Oxfam International Blogs - food sovereignty http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/tags/food-sovereignty en Cultivating Food Security for the people of El Salvador http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/14-10-14-cultivating-food-security-people-el-salvador <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong>Food. It’s one of life’s great pleasures. We think about it all the time. Most of us eat food at least three times a day. </strong>Some of us take photos of food and upload them to social media. But in El Salvador those who grow over 80% of the food consumed in the country are those most likely to suffer from hunger. What’s more, the rates of undernourishment and malnutrition are alarming.</p> <p>How can a nation not worry about its citizens’ Right to Food? That's the question those of us who dream of a future where all people can cultivate food, and enjoy it, are asking.</p> <p><strong>According to official figures, chronic malnutrition affects 1 in 5 children under five-years-old in El Salvador.</strong> The scenario is worse in the provinces of Morazán, Ahuachapán and Sonsonate where 2 in 5 children go to bed malnourished.</p> <p><strong>Paradoxically, in recent years the numbers of overweight and obese children have quadrupled.</strong> Both problems have the same root: farming families in the countryside do not have the necessary resources to produce enough good food. Food is getting more expensive. El Salvador is prone to flooding which has got worse due to climate change. Families in rural and urban areas are more impoverished. And our traditional diet has changed.</p> <p>So we need Salvadoran authorities to protect, promote and guarantee the people’s right to have enough, quality food at all times. And the legislators can make that happen. The Legislative Assembly can change the history of El Salvador with a simple but powerful action: Approve the law for Food Sovereignty, Security and Nutrition in El Salvador.</p> <h3><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/action/give-el-salvadors-families-right-good-food" rel="nofollow">Sign the petition to give El Salvador's families the right to good food</a></h3> <p>We’re aiming to collect 50,000 signatures in support of the law from people just like you. These signatures will then be presented to the legislators on World Food Day, October 16.</p> <p><strong>It's simple: Without good nutrition, human developement is not possible.</strong></p> <p>Without this law, there will be nothing to guarantee the demand for good food and nutrition. <strong>Without your support, there will be no law.</strong> The legislators do not want to act, and <strong>we need your pressure!</strong></p> <p>2014 is the UN International Year of Family Farming Internationally and the UN climate talks will also be held in our region, in Peru.</p> <p>So now, is a crucial time to highlight the threat of climate change and to ensure the right to appropriate food for all people, especially the most vulnerable.</p> <h3><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/action/give-el-salvadors-families-right-good-food" rel="nofollow">What you can do</a></h3> <p>You can also find us on Facebook <a href="https://es-es.facebook.com/pages/Mesa-por-la-Soberan%C3%ADa-Alimentaria/156019457895164" rel="nofollow"><strong>Mesa de soberanía alimentaria</strong></a> page and twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/@MsobAlimentaria" rel="nofollow"><strong>@MsobAlimentaria</strong></a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/@oxfam" rel="nofollow"><strong>@Oxfam</strong></a>, or just search for <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/leysoberaniaalimentariaes" rel="nofollow"><strong>#LeySoberaniaAlimentariaES</strong></a> and <strong><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GROW2014" rel="nofollow">#GROW2014</a></strong>.</p> <p>And check out this great <strong>animation video <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4SKJa39YWk&amp;feature=youtu.be" rel="nofollow">Petición ley soberanía alimentaria</a></strong> (available in Spanish).</p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Cultivating Food Security for the people of El Salvador</h2></div><ul class="links inline"><li class="translation_es first"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/es/blogs/14-10-14-cultivemos-soberan%C3%ADa-alimentaria-en-el-salvador" title="Cultivemos Soberanía Alimentaria en El Salvador" class="translation-link" xml:lang="es">Español</a></li> <li class="translation_fr last"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/fr/blogs/14-10-14-cultivons-la-s%C3%A9curit%C3%A9-alimentaire-pour-la-population-du-salvador" title="Cultivons la sécurité alimentaire pour la population du Salvador" class="translation-link" xml:lang="fr">Français</a></li> </ul> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +0000 Ana Iris Martinez Diaz 22174 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/14-10-14-cultivating-food-security-people-el-salvador#comments 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 6: The Future of Agriculture is the Future of Mother Earth http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/12-12-17-day-6-future-agriculture-future-mother-earth <div class="field field-name-body"><p><em><strong>Nothing is as ironic as the fact that we indigenous peoples, who brought so many foods to the world, lack the means to escape poverty and malnutrition. Having control over what we produce, how and when we do it, and power over its distribution will allow us to build sustainable livelihoods. We call that food sovereignty.