The Network of Peasant and Agricultural Producers' Organizations of West Africa (ROPPA) and the Global Food Sovereignty Movement

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 11:15
Location: Hörsaal 26 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Nora MCKEON, Rome 3 University, Italy
The differentiated nature of the patterns of agricultural development that have characterized West Africa and Eastern/ Southern Africa has had significant impacts on the emergence of rural dissent movements in these areas. In Eastern and Southern Africa large-scale commercial commodity producers wield the dominant power connected with the agricultural world, even though small-scale family farmers are far more numerous and account for most of the food consumed locally. The commodity producers’ organizations are fully inserted into a logic of global value chains and liberalized markets and link up globally with the commercial farmer organizations of the West thrugh networks like the World Farmers' Organization. In West Africa, on the contrary, small-scale family farming has remained the dominant mode of agricultural production, even where important export commodities like cotton are concerned. Over the past three decades rural people have been able to overcome their traditional voiceless-ness and to build significant movements of popular dissent and political pressure vis-à-vis national and sub-regional authorities like the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). They are also present in global arena, where they ally with other exponents of the global food sovereignty movement that constitutes a challenge to the dominant corporate-controlled agri-food system.

At the same time, studies of popular dissent in Sub-Saharan Africa continue to suffer from the language divides introduced by the colonial powers. The history and the dynamics of rural mobilization in French-speaking West Africa are not sufficiently well known in the dominantly English literature of social movements and popular protest. This paper will contribute to bridging the gap by analyzing the trajectory of the West African movement and the challenges it faces today. Particular attention will be paid to the movement’s efforts to build alliances with other actors in West Africa and globally.