Agroecological family farmers can become “the backbone of food security in Europe”

Jyoti Fernandez from the Land Workers' Alliance and the European Coordination of Via Campesina
Jyoti Fernandes from the Landworkers’ Alliance and the European Coordination of Via Campesina

In September 2015, family farmer Jyoti Fernandes spoke at a Policy Debate in the European Parliament. Being part of the UK Landworkers’ Alliance and the European Coordination of La Vía Campesina (host of the debate), Jyoti articulated the need for the EU to support family farmers and for farmer organizations to be given voice in policy decisions related to food and agriculture in the EU:

“We need real change to the laws that work deliberately against us: those about being able to save and produce your own seed and we need reform in the food safety regulations…If policy makers listen to us, we can tell them exactly what’s holding us back. It’s as if we’re trying to feed Europe with straightjackets on. We know exactly what we need to do to become the backbone of food security in Europe. It’s entirely possible. If policy makers listen to us, and take our passion and run with it, we will have a Europe that’s fed in the best way possible.”

Highlights from the debate on agroecology in the European Parliament

Agriculture in Europe is facing economic and environmental challenges that are expected to worsen in the forthcoming decades. As such, farmers are also confronted with pressures to feed a growing population, to lessen the ecological footprint of farming and to mitigate climate change while adapting to its vagaries.

In the face of these challenges Agroecology represents a unique opportunity for the agricultural and research agenda of the European Union. Food producers’ organizations from all over the world have met at the International Forum for Agroecology (Mali, February 2015) to develop a common understanding of Agroecology. The outcome is a milestone Declaration. Civil society organizations and a group of leading agroecology scientists have affirmed the importance of this declaration in a  letter addressed to Graziano da Silva, the Director General of the FAO. Previously, in September 2014, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) organised the International Symposium on Agroecology for Food Security and Nutrition. In addition the FAO is currently holding, on different continents (Latin America, Africa and Asia), regional consultations on Agroecology.

For this reason the European Coordination Via Campesina in collaboration with the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience from Coventry University organised a public debate on Agroecology, based on the demands in the declaration of the International Forum for Agroecology (2015) which represents the views of food producers worldwide who agreed on a common understanding of the principles of Agroecology.

The conference held at the European Parliament in Brussels on September 17, 2015 provided an opportunity to call for and discuss the public policies needed to support and implement agroecology in Europe with representatives from civil society, EU institutions and the scientific community in Europe. The debate was hosted by MEP Lidia Senra Rodríguez (GUE/NGL).

For highlights from the debate please see the video above and the overview prepared by the European Coordination Via Campesina.