The International Commision on Sustainable Peasant Agriculture’s booklet From Maputo to Jakarta. 5 Years of Agroecology in La Vía Campesina was made available to the delegates of the Sixth Annual Conference of the LVC as well as to the public. It provides “some of the key documents produced over these past five years, which give a feel for both the political struggle to defend sustainable peasant agriculture and the practical process of supporting the agroecology processes being carried out by member organizations and regions.” You can find the booklet here. The document starts with the declaration:
‘we are men and women of the earth, we are those who produce food for the world. We have the right to continue being peasants and family farmers, and to shoulder the responsibility of continuing to feed our peoples. We care for seeds, which are life, and for us the act of producing food is an act of love. Humanity depends on us, and we refuse to disappear.’ In producing that food, we made a commitment to use ‘sustainable peasant and family farm agriculture,’ as, ‘only agroecological peasant and family farming can de-link food prices from petroleum prices, recover degraded soils, and produce healthy local food for our peoples.’
It identifies and documents the destruction wrought on the land by the industrial capitalist farming model:
The industrial agriculture model spreads desertification, destroying the soil because of erosion, compaction and salinization, and wastes and contaminates water reserves through chemical run-off and excessive irrigation. It accelerates deforestation, which aggravates the climate crisis and creates huge losses of biodiversity. More than 5000 species of our genetic heritage are lost every year. It also causes an increase in the number of serious pests produced by, among other things, the use of monoculture, the genetic standardization of plants and animals, the eradication of the natural enemies of pests, and the increasing resistance of pests and crop diseases to insecticides and fungicides. This system is also generating new human diseases through large-scale confined production of poultry, hogs and cattle. And it produces bad quality food products that are intensively processed, which leads to expensive food that is bad for human health. In the rural areas this model of industrial production creates landlessness and joblessness, and migration to cities. It generates endemic hunger, under-nourishment and misery. It causes illness and death because of the use of dangerous pesticides imposed by the TNCs. The negative impact on health of industrial food makes already stressed public health systems devote ever more time, budgets and human resources to treat diseases that should never exist in the first place.
And on indigenous peoples:
The industrial capitalist model also speculates with farm land, with the complicity of governments, driving up land prices, and leading to forcible land grabs. These land grabs (from peasants and indigenous people) are for the construction of industrial complexes, large scale plantations and industrial agriculture, infrastructure development, mining, urbanization, etc. This generates huge profits for Corporations and the eviction of people from their own land and territories, and their forced displacement under ever worsening conditions, using police, soldiers, paramilitaries and private security forces, who murder peasants, destroy their communities, and create an atmosphere of fear and repression. The misery and violence that this model generates affects women, the elderly and children worst of all, who are treated with violence, exploitation and the constant violation of their rights.
The booklet ends with a “demand [for] public policies to support sustainable peasant and family farm agriculture” as outlined below:
• Implement genuine agrarian reform, put an end to “land grabbing,” and respect our land and territories. • Reorient agriculture research and extension systems to support farmer-to-farmer agroecological innovation and sharing managed by farmer organizations as the keystone to up-scaling agroecology. • Change the way agronomists are trained. Agroecology and social science must play a central role in curricula, which should emphasize respect for farmer knowledge and the importance of farmer organizations. • Broad implementation of Food Sovereignty policies like the protection of national markets from dumping, hoarding and speculation by corporations, and systems to guarantee fair prices for peasant food production. • Support peasant seed systems and repeal anti-peasant seed laws. • Reorient public sector food procurement to give priority to ecological peasant production and fair prices. • Support farm-to-city direct marketing of ecological production through farmers’ markets, linking rural and urban cooperatives, etc. • End to subsidies for agrochemicals, and ban toxic pesticides and GMOs. • Break-up and prohibit national and global corporate agrifood monopolies and oligopolies that capture and distort policies to their own profit-taking ends, at the expense of farmers and consumers alike.