The COVID-19 pandemic has led to massive loss of life and livelihoods. In its wake, global hunger is expected to double by year’s end. The pandemic has revealed deep inequalities in our societies and the vulnerabilities of a globalized and heavily concentrated food system that needs to change.
For decades, Inter Pares and our counterparts have worked to build more resilient and just food systems. In Telangana, India, women’s collectives supported by the Deccan Development Society have secured land, grow food from their own saved seeds, and rely on biodiversity and the use natural inputs to improve soil health. Through local processing of grains, and direct marketing to consumers, they also assert control over markets. This food sovereignty has enabled them to weather droughts, the 2008 food crisis, and today’s pandemic.
In West Africa, Inter Pares supports farmers’ organizations dedicated to preserving agricultural biodiversity and farmers’ autonomy. Through the Vivres de souveraineté (Foods of Sovereignty) program, communities have built up local seed reserves, growing drought-resistant varieties such as sorghum, millets and fonio, and practice agroecology to not depend on foreign seeds or inputs. With the disruptions in supply chains due to COVID-19, and the ongoing climate crisis, we see the wisdom of this approach.
In Canada, worsening rates of hunger and the tragic deaths of migrant farm workers have shed light on deep inequalities in our food system. In 2011, Inter Pares and allies brought together 3,500 activists from across the country to offer solutions. The Peoples Food Policy called for policies to protect migrant workers, further localize food systems, support ecological agriculture, enact a poverty elimination program, and bring in a universal school food program. At the time, the ideas were met with skepticism. Today, these policy solutions are advancing at the municipal, provincial and federal levels. Let’s keep up the momentum to make them a reality.
For decades, Inter Pares and our counterparts have worked to build more resilient and just food systems.