Youth Experience of LVC's 6th Conference (Jakarta)

Hundreds of young farmers and peasants from the Americas, Africa, Asia and Europe met in Jakarta, Indonesia for La Via Campesina's third Youth Assembly (June 8-9, 2013) held right before its 6th International Conference (June 9-13). La Via Campesina (LVC) is the world's largest farmers, peasants, fisherfolks and indigenous peoples movement, and more than 500 delegates gathered to celebrate its 20th anniversary under the slogan 'For Land and People's Sovereignty, Solidarity and Struggle!'. 
 
The North American Youth delegation was composed of Eva Rehak from New Brunswick representing the National Farmers Union of Canada, Emmanuel Beauregard from Quebec representing Union Paysanne and Blain Snipstal from Maryland representing The Rural Coalition.  They are a part of a generation of youth that are chosing to farm after not coming from family farms, as is the case for Eva and Blain; and are returning to their family farms, as is the case for Emmanuel.
 
Despite geographical and cultural differences, small and family food producers around the world are facing the same hardships. Difficulties to access land, capital and labour are particularly discouraging for any youth or new farmers hoping to make a living out of agriculture. As Eva, the Youth representative for the NFU said : ''Going into the conference, at first I didn't know what to expect, thinking that we each have our own problems in our respective regions.  I quickly realized I was mistaken, in this fast paced conference I learned quite a bit. It is so inspiring to witness the courage and power of so much people, especially youth, all working towards the same objectives worldwide.'' 
 
Panels on the analysis of the current context by youth as well as group and plenary discussions led to the elaboration of a Youth action plan for the next four years as well as the ratification of a declaration. In their final declaration, the Youth of Via Campesina express that they are the present and future of  agriculture, one that can meet the world's food demand, while being sustainable and resilient to climate change. They called for agroecology as the basis of the full implementation of the concept of food sovereignty. "We, the Youth, are the seeds, we are the future of the peasant movement” were the closing words of the Youth Assembly. Agroecology,  Energy and Climate Change will be one main focus of the Youth in the region for the upcoming years, along with the issue of Migration.
 
Having left family and farm for 10 days in the height of the farming season, the three young delegates are now carrying back home the hope and strength of the Via Campesina family, and the eagerness to feed their organizations' local and national struggles with this energy. As Eva puts it : ''We may be far physically, but we are always in union. Going to the 6th International Conference gave me the motivation to continue farming, go forward and most of all, work together to fight for our rights as rural citizens and for the future of our children."
 
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