Food Sovereignty

Via Campesina: peasants’ organizations meet in Colombia to discuss fight against hunger

Conference may be attended by 82 countries; topics include agrarian reform and alternatives to agribusiness

By Lucas Estanislau/ Translated by: Ana Paula Rocha
From Brasil de Fato

Over 180 peasants’ organizations will meet in Bogota, Colombia’s capital city, to discuss and propose development and food production models that can be an alternative to agribusiness.

The 8th Via Campesina International Conference, which will start on Friday (1), intends to bring to South American countries over 500 representatives of peasant movements from all over the world to discuss and build food sovereignty to face the current global crisis.

That will be the first post-pandemic international conference aimed at this kind of movement. According to the UN, the Covid-19 pandemic caused a rise in the number of people suffering from hunger, and deepened the levels of food insecurity all around the globe.

ccording to Unicef’s report “The State of Food Security and Nutrition 2023”, released in July this year, over 122 million people have faced hunger after the pandemic of the new Coronavirus. Currently, the UN says there are 735 million people facing hunger and 2.4 billion coping with the consequences of food insecurity.

In Latin America, the number of people facing hunger continues to be higher than the rates recorded in 2019, before the global health crisis. Data from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) found that 43.2 million Latin Americans face hunger.

During the event, which will last for eight days and includes debates and other activities, the organizations may discuss topics that affect the different rural areas of each one of the regions of the planet in order to build practices focused on food sovereignty aimed at peasants as an alternative to agribusiness.

Founded in 1993, the Via Campesina movement includes the most important organizations fighting in rural areas on all continents. It advocates for building a common understanding and international practices to produce ecological food that can tackle hunger and reduce food insecurity risks.

At the same time that the 8th International Conference will be happening, the movement will also hold the 5th Youth Meeting and the 6th Women’s Meeting, whose goal is “to debate peasant feminism and people’s fight against the crisis and violence” targeting rural workers.

“The meeting is an opportunity to strengthen our common vision and find a way out for the new concepts we already know. Also, it’s a place to hear about proposals and needs that will emerge from the territories and soon will be adopted by the movement,” said one of the people organizing the event.

War in Gaza

The recent violence in the Gaza Strip, which started on October 7, made the movements that are part of the Via Campesina act. It will probably influence the topics to be discussed during the conference. 

In a statement, the organization demanded “the end of all aggression and violent acts against civilians” as well as “the charge by the International Court of Justice of all the people responsible for war crimes.”

Via Campesina, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) and the Palestinian peasant movement started a campaign to collect food, water and first-need items to donate to those affected by the attacks in Gaza. 

“The Israeli occupation uses hunger as a weapon against the civilian population to make them abandon Gaza and immigrate to Egypt. This brutal tactic drove 1.5 million Palestinians from the north to the south area of Gaza,” they say.

The organization also made public its support for the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions), which works to stop direct and indirect financial support to Israel. “Many products are wrongly tagged as ‘made in Israel’ when they actually come from Palestinian land stolen from the people,” Via Campesina explains. 

For the 8th International Conference, a special committee of the organization for the Arab Region and North Africa, which will include movements from Palestine, Morocco and Tunisia, will probably be launched.

Edited by: Leandro Melito