Twenty-Five Years of peasants’ struggles in bringing Food Sovereignty to reality


Harare, March 26, 2021: At the 1996 World Food Summit La Via Campesina put words to its vision to oppose the destructive capitalist industrial model that is causing hunger, inequality, and the climate crisis by defining “food sovereignty”. Food sovereignty is the right of people to autonomously produce healthy, nutritious, climatically, and culturally appropriate food, using local resources and through agroecological means, primarily to address the local food needs of their communities. Food sovereignty is also necessary to guarantee food security.

Since its launch 25 years ago in Rome, food sovereignty has had far-reaching implications on public policies, picked up by many organizations and institutions such as the United Nations bodies (Food and Agriculture Organisation, International Fund for Agricultural Development, Human Rights Council, etc.). Some governments such as Ecuador, Venezuela, Mali, Bolivia, Nepal, and Senegal, etc have included it in their policies and some in constitutions. The Adoption of UNDROP by the UN General Assembly in 2018 and FAO recognition of agroecology in 2015 are a testament to broader recognition and acceptance of Peoples’ Food Sovereignty by some organisations, multilateral institutions and governments.

Despite these successes, the corporates work tirelessly to stall and roll back further entrenchment of food sovereignty and agroecology in public policies in various UN bodies (Human Rights Council, Committee on World Food Security etc). The recent attempt, the UN Food System Summit, is a clear example that corporate capture is in overdrive, using the COVID-19 pandemic and the increased food insecurity to push for their profit-driven interests. On our side, we believe that on the contrary, the current COVID-19 pandemic has shown the importance and the resilience of local food systems that have kept many people from hunger and starvation. Thus, we continue to push for a radical transformation strategy towards a fair and decent food system for all, which recognizes peoples’ needs, accords dignity and respects nature.

This year, we celebrate 25 years of building food sovereignty. It is indeed an opportunity to give visibility to all successes and achievements. But more than that it is a moment to re-strengthen our collective efforts to obtain the realization of food sovereignty during the upcoming 25 years.

As we mark 25 years of peasants’ struggle for Food Sovereignty, let’s make this anniversary a strong moment of solidarity and building together what we mean by food sovereignty and why we think it is more accurate and relevant than ever – showing all the dimensions of food sovereignty as an alternative to capitalistic food system.

We, La Via Campesina, will make 2021 a year of festival of food sovereignty and more particularly on our International days of global actions and mobilisations: April 17 (International day of peasant struggles[1]), October 16 (International day of action for food sovereignty of the people and against transnationals), November 25 (International day against violence against women), December 3 (Day of action against agrotoxics and for life).

This #17April2021, we call all our members, allies and friends to highlight a dimension of food sovereignty that reflects the reality of the local context.

  • Organize events to protect life and promote peasant seeds, peasants’ rights, migrant workers’ rights, local food, agroecology, public policies for food sovereignty etc.
  • Symbolic actions of solidarity, film screenings, public debates, open air community kitchen, farmers’ markets and, food donation in the cities or in the communities, are some of the proposed actions.

Around #17April2021, we call especially for concrete actions of solidarity with all oppressed peoples.

The repression of peasant and citizen struggles has increased again. All over the world, the list of threatened, killed or imprisoned social movements’ leaders is inexorably growing. We call on our members and allies to mobilize against this increased repression and criminalization.

In memory of the people of the landless workers movement killed on April 17, 1996 and in solidarity with all those who are experiencing violent repression and criminalisation of their struggles today, we will propose a global candle vigil solidarity action around April 17. More details will be given later.

Let’s show the world that solidarity is our strength.

Send us your photos, statements, articles, videos, posters and mobilization actions to we will link all these actions together to assemble and give life and visibility to this collective struggle for food sovereignty.

Crimes and violence against those who fight for food sovereignty must stop!

“We feed the world and build Food Sovereignty”

#17April2021  #FutureIsFoodSovereignty

[1]                      On April 17th, 1996, 19 peasants were killed when military police in the Amazonian State of Pará in Brazil attacked a large number of members of the Landless Workers Movement (MST) who were blockading a highway in order to demand agrarian reform.  Two more people died from their injuries several days later, and hundreds of others were so seriously injured that they could not go on working in agriculture. La Via Campesina, which was then in the midst of holding its second international conference at Tlaxcala in Mexico, declared April 17th to be the International Day of Farmers’ and Peasants’ Struggle.