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World Food Day stresses need for innovation, participation and inclusion
While substantial progress has been made in the fight against hunger in recent years, more than 800 million people remain hungry and efforts need to be increased to reach the global target of cutting the percentage of hungry people in half by 2015, said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva in his opening remarks at the annual World Food Day ceremony, held at FAO Headquarters in Rome.
The estimated 500 million family farms, which make up nine out of ten farms worldwide, play a key role in scaling up food production to meet the needs of a growing world population. "At the same time, many family farmers, especially subsistence producers, are part of the 70 percent of the world's food-insecure population that lives in rural areas," said Graziano da Silva.
"Family farmers need to be protagonists of innovation. Only this way can they take ownership of the process and ensure that the solutions offered respond to their needs," he added.
In her keynote speech, Queen Máxima of the Netherlands emphasised the importance of financial inclusion as a key tool to enable farmers to protect themselves from income shocks and as a central component in any ambitious efforts to end hunger. This includes access to savings accounts, loans and credits.
"We know through empirical evidence that when smallholder farmers are offered savings accounts, they save even more, invest more, and have higher harvest proceeds as a result," she said, adding that without the hard work of family farmers, the success story of lifting 100 million people out of chronic hunger over the last decade could not have been achieved.
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Food Sovereignty is the right of the world’s peoples to produce and to consume healthy food. Food cannot be reduced to a commodity in the hands of the transnational corporations.
The international peasant and family farmer movement, La Via Campesina, is calling upon its member organisations across the world, and on grassroots organisations, allied social groups, and concerned consumers to be part of the World Day of Action for Peoples’ Food Sovereignty and against transnational corporations, on October 16th, 2014.
Every year, La Via Campesina organises this Day of solidarity, resistance, and mobilisation in order to make citizens aware of the current threats to Peoples’ Food Sovereignty.
To this end, we believe that it is important, and absolutely necessary ,to strengthen the alliance between those who work in the countryside and those who work in the city. The human right to food should not only refer to availability ; it should also ensure that the available food is wholesome, healthy, and culturally appropriate.
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The delegation of La Via Campesina, gathered in Rome for the meeting of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), reiterates its rejection of the ongoing negotiations of several free trade agreements such as the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiated between the US and EU), TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), and CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement negotiated between the EU and Canada). We do this within the framework of the Global Day of Action against TTIP and in solidarity with the 16th October, the Global Day of Action for Food Sovereignty. The delegation is participating in the 41stsession of the CFS where the 10th anniversary of the Right to Food Guidelines is being celebrated. For small-scale farmers there is no reason to celebrate however, as the implementation of the Guidelines has not advanced at all. Conversely, trade negotiations, contrary to the Right to Food, are advancing at a concerning pace.
The promotion of competition through the suppression of tariffs and standards is strengthening an agricultural and food system increasingly controlled by multinationals. The neoliberal trade paradigm is blind to social, environmental, and human rights standards and only benefits the profits and control of a few transnational corporations. The increased commodification of food does not respect or support the right to food.
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From Helsinki to Granada, from Brest to Bucharest: On a European day of action against the free trade agreements TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement/EU-Canada) and TiSA (Trade in Services Agreement), thousands of citizens took to the streets with more than 1100 public activities in 22 European countries. Citizens and civil society organisations expressed their view that these upcoming trade deals gravely threaten democracy, the environment, health rights, food standards, jobs, wages, public services and digital rights in Europe. The European day of action gave a further push to the self-organised European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) against TTIP and CETA, which had already collected 459,000 signatures since its launch on October 7.
"The numerous and various actions organised on this 11 October show, sadly, the widening gap between European policymakers and citizens concerning the EU free trade agenda“, said Michel Cermak from the Belgian development organisation CNDC. „The outgoing European Commission concluded the treaty with Canada by disregarding the results of its own public consultation, and refused the launch of a formal 'stop TTIP' citizens' initiative. The new Commissioner-designate Cecilia Malmström has confirmed that she will stick to this corporate-driven agenda. The good news is that many citizens and organisations are prepared for a long term struggle against TTIP, CETA and TiSA.“
The decentralised European day of action consisted of marches, meetings and public stands to collect signatures for the self-organised European Citizens' Initiative against TTIP and CETA in over 1100 places across Europe. The day of action was organised by an alliance of civil society groups, social movements, trade unions and grassroots' activist groups.
"The great success of this pan-European day of action shows that the level of awareness of the disastrous impacts and the corporate takeover of EU trade and investment policies is rising. People are willing to take action and to promote alternatives that are working for the people and the planet“, explained Amelie Canon from the French NGO AITEC - Association Internationale des Techniciens, Experts et Chercheurs. „Over 70 diverse and creative events took place all around France. In Paris, the Transatlantic Shark led the way and the mobilization against TTIP included many anti-fracking groups involved with the Global Frackdown Day today. This is just the beginning of a mobilisation by citizens to stop this privatisation of democracy."
Actions took place in 22 European countries (20 EU member states): France (+Réunion), Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK, Ireland, Portugal, Malta, Slovenia, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Luxemburg, Finland, Sweden, The Netherlands, Belgium, Czech Republic, Switzerland and Norway.
An overview of protests across Europe - click here.