Decades of family farming just ahead

Peasants voice their hopes and concerns about the UN's Decade of Family Farming

The Decade was officially launched at FAO headquarters in Rome on 29th May 2019 and was preceded by sessions to exchange and discuss the priorities to implement the global action plan

In December 2017, the UN General Assembly declared 2019-2028 as the “United Nations Decade of Family Farming” and mandated the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to implement the Decade. The resolution of the General Assembly also called on governments, international organizations and civil society organizations to contribute to the implementation of the decade.

The goals announced for the Decade are based on a global action plan with 7 pillars:

  • Pillar 1. Develop an enabling policy environment to strengthen family farming.
  • Pillar 2 – Transversal. Support youth and ensure the generational sustainability of family farming.
  • Pillar 3, – Transversal. Promote gender equity in family farming and the leadership role of rural women.
  • Pillar 4 – Strengthen family farmers’ organizations and capacities to generate knowledge, represent farmers and provide inclusive services in the urban-rural continuum.
  • Pillar 5 – Improve socio-economic inclusion resilience and well-being of family farmers, rural households and communities.
  • Pillar 6. Promote sustainability of family farming for climate-resilient food systems.
  • Pillar 7. Strengthen the multidimensionality of family farming to promote social innovations contributing to territorial sustainability and food systems that safeguard biodiversity, the environment and culture.

Agriculture means much more than just a daily activity. It carries values, a culture, feeling love for our earth and life and, more importantly, taking pride in what we do. Today, we are threatened by transnational corporations that have found the means to act on our food system. We have taken action, and that is why we proclaim food sovereignty as a right of the peoples. We have also made very strong, clear and precise proposals so that people understand that, today, not only peasants are at risk of disappearing, but that peoples are at risk of becoming subordinate and living in slavery by being forced into a large market of cheap labour. We refer to peasants’ rights to ensure healthy diets, to keep our land alive and with diversity, to conserve our earth, the source of wealth. Above all, we want to protect life. And food is life, as long as it is produced using the forms of traditional agriculture that have been practised for millennia by indigenous peoples. This is why, for us, family farming is peasant and indigenous agriculture; it is practised by families, true, but in connection to the community, with workers united to build the future.

Elizabeth Mpofu, General Coordinator of La Via Campesina, gave the following address before the government representatives at the launch of the Decade:

“Right now, while we are sitting here, climate change and agribusiness are threatening us; hunger is increasing around the world and peasants commit suicide every day. We must move into action. It is time to implement solutions. We, the peasants, have these solutions and we have been explaining them for many centuries. The solution is to promote peasant family farming based on agroecology and food sovereignty, including small-scale food producers.”

Sustaining the Bull

Talking up sustainable is very fashionable.
As a buzzword it is easy to slip into any sentence.

... everyone does it and everyone assumes they know what things should be considered as sustainable, and what things should not.

But just ask them to define sustainability, or search it up on the internet, and you'll get all kinds of rhetoric about the environment and how we have to look after it - in the midst of our business (mostly as usual). Appealing as that sounds it is too general and convenient to be useful. In reality the environment will continue anyway, no matter what gets done to it. Suggestions of this kind leave the fox still in charge of the hen-house.
Smarter definitions shift the emphasis to an ecological argument, and there we begin to encounter the conflict between sustainability and economic pursuit. How much disruption is too much? How do we distinguish the disease from its symptoms?

The truth is a battleground of lies:

Nowhere is this more true that than when it comes to the kinds of economic pillage and plundering that relies upon people's ignorance. The larger the pursuit the easier it is to build a buffer of deceit and confusion around it.
Throughout the 60s to 90s the Left counteracted the Right with the story of ‘labour’. It had unions to demand better conditions for the working class. Since then however that particular spring of inspiration has all but dried up and the Right has saturated every corner of the world and our lives with its neoliberal agenda.
To counteract the Right, and it must be counteracted, the Left must now drill a deeper well for its core truth: it must sharpen up and make the story of ‘sustainability’ its own. That story it should be noted, won’t just restrain the Right but by becoming a science it will contain it entirely.

