I thank Lorraine Gaumont for her response to “Small-scale farmers offset climate change” (WCR letters, Oct. 24), as it is important to specify the issues, and to be clear about our sources.

The Development and Peace campaign action, inspired by the “preferential option for the poor” is supporting small-scale farmers in the Global South.

Seventy-five per cent of the poorest live in rural areas, are small-scale farmers and are among those most at risk of increased hunger due to climate change (Canadian Foodgrains Bank).

Industrial agriculture in the Global South is practised differently than in Canada. It is not provided as an option to local farmers, who are robbed of their lands by powerful institutions.

The food grown is for the marketplace rather than for self-sufficiency.

Pope Benedict cautions against this in his message on World Food Day: “Spreading everywhere, unfortunately, is the idea that food is just one more merchandise.”

The statistic 44 to 57 per cent of the total greenhouse gas emissions are from food production, is from GRAIN (www.grain.org).

Agricultural activities only account for 11 to 18 per cent, while land-clearing, food processing and transport, and decomposition of organic waste account for the rest.

Who are these farmers? Since the late 1990s, the Afro-Colombian communities of the Chocó region have been harassed, displaced and persecuted for their land so that large firms can grow African palm for the production of agrofuels.

Our partner Justicia y Paz works at defending the rights of the displaced and marginalized and has helped these communities obtain recognition of their land rights.

The campaign does not “target” farms in Canada, where farmers can choose to farm sustainably. At the workshop, we made the local connection as we found it important that local farmers share their experience.

Please do not hesitate to go to the website at www.devp.org or contact the office at smichel@devp.org.

Sara Michel
Alberta-Mackenzie Animator
Development and Peace