Via Campesina Movement
The essay is a critical examination of the ways in which Campesina Movement, as well as their ideas of food sovereignty conceptually, challenges the underpinning of the contemporary food system. It is worth noting that food sovereignty has been thought of as the right of individuals to clearly define their own types of food as well agriculture, protecting as well as regulating domestic agricultural production aimed at achieving sustainable development objectives. Additionally, the concept covers issues ranging from malnutrition, a hunger which is all contextualized into a broad in the field of rural development as well as ecological sustainable environment. Ideally, food sovereignty was brought forth to counter the conventional development based on trade-based food security as well as industrial agricultural food production (Borras, 2008).
La Via Campesina is an international organization that groups peasant farmers from across the globe particularly from America, Asia, South America, Africa as well as Europe. The organization constitutes national or regional organizations that pull together resources to enhance food security. These groups enjoy autonomy. Ideally, the organization aim is to collectively defy the proposals of World Trade Organization and World Bank. La Via Campesina tries as much as possible to disassociate with any sort of political structure hence trying to go against the views of philosopher Wendall Berry who wrote that "agriculture is a political act".
According to Martinez-Toress & Rosset, 2010 it is worth noting that through the various stages that the organization has undergone, it has been able to build a stable coalition with various entities such as Non-Governmental Organization, businesses as well as the national organization. Through this and the balanced kind of leadership which has no gender parity, it has been capable of pressurizing known organizations such as WTO, World Bank to change or adjust some of their policies. There are even instances where some policies have been completely scrapped off. All this was on the basis that they were not favorable in fostering food security. The strategies adopted varied with the target organization. Entities such as WTO and World Bank are not engaged in active dialogue, however other entities such as FAO is in a position to provide room for alternative and for trading off by changing some of their policies.
It is worth noting that the organization held the view that food, as well as other agricultural products, be exempted from trade agreements and tariffs. This is contrary to the dominant or conventional view that free trade is what the world needs. The argument for the new model of thinking is that when food and agriculture are exempted from the various trade agreements, there will be no chance of food shortages usually created by the industrialized nation so that they can be able to sell their products to poorer nations. Similarly, it will also discourage unfair trade which results to poor nations suffering from not being able to gain maximally from exporting agricultural products.
Similarly, the organization has campaigned against genetically modified organization. The arguments brought forth are that it is bad to the health as well as the environment. It employs a lot of technology and other resources which is unnecessary. On the other hand dominant model believe that GMO is the future in curbing food shortages. La Via Campesina efforts to challenge this notion has seen to it that the dominant idea that GMO is the future has lost the pace.
With regards to farming technology, the organization has managed to encourage agro ecology, encouraging adoption of sustainable and environmentally friendly methods of farming. Strictly, GMO should not be thought of. Considering the fact the dominant or conventional idea was that agriculture should be highly mechanized, using GMO and intensive application of chemical, the current population of human who are [practicing farming have resorted to what La Via Campesina advocated for. On the same not, the conventional idea that dumping, monopoly as well as overproduction are not issues of concern, the organization has managed to clearly depict the negative impacts of this concepts.
For instance, when there is overproduction, prices of goods are tremendously driven down making farmers to be poorer. Additionally monopoly is the root of all problems such as poor services as well as goods production (Raj, 2008). The efforts of the organization has seen o it that policies that favored a monopolistic business environment has been done away with. It is thus evident that various organizations came into business bringing competition which ultimately helped in making consumers receive goods and services that are of high quality and at the same time affordable.
Additionally, the organization has advocated for food to be viewed as nothing else but a human right. For that matter, such food opts to be healthy, nutritious, and affordable, produced locally and appreciated culturally. This is contrary to the conventional view/model that sees food as a commodity which needs to be processed, contaminated. Interestingly La Via Campesina has strived to make it known that hunger is not as a result of low productivity but rather as a result of a problem to access as well as distribution (Martinez-Toress & Rosset, 2010). This is attributed to high level of poverty as well as inequality. With this notion, the relevant authority especially the government has strived in making sure it improves the country’s infrastructural systems to allow the marginalized to easily access food.
In conclusion, although agriculture has been deemed to be a political act, there has been an effort by La Via Campesina that has helped change human perception towards the conventional model. For instance, it has advocated against GMOs, sustainable farming methods, not using chemicals in farming among others. Through its efforts there has been tremendous change in the underpinning views about the food system.