The window of opportunity for doing this is being closed, as fast as people's indifference and confusion permits. Maybe just two generations remain, depending on how fast A-I (artificial intelligence) spreads across the workplace. Eventually UBI[ 2 ] (universal basic income) will be accepted as necessary and thereafter personal financial independence will dwindle, followed by reduced property ownership.
This is not conjecture, it is all set out in the UN's own Agenda 2030 [ 1 } documentation.
What is not specified however is the means to be used for managing the milieu in such a world. Considering the means by which that agenda is being manifested, it would be naive to imagine that it won't continue in much the same manner: media propaganda, violence, oppression, and starvation.

Global vs. local, as a strategy:

The SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) and the Agenda 2030 strategies, like their parent apparent (the United Nations), are seductive in rhetoric but flawed at the fundamental core of their philosophic/ spiritual conception. The counter-strategy is going to require people to work together in new ways: to form self-organising, cooperative-supporting, agrarian-based local-regional economies founded upon the axioms of true sustainability.

To bring that story to the untroubled masses and help them to make it their own is a difficult task. To advance that process the Landbase Project was conceived.

The Landbase Project:

A rural training centre for running live-in courses based on the observation that a growing number of people are, or would do given the opportunity, moving from the city to a more rural living circumstance.
This project is still in the planning stages. Courses will cover training in the structure of sustainability, involvement in practical aspects of self-provisioning, and access to related resources and support.
To be kept up to date please click ☐ Landbase when registering for our (occasional) newsletter, Landsakes!

Defining sustainability

Sustainability is not a goal in life, it is the form of life itself.

For more in-depth on the background issues, please read our feature article: What is Sustainability?

See also:

  1. Welcome to 2030
  2. What is the Precariat
  3. The Abundance Manifesto
  4. What is Sustainability

And how to reduce your profile

Nearly everything we do online leaves a trail of data

Like many people who have taken a sudden interest in their digital privacy, you may be quite startled by what they know about you.

Google

Let's start by listing all the Alphabet-owned services you might use: Google Docs, YouTube, Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Photos, Contacts, Translate, Chrome, Maps, Wallet, and, of course, the Google  search-engine.

Depending on your settings a visit to myactivity.google.com can bring the company’s background tracking into the foreground: every search query you've ever run, most of the websites you've visited, and almost every literal step you've taken.

Also do the Google Privacy Checkup to view (and change) your default settings for logging and sharing. For example: “Let people with your phone number find and connect with you on Google services, such as video chats.” Having my phone number means you get to interrupt me with your face whenever you want: disable.

YouTube is default set to automatically show videos you have liked and channels I subscribed to: disable. Google is default set to share your photos and likes and restaurant reviews: disable.

There is also a section for advertising settings, the list of topics Google thinks you're interested in— there’s no way for me to know why Google thinks what it thinks. Then, what about information-sharing with the “2 million websites and apps that partner with Google to show ads.”

To its credit, Google offers a centralised and relatively user-friendly page to view and control your account. The breadth of the data collection is unnerving, whatever the control you may have over it.

That was a practice-run: now it's time to get heavy ...

Facebook

Thanks to a Google Chrome browser extension called What Facebook Thinks You Like you can decide whether to Obscure the Real Me with misleading signals. Like Google, Facebook has a settings page from where you can view and adjust your security and privacy settings. Also look at the “Apps and Websites” and “Ads” settings, which are not listed in a way that suggests they are related to security and privacy, even though they obviously are.

You may want to go through all the apps you have authorised for Facebook to give your events, uploaded or tagged in photos, religious and political views, hometown, current city, videos, website URL, and the content and member list of the Facebook groups you manage, and your relationship status -- and  removed the hundreds of them that have accrued there.

Facebook files patent to force your phone to record your private life at home.

You may want to download your data from an easy-to-miss link on the settings page [ here];

  • delete your search history;
  • turn the sharing defaults from “public” to “friends” or “just me” on just about everything;
  • and all the contact details for the people you have unwittingly uploaded [ here ].

Knowing all this, it’s hard to take seriously the man who in March 2018 testified before the U.S. Congress and then posted this on, yes, Facebook: “We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you.”

Abundance Manifesto

Abundance and Sustainability

A radical approach to activism

Using sustainability as a keyhole to the future, the Abundance Manifesto proposes that the fulfillment of the great goal of Peace and Prosperity is assured when enough of us start by living now the same manifesto that must needs sustain it at fulfillment.

This will take a new kind of citizen, a new kind of food system, and a new understanding of the principles of sustainability – all interlocked as a framework of mutual responsibility, and self-organisation through principled critique.