</strong></em></p> <p><em>By Tarcila Rivera Zea, Director of the Centre for Peru’s Indigenous Cultures (<a href="http://www.chirapaq.org.pe/" rel="nofollow"><strong>CHIRAPAQ</strong></a>)</em></p> <p>For the women and men who work the land to have complete and equal control over the resources they need and the food they produce, a series of conditions would have to be met. Without them, any attempt to think about that scenario would be pointless.</p> <h3><em>“In our society being a peasant is viewed as better than being indigenous.”</em></h3> <p>Control over the economic, social, and political resources that make production economically feasible and sustainable—and then turn that into livelihoods that allow producers to support themselves—means having the power to decide how those resources are used. At this moment indigenous peoples do not have that power. However, before exploring how we might get there, let’s be clear about who the actors are in this drama.</p> <p><strong>Peasants and Indigenous People</strong>In our society, a strong social distinction has been drawn between peasants and indigenous people, whereby being a peasant is viewed as better than being indigenous. People often understand indigenous as “Indian” or “cholo”, words that convey social and cultural scorn. “Peasant” refers to an occupational category, whereas “indigenous” means a social condition. In this sense, while it is true that a large proportion of peasants are indigenous, in practice they are not the same thing, a distinction that gets translated into laws, policies, and people’s perceptions.</p> <p>The word “peasant” refers to a job, and the economic aspects predominate over any holistic link to the land. One can be a peasant and practice agriculture using industrial inputs or other methods that damage the land. In contrast, “indigenous people” refers to a cultural totality in which agriculture is an important part of our daily activities and reflects different social, spiritual, economic, and political relations.</p> <p><em><strong>“Indigenous agriculture is based on ancestral knowledge and practices, which ensure genetic diversity according to the varying geography.”</strong></em></p> <p>Indigenous agriculture is based on ancestral knowledge and practices, which ensure genetic diversity according to the varying geography and in response to different climatic, environmental and social conditions. Evidently, indigenous people use industrial inputs, given market pressures and the lack of alternatives to respond immediately to the climatic impacts, which range from pests to water shortages. But ancestral practices for managing land, water and climate variances are gradually coming back, a process we call “indigenous geographies.”</p> <p>From the perspective of indigenous peoples, agriculture ought to be the foundation for sustainable land stewardship, as well as a source of food sovereignty and of germ plasm diversity, which has proven useful for combating malnutrition.</p> <p><strong>Building the Present</strong>At this time, indigenous organizations are developing different models of farming based on our cultures, with the intent of drawing from them concrete proposals for building sustainable livelihoods. During this process, control over the resources needed to make these proposals viable is of utmost importance.</p> <h3><em>“If indigenous peoples gain complete and equal control over farming resources and over the food produced, the situation would be utterly without precedent in our history as part of the global system.”</em></h3> <p>We are completely conscious that any solution must emerge from the encounter of our cultures and traditions with global cultures. This dialogue between cultures must take place under conditions of equality and that is the scenario we are working toward. It is why we talk about “farming systems” and not about transposing our culture to all of society.</p> <p>If indigenous peoples gain complete and equal control over farming resources and over the food produced, the situation that would arise would be utterly without precedent in our history as part of the global system. It would mean for our societies:</p> <p><em>At the ecological level:</em></p> <ol><li>Living things would be raised with respect for the land’s natural ways of renewal</li> <li>Biodiversity would fit the different geographies and support sustainable harvests</li> <li>Production would be based on smallholdings, linked by production chains that would allow them to supply local and regional markets</li> <li>People would have a rich, healthy and diverse diet</li> <li>Diversified food systems would exist, and</li> <li>Biodiversity would be strengthened, given that agro-ecological pest control would reinforce native biological chain.</li> </ol><p><em>At the social level:</em></p> <ol><li>The conflicts and social divides that have characterized our societies would be healed</li> <li>Agricultural work would be considered dignified, and the role of indigenous peoples would be redefined</li> <li>The social value of labour in organic and sustainable production, in harmony with nature, would be reinforced</li> <li>Indigenous peoples would see a substantial improvement in income and living standards, which would allow them to invest more in education and professional training to improve indigenous economic systems, and</li> <li>Food sovereignty would be achieved, with livelihoods based within different geographical spheres and linked to complementary activities, such as traditional fishing and herding.</li> </ol><p><em>At the political level:</em></p> <ol><li>Decision-making power over production and marketing would bring substantial changes to the economic system regarding land tenure, with the right to territory as a cornerstone</li> <li>Countries could proceed to change the social and political paradigms they live by, and</li> <li>Indigenous peoples and agriculture would be at the heart of the design, content, and rollout of national sovereign efforts to achieve internal development.