Celebrating seeds

This film is produced by MELCA, Ethiopia, in collaboration with the Development Fund Norway, African Biodiversity Network, the Gaia Foundation

Read More

Agroecology – Vision, Practice, Movement: Voices From Social Movements

A movement is growing. While agroecology has been practiced for millennia in diverse places around the world, today we are witnessing the mobilisation of transnational social movements to build, defend and strengthen agroecology as the pathway towards a most just, sustainable and viable food and agriculture system. This video explores the meaning, practice and politics of agroecology from a social movement perspective. Two versions of the video are available – one short and one full length.

This video was created as part of a research project to better understand the contested meanings and practices of agroecology at the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience at Coventry University in collaboration with members of La Via Campesina and the International Planning Committee For Food Sovereignty

Created by:
Colin Anderson, Csilla Kiss and Michel Pimbert

Edited by:
Colin Anderson & Ben Cook

Footage Contributed by: Anne Berson; CYRK Productions, Denmark; Isabelle Delforge

Music by: Balafon Dembélé

Read More

Didactic Toolkit for the Design, Management and Assessment of Resilient Farming Systems

didacticThis methodological toolkit aims to aid farmers and technicians in better understanding the principles and mechanisms that underlie the resiliency (or lack of) of farming systems and how agroecological management can enhance the adaptive capacity of farmers to unpredictable and sever climatic variability.

The tool can be used for:

  • Conducting a rapid agroecological assessment of farms and their level of vulnerability
  • Initiating of a process of agroecological conversion to enhance the response capacity of farmers and thus improve the resiliency of their farming systems
  • Monitoring the trajectory of the farms under agroecological converstion after climatic events such as hurricanes, rain storms and drought.


  • Miguel A. Altieri
  • Clara I. Nicholls-Estrada
  • Alejandro Henao-Salazar
  • Ana C. Galvis-Martinez

Read More

La AGRICULTURA del FUTURO – Miguel Altieri

Conferencia AGRICULTURA del FUTURO por Miguel Altieri. La AGROECOLOGIA es la única alternativa para afrontar la crisis alimentaria actual a nivel mundial. Existe un choque entre la agricultura industrial y la agricultura campesina. Debemos optar por la agricultura campesina porque es la que actualmente produce el 70% de los alimentos que consumimos, porque es sustentable, resiliente y permitirá mitigar el cambio climático.

Read More

Pablo Tittonell – Feeding the world with Agroecology

Pablo Tittonell is professor ‘Farming Systems Ecology’ at Wageningen University and one of the worlds most famous experts in the field of agriculture and ecology. He advocates intensification of agriculture by making optimal use of natural processes and the landscape to meet the worlds growing demand for food.

Watch the video below.

Read More

Videos: Food Sovereignty Colloquium 2013

Academics, activists, farmers, and more gathered for the conference “Food Sovereignty: A Critical Dialogue” – held twice: on 14-15 September 2013 in Yale University, USA, and on 24 January 2014 at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in the Hague. It brought together the world’s leading scholars and activists, both sympathetic and supportive of the idea of food sovereignty, as well as those highly skeptical of the concept. They fostered a critical dialogue on the issue examining its various meanings, interpretations, and political implications. You will find below a selection of the presentations (30 video clips!) held during the conferences at Yale University in September 2013 and at ISS in January 2014.

As one of the organizers of both events the Transnational Institute presented the video on their website at http://www.tni.org/article/videos-food-sovereignty-colloquium-2013

James C. Scott, Sterling Professor of Political Science and Anthropology at Yale University opens the Yale conference with a skeptical critique of the concept of “food sovereignty,” posing challenging questions about nation states, population growth, and dietary habits.


Teodor Shanin, president of the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences and Professor Emeritus at the University of Manchester discusses the significance of a historical perspective for understanding the global peasants’ movement La Via Campesina.


Bina Agarawal, Professor of Development Economics and the Environment at the University of Manchester and President of the International Society for Ecological Economics discusses potential contradictions between key elements of Food Sovereignty, efforts to achieve global food security, and the importance of democratic choice by farmers, using case studies to highlight ways in which farmers’ democratic choice may come into conflict with other aspects of Food Sovereignty’s vision.


Paul Nicholson, farmer from the Basque Country and founding member of La Via Campesina, discusses the transformative potential of La Via Campesina and the Food Sovereignty movement. He highlights challenges for the movement today, stressing that LVC is not a static entity or an academic concept, but a bottom-up, dynamic, diverse movement, and an evolving alternative vision of life being presented by peasants to the rest of society.


Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, discusses the twenty-year history of the Food Sovereignty movement. He argues that behind the diversity of grassroots initiatives that make up the second generation of food sovereignty activism there is a deep convergence in ideals and a shared analysis of the problems with and alternatives to the current dominant global food system.


Jan Douwe van der Ploeg, Professor of Transition Studies at Wageningen University and Adjunct Professor at the China Agricultural University in Beijing highlights the centrality of peasant agriculture to Food Sovereignty and tackles the question of whether peasant production can feed a global population of 9-10 billion. He draws on Chayanov’s agrarian economics to illuminate strengths and possibilities of peasant agriculture.


Harriet Friedmann, Professor Emerita of Sociology, Geography, and Planning at the University of Toronto and recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from Canadian Association of Food Studies, highlights the tension between consumer needs for affordable food and producer needs for sustainable livelihoods, and explores the re-embedding of markets in biosocial context and the transformation of institutions as ways out of this conflict.


Jack Kloppenburg, Professor of Community and Environmental Sociology at the University of Wisconsin Madison introduces the concept of Seed Sovereignty and the Open Source Seed Initiative, and highlights the role of participatory plant breeding in utilizing the creativity of farmers.


Academic, author, and activist Raj Patel talks about Food Sovereignty as “a signifier on the move” – a concept being continually, dialectically, reinvented.


Henry Bernstein, Emeritus Professor of Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and long-term former editor of Journal of Peasant Studies critiques the Food Sovereignty literature’s reliance on “emblematic instances,” interrogating the extent to which these instances actually represent a fundamentally different type of production than entrepreneurial capitalist agriculture.


Bob St Peter, farmer and seasonal farm worker from Maine, and founding member of Food For Maine, discusses the historical inequalities between the country and the city and the role that the Food Sovereignty movement can play in creating a more equitable future.


Eric Holtz-Gimenez, Director of Food First, the Institute for Development of Food Policy, elaborates the presence of multiple actors in the movement to transform the food system and asks what the future is for academics in the food sovereignty movement.


Jennifer Clapp, Canada Research Chair in Global Food Security and Sustainability at Waterloo, discusses the financialization of food, arguing that financialization has undergone a critical increase in complexity and scale in the last two decades, which has major implications for the Food Sovereignty movement.


Kathy Ozer, of the National Family Farm Coalition, highlights key initiatives from the Coalition and other groups, and the interaction between national, local, and global movements for Food Sovereignty.


Marc Edelman, Professor of Anthropology at Hunter College and CUNY, offers some provocations, interrogating the origin stories of the term “Food Sovereignty,” questioning the orthodox reading of the relationship between Food Sovereignty and Food Security, and raising concrete questions about what a food sovereign society would look like.


Mark Bomford, Farmer, former Founding Director of Centre for Sustainable Food at the University of British Columbia, and Director of the Yale Sustainable Food Project, attempts to build bridges, connecting the dialogue from the conference to communities of practice, and addressing the opportunity that institutions like Yale provide for the Food Sovereignty movement to engage with global elites.


Maryam Rahmanian, manager of the Participatory Plant Breeding program at the Centre for Sustainable Development and the Environment, in Iran, discusses the significance and the challenges of international alliance-building, presenting examples from the work of the International Planning Committee on Food Security. She asks, what does it mean to build alliances well, and how can we do it?


Peter Rosset, co-coordinator of the Land Research Action Network and member of Via Campesina’s technical committee introduces the internal processes within Via Campesina, addressing how it holds together and moves forward as a movement, given the huge diversity of its membership, and emphasizing the significance of dialogue between different kinds of knowledge.


Phil McMichael, Professor of Development Sociology at Cornell, discusses the attitude towards nature, people, and production that animates many different strains of the food sovereignty movement, in opposition to the current dominant food regime.


Todd Holmes, former co-ordinator of Agrarian Studies and Yale and Post-doctoral scholar at Stanford, asks how to go forward from here, how to balance “the politics of the possible” with “the politics of the practical,” and how to historicize our understanding of the global food system and its alternatives.


Martha Jane Robbins, of the National Farmers Union, Canada offers feedback on key papers, including Kloppenberg and Bernstein’s, from the perspective of La Via Campesina, drawing attention to the deliberate political usage of terms like “Food Sovereignty” and “peasant” as framing concepts for political organizing.


