What does food sovereignty look like in practice? Donaldo Zúniga shares why investing in communities to grow their own food is the most underlooked tactic in the fight against world hunger.
Executive Director, Red COMAL
Who he Is:
Donaldo works to support rural and Indigenous families and improve the quality of life of local producers in Honduras as the Executive Director of Red COMAL, a national network of small-scale farmers and cooperatives. Red COMAL has been helping communities come together to create sustainable change in Honduras since 2006.
Q: What does food sovereignty mean for you and your team at Red COMAL?
A: For me and the Red COMAL team, food sovereignty is the right of Campesinas and Indigenous people to make decisions in relation to the production of their own food, to establish their own agricultural policies. [It’s] the right to use their native seeds, set prices for their products, and ensure the protection of their local markets.
Q: Why are seeds so important for food sovereignty?
A: In Campesina and Indigenous communities, native seeds are of vital importance since they are part of the heritage of the communities. The rural and Indigenous families are guardians of the native seeds, these seeds are conserved and reproduced year after year in each crop cycle, thus guaranteeing the production of basic foods in the families’ nourishing diet. For example, corn and beans of many varieties, plants that produce leaves with high nutritional value such as mustard, amaranth, and chipilín, and edible roots such as yucca, taro, and sweet potato, among others.
Q: In your opinion, what is the most neglected tactic when it comes to ending world hunger?
A: Personally, I believe that to end hunger, the neglected tactic has been the lack of knowledge of the potential and capacities that communities have to produce their own food. They commonly make the mistake of bringing imported food to families, thus violating their customs and food culture. In addition, by bringing food, often unintentionally, there is a negative impact on the economy of the communities since local production is discouraged.
Our suggestion is to strengthen the capacities of local families and communities so they themselves can produce their own food.
Knowledge about good agricultural practices and simple technologies can be transferred to adapt to climate change, improve soil nutrition, and efficiently manage water and other natural resources. In addition, nutritional education and the economic and social empowerment of women are necessary, since they face the problem of hunger in their families every day.
Q: In your opinion, what must change to end world hunger?
A: To end world hunger, the first thing we must change are human beings. In the world there is enough food to end hunger, however, it is impossible due to the high level of greed of a few. There is enormous inequality in the distribution of resources, especially in impoverished or developing countries.
The current production model promoted by capitalism is unsustainable. It is urgent and necessary to change the way of production. Agroecological production must be promoted and implemented, in harmony with life and nature. We must remember that we only have one planet earth and it is a high priority to stop its destruction.
A: What I like most about Red COMAL’s approach is that it promotes local organization and active participation of rural and Indigenous families, including women and youth.
They are the protagonists of their own processes of social and economic development.
Families have the freedom to express their opinions and decide what they want to produce, this is an important principle in the fight against hunger.
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Stop hunger for Indigenous families in Honduras by Red COMAL