Key message for SPEAK OUT! Farmers Building Just, Equitable, Healthy and Sustainable Food Systems in Asia

Delivered by Sovathana Seng, PCFS Asia Coordinator, in the SPEAK OUT! Farmers Building Just, Equitable, Healthy and Sustainable Food Systems in Asia. Held 21 March 2021, the workshop is one of the side events of the Asia Pacific Peoples’ Forum on Sustainable Development 2021. It is organized by the APRCEM Farmers Constituency, Roots for Equity, Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT), and Peoples Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS). Watch the recorded livestream.

Good day to everyone: all the participants, our co-organizers for this workshop theme, and the people behind the Asia Pacific Peoples’ Forum for Sustainable Development.

We are very much delighted to see and hear your visions for just, equitable, healthy and sustainable food systems in Asia. With the United Nations (UN) Food Systems Summit happening in a few months, the farmers and rural sectors of the world have to amp up our voices for the necessary transformations in our food systems.

As you may already know, the UN is convening this summit with the hopes of achieving all 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals in time of the 2030 target. Finally, the problems in our food systems have taken the spotlight. But it seems that the Summit took a different direction from what we had hoped for and instead is serving the corporate agenda.

Imperialist actors are hijacking the UN Food Systems Summit. Governments, corporations, and neoliberal institutions are exploiting the event to save corporate profit from the current global crisis that is worsened and accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The transformation this summit envisions to our food systems remains to be neoliberal, which is why we cannot rest our hopes on its processes and outcomes. 

Even before the conception of this summit, the rural peoples movement has long been struggling for the radical transformation of our food systems throughout these years. Our demands for genuinely distributive land reform policies, food sovereignty, people-led agroecology, and State-guaranteed right to safe, nutritious, and culturally-appropriate food were borne from this struggle. We have long been hungry for change – a change that confronts the power play in our food systems and holds to account the powers-that-be for perpetrating extreme poverty and hunger worldwide. 

That being said, it is important that we maximize platforms such as this workshop to raise our criticisms, uphold our demands, and advance our struggle. We must be proactive in pointing out the fundamental issues in our food systems and defining the terms of the transformation that should take place. The call for just, equitable, healthy and sustainable food systems is our overarching assertion of what the rural peoples movement has clamored for the longest time.

We invite everyone to take part in our campaign #Hungry4Change, where we can continue and develop our conversations and actions from here. The People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS), PAN Asia Pacific, and the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) is initiating the #Hungry4Change campaign together with other global, regional, and national formations representing rural food producers and its networks especially from the Global South. Parallel to the UN Food Systems Summit, we are organizing a Global People’s Summit on Food Systems, where we will develop a People’s Action Plan to realize the just, equitable, healthy, and sustainable food systems. 

We must raise our voices higher and rise to demand food systems that put our fundamental rights above profit, our planet over corporations, and our sovereignty over monopolies. ###

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