Food Sovereignty is the right of peoples, communities, and countries to define their own agricultural, labor, fishing, food and land policies, which are ecologically, socially, economically and culturally appropriate to their unique circumstances.

Food sovereignty means having policies that enable the people and governments having inherent rights to determine food and agriculture systems without being controlled by seed companies thus enabling people to have decision making powers on their food and agriculture.

The Food sovereignty concept was developed in 1990 and was born out of the mobilization of groups of small-scale farmers who found they no could longer take charge of their food systems. The concept was presented by an alliance of small-scale farmers and other food producers, La Via Campesina, at the 1996 World Food Summit. In 2007 more than 500 representatives of farmers’ networks, unions, social movements and other civil society groups gathered in Mali for the Nyeleni World Forum for Food Sovereignty. The outcome of the forum was a call for a radical restructuring of the global food and agriculture system to replace the current system which is largely dominated by the powerful interests of transnational corporations.

Food Sovereignty recognizes and promotes the central role of women in food production and as political subjects; the right of small-scale producers to dignified living conditions and fair pay; the right of workers to decent work conditions and living wages; and the right of the working classes to access healthy and culturally appropriate food in sufficient quantities and at fair prices.

It should be noted that Peasants, family farmers, indigenous peoples, fisher folks and forest communities are still the main food producers, providing between 70% – 80% of what the world eats, but their needs are permanently ignored by public policies and markets. They also protect territories (forests, water bodies, lands), seeds, and diverse ways of life through agroecology and community forest management.

Communities in traditional African societies were food sovereign since they determined when and how to grow their food, how to share it and what kind of seeds to keep for replanting. However, contemporary African Governments including that of Uganda, in their attempts to commercialize Agriculture, are coming up with policies that are bent on undermining the food sovereignty of communities. Such policies include support for growing laboratory modified seeds which can only be accessed from the market and cannot be replanted.

Ever since the Ugandan Government started implementing the Plan for Modernisation of Agriculture (PMA), efforts have been put in place to do away with indigenous crops and indigenous farm animals which the government claims take long to grow and are therefore not very commercially viable and replace them with foreign exotic species that are claimed to be high yielding, fast growing and therefore good for fetching the farmers good market value. Indigenous breeds are being replaced with exotic breeds such as Boer Goats, indigenous cows are being replaced with exotic Frisian breeds while most of the indigenous seeds have been modified into hybrids with financial and technical support from government programmes such as the National Agriculture Advisory Services (NAADS).

It should be noted that the new species have come with all sorts of challenges including rampant diseases for both animals and plants which have less resistance, increased pests for plants and the need for artificial fertilizers. All these make it expensive for the small holder farmers in addition to posing environmental challenges.

Another big problem with this government approach is that it is making it hard for farmers to keep knowledge about the traditional methods of farming and sustain the indigenous seeds that were more resistant to pests, diseases, and climatic conditions. If this trend remains unchecked, it will make agriculture more expensive for small holder farmers paving the way for large companies to kick them out of business and eventually grab their land.

Our intervention

Through campaigning and advocacy, supporting grassroots struggles, organizing and building movements for change, AIBIS fights for the following;

  • Food for people first, not for profit.
  • Value and support for peasant, family, indigenous and artisanal producers, and rural workers.
  • Recognition and promotion of the central role of women in food production and as political subjects.
  • Women’s rights, an end to violence against women and girls, and dismantling of patriarchy in the food production chain.
  • Democratized control and ownership of decision-making and resources related to food and agriculture.
  • Respect and support for grassroots knowledge/ indigenous knowledge and innovation.
  • Harmony with nature through agro-ecology.