Reclaiming New Peasantries’ Rights – a report from the Global Peasant Rights Congress

From March 7-11, 2017 the Global Peasants Rights Congress took place in Schwäbisch Hall, Germany. Federico Andreotti, MSc-student Organic Agriculture of Wageningen University, participated in the event. Federico made the video report and wrote the blog below about the event with support from the ‘Boerengroep‘ (Peasant Foundation).

Reclaiming New Peasantries’ Rights: Social Movements and Foxy Entrepreneurs. By Federico Andreotti

The opening session was orchestrated by the coordinator of the event Rudolf Buhler, chair of Foundation House of Farmers and entrepreneurial farmer producing high quality meat and trading spices from all around the world. During the all event his presence was monumental concerning the generosity and the pathos with which he carried on his shoulder the worldwide peasants’ fights. “Its time to be unite!” this was his slogan, recognising himself as a peasant. He was showing the same struggles and fights of peasants’ worldwide in front of them. In this self-legitimation it was already possible to sense the key strategies to achieve global peasant’s rights emerged through the congress, but just got to deal with one thing at time.

After Rudolf Buhler speech honourable speakers performed on the stage according to their roles. In primis La Via Campesina with Elizabeth Mpofy, General Secretary, was screaming on the profit maximization of the transnational company through land grabbing and peasants genocide. Then the video message by Jose Graziano da Silva, FAO general director, which was painting peasants as an entity to defend and protect, giving them knowledge, education, training them, developing opportunities with which they can increase their income. Further, Nardi Suxo Iturry, UN Bolivian ambassador, was claiming against neo-liberalism and capitalism which are destroying the rights of peasants depleting biodiversity and human dignity.

There was a clear yin and yang situation through the all congress intimately connected towards the strategies to achieve global peasants’ rights. Which side will be represented by the declaration? Do we need a more equitable and dignified market for peasants facilitating supply chain and cooperatives or do we need to change completely our system from the bottom, from peasants’ movements?

Several are the answers but maybe the most clear was given by the saviour of food culture, Carlo Petrini, Slow Food President, which was the honourable guest keynote of the first night at the congress. He was shouting in Italian, how western society is taking advantage of peasants all around the world and that we have to give back to them what we have stolen promoting a more equitable market.

It looks clear that the congress hosted the two side of the new peasantry:

the first raised by the neo-liberalism which after have usurped the natural capital with project as REDD+ and payment of ecosystem services wants to abuse of a new capital, the human capital, remembering that we can give price to everything in this world, even to peasants and to their rights.

On the other side la Via Campesina, the social movements. During the all congress they took advantage of the event and the possibility to meet coordinators and partners – as FIAN members – from al around the world. They had several meetings with which they went further in the declaration draft. The congress borne by a neo-liberalist man was hosting an active cells of revolutionary people that took advantage of the event for having the chance to meet themselves and work together, to be unite.

The compromise of this congress should be not the compromise for the future of peasants’ rights, or maybe yes. As a yin and yang the neo-liberalism is stained by revolutionary movements, and the atmosphere of change is polluted by a capitalist interests.

At the end of the congress both sides reached their goals. The draft of global peasants rights heavily advanced pointed ad the next meeting at Geneva when another actor, the researchers will also take part more actively. On the other hand Rudolf Bulher enhanced and promoted his view of the new peasantry, owned by foxy entrepreneurs.

Federico Andreotti