Food sovereignty

Farmers seeds

Food sovereignty is a concept defined by the right of people to healthy and culturally-appropriate food produced through ecologically-sound and sustainable methods and the right to define their own food and agriculture systems.  Firstly claimed by Via Campesina in 1996, this concept has been relayed by many people: peasant and family farmer-driven agriculture, artisanal - fishing, pastoralist-led grazing...


The rights to food and to decent life pass by recognizing and protecting the right of access to land, seeds, water, suitable credits, but also by sharing the agricultural knowledge and by equitable transfer of technology well adapted. It is also important to promote gender equity because hunger vulnerability is linked to the women’s status while most of suppliers of food to the household in Africa are women.

Unfortunately, some policies and some kinds of investment threaten the access to land, water and seeds, and even the practices of agriculture well-adapted to climate change,environment and to the culture of people.

Recent food crisis have highlighted the neglect of political will to develop agriculture competent to feed people of today and tomorrow in a sustainable way.



Food Sovereignty in Africa, a concept that AEJN supports

AEFJN members work on the concept and the implications of Food Sovereignty in Africa from their Christian viewpoint and their African experience. AEFJN contributes to the discussion in order to obtain the implementation of basic human rights.


Why supporting Food Sovereignty in Africa?

Half of the world’s active population is employed in the agricultural sector. In the 49 Least Developed Countries (34 of which are African countries), agriculture is the livelihood of up to 60% of the active population.


Therefore, there are many millions of humans directly concerned by agricultural and food policies and also trade agreements; their well-being and survival directly depend on agricultural production and trade in their country.


Thus, agricultural and food policies applied by African governments are very important, such as policies promoted by other countries with effects in Africa or on the global trade.


1. To protect african producers in agriculture against what, against who ?


a. At home:


In Africa, farmers have very little or not official assistance or frames. Rarely, national policies in long term bring a support adapted to the production in the country by giving to farmers: a structure which encourages exchange, a technical support and agricultural researches conducted in the region, access to information, access to evaluation of lines of production, or to technological appropriated to their realities and their objectives. Even more, farmers do not benefit  in their country from protection and economic support to their everyday life.   


Generally, the worldwide directions of policies are selected by international institutions (International Monetary Fund, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) and the local assistance is, globally, ensured by NGO or assistance of Cooperation and Development.


b. On a world level:


African farmers depend on global trade and on the evolution of agriculture in industrialized states. This latter goes forward to an “industrialized agriculture on a large scale”.


However agriculture in Africa is not sufficiently supported protected or developed enough to be able to compete with the products imported; this is truer when imported products are subsidized and are the dumping object. Further, the debates about the assignment of World Trade Organization which prohibits states applying tax on importation (ex: milk in Kenyan) and the stratagem in Western Countries to subsidize their products and in the same way to obey to the WTO rules. 


Therefore, basic food production and agricultural production for trade have to compete with unequal competitors of industrialized agriculture production on a large scale, as well on his land as on the world market.


AEFJN is concerned by the reform of the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and its impact on African agricultural sectors like cotton, olive oil, cereals, rice, sugar, coffee, etc. These products are of vital importance for the livelihood of millions of farmer-families in Africa and are most important sources of income for many Least Developed Countries.

AEFJN wants to advocate that African farmers and countries have the right to protect and regulate their agricultural sectors, so as to assure farmers’ rights to a fair price for their produce and a dignified living for their families

2. How to protect?


To tackle the problems starting from Human Rights, that means: to consider the Right to food like a Fundamental Human Right and to resort to treaties of Rights signed by hundred of nations.


International Rights, Universal Declaration on Human Rights, United Nation Treaty, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966)


3. What about migration ?


Migration results of this crisis: farmers and fishermen cannot live anymore of their work. That’s the reason why many men, often young people, try their chance in Europe. Their family helps them to pay their travel, sometimes by selling their means of subsistence, even while being involved in debt, to give young people the chance to find a work elsewhere.


But the majority of migration is happening in the same country: rural people migrate to cities.