Did You Know That Peasants Produce More than 70% of Global Food?

Almost a billion people, one in nine worldwide, live with chronic hunger, but the solutions are not what we are led to believe – more food, more industrialisation, more GMOs, more global trade agreements. Rather, it is the small scale polycultural food systems that will be most effective.

Today, October 16, is World Food Day – a day of action against hunger. What could you do to help raise awareness locally and take personal action?

I’ll be making the most out of my permaculture garden abundance – collecting and processing the most flourishing seasonal foods and collecting open pollinated seeds to plant, eat and share. I am also writing this post to share with you in the hope that you will share it on.

Control over seeds must remain in peasants’ hands,” La Via Campesina.
(Photo: Tineke d’Haese/ Oxfam)

Did you know that:

  • 60% of the hungry in the world are women.
  • Almost 5 million children under the age of 5 die of malnutrition-related causes every year.
  • 4 in 10 children in poor countries are malnourished which damages their bodies and brains

But did you also know that:

  • Peasants produce over 70% of the food consumed globally on small farms of less than 2 hectares, and 80% of the food consumed in those countries.  The best way to prevent hunger is to prevent land grabs and enable peasants to be free to grow a diversity of food using their own seed on their own land.  Rather than cashcrops, hybrids etc. ‘Big’ solutions are not the answer.
  • Increasingly global food giants are involved in land grabs that are evicting poor farmers from their land to grow cash crops (often in the name of food security or economic development).


“No-one should come and tell us how to produce our food”. Elizabeth Mpofu of Zimbabwe is General Coordinator of the international peasant movement of La Via Campesina, a coalition of 164 organizations in 73 countries around the world, representing about 200 million peasant, landless, indigenous, and other farmers.


What’s the difference? Food security or Food Sovereignty

La Via Campesina, the global peasant movement which represents 200 million peasants in over 70 countries, prefers to celebrate today as World Food Sovereignty Day. Food sovereignty differs from food security.


Food Sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through sustainable methods and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.
Food security is more focussed on the provision of food for all by whatever means necessary, whether by local production or global imports. Economic policies concerned with food security tend to emphasise industrial farming and the production of more cheap food, rather than a diversity of good local food.
In this process, peasant seeds (free, locally adapted open-pollinated seeds) are often made illegal. Polyculture and biodiversity is replaced with monocultures. Land grabbing from peasants, particularly in the majority world countries, is done to “feed 9 billion people by 2050” even though it has been shown that the small scale polycultural farms are far more productive and abundant, and central to addressing poverty and hunger.
It’s not just old peasants either who are calling for this. Young women calling for change at La Via Campesina’s Youth Forum.

More reading (just a small selection):

3 Responses

  1. gail
    gail at |

    Thank you Morag for sharing this very important information. Your blog is so very informative. Keep up the good work here, so we can inturn share what we learn with others.
    Blessings Gail.

  2. Australian Gardening Granny
    Australian Gardening Granny at |

    Thank you Morag for reminding us.
    On Friday 21 October 2016, Zambrero will be hosting Meal Packaging Events with their international distribution partner Stop Hunger Now at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre in South Brisbane. They have been calling for volunteers. Friends from Beelarong will be attending, to pack the food boxes.

  3. Meg Hopeful
    Meg Hopeful at |

    I'm looking forward to reading more about this, Morag, by following the links you've listed. In my opinion, it's the motives of big multi-national companies that are of such concern. Profit is what they are striving for. For local people's it's about so much more than money! Meg