Food Sovereignty: towards democracy in localized food systems
ITDG commissioned this paper by FIAN as a contribution to the discourse on Food Sovereignty, the rapidly developing food and agriculture policy framework. In a world plagued simultaneously and perversely by hunger and obesity, rational policies are overdue for governing the way food is grown, processed and traded, and how the benefits of the world's food systems are shared.
Most food in the world is grown, collected and harvested by more than a billion small-scale farmers, pastoralists and artisanal fisherfolk. This food is mainly sold, processed, resold and consumed locally, thereby providing the foundation of peoples' nutrition, incomes and economies across the world. At a time when halving world poverty and eradicating hunger are at the forefront of the international development agenda, reinforcing the diversity and vibrancy of local food systems should also be at the forefront of the international policy agenda. Yet, the rules that govern food and agriculture at all levels - local, national and international - are designed a priori to facilitate not local, but international trade. This reduces diversity and concentrates the wealth of the world's food economies in the hands of ever fewer multinational corporations, while the majority of the world's small-scale food producers, processors, local traders and consumers including, crucially, the poor and malnourished, are marginalised.
In this paper, Michael Windfuhr shows how the Food Sovereignty policy framework addresses this dilemma. The policy framework starts by placing the perspective and needs of the majority at the heart of the global food policy agenda and embraces not only the control of production and markets, but also the Right to Food, peoples' access to and control over land, water and genetic resources, and the use of environmentally-sustainable approaches to production. What emerges is a persuasive and highly political argument for refocusing the control of food production and consumption within democratic processes rooted in localised food systems.
Now, when there is intense debate about how the world will halve poverty and eradicate hunger, the policies that govern the way food is produced, consumed and distributed, how it is processed and traded, and who controls the food chain, need to be looked at comprehensively. This timely paper points a way forward and invites a more focused consideration of the principles behind what is fast becoming recognised as the most important food and agriculture policy consensus for the 21st century.
Senior Policy Adviser
Food Sovereignty: towards democracy in localized food systems
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