It suggests that we need to consider how to shift the axis around which the process of environmental destruction actually revolves...

Trapped here in this bankosphere which requires that we must pay to live, the urgency of scarcity is a treadmill that drives our felt need to ‘get ahead’. And so we deny ourselves the garden of life by destroying it.

The Abundance Manifesto is neither politics nor religion. It is a self-critical tool that can be applied to all agendas. It encourages social morality as personal self-interest through rational reflection rather than as anticipation of karmic consequence in the near- or here-after, nor the usual moralisms.

It proposes that everything necessary for peaceful prosperity; social justice; food security; personal health and happiness is embodied here in the following enquiry

What are the things I can do, which no matter how much I continue doing them, and however many others do the same, the benefits only increase for everyone, indefinitely?

That is an idea that needs thinking about.
Read the full article here

La Via Campesina now an irrepressible global movement

La Via Campesina is a global activist movement linking together rural organisations from many countries under a unified umbrella. Its goal is to bring about change in the rural sector: real changes that improve livelihoods, enhance local food production, and open up democratic spaces for food-land-people issues.

It promotes changes that empower people working on the land with more rights on issues that impact their everyday working lives. The movement believes that real change can occur only when local communities have greater control over local productive resources, and more social and political power.

Whenever international institutions like the World Trade Organisation (WTO), World Bank (WB), and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) meet to discuss agricultural and food issues La Vía Campesina[ 1 ] (LVC) aims to have a presence. LVC is also active in local communities whenever peasants and farming families in places - such as Honduras, Mexico, Brazil, Guatemala, Indonesia, Europe or Canada - are resisting the spread of genetically‐modified seeds, or are being evicted from their land to facilitate urban sprawl, golf course development, intensive shrimp or pig farming, or oil-palm plantations.

brochure linkThis uprising of the peasantry is surprising to many westerners. It was always assumed that modern intensive agriculture would eventually supplant the old ways of farming. Surely by now that should all be gone! Instead, peasants are turning up everywhere[ 2 ], a troublesome and discordant voice to those extolling the praises of economic globalisation. La Vía Campesina has become an outspoken radical opposition to the globalised corporate model of agriculture.
Politically, the (neo)-liberalisation of agriculture is a war on peasants: it decimates rural communities and farming families. Environmentally, it causes a degradation of the rural ecology and biodiversity, causing superbugs, superweeds and toxified soils.
La Via Campesina is strongly rooted in local communities, at the same time being increasingly engaged on the international stage. Its growing visibility as a key social actor has attracted the attention of many rural organisations. It now includes 164 organisations from 73 countries. Much of its success is due to the fact that it is represents the diverse interests of its membership, balancing potentially divisive issues such as gender, race, class, culture and North/South relations3. According to LVC the conflict is not between farmers of the North and peasants of the South, rather, the struggle is over two competing models of land-use, social and economic development. On the one hand the neoliberal corporate-driven model of input/output agriculture; on the other hand the socialised model of ecologically-based sustainable agriculture geared to localised resources and markets.
The rise of La Via Campesina indicates that small-holder families have not been passive victims in the face of the global economic restructuring, with its increasing poverty and marginalisation. Instead they are resisting the corporate model of agriculture, using the typical methods of the oppressed; organisation, cooperation and community to build an alternative model of agriculture based on the principles of social justice, ecological sustainability and respect for peasant cultures and peasant economies. This involves creating small agricultural cooperatives, local seed banks, fair trade ventures and reclaiming traditional farming practices. It also means linking these efforts beyond the local by working at the national, regional and international levels.
In forming La Via Campesina, the smaller peasant organisations have effectively internationalised and succeeded in carving out a space in the international arena. It provides an international space for the peasant voice, its demands and efforts to resist the imposition of a corporate model of agriculture. The solidarity and unity experienced within this organisation yields perhaps the most precious gift of all, hope. Hope that ‘another’ agriculture is possible. Indeed, La Via Campesina enables us to imagine that change is possible and that an alternative way is being created.


  1. Translated from the Spanish it means ... 'the way of the peasant woman'
  2. Peasants and small-holders comprise about 40% of the world's population, and growing.
  3. Food sovereignty, seed sovereignty, land grabbing, biopiracy, land use, women's rights.

For more information visit www.viacampesina.org

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