Reactions from the floor and from participants in round table n°1 to presentations by N. AKESBI and H. THOMAS on food sovereignty.
From the floor : Mali
Where does the notion of food sovereignty come from ? It originated with the movement Via Campesina and is now an integral part of human rights. To ensure such sovereignty, access to the factors of production (land, water, inputs) must be guaranteed as should the right to defend against dumping. All of this is necessary for a people to have the possibility of meeting their own needs, according to their own culture. Who is going to feed the world ? Small farmers ! Therefore it is important to maintain production in Northern countries also. The propositions of Via Campesina are the only ones that make sense !
From the floor : Burkina Faso
Everyone has the right to food. Nations must not be prevented from producing what is needed to meet the demand of their populations. There are unjust policies in place at national and international levels which have, for example, driven down the price of cotton.
From the floor : Benin
Bad policy has led us into an impasse. In the last three years, the price of cotton has dropped below the cost of production. Maybe we need to turn more towards foodcrop production ?
Participant (representative from Madagascar)
Food sovereignty is absolutely necessary for LDCs like Madagascar. Why does my country import so much rice ?
What are we expecting from the government ? First of all some support for small farmer organisations and secondly more information.
Is a bona fide agricultural policy what we need ? Most important is to open up regions and to introduce new technologies to increase productivity and competitivity. We farmers bear the responsibility to get organised.
From the floor : Chad (female farmer)
Food sovereignty also depends on women ! We are the ones who work the fields and also play a part in bringing crops to market, but it is the men who decide what we sell and for what price ! Is this likely to change soon ? It will happen sooner or later.
From the floor : Tunisia
What is needed are policies to keep people in rural areas.
The Maghreb enjoys strong ties with the EU and especially with France, which absorbs the largest part of our output. Tunisia has a longstanding agreement of association with the EU.
From the floor (unidentified)
Have faith in the WTO ? It’s really the multinational companies that rule the world. The WTO does not contribute to development. Developing countries should reappropriate their wealth.
From the floor : Morocco
Morocco produces tomatoes which are exported to the EU and are a subject of heated debate. Morocco often finds itself disagreeing with the EU. Why hinder our exports ? They are vital to the livelihood of a huge number of small farmers.
From the floor : Benin (pineapple grower)
We should never forget that agriculture means living with nature. African farmers are very worried. Policies to protect our food sovereignty are absolutely necessary. The AFDI has helped me a lot to develop my ability to move forward. There is a new element on the scene now : the emergence of a civil society, but this change is not yet fundamental. Policymakers should take our views more into account. ROPPA is already playing a part in the elaboration of regional-level policies.
From the floor : (an African)
The WTO is a vast play of interests. We have to fight to get policies favorable to agriculture. Our governments often get stuck. We need to make them budge, and civil society is a new lever for doing so. We need true partnerships with the North.
From the floor : (a French person)
How do we define food sovereignty ? How far do we want to go ?
From the floor : Ivory Coast (banana grower)
How can we benefit from our production ? As far as bananas are concerned, our near future is very uncertain. The WTO is a necessary evil for avoiding disorder.