One of the biggest threats to small-scale family farmers is losing access to their seeds.
In the Global South, more than 80% of food is grown by small family farmers and peasants.
By doing the painstaking work of planting, watering, weeding, and harvesting, small family farmers feed 70% of the world’s population.
Three billion people worldwide live and depend on small-scale family and peasant farming. Development and Peace projects support this sustainable, proven model of food production.
As demand for quinoa increases in rich countries like Canada, some Bolivians and Peruvians can no longer afford to buy this nutritious food that was a staple of their diets.
Trained in human rights, agrarian and agricultural policy, and in agro-ecology, this peasant farmer participates in the Food Acquisition Programme – in which the government buys peasant harvests in advance at a fair price above market value. This allows him to increase and diversify his harvests.
Without family farmers and peasants doing the labour-intensive work of preserving our seeds, the biodiversity of our food supply, and the future of our food is at stake.
Following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, agricultural giant Monsanto offered to donate seeds to help re-launch agricultural activities in the country. This donation would have pushed farmers into a cycle of dependence on the company and threatened the country’s native seeds. Development and Peace’s partner the Papaye Peasant Movement (MPP) organized a march of 10,000 people to protest this menace to small family farming.
In rural areas, it is mainly women who sow the seeds, and do the diligent daily work of weeding and cultivating. After harvesting the crops, they go to the market to sell the surplus. However, their essential role in producing the world’s food is not recognized, and they receive only a small fraction of the land, credit, seeds, fertilizer, and training that their male counterparts receive.
“Support for rural women farmers is the best strategy in the fight against hunger and poverty in the world.” - FAO
There are more hungry people in the world than the combined populations of Canada, the U.S., and Europe.
A nationwide farmers’ strike broke out in 2013 in Colombia when Law 970 made it illegal for peasant farmers to save their seeds. There is now a moratorium on the proposed law. Development and Peace’s partners support peasants by offering training in sustainable agriculture.
Zambians have long resisted the introduction of genetically-modified seeds into their country. In 2002, Development and Peace partner the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) and other local organizations successfully convinced the Zambian government to prohibit the entry of GM maize into the country. The ban holds to this day despite increasing pressure from the international community to lift it.
Women farmers face many challenges. Even though they make up 50% of the agricultural work force in the Global South, it is more difficult for them to access land, training, and tools.
Because of the profound transformation in world food production, close to 75% of biodiversity has been lost, and we lose 2% more each year.