and their backbreaking efforts, our leaders can now smugly proclaim, “We produce enough to feed the nation!” Or “The country has no food deficit!” </p> <h3><em>“Every year it seems we have to relearn the hard lesson that producing more food is no guarantee of ending hunger.”</em></h3> <p>Sadly, this macroeconomic reality has not brought benefits to farmers themselves. In the low-lying region of the northeast, for example, around forty percent of households are still unable to eat two meals a day, even though the region is well-known as centre of rice production. (Fishing is the other source of living for people there, but corruption and political influence in leasing system deprives fisherfolk from access to many water bodies.) </p> <p>The problem is the imbalance between price of food and the income of the poor. Bumper harvests were achieved by the state-sponsored use of new seeds, chemical fertilizers and pesticides. But those same innovations also raised production costs, even beyond what farmers can get for their harvests. Because small-scale farmers must borrow money to plant, this profit-loss imbalance keeps them locked in a vicious cycle of debt. </p> <p>It is time to rethink the technology used in farming and related services to empower peasants to earn a living, feed their families and keep food prices affordable for all income groups. Let’s start by valuing farmers’ indigenous knowledge, experience and innovation, using a farmer-led approach to improve their natural resource base. </p> <p>Investment in farmer-centric research for recovery and improvement of indigenous rice varieties should be the first step. The indigenous varieties of rice that made northeast Bangladesh a centre of rice production long before the introduction of foreign seeds have almost disappeared. The goal should be to free our farmers from dependence on the seeds of multinational companies and its local agents, including giant corporate-NGOs.  </p> <h3><em>“It is time to rethink the technology used in farming and related services to empower peasants to earn a living.”</em></h3> <p>Once seeds are under farmers’ control and their rights over them are guaranteed, farmers could regenerate and expand their biodiversity as they have for generations. Control over seeds is the lifeline of the farming community and strengthening farmers’ seed system is essential for innovation and knowledge generation.</p> <p>Planting indigenous varieties of rice and other crops would reduce costs with a positive impact on lives and livelihoods. It would lessen the use of chemical fertilizer and pesticides and augment the use of organic and environment friendly alternatives. Current production methods cost the ecosystem heavily, causing damaging soil quality and extinction of flora and fauna. It would also promote diversity: of species and crop varieties, of ecosystems and habitats, of knowledge and practice, even of relationships.</p> <p>Farmers lost control over seeds at the same time that they lost control over other farming essentials, like fertilizer and pesticides. The Structural Adjustment Program led by the World Bank and bilateral agencies (particularly USAID) in the 1980s transferred public services for farmers from the state-owned Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC) to the private sector. This was done in the name of promoting competition, but in reality the new market system allowed private dealers who enjoy political backing to manipulate stock levels.</p> <h3><em>“In reality the new market system allowed private dealers who enjoy political backing to manipulate stock levels.”</em></h3> <p>It’s a similar story with ground water for irrigation. Farmers are dependent on local water lords who own the deep tube-wells in each locality, privatized under Structural Adjustment. The market control exercised by water lords is a key factor in high production costs, and the wells also contaminate drinking water with arsenic.</p> <p>State subsidies for agriculture have not compensated for the stranglehold exercised by private traders. In fact, studies show that sixty percent of beneficiaries of subsidies are not poor, but rich landowners and non-farmer traders. The same is true regarding bank loans: the lion’s share, which should be set aside for poor and landless farmers, goes to rich landowners.</p> <p>These middle-men, rice mill owners and traders, also control the sales end of the market, offering farmers low prices at harvest time. Government and NGOs should facilitate farmers’ cooperatives to market crops directly to consumers. That would ensure fair prices at both ends, for producers and consumers.</p> <p>A more just agricultural system would also remove the particular barriers faced by women farmers. Our rural women are a major part of the farm workforce, yet are virtually invisible to family, state and society. Their unpaid contribution is not calculated in national GDP at all. </p> <h3><em>“Farmers have worked hard to increase food production, but the system is stacked against them.”