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latest news > news in brief > Mass retailing in the South: impacts on subsistence farming and farm workers, regulations, and mobilisation within civil society

Coordination SUD

Mass retailing in the South: impacts on subsistence farming and farm workers, regulations, and mobilisation within civil society

8 August 2007


Context of the study: In the last two decades the liberalisation trend in most economies has led to an increase in big companies’ power. The concentration of multinational companies in mass retailing has strengthened this sector’s power (“Buyer power”) over all the other actors in all sectors of the economy: industries and especially peasants and agricultural workers.

Coordination Sud, a platform for French international solidarity organisations, functions on the basis of various thematic commissions, including the Commission Agriculture et Alimentation (C2A). This commission represents international solidarity NGOs advocating for the fate of peasants from the South to be taken into account in international negotiations.

The C2A has decided to initiate work with civil society in the South, with the aim of gaining information on existing experience and expertise regarding mass retailing and its relations with subsistence farmers and farm workers. This first study is directed by:

- Peuples Solidaires, a federation of local non-profit organizations and individual members, which advocates for development in solidarity with all peoples and for the defence of economic, social and cultural rights. It does so through civic education and solidarity campaigns in the North, and by supporting local development initiatives in the South.

- The Comité français pour la solidarité internationale (CFSI) is a platform consisting of 24 organisations. Its priority is to sustainably combat hunger, poverty and inequalities. The CFSI supports development projects in the South and, in France, works through consciousness-raising and advocacy actions (ALIMENTERRE programme, etc.).

Aims of the study: The aim of this project is to review the experiences, analyses and propositions of civil society organisations in the South on:

- the impact of mass retailing and particularly French mass retailing on subsistence farming and farm workers,

- mobilisation aimed at regulating, altering and improving mass retailing practices in the interest of subsistence farming and farm workers. This study will also help to identify potential synergies between Northern and Southern organisations to undertake common work concerning the regulation of mass retailing practices.

Mass retailing consists of all the groupings of consumption good retailers. These groupings enable retailers to buy in bulk and to benefit from a common brand image

Methodology: To this end, we have decided to send out a questionnaire to our partners. The following questionnaire is intended for various types of organisation: trade unions, producers’ unions, NGOs, rural movements, consumer movements, research centres, etc. We are aware that due to such a variety of actors, you may not feel in a position to answer the whole questionnaire. We therefore expect you to answer only those questions relevant to your experience and expertise. The questionnaire consists of seven open-ended questions. To help you answer questions 2 to 4, more precise questions are found in the annexe.

Kindly take a few minutes to answer this questionnaire, and return it to us by the 25th September : If you know of other organisations in your country or region that carry out work related to mass redistribution practices, please do not hesitate to forward the questionnaire to them, and to send us their details. Thank you.

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