Food Sovereignty Assembly: Gaining Control of Our Food

Food Sovereignty AssemblyFood Sovereignty Assembly: Gaining Control of Our Food

Friday 16th May, 7.30pm

TF Royal Hotel, Old Westport Road, Castlebar, Co. Mayo (opposite Mayo General Hospital)

Our food system is failing, both in Ireland and internationally. Failing to provide a secure income for farmers, failing to provide healthy food for citizens, and failing to nurture and care for our environment and the heritage of future generations.

The globalisation of agricultural markets long promised to bring prosperity and stability to farmers and consumers. Instead we have seen the eradication of our own local and traditional high quality food production and an abundance of low quality, mass produced food. Farmers cannot guarantee prices which cover the costs of their production and are increasingly trapped in a vicious circle of falling prices and rising input costs.

Furthermore, processors and retailers undermine and fail to reward the work that farmers do by selling adulterated and heavily processed food to citizens. At the same time, organisations, individuals and collectives are developing new ways of organising the production, distribution and consumption of food in their localities. They propose an alternative political framework for food and agriculture in our society, based on the principles of Food Sovereignty.

Food Sovereignty means the people of Ireland reclaiming the right to how our food system is organised. It means dignity for farmers in their work, and healthy food for Irish citizens. It means ensuring high quality food for our local markets instead of high quantities for global markets. It means working with nature and developing production systems which do not rely on external inputs. It means citizens and farmers coming together to take a stand and build a better way of producing, distributing and consuming food in Ireland and around the world.

This conference in Castlebar is a first step in starting this discussion, and towards building a better food and agricultural system both in Ireland and worldwide.

It will include contributions from Paul Nicholson (Basque Farmers Union and member of Via Campesina), Luis Jalandoni (involved with sugar workers and peasant settlers in Negros, Central Philippines), John Brennan (Leitrim Organic Farmers Coop), Rose Kelly (Afri) and a speaker from United Farmers Association.

Join us on the 16th May at 7.30pm in the TF Royal Hotel, Old Westport Road, Castlebar, Co. Mayo (opposite Mayo General Hospital).

Organised by Afri in association with Food Sovereignty Ireland.  This event is organised to coincide with the Annual Famine Walk in the Doolough Valley, Co. Mayo.  For details about the Famine Walk, go here or see our Facebook event

You can also download the Food Sovereignty Assembly Brochure 

Famine Walk 2014: Opening the Gates – From Famine to Food Sovereignty

Saturday, May 17th 2014

From Louisburgh to Delphi Lodge, Co. Mayo.

Registration from 12.45pm; Walk beginning at 1.30pm

Walk Leaders: Paul Nicholson, Luis Jalandoni, Emanuela Russo

Music: Imogen Gunner & friends

Michael Wade (Delphi Lodge) opens the gates of Delphi Lodge to the 2013 Afri Famine Walk in a historically significant welcome. Photo: Derek Speirs

The 2013 Famine Walk will long remain in the memory of those who were there to experience it. The opening of the gates of Delphi Lodge and the welcome extended by proprietor Michael Wade to walkers carrying the names of those who died on the original walk in 1849 was particularly poignant. The planting of an oak tree and potatoes supplied by Willie and Mary Corduff were powerful symbols of new life while the hauntingly moving words of Declan O’Rourke’s Famine song echoed: ‘you Connacht orphans, bare of foot, who walked ten miles at 7 years/ you took your little sister’s hand and walked her to the poorhouse door/ and when they had but room for one/ you left your little sister there/ and feint with hunger all day long/ you walked the ten miles back again”. There was a profound sense of history being made, of those who had died being fittingly remembered, of at least some wounds being healed.

Earlier we heard moving words from Salome Mbugua recalling recent famines, including in Somalia where over 200,000 died virtually unnoticed by the outside world in the period 2010-2012, and we were inspired by Gary White Deer’s reflection that “as we retrace the steps of the people whose names we bear, we believe that they will be with us on our journey”. Continue reading “Famine Walk 2014: Opening the Gates – From Famine to Food Sovereignty”

Impressions from Féile Bríde 2014

This year’s Féile Bríde aimed to mark the issues of “Life: Source or Resource-Enslavement versus sovereignty.”  The day started with the beautiful music of harpist Fionnuala Gill as the Brigid flame was carried into the conference hall.  The event made connections across borders, nations and nationalities, attracting speakers and partners from East Africa to the West of Ireland, in order to tackle together the unequal distribution of resources and the threats to food sovereignty.

