It happened on the 29th of January 2020 in Bitola in North Macedonia. More than 200 landowners from Egri village gathered in Bitola’s theatre, taking turns to vote on the Land Consolidation Plan. The serious faces of men and women, old and young, were a sign that they may have been as nervous as we were ourselves. The voting on the first majority based land consolidation ever in the country was coming to an end. And then the result was there….. 83% in favour of land consolidation! The villagers were cheering. Our team was overwhelmed by emotion.
The debate on agriculture and development is heated and, apparently, never ending. This is especially true of the role and position of peasant (or smallholder) agriculture, with people either vigorously defending the sector or saying that in time it will (and should) disappear. Prof. Olivier de Schutter is a clear exponent of the former line of thought, as is evident from his contribution ‘We want peasants’ on Land Portal (26 September, 2018).
This week in Geneva, the Human Rights Council is expected to take a position on the follow-up to a draft Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other Persons Working in Rural Areas. Five years after the start of the negotiations, we are at a turning point.