</em></h3> <p>Close to half of all farmers in the nation are now women as more men have left to look for jobs in the cities or abroad. However, to be eligible for government funding for farm supplies, farmers need an Agriculture Input Assistance Card (AIAC) to prove their land ownership, which many women can't get because the land is in their husbands' names. Without the cards, women farmers have to work much harder to food on the table for their families. </p> <p>It is a gross violation of the rights of these millions of women who are relentlessly working to increase the country’s food production. No wonder a fundamental demand of the Bangladeshi women’s movement is to reform inheritance laws so that women can inherit land. Such a step is essential for sustainable agriculture and food security too! </p> <p>Our farmers have worked hard to increase food production, but the system is stacked against them. Working harder is not working. We need to change the system. Valuing farmers’ knowledge, experience and innovation is the logical place to start.</p> <p>Download: <strong><a href="http://blogs.oxfam.org/sites/blogs.oxfam.org/files/working-harder-isnt-working-kabir-dec2012.pdf" target="_blank">Working harder isn’t working</a></strong></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Day 7: Working harder isn’t working</h2></div><ul class="links inline"><li class="translation_fr first"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/fr/blogs/12-12-18-jour-7-travailler-plus-dur-ne-sert-rien" title="Jour 7: Travailler plus fort ne marche pas" class="translation-link" xml:lang="fr">Français</a></li> <li class="translation_es last"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/es/blogs/12-12-18-dia-7-trabajar-mas-no-sirve" title="Día 7: Trabajar más no sirve" class="translation-link" xml:lang="es">Español</a></li> </ul> Mon, 17 Dec 2012 23:04:00 +0000 Rokeya Kabir 10157 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/12-12-18-day-7-working-harder-isnt-working#comments Day 9: Feminism and Food Sovereignty http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/feminism-and-food-sovereignty <div class="field field-name-body"><p><em><strong>Food sovereignty offers opportunities to advance women’s rights, but we must also work to change gender relations within rural families and within our own movement. Peasant movements such as La Via Campesina must step up to the challenge of linking food sovereignty and feminism.</strong></em></p> <p>By <a href="http://blogs.oxfam.org/en/user/profile/pamela-elisa-caro-molina"><strong>Pamela Elisa Caro Molina</strong></a>, feminist researcher working with CLOC-La Via Campesina</p> <p>Food sovereignty offers opportunities to advance women’s rights within the food system, but we must also work to restore gender relations within rural families and within our own movement. <strong>Food sovereignty is about to peoples’ right to decide what to produce.</strong> From a feminist perspective, we need to ask ourselves who has the power to exercise this right. Peasant movements such as <a href="http://viacampesina.org/en/" rel="nofollow"><strong>La Via Campesina</strong></a> must step up to the challenge of articulating food sovereignty and feminism.</p> <p>Food sovereignty is a proposed alternative to the neoliberal model of food production and consumption. The term was coined at a forum held alongside the <a href="http://www.fao.org/wfs/index_en.htm" rel="nofollow"><strong>1996 World Food Summit</strong></a>, the result of a collective people’s concept-building process, with many women participating from La Vía Campesina (LVC).</p> <p>Under the banner “food is not a matter of markets, but of sovereignty”, the movement defends people’s right to define their own agricultural policies and to organize the distribution, exchange and consumption of food according to the needs of families and rural communities, and other cultural, ethical and aesthetic factors, in sufficient quality and quantity.</p> <p>Food sovereignty involves protecting and regulating local production and trade with a view to sustainable rural development; to fostering organic farming practices; to promoting rural–urban alliances and fair trade; and to rejecting the privatization of land, biofuels, genetically modified crops, single-crop farming and agrochemicals.</p> <p>Food sovereignty offers opportunities to advance women’s rights within the food system, because it acknowledges the historic role they have played since the invention of farming in gathering and sowing seeds, and as protectors and guardians of biodiversity and genetic resources. Women provide moral, social and emotional support for food sovereignty, “creating bread and food out of nothing”.</p> <h3><em>"Biotechnology and intellectual property rights form gender barriers to the recognition of women within the food system."</em></h3> <p>Seeds are rural women’s greatest treasure. They are both the beginning and the end of the production cycle that reflects a people’s history. If seeds exist in diverse forms and circulate freely as a collective asset, they will guarantee an abundance of food. As a result, biotechnology and intellectual property rights form gender barriers to the recognition of women within the food system, preventing women from passing on their knowledge.</p> <p>As well as strengthening local banks of indigenous seeds and continuing to promote seed exchanges, one bold suggestion would be to symbolically and materially reward women who keep and reproduce seeds.