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By Saulo Araujo
August 15th, 2011
In order to fix the broken food system, we need to de-colonize our minds. What do I mean about "de-colonize"? To understand that, do this short exercise. What comes to your mind, when you hear the word “Agriculture?” Is it a tree, a head of lettuce or vast endless fields somewhere in the US Midwest?
If the first thing came to your mind was a vast field of a single crop (such as endless rows of corn), you are certainly not alone. For decades, both consumers and farmers have been educated to think of agriculture as an industry of monocrops. The end of small, integrated farm plots (i.e. real food) coincided with the advent of industrial agriculture and the launch of the “Green Revolution.”
Grassroots International joined nearly 500 other organizations around the world in signing the “Dakar Appeal Against Land Grabbing.” The appeal, originally drafted at the World Social Forum in Dakar in February 2011, calls upon governments to immediately cease all massive land grabs and return the plundered land to communities.
Below is an article from Grassroots International partner, the Via Campesina, in preparation for the International Day of Peasants’ Struggles. The Via is an international movement which brings together millions of peasants, small and medium-size farmers, landless people, women farmers, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers from around the world. It defends small-scale sustainable agriculture as a way to promote social justice and dignity and strongly opposes corporate driven agriculture and transnational companies that are destroying people and nature.
As part of our commitment to engage in advocacy to challenge US policy and corporations that are often the root causes of resource rights violations around the world, Grassroots International has been proud to be an active member of the US Food Sovereignty Alliance even before its launch last October. The US Food Sovereignty Alliance (USFSA) is excited to promote and take part in two upcoming international days of action: April 17 and May 1.
Rivers are sacred in many cultures and central to the World’s early civilizations, from Mesopotamia and Egypt to India and China. Perhaps this was on his mind when Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, famously (if ironically) called mega dams the “temples of modern India.” He would have been more prescient in calling them “temples of doom” given the enormous human, environmental and economic costs of these behemoths. In India alone, since independence, by some estimates nearly 50 million people have been displaced.
Grassroots International joins with those around the world in expressing our sadness and concern for the people of Japan in the wake of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami. Thousands have died, and many more are missing or being evacuated due to ongoing health and safety threats.
While Grassroots International does not have a program in East Asia or Japan, we wanted to share a statement of solidarity from our partner the Vía Campesina and offer resources for those who wish to directly support groups working in the region, including three options for donations.
In advance of International Women’s Day, several organizations representing various social movements around the world – many of them Grassroots International partners, grantees, and allies – co-wrote a “Letter of Solidarity with the Struggle of Women in the World.” We are reposting the text below:
Every year on March 8th – International Women’s Day – thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate their achievements. As I review Grassroots International’s past year in grant making, I am inspired by the many projects we made in support of women-led initiatives. From projects centered on securing women’s livelihoods through organic gardens in Guatemala, to empowering women biodiversity practitioners in India, as well as many others, we have stayed committed to supporting efforts that give women a key role in advancing social justice. Sharing our connection to their work with you is my personal celebration.
According to Grassroots International ally Fahamu, “Agriculture… remains the main source of income of a rural population generally estimated at 70% of the total population… [W]omen remain an essential link in agricultural production, accounting for 70% of food production, managing nearly 100% of processing activities, responsible for about 50% of the maintenance of the family herds and also responsible for some 60% of sales activities in the markets.” Any solutions to the problems of African agriculture, therefore, must include women. In fact, African women are saying, “We Are the Solution.”
"Pourquoi la campagne": Via Campesina Africa launches Campaign to End Violence against Women at 2011 World Social Forum in Dakar
In 2008, I was privileged to attend the 5th international conference of Grassroots International partner the Via Campesina, in Matola, Mozambique. The Via, a global movement representing over 150 million peasants and other small producers on 5 continents, has been the leading voice for the rights of small farmers and farmworkers as well as other small producers and has led global campaigns for agrarian reform, against free trade and for climate justice. At its 2008 conference, however, it launched another global campaign that a lot of people don’t yet know about. This is the Global Campaign to End Violence against Women.