Mamadou Goita, of ROPPA , the West African Farmers Alliance, highlights the need for an interdisciplinary approach to Food Sovereignty that takes seriously political and practical, as well as conceptual, aspects of the term. He also critiques current attempts at defining Food Sovereignty for neglecting the principles of Food Sovereignty elaborated at Nyeleni.


Malik Yakini, Founder and Executive Director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network and Fellow at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, introduces the audience to the current situation in Detroit and his organization’s work building capacity, community empowerment, and democracy through a variety of food programs. He also emphasizes the centrality of issues of race both in the broader context and within the Food Sovereignty movement.


Blain Snipstal, returning generation peasant farmer and leader in La Via Campesina North America discusses the need to engage emotionally with Food Sovereignty, as part of a movement for re-peasantization and revalorizing marginalized knowledge, not merely as an abstract intellectual concept.


Sofia Monsalve, of the Foodfirst Information & Action Network (FIAN), discusses nutrition and gender, addressing the significance rights-based frameworks. At the same time she raises problems with the current international implementation of the right to adequate nutrition as it applies to girls and women and emphasizes the need to discuss issues like social policy, labour, and income.


Bridget O’Laughlin, former professor of development studies at ISS and an editor of the Journal of Development and Change, suggests that Food Sovereignty cannot be an analytical framework, and that that is not a problem. She offers a vision of the role of intellectuals within the movement: addressing ambiguities, questioning assumptions, and identifying gaps that need research.


Tania Li, of the University of Toronto, asks about communities who do not see themselves as part of the Food Sovereignty movement. She uses the case of a community in Central Sulawesi to highlight how the core elements of Food Sovereignty do not necessarily cohere together, and argues for the importance of addressing these kinds of places, that challenge embedded assumptions of the movement.


Susan George, author and Chairperson of TNI, gives a perspective on what has and has not changed in the global food movement in the last decades, drawing out universal themes while emphasizing the vital significance of new issues like the financialization of agricultural.


Phil Woodhouse, of the University of Manchester, discusses the relationship between consumers and producers of food. He highlights key tensions around the price of food, arguing that the productivity of agricultural labour is fundamentally related to the price of food and asks, “how does Food Sovereignty address the issue of the price of food and the potential conflict between producers and consumers?”.


Elizabeth Mpofu, General Coordinator of La Via Campesina, shares the perspective of global peasants. She emphasizes that peasants are an organized movement, not merely resisting but working to build a new world through the idea of Food Sovereignty and opens the floor for dialogue between the peasants of the world and academics and activists committed to solidarity with them.


Read More

El Mercado del Buen Vivir

EL MERCADO DEL BUEN VIVIR … Los colores, los sabores, las texturas y la diversidad de productos sanos del mercado campesino del Barrio La Joya recobrarán una vida artística en plastilina. Este mercado surge del proceso de diálogo campo-ciudad; es decir, el enlace de relaciones solidarias entre pobladores del campo Santandereano con habitantes de la ciudad de Bucaramanga.

Esta iniciativa de impulsar los mercados locales, inició con el Festival de Expresiones Rurales y Urbanas en el año 2010, y ha logrado desde allí mantener un mercado cada quincena, cuando campesinos y campesinas bajan de sus veredas con alimentos frescos, e intercambian con habitantes de esta tradicional Barrio de La Joya.

Con la presencia de talleristas en animación de la talla nacional e internacional, como son: Edgar Álvarez, Aura Estela Mora y Camilo Herrera, se moldearon un video-clip de animación con técnicas de trabajo en plastilina y stop-motion que recoge las vivencias de los pobladores urbanos y rurales con relación a los mercados campesinos.

Los jóvenes rurales quienes son productores de alimentos sanos relatan sus historias en animación que permita valorar la interrelación entre el arte y la vida rural y especialmente la importancia de las economías locales y campesinas.

Mayor información:

FUNDAEXPRESION / [email protected]
SE LO EXPLICO CON PLASTILINA / www.facebook.com/seloexplicoconplastilin­a

Read More

Agroecology: Principles and Practices

A presentation written by Miguel Altieri, Professor of Agroecology at the University of California, Berkeley in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, with the participation of Angela Hilmi. You can choose to download the short or the long version; both of them are in Power Point format and available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.



