The Food Sovereignty Prize: Taking Back the Commons

Lucas Benitez, co-director of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers from the United States, makes his acceptance speech after being honored at WhyHunger's 2012 Food Sovereignty Prize, which honors grassroots leaders working for a more democratic food system, New York, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012. (Stuart Ramson/Insider Images for WhyHunger)

Lucas Benitez, co-director of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers from the United States, makes his acceptance speech after being honored at WhyHunger’s 2012 Food Sovereignty Prize, which honors grassroots leaders working for a more democratic food system, New York, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012. (Stuart Ramson/Insider Images for WhyHunger)

While the corporate media slavishly promotes genetic modification and other technological fixes to global hunger, the food sovereignty movement continues to grow by leaps and bounds.

The Food Sovereignty Prize is awarded by the Food Sovereignty Alliance, which works to rebuild local food economies and asserts democratic control over food production. They assert that all human beings deserve a right to determine how and where their food is grown.

The prize was first awarded in 2009 as an alternative to the World Food Prize, a corporate sponsored award for technological fixes – such as genetic modification – promoted by the global elite as a solution to world hunger.

The 2015 Food Sovereignty Prize winners are the US-based Federation of Southern Cooperatives and the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH)

The Federation of Southern Cooperatives was created in 1967 as the economic arm of the civil rights movement. Their main purpose has been

• To develop cooperatives and credit unions as a means for people to enhance the quality of their lives and preserve their communities;
• To save, protect and expand the landholdings of Black family farmers in the south;
• To develop, advocate and support public policies to benefit their members and low income rural communities.

At present the federation has over 70 active co-ops across ten southern states, with a membership of more than 20,000 families.

The Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH) was created in 1979 to protect the economic, social and cultural right of 46 Garifuna communities along the Atlantic coast of Honduras. Land grabs for agrofuels (African palm plantations) and tourist resort development seriously threaten their way of life. Most of these illegal evictions stem directly from the 2009 US-backed coup, in which the Obama administration supported the overthrow of a democratically elected president with a strong land reform agenda.

OFRANEH brings together communities to meet these challenges head-on, through direct-action community organizing, national and international legal action, promotion of Garifuna culture (mixed Afro-descendent and indigenous), and movement building. OFRANEH especially prioritizes the leadership development of women and youth.

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