Impression of the Dutch delegation at the Nyéléni Europe Forum 2016 in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. Over 500 people from all over Europe gathered there at the end of October for five days to lay the groundwork to take back, relocalise our food systems and multiply food sovereignty platforms across the continent.
Elizabeth Mpofu, General Coordinator of La Via Campesina, shares the perspective of global peasants. She emphasizes that peasants are an organized movement, not merely resisting but working to build a new world through the idea of Food Sovereignty and opens the floor for dialogue between the peasants of the world and academics and activists committed to solidarity with them.
Malik Yakini introduces the audience to the current situation in Detroit and his organization’s work building capacity, community empowerment, and democracy through a variety of food programs. He also emphasizes the centrality of issues of race both in the broader context and within the Food Sovereignty movement.
Blain Snipstal, returning generation peasant farmer and leader in La Via Campesina North America discusses the need to engage emotionally with Food Sovereignty, as part of a movement for re-peasantization and revalorizing marginalized knowledge, not merely as an abstract intellectual concept.
James Scott, co-director of Yale Agrarian Studies Program, talks of how the secure access to food is a pre-condition to all other human rights. Without secure access to food people will allow encroachment of their rights by the people who do control food.
Martha Jane Robbins offers feedback on key papers, including Kloppenberg and Bernstein’s, from the perspective of La Via Campesina, drawing attention to the deliberate political usage of terms like “Food Sovereignty” and “peasant” as framing concepts for political organizing.
Henry Bernstein explains why he finds the big concept of food sovereignty lesser then the sum of its parts and how it does not constitute a coherent view of al the nuances and strength that one can find in the field.
Mamadou Goita, of ROPPA , the West African Farmers Alliance, highlights the need for an interdisciplinary approach to Food Sovereignty that takes seriously political and practical, as well as conceptual, aspects of the term.
Phil Woodhouse, of the University of Manchester, discusses the relationship between consumers and producers of food. He highlights key tensions around the price of food, arguing that the productivity of agricultural labour is fundamentally related to the price of food and asks, “how does Food Sovereignty address the issue of the price of food and the potential conflict between producers and consumers?”.
Susan George gives a perspective on what has and has not changed in the global food movement in the last decades, drawing out universal themes while emphasizing the vital significance of new issues like the financialization of agricultural.
Tania Li, of the University of Toronto, asks about communities who do not see themselves as part of the Food Sovereignty movement. She uses the case of a community in Central Sulawesi to highlight how the core elements of Food Sovereignty do not necessarily cohere together, and argues for the importance of addressing these kinds of places, that challenge embedded assumptions of the movement.
Bridget O’Laughlin, former professor of development studies at ISS and an editor of the Journal of Development and Change, suggests that Food Sovereignty cannot be an analytical framework, and that that is not a problem. She offers a vision of the role of intellectuals within the movement: addressing ambiguities, questioning assumptions, and identifying gaps that need research.