Read More

Who produces our food?

by Aksel Naerstad
International co-coordinator of the More and Better Network

Small scale food producers produce 70% of the total global food production according to United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP)[1] and the well acknowledged international organization ETC-group There are, however, no exact figures of how much food which is produced by different kind of food producers. Neither is there a clear definition of who are the small scale food producers or a distinct definition of industrial food production. There are for instance four different definition of family agriculture in Brazil, based on regional differences. A farm of 50 ha in Argentina is considered small, and a farm of 5 ha is considered a large farm in many countries in Asia.[2] In many reports small farms are categorized as farms with less than 2 hectares of land, but some propose to categorize all farms of less than 10 hectares as small.

Some figures
In the report Who will feed us? [3] ETC-group estimates, based on different sources, that small scale farmers / peasants produce 50% of the global food production; small scale food producers in the cities produce 7,5%; hunting, fishing and other forms of gathering and harvesting from nature counts for about 12,5%; and that the industrial food production produce about 30% of the total global food production.

The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) Global Report,[4] gives also an estimate of how much of the food is being produced by small scale food producers. The figures in the report are based on FAO data from 525 million farms all over the world. 90% of these farms are small farms, defined as farms with less than 2 hectares of land, and they contribute substantially to the global food production. The IAASTD-report highlights that in Africa 90% of the agricultural production comes from these small farms.

FAO (2010) 2000 World Census of Agriculture has statistics from 84 countries with a total of 436 million farms, which is 83% on all farms in the world, based on the figures in IAASTD. 85% of the farms in the census are small farms – calculated on the basis of farms less than 2 hectares for all countries and territories, except for Uruguay, USA and New Zealand where the statics are on less than 5 hectares.
FAO has estimated that about 15% of the annual consumption of food by peasants and their families in rural areas in developing countries come from areas which are not cultivated,[5] and that 75-90% of all staple food is produced and consumed locally.[6]

Food First published in 2008 an article from M. Altieri[7] with the following figures:
“At present, small farms (2 hectares and less) produce the majority of staple crops for urban and rural inhabitants across the world – in Latin America 17 million peasant farms produce 51 percent of the maize, 77 percent of the beans, and 61 percent of the potatoes consumed domestically; 33 million small (mostly female– run) farms in Africa, representing 80 per­cent of the farms, produce a ‘significant amount of basic food crops with virtually no or little use of fertilizers and improved seed;’ and in Asia most of the rice consumed is produced by more than 200 million small farmers”.

Worldwatch Institute estimates that urban agriculture produce 15-20% of all food in the world.4 Other institutes use similar figures, but the studies do not cover the whole world. FAO estimate that urban agriculture provides the food for about 700 million people. [8]

In an article by 16 scientists in the well acknowledged magazine Science in 2010 [9] they state that two third of the global population is linked to a kind of mixt crop-livestock systems, mainly small farms with less than 2 hectare of land;
“According to the CGIAR analysis, the world’s one billion poor people (those living on less than $1 a day) are fed primarily by hundreds of millions of small-holder farmers (most with less than 2 ha of land, several crops, and perhaps a cow or two) and herders (most with fewer than five large animals) in Africa and Asia (3). Furthermore, mixed crop-livestock systems could be the key to future food security; two-thirds of the global population already live in these systems, and much of the future population growth will occur there. Already, mixed systems produce close to 50% of the world’s cereals and most of the staples consumed by poor people: 41% of maize, 86% of rice, 66% of sorghum, and 74% of millet production (3). They also generate the bulk of livestock products in the developing world, that is, 75% of the milk and 60% of the meat, and employ many millions of people in farms, formal and informal markets, processing plants, and other parts of long value chains (3).”[10]

The Norwegian government states in the budget proposal for 2012 that small-scale farmers produce 80% of the food in developing countries.[11] This means that peasants in developing countries produce the food for 65% of the population in the world, if we keep export and import out of the picture. Even if import of food is important for many countries, also for developing countries, is the share of the food which crosses borders only about 10% of the total food production.[12]

The President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is also using the same figure; that small scale farmers in developing countries produce 80% of the food in developing countries.[13]

I would like to underline that none of the figures above are accurate. There is a need for better statistics, but there are many more sources than used in this article which have similar figures. Some people have challenged the figures above, and said that industrial food produce most of the food in the world. I have not been able to find any sources or references which tell that.
Read more

Read More