‘From Famine to Food Sovereignty’ was the theme of the 2014 Afri Famine walk in The Doolough valley in May. Here is a short film about the Walk made by Dave Donnellan
Where can you start in talking about the Afri Famine Walk? Well, 1849 is the best point because the Famine Walk is the re-enactment or retracing steps of a real tragedy that happened to people who died walking that way 165 years ago. There is a sense in which the ground we walk on is sacred, holy, or marked because we know some of the terrible things happened in that very place.
But the Afri Famine Walk is not some ethereal revisiting of a past, if tragic, time. It very directly links past, present – what is happening in the world today with causes similar to or the same as what caused and exacerbated the Great Famine in Ireland – and future – and asks us to recommit ourselves to ending famine. There was food, there is food, the question is who controls the food and what happens to it. Some walkers carried posters of the names of individuals who died in that and more recent famines. Continue reading “Famine Walk 2014: From Famine to Food Sovereignty”
Ireland’s First Food Sovereignty Assembly
Organised by Food Sovereignty Ireland and Afri
Castlebar, 16th May 2014 at 7.30pm
Gaining control of our food
A panel of distinguished speakers will lead discussions at Ireland’s first food sovereignty assembly in Castlebar, County Mayo this weekend. Food sovereignty practitioners from around Ireland will also attend and contribute to this important event which is organised to coincide with the annual Doolough Famine Walk which takes place the following day.
Contributors to the assembly will include Paul Nicholson of Via Campesina, Luis Jalandoni who has been involved with peasant settlers and sugar workers in the Philippines, John Brennan of Leitrim Organic Farmers Coop Rose Kelly of Afri, Fergal Anderson of Food Sovereignty Ireland and more. The Assembly will explore the critical issue of food, how it works, who benefits and who loses out and why.
Organisers believe that government and agribusinesses are obscuring the story of how the food system works in Ireland and internationally – and that it is time for some home truths
Stepping into your local supermarket is like going to the arrivals hall of an international airport. Apples from New Zealand, chickens from Thailand, cabbages from Holland and pork from god knows where. Almost all the meat or dairy you see, Irish or not, has been fed animal feeds (mostly GM soya) from Argentina and Brazil.
The reality is that this globalization of our food and agricultural system is failing consumers, the environment and farmers. Big retailers like Tesco are multi-national corporations, squeezing suppliers and eliminating local food providers. Much of the food they sell is produced mechanically, on industrial farms, in a multitude of countries using a cocktail of agrochemicals. The industrial food system then sells heavily processed foods with dubious labels to overwhelmed consumers, who eventually discard almost a third of the food they buy. Continue reading “Ireland’s First Food Sovereignty Assembly”
Food 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
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
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”