La Via Campesina is a Spanish word meaning the ‘peasant path’. It was founded in 1993 when the general assembly met in Nicaragua. The aim of its formation is that farmers felt they needed to speak for themselves.
La Via Campesina is an international movement of peasants, small- and medium-sized producers, landless, rural women, indigenous people, rural youth and agricultural workers. The organisation comprises of 148 members from 69 countries from Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. The peasant movement has national platforms, and 9 regions –North America, Cuba and the Caribbean, South America, Central America, South East and East Asia, South Asia, Europe and two platforms in Africa.
The Africa region was founded in 2004 and is divided into two platforms based in Maputo and Bamako. From each region, 2 people (male and female) represent the region at the International level. Every 4 years there is an International conference and the last one happened in Mozambique in 2008. The General Assembly defines the strategic plan and direction for the next 4 years. The secretariat for Via Campesina rotates among members with Indonesia hosting it now. From 2012, the general secretariat will be in Africa.
Via Campesina is now trying to be represented in all global events at the international level. The major challenges include the language-English, Portuguese, French. To tackle this, they have a big network of volunteer interpreters. There is a challenge with the gender balance in representation in events and activities. To promote women, there are regular women assemblies to prepare and build their capacities.
In 2007, Via Campesina was part of the organisers for the Nyeleni Food Sovereignty meeting. The Nyeleni meeting was important for social movements to define what food sovereignty means for the farmers, social movements and other sectors of the society. Building food sovereignty needs building alliances and networking.