</p> <p>From a feminist perspective, the agenda of recognizing women’s historic role is not enough. We must also attempt to restore gender relations within families and our own movement, as well as re-evaluate the economic and productive nature of reproduction and food, questioning the organizational structure of the economic system based on the idea that reproduction and production are not autonomous.</p> <p>Women are beginning to assess their own personal contribution to the agricultural economy. Naturalization, invisibilization and discrimination are still taking place. One challenge for these movements is to assume that “the personal is political”, moving from “class to gender” and recognizing rural women as economic actors and political subjects with individual rights, not just holders of collective rights as a social category.</p> <p>Food sovereignty involves wholesale agricultural reform. This process must be a bold one, however, involving equality, ensuring that women are fully entitled to access and control land, fishing areas and grazing migration routes, and that indigenous people have land rights. Concrete suggestions include revising farmers’ understanding of collective and community land ownership and ensuring that land is divided fairly between the men and women who work it, including individual and joint ownership.</p> <p>Food sovereignty appeals to people’s right to decide what to produce. From a feminist point of view, we should ask ourselves how the power is divided in the exercising of this right. Concrete advances in gender emancipation will take place if decision making is egalitarian, ensuring internal democracy within families, communities and organizations.</p> <p>More specifically, we should aim to create fair decision-making bodies and help women not to feel afraid to make decisions by boosting their self-esteem, thereby promoting access to better education and training them in lobbying.</p> <p>We are currently faced with both opportunities and risks, which the movements need to come to terms with. The re-evaluation of historic social roles, such as the role of food provider, runs the risk of being limited to a mere symbolic recognition, which could even reinforce the traditional patriarchal gender division of work.</p> <p>Another risk is that of reinforcing a self-satisfied discourse of victimization, based on women’s excessive responsibilities and greater burden of work (both productive and reproductive), including the provision of care.</p> <h3><em>"We are missing opportunities to take advantage of the awakening of women's consciousness."</em></h3> <p>Opportunities are being missed to take advantage of the awakening of female consciousness and women’s leadership in movements such as LVC to question politically the patriarchal organizational structure of the economy, starting with the rural family unit.</p> <p>The <a href="http://movimientos.org/cloc/show_text.php3?key=17408" rel="nofollow"><strong>organizations</strong></a> themselves are aware that when they point out that the recognition of women’s historic contribution should result in proposals for gender equality, the patriarchal system of relations broadly continues to be established within rural daily life, making male domination an ongoing tie (Brasilia declaration by social organizations, social movements and NGOs on voluntary guidelines for ownership of land and natural resources. Page 3).</p> <p>Articulating food sovereignty and feminism is therefore the unavoidable challenge facing social movements such as LVC. It requires them to review their focuses and strategies with a view to making advances in gender equality and the empowerment of women. The strategies that should be reinforced are to continue claiming social assets and productive resources (land, water, equipment, machinery, storage centres), but also to promote genuine participation, autonomy and sovereignty for women in all areas: the economy, politics, and even sexuality, calling on women to uphold the “sovereignty of the land of their bodies” by saying ‘no’ to gender violence.</p> <p>Concrete suggestions include fostering the balanced participation of men and women in all stages of the production and distribution of food, setting up alert systems when, for cultural reasons, activities that are carried out mainly by women (such as seed reproduction) are undervalued and, by contrast, the public activities that tend to involve men more (such as selling) are overvalued. Another suggestion is to promote women taking control of the entire economic and production chain, all the way up to selling their produce at markets, with income for individual women to help to support their autonomy.</p> <p>Food-related chores should be the responsibility of everyone, not just of women as part of the gender mandate. For LVC, this should involve politicizing private food-preparation spaces, incorporating a “behind closed doors” debate into families’ and couples’ lives and questioning the unfair traditional organizational structure of rural families.</p> <h3><em>"The movement should publicly denounce gender inequalities in society, families and in social organizations."