In this episode of Foodtopias, the global peasant leader and food sovereignty activist Elizabeth Mpofu speaks to us about growing up in a farming family in Zimbabwe, practicing climate-resilient agriculture, and how rural women are being impacted by Covid-19. Elizabeth Mpofu is General Coordinator of the international peasant confederation La Vía Campesina and the founder and chairperson of the Zimbabwe Smallholder Organic Farmers Forum (ZIMSOFF).
From her experience growing up in Zimbabwe, industrial agriculture and export-oriented production were colonial impositions that threatened Zimbabwean farmers’ ability to grow healthy, culturally appropriate food. Peasant women—who are the main seed keepers and food producers—have been most affected by the violence of industrial agriculture, land grabbing, and the climate crisis. These challenges are now compounded by Covid-19, which impedes peasant women from coming together to organize and sell food in local markets, and has caused a rise in domestic violence.
Over the last decade and a half, the women of La Vía Campesina have made combating violence against women a key priority in the fight for food sovereignty—and Elizabeth Mpofu has been a leader in that movement. She has also played an important role in advocating for a United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Rural Workers, approved by the General Assembly in 2018.
This conversation is an edited excerpt from the Hunger for Justice series broadcast hosted by A Growing Culture.
About the Guest
Elizabeth Mpofu is General Coordinator of the international small farmer and peasant confederation La Vía Campesina and the founder and chairperson of the Zimbabwe Smallholder Organic Farmers Forum (ZIMSOFF). As a farmer, she practices agroecology and as an activist, she advocates for policies that promote agroecological farming, food sovereignty, and women’s rights in her home country of Zimbabwe and throughout the African continent and the world.
Visit La Vía Campesina
Visit A Growing Culture
“Be Proud to Become a Farm Woman!” says Elizabeth Mpofu (La Vía Campesina)
“Women’s Struggles for a Peasant and People’s Feminism” (La Vía Campesina)
“Keeping the Struggles of Peasant Women Alive” (La Vía Campesina)
“Peasants in Zimbabwe revive stagnant farms through agroecology” (La Vía Campesina)
“COVID-19 crisis: time to reflect on how we live and interact with nature” by Elizabeth Mpofu, Agriculture & Human Values, June 2020.
Watch the full conversation between Elizabeth Mpofu and Tanya Kerssen on the Hunger for Justice broadcast.
Host: Tanya Kerssen
Co-producers: Tanya Kerssen and Tiffani Patton
Editor: Asal Ehsanipour
Theme Music: “Set Me Free” by Will Magid
Logo & Design: Christina Bronsing-Lazalde
Header image: Women in Todjedi, Benin, by Facrice Monteiro (from We Feed the World: A Global Photographic Project by the Gaia Foundation)