Contributors to Féile Bríde 2014: (from left to right): Abjata Khalif (Kenya Pastoralist Journalist Network); Mia De Faoite (Turn off the Red Light campaigner); Donal Dorr (author, theologian and Turn off the Red Light campaigner); Fergal Anderson (farmer and Food Sovereignty Ireland), and Pete Mullineaux (poet, dramatist and arts facilitator). Photo: Joe Murray

Speakers included Afri’s partner Abjata Khalif of the Kenyan pastoralist Journalist Network, Fergal Anderson a small farmer from the west of Ireland, veteran writer and campaigner on issues of human trafficking, Donal Dorr, and Mia De Faoite, a survivor of prostitution speaking from her experience. Continue reading “Impressions from Féile Bríde 2014”

Date for your Diary – Féile Bríde 2014

Féile Bríde 2014 will take place on Saturday 8th February in the Osborne Centre in Kildare town. The title of this year’s Féile Bríde is “Life: Source or Resource – Enslavement versus Sovereignty”.

Féile Bríde 2014 will look at issues of life, light and liberty with perspectives from our partner Abjata Khalif of the Kenya Pastoralist Journalists Network; from Fergal Anderson linking food sovereignty issues locally and globally, as a ‘small farmer’ from the West of Ireland; and Donal Dorr will be joined by a woman with personal knowledge of the issue of human trafficking to explore the meaning of slavery, sovereignty and sustenance. Continue reading “Date for your Diary – Féile Bríde 2014”

Events organised by AfrI in Co. Mayo

Afri organised two events on the 21st and 22nd of May  in Co. Mayo that addressed fundamental issues of economic and political justice in the world today.

The first was the annual Famine Walk from Doolough to Louisburgh, on Saturday 21st, commemorating the death of Irish people during the ‘great famine’ of the nineteenth century and highlighting the reality of hunger and food insecurity in the world today, the causes of which include war and obscene levels of military spending. This year the Famine Walk  focused especially on the question of food sovereignty, including the threats to it from increasing corporate control of the food chain and the treatment of food as just another commodity to be bought and sold. The theme of corporate power also dominated at the second event, a public meeting in Erris on Sunday 22nd, where activists from India exchanged their stories of oppression by multinational companies (especially Union Carbide and its devastation of Bhopal) with the tales of local campaigners against Shell’s unwanted and dangerous Corrib Gas pipeline. Continue reading “Events organised by AfrI in Co. Mayo”

Famine Walk 2010 – ‘Hunger in a World of Plenty: Sowing Seeds of Hope’

Afri would like to thank the hundreds of people who joined us on a wonderful sunny day for our 22nd Annual Famine Walk from Doolough to Louisburgh on Saturday, 22 May.

The walk leaders Justin Kilcullen of Trócaire, Felicity Lawrence, writer and journalist for the Guardian, and Jo Newton of the Irish Seed Savers Association opened the event with short reflections on the walk theme: Hunger in a World of Plenty: Sowing Seeds of Hope.

The various speakers outlined how the injustices that led to the Irish Great Famine continue today in terms of unequal global food distribution and the way in which multinational companies increasingly control agriculture and the food processing system, while small farmers and food producers struggle to survive. A linking thread was that food insecurity will continue and intensify today unless we tackle issues such as loss of biodiversity, global warming, corporate control of food production, and the patenting and aggressive marketing of genetically modified seeds.

Afri Famine Walk 2010 from Dave Donnellan on Vimeo.

Continue reading “Famine Walk 2010 – ‘Hunger in a World of Plenty: Sowing Seeds of Hope’”

Education for Liberation in Kildare town

‘Hunger in a World of Plenty – Sowing Seeds of Hope’

Afri’s second of three ‘ Education for Liberation’ events, on the theme of ‘Hunger in a World of Plenty – Sowing Seeds of Hope’ took place on Thursday, 18 March 2010, in Kildare town. About 100 students aged 15-16 years old from 4 different schools in the Kildare/Laois region participated in the event.

Food and hunger have been issues of central concern for Afri since its inception 35 years ago. Afri was founded to respond to the scandal of hunger in a world of plenty, a situation which, unfortunately, has worsened rather than improved in the intervening period.

Afri believes in tackling the causes of hunger rather than merely responding to the symptoms. Those causes include the arms trade (costing a staggering €1400 billion annually); the neo-liberal economic system, which concentrates large amounts of resources, including food, in the hands of a small number of people; climate change and global warming; and the corporate takeover of food production, resulting in food being treated as a purely commercial product, thus denying access to the people who are most vulnerable. Continue reading “Education for Liberation in Kildare town”