"Public policies for food sovereignty" - a discussion paper

28 december 2017 - "Public policies for food sovereignty" is a discussion paper written by Sylvia Kay (Transnational Institute), Emily Mattheisen (FIAN), Nora McKeon (Terra Nuova + International University College Turin) and Ana Moragues Faus (Cardiff University) and it is inspired by a series of workshops, panels and activities organized with support from the Hands on the Land alliance during the course of 2016-2017, including 2nd Nyéléni Europe Forum (October 2016, Cluj-Napoca, Romania), Seminar on Local Public Policies for Food Sovereignty (November 2016, Donostia, Basque County), ICAS Colloquium (March 2017, Vitoria, Basque Country) as well as CSM work around the the CFS policy process on “Connecting Smallholders to Markets”.

Public policies play a determinant role in shaping the future of agricultural and food systems: they can underwrite legal frameworks to protect, respect and fulfill the Right to Food; bolster the investments made by small-scale food producers; and mobilise societal resources in support of sustainable food systems based on notions of resilience, decent work, environmental integrity and the provision of healthy food.
These outcomes are however far from assured. In the current neoliberal juncture, public policies skew heavily towards a highly competitive, specialized and industrial form of agriculture that favours exclusive development and an exploitative macro-economic model. Often these policies build on a much longer history of uneven development in which agriculture and rural areas are viewed as sectors and spaces to be transitioned out of, as urbanization, industry, services and the financial economy are prioritized.
This makes clear that public policies are tools, not ends in and of themselves. Without proper  grounding in a solid theory of change linked to notions of a just transition democratic decision making, and a social and solidarity economy, public policies will be unable to confront the challenges facing food and agriculture in the 21st century.
Such a vision is offered by the political project of food sovereignty. Food sovereignty is based on the right of peoples to define their own food system and to develop policies on how food is produced, distributed and consumed. It is above all a political call for action that it is based on empowerment processes and the generation of critical knowledge in support of the collective and popular construction of alternatives. These alternatives take their inspiration from three main sources: i) the defense of peasant economies, and the production, distribution and consumption systems connected to these; ii) agroecology, conceived as both a way of producing food and a movement for change encompassing both socio-economic and socio-political dimensions; iii) equitable and sustainable food systems that guarantee the right to adequate food for all.

The discussion paper can be downloaded here.

Here below other useful publications on the issue:

Family farmers for sustainable food systems (2013)

Connecting smallholders to markets (2016)

Investing in smallholder agriculture for food security (2013)

Mixing means and ends. What role for (which) private sector in agriculture and food & nutrition security (2017)