noun: sovereignty

  1. the authority of a state to govern itself or another state.
  2. a self-governing state.

“Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It puts the aspirations and needs of those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations.”

– Declaration of Nyéléni, the first global forum on food sovereignty, Mali, 2007

Food sovereignty goes well beyond ensuring that people have enough food to meet their physical needs. It asserts that people must reclaim their power in the food system by rebuilding the relationships between people and the land, and between food providers and those who eat.

Food sovereignty puts the right to sufficient, healthy and culturally appropriate food for all at the center of food, agriculture, livestock and fisheries policies. It also values all those who grow, harvest and process food, including women, multi-generational agricultural entrepreneurs, herders, fisherfolk, and agricultural, migrant and fisheries workers.

Not only does food sovereignty bring food providers and consumers closer together but can possibly make joint decisions on food issues that benefit and protect all. It also gives much value in sharing of local knowledge and skills that have been passed down over generations for sustainable food production.

Food sovereignty focuses on production and harvesting methods that maximize the contribution of ecosystems, and improve the resiliency of local food systems.

Food sovereignty emphasizes local food economies and sustainable food availability. Changing climates and disrupted food channels disproportionately impact the localities and their access to traditional food sources; for this reason, food sovereignty centers on the local people’s ability to survive and thrive with more than sufficient resources for their families and their dinner plates.

Government projects supporting local food systems are attempts at uplifting local communities and are in progressing stages of development.

The efforts by the government and the private sector focus mainly on cultivating community success through harmony with the people and nature — essentially working directly within the local community to reclaim food sovereignty.

The concept of food sovereignty is rooted in much age-old food traditions, autonomy and self-determination. Historically, man-kind has developed and managed sustainable food systems from generation to generation.

With this, all people have the right to sufficient, healthy, and culturally appropriate foods, including the hungry and other marginalized sectors.

Valuing and protecting the rights of those who cultivate, grow, harvest, and process foods—food sovereignty rejects policies that undervalue workers and threaten their livelihoods and health.

Beyond food security, we aspire for food sovereignty, championing the right of our nation and its people to govern our food systems. This entails promoting local, sustainable food production, guided by our distinct cultural and environmental practices. Empowering ourselves to make agricultural decisions that prioritize local production and safeguard the interests of small-scale farmers and communities is paramount to our self-reliance.