Food sovereignty: it just makes sense


16 October 2015

Today on world food day, I’m thinking about Madam Rebecca and Madam Stella who I met in Ghana earlier this year. Two inspirational women from the expanding food sovereignty network, the Rural Women Farmers Association of Ghana. Both women spent time with me explaining how they are empowering other women in their community to grow food sustainably, start micro-enterprises to supplement their income and tackle the discrimination against women on land issues.

Food sovereignty is a framework for the production and distribution of food that emerged from the global south around twenty years ago which prioritises food as a human right and values food producers and their knowledge and expertise. Madam Rebecca and Madam Stella are pioneers in their communities and are helping to promote and replicate food sovereignty in the Upper West region of Ghana.

Through their weekly meetings with the other women in their villages, they discuss techniques to grow food using local manures to produce compost which acts as a rich organic fertiliser for their soil. Madam Rebecca told me about the problems of expensive chemical fertilisers on their soil: They are expensive and have implications on their health.  They also need to be purchased year on year while depleting soil quality in the process. It made complete sense that the women did not want to rely on something that would not work for them and instead share agroecological techniques such as using local manures and composting in their weekly meetings. They are inexpensive, have no health implications and contribute to harvests of healthy and tasty crops. The women get to save money from not having to purchase chemical fertilisers in perpetuity and feed their families with healthy food but also to process their crops to create products to provide added income for their families.

It makes so much sense and yet governments like the UK are backing an approach to agriculture in Africa which promotes the widespread use of chemical fertilisers – creating an environment to enable agrochemical companies to increase their market share and ultimately their control of their food system.

On World Food Day, I want to celebrate with small-scale farmers like Madam Rebecca and Madam Stella who are taking back control of their food for themselves and for their communities. In two weeks, the food sovereignty team from Global Justice Now will be attending the National Gathering for Food Sovereignty in Hebden Bridge - along with 250 other food activists, allotment holders, farmers, consumer groups, food-growing co-operatives from across the UK and we will be joining in solidarity with our friends from Ghana to continue the fight for food sovereignty.

You can watch the video I made on agroecology from my Ghana trip here:

Photos from top: Madam Stella, Madam Rebecca. Credit: Hannah Wise

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