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On World Day of Food Sovereignty, Struggling for Land in Brazil

Families in a Landless Workers Movement squatter encampment, hoping to win legal title to the land.

Guest Post by Beverly Bell, Coordinator of Other Worlds

October 16 is World Food Day. To ensure that there is food for the world, and that it is not controlled by corporations, small farmers and allies across the globe have also named October 16 the Day of Action for Food Sovereignty and against Transnational Organizations. A posting by La Via Campesina, the coalition of more than 160 peasants and small-farmer movements across continents, says that it “organizes this day of solidarity, resistance, and mobilisation in order to make citizens aware of the current threats to peoples’ food sovereignty.” (To find out about U.S. actions for this day, click here.)

Food sovereignty is the concept that every people has the right to make decisions about, produce, and consume its own local, healthy, culturally appropriate food. Food sovereignty is based in an expansive set of ecological and agricultural practices, international trade laws, and domestic governmental policies.

A prerequisite of food sovereignty is comprehensive land reform, through which small farmers can control their own land and production, and have access to credit, marketing assistance, and other government support on which their livelihood often depends. For the 2014 international mobilization, La Via Campesina says, “We will raise our voices in order to express our resistance to landgrabbing… and to call for comprehensive agrarian  reform and food sovereignty, which together imply a radical transformation towards a fair and decent food system for the world’s peoples.”

No group has done more promote this “radical transformation” than Brazil’s Landless Workers’ Movement, or MST by its Portuguese acronym. The MST is addressing an urgent need in a country with one of the highest levels of unequal land distribution anywhere. Fifty-six percent of agricultural land is owned by just 3.5% of landowners.

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On World Day of Food Sovereignty, Struggling for Land in Brazil

Families in a Landless Workers Movement squatter encampment, hoping to win legal title to the land.

Guest Post by Beverly Bell, Coordinator of Other Worlds

October 16 is World Food Day. To ensure that there is food for the world, and that it is not controlled by corporations, small farmers and allies across the globe have also named October 16 the Day of Action for Food Sovereignty and against Transnational Organizations. A posting by La Via Campesina, the coalition of more than 160 peasants and small-farmer movements across continents, says that it “organizes this day of solidarity, resistance, and mobilisation in order to make citizens aware of the current threats to peoples’ food sovereignty.” (To find out about U.S. actions for this day, click here.)

Food sovereignty is the concept that every people has the right to make decisions about, produce, and consume its own local, healthy, culturally appropriate food. Food sovereignty is based in an expansive set of ecological and agricultural practices, international trade laws, and domestic governmental policies.

A prerequisite of food sovereignty is comprehensive land reform, through which small farmers can control their own land and production, and have access to credit, marketing assistance, and other government support on which their livelihood often depends. For the 2014 international mobilization, La Via Campesina says, “We will raise our voices in order to express our resistance to landgrabbing… and to call for comprehensive agrarian  reform and food sovereignty, which together imply a radical transformation towards a fair and decent food system for the world’s peoples.”

No group has done more promote this “radical transformation” than Brazil’s Landless Workers’ Movement, or MST by its Portuguese acronym. The MST is addressing an urgent need in a country with one of the highest levels of unequal land distribution anywhere. Fifty-six percent of agricultural land is owned by just 3.5% of landowners.

The MST’s solution to ending the loss of land and livelihood for rural people, and for ending the country’s poverty and hunger, is to put agriculturally rich land back into the hands of small farmers. (more…)

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