ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Convergence of Peasant Struggles Worldwide

A plethora of problems face Southern and Northern family agricultures in the current neo-liberal era of financial capital domination worldwide, and has paved the way for the revival of peasant struggles for their social emancipation and legitimate right of access to land and food. Obviously, such struggles also concern all categories of workers and people because what is at stake is the challenge to reach food sovereignty and to build our societies at the local, national and global levels, on the principles of social justice, equality and real democracy.

This article is a presentation of the book, The Struggle for Food Sovereignty: Alternative Development and the Renewal of Peasant Societies Today, driven by a collective reflection within the framework of World Forum for Alternatives, published in 2015 by Pluto Press, London. The authors are grateful to Pluto Press for permitting this non-exclusive use.

The food crisis (which erupted in 2007–08 and had catastrophic effects on the global South, especially Africa) as well as popular rebellions, represent two of the many dimensions of the crisis of the capitalist world system. Other worrying aspects include socio-economic, political, ideological, energy, and climatic ones. The food and agricultural dimensions of the current systemic crisis reveal global failure and the deep dysfunctions that characterise the agricultural “model” imposed worldwide by financial capital and transnational agribusiness corporations since the beginning of the neo-liberal era in the late 1970s, along with the implementation of austerity policies in the global North and the structural adjustment plans (SAPs) in the global South. For more than three and a half decades, the peasantries of the world have been suffering an intensification of attacks by capital on their land, natural resources, and means of production. These attacks have also been eroding national sovereignty and the role of the state, destroying individuals, families and communities, devastating the environment, and threatening the survival of populations across the world.

The dysfunctions affecting the agricultural sector can be identified through a series of striking paradoxes. As a matter of fact, approximately three billion people on the planet today continue to suffer from hunger (one-third) or malnutrition (two-thirds), although agricultural productions are greatly exceeding food needs, with an effective overproduction of at least 150%. Furthermore, a huge majority of these people are themselves peasants or living in rural areas: three-quarters of those suffering from undernourishment are rural. Meanwhile, the expansion of the areas for cultivation worldwide is accompanied by a significant decline in peasant populations compared to the populations in urban areas, which absorb the massive and persistent rural exodus, mainly into growing, miserable slums. Moreover, an increasing proportion of land is cultivated by transnational corporations, which do not direct their agricultural production towards food consumption, but rather towards energy or industrial outlets (for example, agro-fuels). In most countries of the South that are excluded from the benefits of capitalist globalisation, particularly sub-Saharan Africa and South-east Asia, a relative dynamism of agricultural exports derived from rental commercial crops coexists with increasing imports of basic products to meet food needs. Clearly, and urgently, things must change.

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Updated On : 16th Mar, 2018
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