"It has been recognized at world level that peasant agriculture, family agriculture and family farmers have an extremely important role in solving the hunger crisis in the world. But many times, this is not translated into what we face everyday and there are no policies aiming to and strengthening this kind of production", said activist Karin Nansen at the opening ceremony of the 5th National Seed and Family Agriculture Festival in Uruguay.
“We also see that this type of initiatives, such as the Seeds Network, don’t have the support or the necessary policies to be implemented and developed in full”, added the coordinator of REDES – Friends of the Earth Uruguay in Valle Edén, Tacuarembo department.
The 5th National Native Seed and Family Agriculture Festival: Building Food Sovereignty" took place on April 12-14 and the first day focused on the "6th National Meeting of Native Seed Producers". Both meetings were organized by the Uruguayan Network to Save and Value Native Seeds, REDES-Friends of the Earth Uruguay, Centro Agustín Ferreiro (training center for rural teachers), the National Commission of Rural Promotion and the School of Agronomy of the University of the Republic.
The Uruguayan Network to Save and Value Native Seeds is organized in 24 local groups in the departments of Artigas, Salto, Paysandú, Tacuarembó, Cerro Largo, Maldonado, Canelones, Lavalleja, Treinta y Tres, Montevideo, San José and Colonia. It has 160 family plots of land that are part of the collective system of in situ preservation.
Nansen said at the opening ceremony, where representatives of several organizations also spoke, that the three-day activity aimed, among other things, to “the society acknowledging the importance of these issues” and to “the political class and public bodies acknowledging their responsibility in terms of the policies needed”.
The coordinator of REDES-FoE said that with the global crisis of 2008, we reached almost 1 billion hungry people at world level, despite decades of promises by official bodies and governments to end hunger with technology packages such as GMOs, for instance. Nansen stated that more food than needed to feed the entire world population is produced, but that “this food does not reach everyone”.
“The crisis isn’t deeper because we have peasant and family agriculture feeding the world”, said the activist, before quoting a study by international organization ETC Group, which focuses on global socio-economic and environmental issues, related to new technologies and especially to the impacts of the technology on indigenous peoples, rural communities and biodiversity. According to the ETC Group, peasant and family agriculture is supplying 50% of the food consumed in the world. 8% is produced in urban farms, there are still nomadic peoples living of hunting and gathering of fruits in some continents and “only 30% is produced by the industrial food chain”, said Nansen. “This is telling us something about the need to defend family and peasant farming”.
The environmentalist also warned about the deeper dependence on transnational agricultural companies, a strong displacement from peasant and family farmers and a huge loss of knowledge and biodiversity, that have to be added to the climate change crisis, which will make food production much harder in most continents. (…) “The right to food is at risk”, she said.
Nansen quoted a study published in 2010 by the FAO, the Report on the State of the World’s Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, which concluded that there was a 75% loss of the global agricultural biodiversity from 1900 to 2000. The FAO also stated that the world population depends on fewer varieties of crops for food and for that reason it is fundamental to recover and preserve seeds.
While Nansen said she has many differences with FAO’s position in general, she said "it is true that there is more awareness about the importance of the food sovereignty concept and there is more dialogue with peasant organizations".
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