This year, the international peasant movement La Via Campesina is celebrating its growth with the official launch of its 10th region.
For more than 30 years, La Via Campesina has advocated for food sovereignty, environmental justice, and peasants’ rights.
“If people don’t control the food, they don’t control the power,” Morgan Ody, General Coordinator for La Via Campesina tells Food Tank. Food systems transformation, they believe, lies “in the hands of peasant women, of the peasant youth, of artisanal fisherfolk, of the people who are really producing the healthy food.”
The movement is made up of more than 200 million peasants spread out across more than 80 countries. While each organization that comprises La Via Campesina works to address the specific needs of their region, they stand in solidarity with one another to achieve shared goals.
“The value of solidarity is very important,” Ody says. “So when one of our organizations or peasant leaders, or someone in one of our organizations faces a huge problem, we try to be in solidarity with this organization or with this peasant leader.”
This year, La Via Campesina shared that 2023 will mark their official expansion into the Arab and North Africa region as they foster new and existing relationships with local organizations.
“We really thought a few years ago that we needed to put more energy toward trying to support a peasant organizations and agricultural workers organizations in this region, which has been hurt by so many wars,” Ody tells Food Tank.
She explains that their work is complicated by a political climate that is hostile to peasant movements. But, Ody continues, “we know that in these societies, the peasants are really the basis of life. If the peasants were not there to continue to produce food, it would be even more complicated.” La Via Campesina hopes that in the coming months, they can bring in new organizations from the region.
La Via Campesina is also looking ahead to their eighth international conference, coming up in December. “It’s going to be such an exciting moment,” Ody tells Food Tank. Bringing together more than 500 peasants, “it’s a great moment of celebration,” she says. “But it’s also a moment of debate, discussion over the priorities of our peasant movement for the next years.”
Listen to the full conversation with Morgan Ody on “Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg” HERE to hear about creating opportunities for youth in agriculture, reclaiming term peasant, and why La Via Campesina’s fight to democratize food systems is so critical.
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Photo courtesy of Amany Firdaus, Unsplash