Posted by: r.m. | October 20, 2008

prioritizing the farmer

The United Nations says another 75 million people were plunged into hunger and poverty in 2007 by a global food crisis that analysts have blamed on a disastrous confluence of events, including rising fuel costs, erratic weather patterns, and the widespread diversion of food crops for biofuels and escalating livestock production. Nearly 1 billion people — almost one out of every six people on Earth — currently do not get enough to eat, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). … “The food crisis is not an issue of shortage but of inequitable distribution,” adds the international human rights group MADRE. “Even as global crop yields are projected to reach record levels, rising prices place basic necessities out of the reach of millions.” 

The problem is also one of priorities. 

When you consider the speed of the world’s response to the credit crisis, the delay in acting is shocking” – so says Oxfam of the global food crisis. Although little reported (in comparison to said financial crisis), almost a billion of the world’s poor continue to go hungry. … Five months after countries pledged to give more than $12bn (£6.9bn) to address the global food emergency, less than $1bn has been given, according to Oxfam.”

And the consequence isn’t simply hunger.

Many of the hungry are farmers forced off their lands. The millennium development goal of halving hunger is fading. …While bankers wallow in trillions of dollars of state aid, the hungry are being forgotten, yet the causes and impacts are similar: irresponsible speculation and unfair global trading for which the poor pay the final price. Hunger, it seems, is the inconvenient fallout of our globalised food system.

We need deep-rooted changes in how agriculture is practised, commodities are traded, and the food system is organised and regulated. The necessary changes, towards localised food sovereignty through sustainable production, were highlighted by the UN/World Bank international agricultural assessment, which our government approved in June. With hunger such a scar on humanity, why does the government remain silent about implementing its findings?”

So what to do?

Well, here’s what some farmers are doing, and have been doing.

“In every continent, the face of Via Campesina has changed since its last major gathering held in Brasil in 2004. In Asia, the number of member organisations has increased, in Europe the movement has restructured itself and is now stronger. Meanwhile, the power and the creativity of the farmers organisations in Latin America continue to inpsire the whole movement. In Africa, La Via Campesina is emerging and is gaining real presence at the international level, with 7 new countries becoming formally members of Via Campesina.

This global movement of family farmers, landless people and agricultural workers has gained legitimacy over the past years as a result of its proposal to solve the crisis in the agricultural sector by implementing food sovereignty. Food sovereingty is the right of the people to design their own food policies to protect rural livelihoods, local comunities, health and the evironment. This vision of food sovereignty is now increasingly shared at local, national and international levels and some goverenments from Nepal to Bolivia have included it in their constitutions.”



  1. It’s really shocking to know that one out of every six people on earth suffer from hunger! I think this results from the absence of good agricultural and even ecological policies. The necessity of agricutural management may be clear for many, but why do we need to manage the environment too? Beause as stated in the article, food crisis and poor crops may result from erratic weather patterns which are the consequenses of the abuse of our nature.
    By the way, I like the contrast between bankers and businessmen receiving billions of financial aids, and farmers (who are the ones really in need) being forgotten.

  2. It might be inhumane but it’s “economically beneficial”, were the United States (and other big producers) not burning and wasting countless food products and crops, the poorest would have had something to eat, millions of lives would have been saved, but food prices would have also fallen. – a green bill is seemingly dearer than a huamn life –
    Ironical how priorities are set in our world, no??

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