La Via Campesina at the crossroads

The Peasant Road, or La Via Campesina (LVC) as it is officially named, is being improved. It started at the initiative of a number of farmers' organizations during the 1992 Second Congress of the Nicaraguan Farmers' Union, UNAG. In the face of structural adjustment programmes and increasingly laissez-faire economic policies, bound to ruin many small farmers, they called for a programme of cooperation between farmers' organizations. The general objective of LVC's programme is the search for alternatives to current neo-liberal policies. It is more than a protest movement against farmer-hostile policies. Proposals for a truly democratic rural development are necessary, based on research carried out in cooperation with scientific research institutes and public authorities. Contrary to past experience, the research agenda should be determined by the farmers and their organizations, and not by scientists and policy makers. Farmers are tired of being research objects: they want to do the research by themselves, because they know what they are talking about when they draw up their own development proposals. Abstract supplied by kind permission of CABI.