Food Sovereignty puts those who produce, distribute and need wholesome, local food at the heart of food, agricultural, livestock and fisheries systems and policies, rather than the demands of markets and corporations that reduce food to internationally tradeable commodities and components.
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.
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.
Food Sovereignty: towards democracy in localized food systems, a Practical Action working paper by Michael Windfuhr and Jennie Jonsén, 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. Download as PDF (for personal use only), read text as HTML on UKabc or order from Practical Action Publishing