Food Sovereignty

What is food sovereignty?

UK WILPF recognises food sovereignty as an important issue and supports the work being done by other organisations, such as Via Campesina and The People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty. The principle of food sovereignty is the right of individuals, communities and countries to retain control and ownership over their produce and the ways in which they produce food. Food sovereignty aims to protect producers from being priced out of their own markets by the practice of food dumping and large transnational companies selling under-priced food.

Who does it affect?

Implementation of food sovereignty will benefit all those producing food in safe, sustainable ways selling to benefit their own communities and countries. In particular, peasant and small-scale producers who cannot compete with corporate companies would be protected from having to sell their land and not being priced out of their own markets.

How does it relate to peace and freedom?

Food sovereignty aims to provide people with the freedom to produce food to make a profit at the same time as being able to provide for their families and communities. An improvement in economic growth through increased investment in local agriculture could also contribute to the security of regions and countries, therefore contributing to peace. Peace can only exist when people and their rights are respected – food sovereignty aims to enable people to build successful livelihoods with land and resources they can afford, without interference from outside. Research has shown that governments that work on social development, as well as economic development, can reduce the likelihood of the country being affected by violence and conflict.

How does it relate to women?

The support of food sovereignty principles can directly benefit women by addressing the many problems associated with food production women face worldwide. The lack of land rights for women in many countries leave them vulnerable to land take-overs by transnational companies and governments, and the development of monocultures. When this happens, women end up having to migrate with their families, often to exploitative situations in order to provide for their families. Other ways women would benefit from the implementation of food sovereignty include improving the opportunities for women to have their voices heard in the development of economic and agricultural policy, opportunities to secure profitable livelihoods, and in the reduction of male violence when their communities are secure, profitable and not at risk of corporate take-over.

Why is this a WILPF priority?

At the 2007 international congress meeting, the campaign for economic justice was decided upon as a focus for the next 4 years – food sovereignty is a vital part of achieving economic justice. In 2010, a WILPF meeting in Treviso addressed the issue of food sovereignty and asserted that it must be taken seriously. At this year’s congress meeting, food sovereignty will be discussed by WILPF sections from around the world. Despite the decision made in 2007, food sovereignty has not been taken up seriously by many branches. The 2011 congress meeting is an opportunity for UK WILPF to work together with other sections and develop an effective campaign on food sovereignty.