</em></h3> <p><em></em>The challenges facing the movement include publicly denouncing gender inequalities in society, families and social organizations, as well as promoting practical models of agrofood production that involve equal work and equal rest, like a horizontal, cooperative employer–employee relationship, with no privileges for men or gender-based hierarchies.</p> <p>Since these changes are not “by decree”, the platform must generate awareness-raising processes that seek to denaturalize certain behaviours and eliminate patriarchal views that subtly infiltrate the consciousness, with the understanding that the invisible destiny of women is a social and therefore removable phenomenon, and that gender equity involves both interchangeability and reciprocity.</p> <p>These daily spaces for reflection in rural life can take place at a social gathering, around the stove, at a party or even at a football match. It is also a good idea to hold workshops with children and teenagers, as well as using local media to promote the message of equality.</p> <p>La Via Campesina’s female leaders in Latin America have held a number of food sovereignty campaigns, which have caused tensions among male leaders, who have spent years in public leadership roles. In the process of strengthening leadership positions in order to challenge imbalances of power, it is essential to promote alliances with non-rural feminist movements, which can provide training, arguments and strategies for tackling the conflicts that arise out of change, helping to make the process of gender equality a sustainable one. </p> <p>Download: <a href="http://blogs.oxfam.org/sites/blogs.oxfam.org/files/Pamela-Caro_Oxfam-online-discussion.pdf"><strong>Food Sovereignty and Gender Equality</strong></a></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Day 9: Feminism and Food Sovereignty</h2></div><ul class="links inline"><li class="translation_fr first"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/fr/blogs/feminisme-et-souverainete-alimentaire" title="Jour 9: Féminisme et souveraineté alimentaire" class="translation-link" xml:lang="fr">Français</a></li> <li class="translation_es last"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/es/blogs/feminismo-y-soberania-alimentaria" title="Día 9: Feminismo y soberania alimentaria" class="translation-link" xml:lang="es">Español</a></li> </ul> Thu, 29 Nov 2012 00:10:00 +0000 Pamela Elisa Caro Molina 10086 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/feminism-and-food-sovereignty#comments Day 3: Seeds in Women’s Hands http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/seeds-in-womens-hands <div class="field field-name-body"><p><em><strong>Seeds are the first link in the food chain. Yet women seed breeders are invisible in the industrial model of food production and in intellectual property regimes. The roots of food and gender justice lie in keeping seeds in women’s hands and recognizing women’s knowledge of biodiversity.</strong></em></p> <p>by <a href="http://blogs.oxfam.org/en/user/profile/dr-vandana-shiva"><strong>Vandana Shiva</strong></a>, philosopher, feminist and environmental activist</p> <p><strong>Health and nutrition begin with food, and food begins with seeds</strong>. The seeds of food justice lie in creating food systems where seed is in women’s hands, and women’s knowledge of biodiversity is the foundation of food and nutritional security.</p> <p>Women have been seed breeders for centuries and have bred much more diversity and traits than all the industrial breeding systems that are formally recognized. Science and culture merge in women’s seed breeding.</p> <p>Nowhere is this more evident than in India. I have seen how tribal women of Chattisgarh take 21 seeds for a seed germination test, and do not use the seed if more than 3 seeds fail to germinate. In Karnataka, the ceremony of germinating nine seeds for nine days at Ugadi, the New Year in the indigenous calendar, is also a seed germination test (called navdanya). Seed saving, seed selection and seed breeding are sophisticated skills which generations of women have evolved.</p> <p>Seed is the first link in the food chain. Yet women as seed breeders are invisible in the intellectual property regimes linked to seed. Seed, which used to be saved and bred by women, is now the ‘intellectual property’ of the chemical corporations, which are now also the seed corporations controlling 73 % of the world’s seed supply. When these corporations patent seed, they collect royalties. Royalties on seed mean higher seed costs. Seed in women’s hands is renewable and ‘open-source’, to be freely shared and saved. Patented seed becomes non-renewable. Saving and exchanging seed becomes an intellectual property crime. When women sow seed, they pray ’may this seed be exhaustless’. Corporations work on the philosophy ’may this seed be terminated so our profits are exhaustless’.</p> <h3><em>"Seed is the first link in the food chain. Yet women as seed breeders are invisible in the intellectual property regimes linked to seed."</em></h3> <p>High costs of seed means debt. In India 250,000 farmers have committed suicide due to debt, mainly in the cotton belt, since seed monopolies were established through the introduction of Bt cotton. Each farmer who commits suicide leaves behind a widow.