</li> </ol><p>Our vision for the future puts us in a scenario where the divide between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples will no longer exist. Indigenous peoples will have improved their living conditions by producing organically and in this way will have contributed to the recovery of ecosystems. Germ plasm diversity will be a guarantee of a diet rich in nutrients and suited to geographical locales. Production and distribution systems will feed the entire population.</p> <h3><em>“Improvements in the quality of life of indigenous peoples would also contribute to strengthening the position of indigenous women as the ones who create and care for life.”</em></h3> <p>Legislation and the constitution would reflect this new reality by securing territorial property rights and encouraging food sovereignty. The agricultural frontier could be broadened based on diversified production, where science and technology would help deepen indigenous knowledge so it can be applied elsewhere, respecting its spirit and style.</p> <p>Improvements in the quality of life of indigenous peoples would also contribute to strengthening the position of indigenous women as the ones who create and care for life, placing them in positions of leadership and representation for our peoples.</p> <p><strong>Power to make sovereign decisions</strong>This entire process can be summarized in the concept of food sovereignty. It implies in first place, control over production systems to be able to decide what, how, and when to produce, as well as control over the cultural environment in which that happens. It also implies control over what is produced and where and how that is placed in different markets. In recent decades, experiences show that such processes require an agriculture that is diversified and sustainable, one that respects Mother Earth.</p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.chirapaq.org.pe/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">CHIRAPAQ</a></strong>, the Centre for Peru’s Indigenous Cultures, carried out a food sovereignty program during the decade of the 1990s in the region of Vilcas Huaman in Ayacucho. We did so right in the middle of the war that affected our country, and right in the war zone. It involved:</p> <ol><li>Reestablishing diverse varieties of potatoes, corn, beans, and medicinal plants</li> <li>Resurrecting farming methods and technologies, expanding farming into new areas, and establishing water sources</li> <li>Renewing organic pest control methods and fertilizers that have increased yields and diversified family diets</li> <li>Reintroducing native small animal species</li> <li>Improving the nutrition of participating families, with a consequent improvement in school performance of boys and girls</li> <li>Strengthening community organizations</li> <li>Valuing and making evident the work and contribution of women and girls.</li> </ol><p>The primary basis of this initiative was the linking of traditional farming cycles, water management, and the in-the-field improvements of the crops cultivated. While it is true that improvements in nutrition and in the quality of life of the communities involved in the program were achieved, the scope was still quite limited.</p> <p><strong>Between Reality and Potential</strong>According to the latest studies, food insecurity is concentrated in regions where indigenous peoples live and in poor urban communities made up mostly of indigenous migrants and their descendants. Nothing is as ironic as the fact that indigenous peoples, who provided the world with so many different kinds of foods, do not have the means to use our knowledge to escape from malnutrition and poverty.</p> <p>We indigenous people have been building mechanisms to address our poverty, but the central issue – power – requires structural changes in our societies, regarding who belongs, who contributes to development, and what development models and economic systems can make society viable.</p> <h3><em>“To speak of the future of agriculture is to speak of about the future of the earth, of indigenous peoples, and of humanity as a whole.”</em></h3> <p>It is not mere rhetoric to say that a pachacuti (big change) is needed to transform our situation. The world as a whole needs a paradigm shift, and in the current circumstances agriculture – as a visible expression of our love for Mother Earth – shows us just how hard this will be. To speak of the future of agriculture is to speak of about the future of the earth, of indigenous peoples, and of humanity as a whole.</p> <p>Download: <strong><a href="http://blogs.oxfam.org/sites/blogs.oxfam.org/files/future-agriculture-mother-earth-rivera-dec2012.pdf" target="_blank">The Future of Agriculture is the Future of Mother Earth</a></strong></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Day 6: The Future of Agriculture is the Future of Mother Earth</h2></div><ul class="links inline"><li class="translation_fr first"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/fr/blogs/12-12-17-day-6-lavenir-de-lagriculture-cest-lavenir-de-la-terre-mere" title="Jour 6: L’avenir de l’agriculture c’est l’avenir de la terre-mère" class="translation-link" xml:lang="fr">Français</a></li> <li class="translation_es last"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/es/blogs/12-12-17-dia-6-futuro-agricultura-madre-tierra" title="Día 6: El futuro de la agricultura es el futuro de la Madre Tierra" class="translation-link" xml:lang="es">Español</a></li> </ul> Sun, 16 Dec 2012 23:40:01 +0000 Tarcila Rivera Zea 10153 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/12-12-17-day-6-future-agriculture-future-mother-earth#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