Food sovereignty is a relatively new concept, originally coined and defined by the international peasant movement, La Via Campesina, in 1993. This report is an in-depth study of how Venezuela is transforming its economy and empowering its citizens thru nine distinct features of Social Production Enterprises – the antidote to neoliberalism. Also see Cuba’s agroecology movement: Sustainable peasant agriculture and food sovereignty
By Anna Isaacs, Basil Weiner, Grace Bell, Courtney Frantz and Katie Bowen
Food sovereignty is a relatively new concept. Originally coined and defined by the international peasant movement, Via Campesina, in Mons, Belgium in 1993, it is:
“The RIGHT of peoples, countries, and state unions to define their agricultural and food policy without the “dumping” of agricultural commodities into foreign countries. Food sovereignty organizes food production and consumption according to the needs of local communities, giving priority to production for local consumption. Food sovereignty includes the right to protect and regulate the national agricultural and livestock production and to shield the domestic market from the dumping of agricultural surpluses and low-price imports from other countries. Landless people, peasants, and small farmers must get access to land, water, and seed as well as productive resources and adequate public services. Food sovereignty and sustainability are a higher priority than trade policies.”
Via Campesina, in its definition, clearly states certain specific issues that deserve more attention in relation to Venezuela’s current recovery of its food sovereignty. These issues are absolutely essential, not only in guaranteeing that local food needs be met by local food production, but also in protecting the cultural heritage of people who have invested generations upon generations in the same land.
All over the world, where people have had land in their families for centuries, the land is being lost because of the dumping of heavily subsidized, imported foods onto their local markets. Farmers cannot compete and must give up their land. With those losses goes pride and the hope for locally based and supported food systems. Rising numbers of farmer suicides are the ultimate result of a system of global trade that strips away the land, its products, cultural heritage and pride. People are dying because they cannot afford to eat and farmers are dying because they cannot afford to feed.
Some of Venezuela’s obstacles to food sovereignty include: the speculative market that formed around buying and selling land; the transformation from individual landowners to conglomerate companies, and farmers to farm workers; and technology that has made a small farmer’s way of life economically unsustainable.