</p> <p>Across the world, women have bred more than 7,000 species of crops for taste, nutrition, pest resilience, drought resilience, flood resilience, and salt resistance. In India alone, women have bred 200,000 rice varieties. <a href="http://www.navdanya.org/" rel="nofollow"><strong>Navdanya</strong></a>, a network of seed keepers and organic producers that is spread across 16 states in India, values this biodiversity and has so far successfully conserved more than 5,000 crop varieties. This is knowledge.</p> <p>Corporations claiming patents on seed through genetic engineering have offered only four crops: corn, soya, canola and cotton. These crops have only two traits (herbicide resistance and Bt toxin) which, instead of controlling pests and weeds, are creating <a href="http://www.navdanya.org/attachments/Latest_Publications5.pdf" rel="nofollow"><strong>superpests and superweeds</strong></a>. Our seeds and breeding would be more secure in women’s hands!</p> <p>Not only are women seed breeders who have kept seed as a commons; when measured in terms of health per acre and nutrition per acre, women-run small biodiverse farms that are based on indigenous knowledge and seeds produce more food. Navdanya’s study <a href="http://www.navdanya.org/attachments/Health%20Per%20Acre.pdf" rel="nofollow"><strong>Health Per Acre</strong></a> shows that small ecological farms can produce twice the nutrition that chemical monoculture farms produce.</p> <p>Intellectual property rights to seed are justified in the name of producing more food. However instead of biodiverse outputs from a farming system, only the yield of one commodity that leaves the farm is measured. False categories of ‘yields ‘and ‘productivity’ create the illusion of inevitability, surpluses, and success. But more commodities of a few crops on the global markets do not reach those who need food, especially women and children.</p> <h3><em>"Our seeds and breeding would be more secure in women’s hands!"</em></h3> <p>All this is done in the name of feeding people and reducing hunger. Yet 1 billion people are hungry, and another 2 billion suffer from food-related diseases. Hunger is not being reduced, because the hunger for profits shapes the food system, from seed to table.</p> <p>The industrial model of food production and the globalized model of distribution are failing on the measure of food justice, because that was never its objective. Its objective is profits, and this is achieved through a dual strategy: selling ever more chemicals and non-renewable, patented seed to farmers, even if this means debt and suicide, and buying cheap commodities from them as raw material producers.</p> <p>We need a paradigm shift because the old paradigm is failing us. We need to move from monocultures to diversity, from centralized globalized systems to decentralized localized systems, from chemical and capital intensification, to ecological and biodiversity intensification.</p> <h3><em>"The industrial model of food production and the globalized model of distribution are failing on the measure of food justice, because that was never its objective."</em></h3> <p>When I did my study on the green revolution in Punjab in 1984, female foeticide was just beginning. Today more than 35 million girl children have not been allowed to be born in India. When women’s creative and productive roles in agriculture and food systems are destroyed, women become a dispensable sex. In addition to many other benefits, putting women’s seed and biodiversity expertise at the heart of food justice also has the potential to address gender violence and injustice.</p> <p>To sow the seeds of food and gender justice, the following steps must be taken:</p> <ul><li>Women’s seed breeding skills need to be recognized in agriculture.</li> <li>Farming systems need to be based on women’s knowledge of diversity for increasing output of nutrition, increasing resilience to climate change, and reducing inputs of land, water and capital.</li> <li>Community seed banks should be created and women’s participatory seed breeding should become the backbone of food security.</li> <li>Laws of intellectual property need to change. The <a href="http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/trips_e/trips_e.htm" rel="nofollow"><strong>World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights</strong></a> (TRIPS) has an article which imposes patents and intellectual property rights on seed and life forms. This clause was to have been reviewed in 1999. Most countries had called for a stop to patents on life, which includes seed. This mandatory review should be completed, and seed removed from patentability, since seeds are not an invention, and hence not a patentable subject matter.</li> <li>Seed laws that are an attempt to make indigenous, open-pollinated seeds illegal must be revoked. Instead we need to shape laws that recognize seed rights as women’s rights, and keep seed as a commons.