On October 15, the U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance awarded the Food Sovereignty Prize to two grassroots activist groups — the Farmworker Association of Florida and the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa — for furthering food democracy. The prize recognizes these two organizations for prioritizing the rights of women, Indigenous people, people of color, migrant workers and other too-often marginalized producers in our global food system.
First awarded in 2009, this prize is an alternative to the World Food Prize, which has historically celebrated a model of industrialized agriculture that includes reliance on chemical pesticides and fertlizers, along with genetically engineered seeds.
Last year, PAN’s Staff Scientist Marcia Ishii-Eiteman wrote about the World Food Prize’s focus on Green Revolution technologies — and its blindness to the social and political dimensions of hunger that undermine its stated goal of reducing hunger. She added:
As one of the founding members of the U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance, PAN is excited to celebrate the Food Sovereignty Prize winners, who are on the frontlines of redefining and reclaiming our global agricultural system from the control of mega-corporations."
This year's winners are working to do just that, building a future based in people's democratic control over their resources, their culture and their food and farming systems.
Farmworker justice is food justice
The Farmworker Association of Florida (FWAF) is out to ensure that farmworkers are treated well — and not exploited based on race, ethnicity or immigration status. FWAF’s work includes building leadership and activist skills among communities of color that are politically underrepresented and disproportionately affected by environmental contamination and pesticide exposure.
Elvira Carvajal, FWAF lead organizer in Homestead, Florida explained:
Farmworker families pay the greatest price in the corporate food system of today. They work in fields of poison and exploitation so that people can easily access cheap foods. We have a vision to bring together the community around the art of healing with good food and herbs, which is part of our culture.”
PAN has worked with FWAF for over two decades and counts them as a close partner. Together, we've pressed for better federal worker protection policies and are working to ensure farmworker presence and voice within the global food justice movement. Most recently, we collectively won new, stronger national rules to protect farmworkers on the job — and are collaborating to assure adequate enforcement of these protections.
Food sovereignty in Africa
As the international prize winner, the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) was launched by a network of activists in 2008 — with the aim of advocating for community rights and family farming, promoting traditional knowledge systems and protecting natural resources. By supporting agroecological practices, policy work and movement-building efforts, AFSA unites the people who are most impacted by the corporate agribusiness interests threatening their food systems.
Bern Guri, AFSA chairperson, noted:
Africa has a myriad of ways to feed her people and to keep her environment safe. However, a few international corporations from the global North have generated approaches strictly for their own profit by misleading our leaders and our people, stealing our seeds and culture, and destroying our environment.”
As a founding member of the U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance, PAN remains committed alongside our fellow members to elevate the work of these dedicated and courageous organizations, and to together re-envisioning the meaning of World Food Day. We look forward to continuing to support them on the path toward a more equitable and resilient global food system.