Food4all festival and more … – presented to you by Grassroots science and partners

food4allWhat are the current challenges facing our food systems. And what can be done? Get a taste of the problems and solutions at the 2nd edition of the Food4all festival. Part of the festival are: a regional farmers’ market, a documentary on Monsanto, a book presentation, and a dinner with music and gastronomic film. Later this year, a 2 day training on the right to food, agroecology and food sovereignty. For more information see the programme below or visit www.grassrootsscience.nl.

Grassroots science & partners are: OtherWise, ILEIA, Boerengroep, Lazuur, Fian, Transition Towns and Project EAT. Contact: leonardo.vandenberg@wur.nl

Also opportunities offered for MSc-thesis research, internship and Academic Consultancy Training (ACT) in 2nd educational period.

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Food Sovereignty conference Yale University – papers online available

The Yale University Program of Agrarian Studies and Journal of Peasant Studies jointly organized the International conference on Food Sovereignty: a critical dialogue, 14-15 September in Yale, celebrating both the 20th anniversary of La Via Campesina and the 40th anniversary of the Journal of Peasant Studies.

Various reknown scholars in peasant studies will present a paper and discuss the food sovereignty concept as advocated by the La Via Campesina movement. Conference papers are online available and a selection will be published in the Journal of Peasant Studies. See for more information also the Food First weblog of the Institute for Food and Development Policy. Eric Holt-Giménez is the executive director of FoodFirst/Institute for Food and Development Policy.

Also Prof. dr ir Jan Douwe van der Ploeg,  former chair of Rural Sociology and currently Professor Transition Studies at Wageningen University,  presents a paper titled Peasant driven agricultural growth and food sovereignty‘ with the following abstract:

The concept of food sovereignty represents an important theoretical and practical challenge. The political economy of agriculture can only take this gauntlet by developing a better understanding of the processes of agricultural growth. Without such an understanding it is difficult to address the issue of food sovereignty. Developing such an understanding involves a (re-) combination of the political economy of agriculture with the Chayanovian approach. This paper gives several explanations (all individually valid but stronger in combination) as to why peasant agriculture results in sturdy and sustainable growth – it also identifies the factors that undermine this capacity. The paper also argues that peasant agriculture is far from being a remnant of the past. The different peasantries of the world are shaped and reproduced by today’s capital (and more specifically by current food empires), and equally, they help to shape and contribute to the further unfolding of forms of capital related to food and agriculture. It is important to understand this two-way interaction between capital and peasant agriculture as this helps to ground the concept of food sovereignty. This article is underpinned by three assumptions. First, the debate about enlarging total agricultural production is very real. Although this debate is currently used to assess the hegemony of food empires and imperial science, we cannot throw away the baby with the bathwater. Secondly, the capacity to produce enough (at different levels, distinguishing different needs, etc.) needs to be an integral part of food sovereignty discourse. Thirdly, I am convinced that peasant agriculture has the best credentials for meeting food sovereignty and has the capacity to produce (more than) sufficient good food in a way that can satisfy the (many) objectives of producers themselves as well as for society at large.

Food4all – about right to food, sustainable family farming and agro-ecology

With Food4all Otherwise and Boerengroep offer a critical perspective to food security and sustainable farming next to the yearly Food4you festival. Food4all starts on Thursday 11 October with a lecture on Land grabs and the right to food, next an expert panel on Feeding the world on Friday 12 October, a regional farmers market on Saturday and it ends with the Dutch premiere of the film ‘Crops in the Future’ on Tuesday 16 October. Food4all is organized in colaboration with ILEIA and SOS Faim (Belgium).

Celebrate food and farming in Wageningen, the Netherlands! Food4all is a festival that takes you on a journey through sustainable family farming, agro-ecology and the right to food. The Food4All festival is a critical supplement to the “Food4you festival”. The festival seeks to provide a critical perspective on global food security, and give voice sustainable alternatives.

Look at http://grassrootsscience.nl/ for the programme.

Feeding the world sustainable – agroecology v industrial agriculture

Feeding the world in a sustainable way is vehemently debated these days. In international fora the debate is not just about how to increase food production to feed the world’s growing population but also whether increasing food production is adressing the key issue of the relation between poverty and hunger. Increasing food production is not a neutral matter. Although some voices like to put it that way to sustain their claim that ‘facts’ show that their solution is the only right one. A solution is never neutral just because of the combination of technological and institutional means and the social and environmental impact it has. This is not new at all all. The impact of the (first) Green Revolution has been heavely disputed and this socalled neutralness of technology has been key issue in the massive techology and innovation studies of last decades. One cannot simply ignore the wider impact of technological fixes in the debate about how to provide the world’s population in a sustainable way.

In an editorial Eric Holt-Gimenez,  Executive Director of Food First / Institute for Food and Development Policy (www.foodfirst.org) in response to a recent study in Nature has added a contribution to this ongoing debate. He argues that there is a difference between between producing more food and ending hunger.  Read his editorial at on what kind of agriculture can best solve the problem of the growing number of hungry people: agroecology or conventional industrial agriculture at http://www.agriculturesnetwork.org/magazines/global/farmer-organisations/opinion-eric-holt-gimenez or at Nourshing the planet (the weblog of the Worldwatch Institute). One can also see video of a lecture on Food movements, agroecology, and the future of food and farming.

The Christensen Fund made an interesting infographics evaluating the major differences between agroecology and industrial agriculture:

Convergence of food social movements, IRSA reflection 1

In Lisbon, Portugal, the World Congress of Rural Sociology is currently on. It is a stimulating week with researchers from all over the world in plenary sessions as well as smaller parallel groups where results and concepts are presented and discussed. While listening to some presentations, I had to think of the book “Food Movements Unite!” edited by Eric Holt-Giménez. Leaders of the food sovereignty movement talk about the future of the movement and about the need to unite. From the academic work currently presented, there seems to be hopeful news that this is happening. Patricia Allen explained how there is “basket of social movements in convergence” around food and agriculture in the US currently. Whereas the Sustainable Agriculture coalition would talk about environmental degradation and profitability of farm enterprises and certainly not about food security and social justice in a wider sense, this move is now being made. This makes linkages possible with the Community Food Security Movement. To describe this development, Patricia used the metaphor of a tree trunk with a non-negotiable core and branches with leaves of slightly different colour. Continue reading