Small farmers win Food Sovereignty Prize

Latin America Press

Haitian team recognized for fighting for food democracy by promoting safe, healthy agricultural practices and advocating for peasant farmer rights.

The US Food Sovereignty Alliance announced Aug. 13 that a team of Haiti’s five largest peasant organizations won the fifth-annual Food Sovereignty Prize, an honor granted to grassroots groups for creating projects that create “food democracy” and combat hunger and poverty.

Food democracy refers to “bottom-up, communal and cultural approaches to deal with hunger and poverty,” according to Charity Hicks of the Detroit Food Justice Task Force, a group that sponsors the prize. Selected from 40 applicants, Haiti’s winning team represents more than a quarter million Haitians and fights for food democracy by promoting safe, healthy agricultural practices and advocating for peasant farmer rights.

The team known as “the G4 and the and the Dessalines Brigade,” consists of Heads Together Small Farmers of Haiti (Tèt Kole), the Peasant Movement of Papay (MPP), the National Congress of Papay Peasant Movements, the Regional Coordination of Organizations of the Southeast Region, and the Dessalines Brigade — named after the 19th-century Haitian independence leader Jean-Jacques Dessalines — and is supported by La Vía Campesina, or the International Peasant’s Movement.

According to the Food Sovereignty Prize website, merit for the award is also based on creating global ties and prioritizing the leadership of women, indigenous people, migrant workers and other “food providers marginalized by the global food system,” which the winner was thought to achieve by means of its widespread alliance.

Since 2007, the group has been working to rebuild Haiti’s environment stricken by hurricanes and 2010 earthquake, end poverty and preserve the Haitian Creole seed. Three years ago, the MPP rejected a donation of genetically-modified seeds by the US agricultural giant Monsanto, saying the transgenic seeds would contaminate native crops and threaten Haiti´s precarious food security and sovereignty.

“The Food Sovereignty Prize symbolizes the fight for safe and healthy food for all peoples of the earth,” G4 executive committee member Chavannes Jean-Baptiste said. “It’s a fight that must be waged both locally and globally, and requires deep solidarity among all organizations fighting for food sovereignty.”

Honorable mentions for the prize included farmers´ organizations in India, Mali and the Basque Country. Last year, the award went to The Korean Women Peasant’s Association, and in 2011 to The Landless Workers of Brazil. —Latinamerica Press.