On April 17, La Via Campesina will honor small food producers around the world with the International Day of Peasants’ Struggles. The day—which recognizes the 21st anniversary of the lethal confrontation between the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement and the military police in Pará, Brazil—highlights the global struggle of small farmers to protect their right to life, land, and tradition.
Small farmers feed the world. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that small food producers grow 80 percent of the total food consumed in non-industrialized countries, despite the fact that they account for half of the world’s poorest rural populations. La Via Campesina, a human rights movement dedicated to improving agrarian reform, gender equality, and land access for pastoral farmers and small food producers around the world, developed the term food sovereignty in 1996 at the World Food Summit to combat the challenges that threaten rural farmers: forced eviction, inability to save seed, imprisonment, and poverty.
With the International Day of Peasants’ Struggles, La Via Campesina hopes to progress the pending United Nation’s Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas, guaranteeing greater protection for rural farmers and small food producers facing threat and discrimination. At this year’s Global Peasants’ Rights Congress, 400 small food producers from more than 50 nations met to discuss the conditions and progress of the Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working, which will undergo its fourth round of negotiations before the U.N. Human Rights Council in May 2017.
La Via Campesina is looking for volunteers around the world to organize gatherings, demonstrations, group prayers, and discussions on April 17. Promote the work of La Via Campesina and advocate for a better future for the world’s farmers by hosting a potluck, film screening (of SEED: The Untold Story, Food Chains, or several short films), or letter writing party to elected officials about the importance of protecting rural and small farmers’ right to land. Share events honoring International Day of Peasants’ Struggles with firstname.lastname@example.org, to be documented and shared with La Via Campesina’s online network.