</li> </ul><p>Download: <a href="http://blogs.oxfam.org/sites/blogs.oxfam.org/files/Vandana-Shiva-Oxfam-online-discussion.pdf"><strong>Seeds in Women's Hands</strong></a></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Day 3: Seeds in Women’s Hands </h2></div><ul class="links inline"><li class="translation_fr first"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/fr/blogs/les-semences-aux-mains-des-femmes" title="Jour 3: Les semences aux mains des femmes" class="translation-link" xml:lang="fr">Français</a></li> <li class="translation_es last"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/es/blogs/las-semillas-en-manos-de-las-mujeres" title="Día 3: Las semillas en manos de las mujeres" class="translation-link" xml:lang="es">Español</a></li> </ul> Wed, 21 Nov 2012 00:00:01 +0000 Dr. Vandana Shiva 10051 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/seeds-in-womens-hands#comments Planting the seeds of a better future in South Sudan http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blog/11-09-06-planting-seeds-better-future-south-sudan <div class="field field-name-body"><p><em>With failed rains, conflict and poor</em> <em>infrastructure, many communities in South Sudan struggle to get enough to eat. <strong>Abdullah Ampilan</strong> reports from Warrap State on an Oxfam project to improve their long-term food security, providing tools and seeds to help farmers grow a wider variety of crops:</em></p> <p>Justin Madut’s family was one of many badly affected by a long drought that lasted for six months. They had only one meal a day during the drought. He even sold his animals to meet the needs of his five growing children. Now, with the help of an Oxfam project, things are starting to change.</p> <p>“We have been suffering from hunger due to long drought in the recent years. I am hoping that with the diversification of food sources, we can cope with the drought without being hungry,” says Justin, a 32-year old farmer from the remote village of Malual Kuel in Gogrial East County.</p> <h3>Improving farming practices</h3> <p>Justin’s family is one of the 2235 households in 11 villages that have benefited from Intermón Oxfam’s food security program, distributing seeds and tools. “Oxfam’s workers are assisting us not only with the seeds and tools but also giving us training to improve our farming practices,” he adds.</p> <p>With the seeds, Justin is now growing different crops such as sorghum, groundnuts, cassava and a variety of vegetables. He is a member of “seed multiplier” groups targeted by Oxfam to increase production of groundnuts and sorghum.</p> <p>Farmers in this area have been used to the conventional farming system. They till the land using a simple and sharpened piece of metal called a ‘<em>pur’</em>, which takes a lot of time and effort before they can finish cultivating a small portion of the field.</p> <h3>Ox-ploughs and vegetable gardens</h3> <p>Justin's wife, Abang, with sorghum just harvested from their farm</p> <p>Oxfam is addressing this situation by introducing ox-ploughs to groups of farmers, and training them how to operate and maintain the new ploughs.</p> <p>The project also promotes vegetable production by women. At least 30 women in ten villages are receiving training and support to grow vegetables, with each group receiving six varieties of vegetables and gardening tools.</p> <p>Local farmers also raise cattle as a source of food and income. During drought there is a high mortality rate of these animals. Tribal conflicts are also common because of competition for grazing grounds and water sources.</p> <h3>A community of learners</h3> <p>“Together with the community, we are identifying viable “cash for work” activities like the construction of water pans (traditional reservoirs for storing water during the dry seasons) to mitigate the impacts of the drought on animals,” says Opio Peter Patrick, Oxfam’s Food Security Officer in the area.</p> <p>According to Opio, an increase in food and income is very feasible with the proper training and close follow up with communities:</p> <p>“Addressing food insecurity demands a holistic, multi-sectoral approach. I see positive reactions from the villagers to sustain the recommended farming practices. I look forward to having a community of learners that would eventually replicate the ideas across the state.”</p> <h3>Read more</h3> <p><strong>Download the report: <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/policy/getting-it-right-start-south-sudan" rel="nofollow">Getting it Right from the Start: Priorities for Action in the New Republic of South Sudan</a></strong></p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/south-sudan" rel="nofollow">Oxfam's work in South Sudan</a></strong></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Planting the seeds of a better future in South Sudan</h2></div><ul class="links inline"><li class="translation_fr first"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/fr/blog/11-09-06-semences-avenir-meilleur-sud-soudan" title="Les semences d&#039;un avenir meilleur pour le Sud-Soudan" class="translation-link" xml:lang="fr">Français</a></li> <li class="translation_es last"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/es/blog/11-09-07-plantando-las-semillas-para-un-futuro-mejor-en-el-sur-de-sudan" title="Plantando las semillas para un futuro mejor en el sur de Sudán" class="translation-link" xml:lang="es">Español</a></li> </ul> Tue, 06 Sep 2011 15:22:56 +0000 Abdullah Ampilan 9715 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blog/11-09-06-planting-seeds-better-future-south-sudan#comments