La Via Campesina

The international peasant’s voice

Globalizing hope, globalizing the struggle!

La Via Campesina is an international movement bringing together millions of peasants, small and medium size farmers, landless people, rural women and youth, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers from around the world. Built on a strong sense of unity, solidarity between these groups, it defends peasant agriculture for food sovereignty as a way to promote social justice and dignity and strongly opposes corporate driven agriculture that destroys social relations and nature.

Women produce 70% of the food on earth but are marginalized and oppressed by neoliberalism and patriarchy. They play a crucial role in La Via Campesina. The movement defends women’s rights and gender equality and struggles against all forms of violence against women.

Young farmers, committed to the historical struggle for the liberation of our peoples and the transformation of our reality, are an inspiring force in the movement. They contribute to advancing Food Sovereignty globally.

La Via Campesina comprises 182 local and national organisations in 81 countries from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. Altogether it represents about 200 million farmers. It is an autonomous, pluralist, multicultural movement, political in its demand for social justice while being independent from any political party, economic or other type of affiliation.

A movement born in 1993

A group of farmers’ representatives – women and men – from four continents founded La Via Campesina in 1993, Mons, Belgium. At that time, agricultural policies and agribusinesses were becoming globalized and small farmers needed to develop a common vision and struggle to defend it. Small scale farmers’ organisations also wanted to have their voices heard and to participate directly in the decisions that were affecting their lives.

Our Struggles

Defending Food Sovereignty, Struggle for Land and Agrarian Reforms

La Via Campesina launched its political vision of “Food Sovereignty” at the World Food Summit in 1996. Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through sustainable methods and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It develops a model of small scale sustainable production benefiting communities and their environment. Food sovereignty prioritizes local food production and consumption, giving a country the right to protect its local producers from cheap imports and to control its production.

It includes the struggle for land and genuine agrarian reform that ensures that the rights to use and manage lands, territories, water, seeds, livestock and biodiversity are in the hands of those who produce food and not of the corporate sector.

Promoting Agroecology and Defending Local Seeds

La Via Campesina sees Agroecology as a key form of resistance to an economic system that puts profit before life. It recognizes that small farmers, including peasants, fisher folk, pastoralists and indigenous people, who make up almost half the world’s people, are capable of producing food for their communities and feeding the world in a sustainable and healthy way.

Seeds are an irreplaceable pillar of food production and the basis of productive, social and cultural reproduction. La Via Campesina promotes farmers’ rights to use, develop and reproduce peasant’s seeds and struggles against attempts by corporations to control our common heritage.

Promoting Peasant Rights and Struggle Against Criminalization of Peasants

There is an increase in displacement, criminalization and discrimination affecting peasants globally. Transnational corporations keep violating basic rights, with full impunity, while people struggling to defend the rights of their communities continue to be criminalized and at times even killed.

La Via Campesina promotes a Universal Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas, which includes right to life and adequate standards of living, the right to land and territory, to seeds, information, justice and equality between women and men.

A decentralized structure

La Via Campesina is a grassroots mass movement whose vitality and legitimacy comes from peasants’ organizations at the grassroots. The movement is based on the decentralization of power between all its regions. The international secretariat rotates according to the collective decision made every four years by the International Conference. It was first located in Belgium (1993-1996), then in Honduras (1997-2004), Indonesia (2005-2013), and is currently based in Harare, Zimbabwe since 2013.

The International Conference, held every four years, is the highest space for political discussions and decisions of the movement, where future actions and agenda are defined. Since 1993 six such International conferences were organized.

Contributions from members, private donations and financial support of some NGOs, foundations and public authorities make this work possible.

Join the Actions

8th March: International Women’s Day – La Via Campesina joins women’s movements and social movements to demand equal rights for women.

17th April: International Day of Peasant’s Struggle – Direct actions, cultural activities, conferences, film screenings, community debates and rallies are organized by a wide variety of groups, communities or organizations.

10th September: International Struggle Day against the WTO -In the memory of Mr. Lee Kyun Hae, a South Korean farmer who sacrificed himself during a mass protest against the WTO in Cancun, Mexico in 2003. He was holding a banner saying “WTO kills farmers”.

16th October: International Day of Action for Peoples’ Food Sovereignty and against Transnational corporations – Direct actions, activities held across the world in defense of food sovereignty and for the rights of peasants.

25th November: International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women – La Via Campesina joins women’s movements to demand justice and a violence-free life in all spheres for women and girls.

3rd December: Global No Pesticides Use Day – where the movement stands in solidarity with the struggle against agrotoxics and chemicals, which are being increasingly pushed by agribusiness.

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La Via Campesina-South Asia

La Via Campesina in South Asia comprise peasants, small holder food producers and farm workers in rural agrarian areas of India, Srilanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan. These peasants from different socio- economic and ethnic backgrounds are organised under more than 20 independent and autonomous unions comprising the Karnataka Rajya Raita Sangha, All Nepal Peasants Federation, Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Labourers Federation, Bhartiya Kisan Union, Pakistan Kisan Rabita Committee, MONLAR Srilanka and others.

While many of these unions and federations do not have a system of formal membership, it is estimated that the total number of peasants organised under these formations would be at least 30 million peasant families. All these organisations are run and managed by the peasant members themselves, with youth and women leadership.

Almost all of the organisations, who are members of La Via Campesina are organised at three levels – local, state and national – where the constituents are given opportunity to participate in the day-to-day management of the organisations.

La Via Campesina Members in South Asia:

All Nepal Peasants’ Federation (ANPFA), Nepal

Bangladesh Agriculture Farm Labour Federation BAFLF, Bangladesh

Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), India

Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS), India

Pakistan Kisan Rabta Committee (PKRC), Pakistan

Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform, Sri Lanka

Thamizhaga Vivvasayigal Sangam (TVS), India

Kerala Coconut Farmers Association, India

Adivasi Gothra Mahasabha, India