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Food Sovereignty in Africa

Food sovereignty, formally defined in Mali in 2007, “ is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It puts the aspirations and needs of those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations.”

This panel invites discussion across food production, distribution, marketing, access, and nutrition across the African continent. The role of neo-imperialism — via structural adjustment programs, global agricultural trade, overlooked indigenous food systems, ineffective ‘development’ organizations, among others — impact food production, economic prosperity, human health and nutrition, and environmental sustainability. Experts and those with lived experiences discuss the challenges and opportunities in food sovereignty across Africa. Food sovereignty as a concept is being tested as policy, through the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP), an Agenda 63 continental initiative in which African governments agreed to allocate at least 10% of national budgets to agriculture and rural development, and to achieve agricultural growth rates of at least 6% per annum. Understanding the principles in practice will take time and will require knowledge sharing across stakeholders and across the continent. At its core, food sovereignty promises inclusive economic development in a few key ways: 1). by rebuilding food systems to blend indigenous agricultural knowledge with best-practices from agricultural research 2). to strengthen domestic food production providing downstream economic development, and 3). by providing secondary benefits of improved human health and environmental stewardship.

Please reach out ASAP via email to Brianna Parsons (University of Pennsylvania) bpars@vet.upenn.edu with ideas for paper proposals.