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By Osvaldo León *
In this sense, the AIAF aims to reposition this segment in the agricultural, environmental and social policies of the national, regional and global agendas for its significant contribution to world food production, to the preservation of traditional foods, to the generation of employment. and poverty alleviation, the conservation of biodiversity and cultural traditions.
Family Farming is presented as “a way of organizing agriculture, livestock, forestry, fishing, aquaculture and grazing, which is managed and operated by a family and, above all, which depends predominantly on family work, both women and men. of men. The family and the farm are linked, co-evolve and combine economic, environmental, social and cultural functions ”. Dispute of senses
How could it be otherwise, the very name of the International Year of Family Farming raises questions. For example, Gustavo Duch asks: “Is the family name the best definition to draw the line that separates agriculture from public limited companies, stock market prices and sterilized seeds of peasant agriculture from local markets and cultivated biodiversity ? Is it enough to define it as that agricultural activity operated by a family and that depends mainly on family labor, including both women and men? Is the family the only model to develop small-scale peasant agriculture? ”.
Questions that, deep down, are part of the dispute of meanings that is being waged at various levels with respect to the AIAF, because it –as often happens with events promoted by the UN– contributes to make visible debates that were kept muted by work and grace of the conjunction of the factual powers with the media.
In the dynamics of the corporations to subordinate world agriculture to their interests, a story appears whose axis is to “incorporate” family farming into their productive chain. And it is what they are negotiating in the official instances. Thus, at the 37th annual meeting of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), held in Rome (19-20, February 2014), this entity presented as a first achievement of the AIAF the signing of an agreement with Unilever, highlighting that both Organizations are guided by similar principles and share goals and commitments around family farming.
As an IFAD statement outlines, Unilever Executive Director Paul Polman “highlighted how to better connect multinationals, small and medium-sized enterprises with small farmers, in a mutually beneficial and productive way”. Unilever is an agri-food transnational that operates in 100 countries, with raw materials that are abundant with GMOs and pesticides, preservatives and chemicals, and that is questioned for covering up child and precarious labor. Are these the minimum conditions for those who choose to "join" the "beneficial and productive" offer proposed by the Executive Director of Unilever?
"The idea of the 'integration' of family farmers to the global agroindustrial chain supposes a free market in which we can all compete and where the rules are 'clear',” says a statement by the Latin American Coordinator of Rural Organizations - Via Peasant (CLOC-VC) ; and then add: “Let's look at some data: with only ¼ of the world's arable land, farmers feed 70% of the world's population, and according to FAO, more than 40% of the food in the agro-industrial chain is they lose by decomposition. 90% of the world grain market is in the hands of four corporations: ABC, Bunge, Cargil and Dreyfus ”.
Monsanto, the document states, “controls 27% of the global seed market, and along with 9 other corporations in the agro-toxin market.
This concentration allows them to speculatively press for commodity prices to rise systematically. In addition, their close alliance with international banks allows them to have enormous amounts of speculative capital that is used for land grabbing, lobbying and pressure on world governments, corruption, etc. What free market are they talking about? The ‘market’ is held hostage to corporations and finance capital. "
For this reason, he underlines: “if we add to the monopoly, the problems of loss of biodiversity and environmental crisis caused by large areas of monocultures, serious health problems and contamination by billions of tons of pesticides that indiscriminately fumigate, slave labor , the indiscriminate use of fossil fuels, the destruction of local markets, among others, it appears clearly that it is not possible to harmonize peasant agriculture with the agriculture of corporations, just as it will not be possible to end Hunger at the hands of that system born with the green revolution ”.
Consequently, the CLOC-VC affirms, "we are clear: that the financial capital system for the countryside is industrial agriculture in the hands of transnational corporations and that is totally contradictory with Food Sovereignty and Indigenous Peasant Family Farming." In a text referring to the qualities of family farming, Jan Douwe van der Ploeg  establishes that among the internal threats is the tendency to enter into business processes that affects the continuity and virtuosity of family farming; however, it highlights that there are important trends that run in the opposite direction.
“Many family farms are strengthening and increasing their income with the use of agroecological principles, with the participation in new economic activities or with the production of new products and the provision of new services that are generally distributed and offered through new markets. , socially constructed ”, he says. To later limit that “these new strategies are defined as forms of re-peasantization, which seek to restore the peasant nature of agriculture by strengthening the family farm. Re-peasantization is, therefore, a way to defend and strengthen family farming ”. * Osvaldo León is Director of “América Latina en Movimiento.
This text is part of the Latin America in Movement Magazine, No., June 496, 2014, which deals with the topic of "Policies and alternatives in agriculture in the year of family farming"
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