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By Lydia Simas
March 5th, 2014
Women in rural India play a major role in food production. Over 80 percent of women in rural India work in agriculture, from sowing to harvesting crops to collecting and caring for seeds to caring for livestock collecting water. The role of men in agriculture tends to be limited to plowing, applying pesticides, and the business side of farming (like marketing). Although women are the backbone of agricultural production, they are not formally recognized as full-fledged farmers but rather as “farm laborers,” with the tasks they perform put in the category of “unskilled labor.” Without formal recognition as farmers, women don’t have access to credits, compensation and relief benefits offered by the government. And that’s something that the Tamil Nadu Women’s Collective wants to change.
The food crisis of 2008 led to a broad agreement in the agricultural development community that the lack of appropriate investment in agriculture had been a key contributing factor to unstable prices and food insecurity. The crisis coincided with an increase in land grabbing in many parts of the world, but especially in Africa. It is in response to these events that the idea of developing some criteria on agricultural investments came up in international policy and governance arenas.
Chavannes Jean-Baptiste of Haiti’s Peasant Movement of Papaye (MPP) muses, “In the old days, Haitian peasants never sold seeds; seeds were for sharing and exchanging.”
Today the old ways have been pushed aside. Seeds have become big business.
This assault on the basic human right to food commercializes and commodifies one of life’s most essential assets. It jeopardizes human health, threatens the global food supply and steals away the livelihoods of small farmers around the world.
Food sovereignty within several African countries is on the verge of a complete neo-colonial take-over, critics of a recent agricultural initiative being developed by a new G8 alliance warn.
According to a Guardian report published Tuesday, the G8's New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition initiative, supported by the Obama administration, has connected African leaders with major agribusiness corporations in an effort to map out a plan for agricultural development on the African continent in the coming years, which will loosen export and tax laws, award "huge chunks of land" for private investment and change seed laws to benefit international corporations and their GMO products.
By Sara Mersha
February 10th, 2014
The new version of the Farm Bill passed by Congress on February 4, 2014, and signed by President Obama three days later leaves several critical programs around nutrition and programs to support family farmers underfunded. The legislation is problematic on many levels, starting with the three below.
Recently Rita Zanotto from the Landless Workers Movement (MST) sat down with Grassroots International’s Sara Mersha to talk about global movements, partnership and power.
Barbara Polk traveled with other Grassroots International supporters to Honduras and Guatemala in the fall of 2013. The article below provides an overview of the trip and her experiences.
The term peasant often conjures up images of medieval serfs out of touch with the ways of the world around them. Such thinking is out of date. Today, peasants proudly and powerfully put forward effective strategies to feed the planet and limit the damages wrought by industrial agriculture. What’s more, they understand the connections between complex trade and economic systems, champion the rights of women, and even stand up for the rights of gay men and lesbians.
These are not your great ancestors’ peasants.
John Kinsman was far more than a Wisconsin dairy farmer, though he proudly was that. He was a pioneer of organic and sustainable farming in the United States and a tireless advocate for global food sovereignty. John Kinsman died yesterday, on Martin Luther King Day, after a long life of struggle, humor and compassion.
A fourth generation farmer, John founded Family Farm Defenders to empower farmers to speak for and respect themselves in their quest for social, economic and racial justice. A 2012 profile in The Progressive, describes some of his accomplishments:
Land grabs -- the large-scale and sometimes shady acquisition of massive tracts of land by powerful financial interest -- have become a serious problem in the Global South. As a result, peasant farmers, particularly in indigenous communities, are being driven from their ancestral lands. Fortunately, a growing and increasingly well-organized movement of resistance to land grabs is fighting back --and succeeding. The following story, from Grassroots ally GRAIN, shows how one community leader and his community are pushing back against the grabs.