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One of the major themes addressed October 1st in the National Congress of Lands, Territories and Sovereignties (CNTTS), was that of Peasant Economy, Popular and Self-Determined Economies, and Food Sovereignty.


This theme, which featured six working groups, divided the discussion into three sub-categoires: context analysis, community conflict, and possilbe resolutions.


Small-scale farmers,afro-descendants, indigenous people, and urban sectors contributed to characterizing the context in which the country finds itself. From different perspectives, the discussion revolved around the economic problems suffered by the Colombian people today. Further highlighted were the individualist notions imposed by agricultural monopolies, the loss of ancestral practices, and the transformation of peasant labor, all of which abandon autonomous production for the family unit and give way to indebted laborers working for agroindustry, which promotes monocultures for exportation without worrying about peasants’ food supply.



Mural in the University of Valle




Various participants stated that another large obstacle to constructing a self-determined economy is the territorial ordinance imposed by the national government through the National Development Plan and the neoliberal development models, itself imposed by organisms like the World Bank, that favor large landowners. According to the Human Development Report, 1.6% of large landholders control 28.5% of the land. Free trade agreements have impacted hundreds of thousands of families that cannot compete due to other countries’ agricultural subsidies for domestic producers. Free trade has also facilitated the introduction of mechanization from abroad, which entails an impossible change in productive model for many small farmers.


 According to the Political Commission of the CNTTS, since the economic opening imposed by the government of Cesar Gaviria the importation of agricultural and livestock products to Colombia has doubled, and, as a result, 80% of rural inhabitants do not have sufficient income to purchase the basic food staples of the family. According to the 2011 Human Development Report, between 2000 and 2009 the concentration of property increased in 23 of the 32 Colombian departments. Various laws forcing peasants to submit to controls and technologies that impede small farmers’ production have weakened the peasant subsistence economy. The Seed Law, or Resolution 970, imposes requisites of control and registration on all seeds produced, concentrating power and control of seeds and production inputs in the hands of multinationals, the majority of which are producing genetically modified crops that represent a grave environmental impact and are harmful for human health.





Group of spokespeople from the Small-Scale Farmer table at the Congress


 The delegations not only proposed various themes to confront and reject but, based on their demands and aspirations, constructed a vision for a better country. The Antioquia delegation proposed a country viewed from the local, from the community, declaring that the construction of a new country has to be from the ground up and not vice versa. Additionally, a university delegation from Bogotá put forward the need to integrate the countryside and the city in order to be able to organize not just production but consumption.

 Similarly, a delegate from Nariño declared that it is not enough to just demand, rather it is necessary to act, for which they should resort to civil disobedience in opposition to the Seed Law as a means of maintaining seed diversity and constructing seed banks. In that sense, further expressed was the need for one to produce the food that they need as part of their existing productive potential: if we are against the consumption of processed sugar, it falls on us to strengthen our panela production, given that imported products affect our health and do not nourish us. Other members articulated the importance of agro-ecological systems, collective lands, and the construction of peasant identity and life plans. A consensus among the participants was that we have to think as one people – indigenous, Afro-descendant, and mestizo – and integrate our experiences in order to develop a comprehensive education to form new leaders.




In the afternoon, the six working groups discussed and debated the resolutions, which were ratified the next day. The resolutions referred to how agricultural and livestock production and land use must be focused on covering domestic food demands and not on being subordinated to the global market. Therefore, the approval and execution of free trade agreements that do away with production in the countryside, thus generating greater dependency on foreign foods and territorial displacement, should not be permitted.


Another aspect they reaffirmed was that of the identity, role, and knowledge of peasants as political subjects and fundamental actors in national construction, outlining food sovereignty as a strategy for urban – rural territorial unity and the articulation of the different proposals and dynamics of economic self-determinism.

ऀMoreover, participants presented the importance of rescuing the cultural value of plants and millenary knowledge in order to strengthen their ancestral use and establish means of local control that avoid the use of crops with ends of narcotrafficking and uses that deprive us of their benefits; in order to rescue the knowledge of medicinal plants, thus constructing an autonomy of medicinal systems in direct opposition to multinational pharmaceutical corporations.


Another aspect they reaffirmed was that of the identity, role, and knowledge of peasants as political subjects and fundamental actors in national construction, outlining food sovereignty as a strategy for urban – rural territorial unity and the articulation of the different proposals and dynamics of economic self-determinism.




Additionally, those present declared the need for the participatory construction of self-formation processes that correspond with lives and aspirations and strengthen the identity, fabrics, and social movements in function of the self-determined economy, in which strategies are emphasized that promote research on the local level for technological innovation, strengthen local knowledges and the improvement of processes of production, transformation, and consumption, in respect and harmony with Mother Earth. Along the same lines, it was stated the need to focus on the recuperation, conservation, distribution, and planting of seeds and the knowledges woven around the aforementioned, plus defense in the face of policies of certification and privatization, consolidating territories free of genetically modified crops and agrochemicals.


The “Law of Seeds,” like free trade laws, anihilates the autonomy and soverignty of the people.


Translated by Ned Littlefield

Original article :…



Rachel Dickson