Last year, the Western European sub-regional group of the Committee on World Food Security's Civil Society Mechanism (CSM) elected Stineke Oenema as their representative on the Advisory Group of the CSM. Stineke is also the Chair of the European Food Security Group of CONCORD

On 30 Sept 2011 the group of the CFS Civil Society Mechanism met in Brussels in the offices of CONCORD. The agenda of the CFS was debated and positions, especially vis a vis the EU and Member States, were discussed and a letter was sent requesting formal meetings in Rome.

One issue, Agricultural Investment, has been a particular focus for the UK Food Group in its work with European NGOs and African farmers' networks in the EC public awareness consortium project EuropAfrica: towards food sovereignty.

In May 2011, the Chair of the UK Food Group, Patrick Mulvany, helped resource a meeting of the three African farmers' regional networks, ROPPA, PROPAC, EAFF, at which they determined their priorities for agricultural investment. The resulting report was made available to African governments and others at the CFS in Rome in October in a packed dialogue session "Africa can feed itself" organised by the African Regional Group at which the farmers' representatives, Elisabeth Atangana, Chair of PAFO and PROPAC, Ibrahima Coulibaly, ICC member of La Via Campesina, and Mamadou Cissokho, Emeritus President of ROPPA, presented their demands for investment priorities. African governments responded. They were subsequently, in formal negotiating sessions, very supportive of the small-scale farmers' positions - and indeed those of the CSM to which the farmers had contributed - which are summarised in the CSM document on Agricultural Investment.

A press write up of the process at CFS summarised the gains by Civil Society:

"Civil society scored significant points in the debate on agricultural
investment. Peasant leaders brought reality into the meeting room with an
unbeatable eloquence that blocked attempts to 'forget' that small-scale food
producers are responsible for most of the food people consume and most of
the investments made in agriculture. The campaign to legitimize land grabs
and a corporate take-over of agriculture conducted by the band of 45 CEOs
who attended the meeting, along with their political allies, was scuttled
for now. The truth is beginning to come out, even in intergovernmental
circles. As the Director-General of Agriculture of South Africa put it in a
dialogue session with Africa peasant organizations: 'Our large-scale
commercial farming has proved to be a disaster for food security and a
liability for the environment.' "

The Farmers' Workshop Report: Agricultural Investment strengthening family farming and sustainable food systems in Africa, Yaounde, May 2011 is available in English here and in French here.

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Last updated: 25/10/2011