This article develops the concept of food sovereignty while it critically reflects on its present status and future trajectories. The concept of food sovereignty provides an alternative framework for solutions to the human and ecological consequences of industrial food systems. While the concept of food sovereignty gains traction at international levels, including at the United Nations, its lack of conceptual clarity contributes to a variety of often diverging interpretations. This frequently constrains practical implementation and weakens its potential as an alternative paradigm to food governance. At the same time, food sovereignty thought is shifting beyond its initial agrarian focus to embrace whole food systems, which includes the role of consumers and urban areas.
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‘Most food in the world is grown, collected and harvested by more than a billion small-scale farmers, pastoralists and artisanal fisherfolk. This food is mainly sold, processed, resold and consumed locally, thereby providing the foundation of people’s nutrition, incomes and economies across the world’ (Windfuhr and Jonsén 2005, p. v).
Programa Nacional de Alimentación (Edelman 2014).
Small-scale farmers deliver as high as 90% of all food production in African countries (Holt-Giménez 2009). Globally, family farmers produce 80% of world’s food, constitute 98% of all farms, and work on 53% of all agricultural land. About 84% of those farms are smaller than two hectares (FAO 2015; Graeub et al. 2016).
One of the drivers of these debates is a series of conferences organised at Yale University (2013) and the International Institute of Social Studies (2014) which captured academics and activists’ concerns with food sovereignty, resulting in special issues of the Journal of Peasant Studies (2014), Globalizations (2015), and Third World Quarterly (2015).
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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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Dekeyser, K., Korsten, L. & Fioramonti, L. Food sovereignty: shifting debates on democratic food governance. Food Sec. 10, 223–233 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12571-017-0763-2
- Food sovereignty
- Food governance
- Social movements
- Food systems
- Food security