Food Voices: Fighting for the Right to Fish and Farm

An installment of “Food Voices” which focuses on different aspects of the food sovereignty movement and land tensions.

WhyHunger is pleased to be partnering with Andrianna Natsoulas, longtime food sovereignty activist and author of the forthcoming book Food Voices: Stories of the Food Sovereignty Movement. In 2010, Andrianna began a journey across the Americas to capture the stories of people working towards and living a just and sustainable food system. As she continues her journey, spanning from Nova Scotia to Ecuador to Brazil and beyond, we will feature highlights of the stories she gathers.  


Da Silvas is both a fisherman and a farmer from Caetanos De Cima in the state of Ceará in Brazil. He comes from generations of fishermen and farmers. The biggest obstacle Josafá faces is keeping his land. He will not give up. Below are Josafá Ribeiro Da Silvas’ statements.

The farming is a complement to the fishing. There are times for fishing – sometimes I fish more and sometimes I fish less. During the times I fish less, I can sell 200 coconuts and I can pay my grocery store bill, where I buy bread, crackers and other things. So, one complements the other. My oldest son, he knows how to fish and farm, but now he is a teacher. I always say to him, you must know how to fish and farm, because the work market is hard and if you don’t find a better job, then you can always feed yourself and your community. It is a very important skill.


It was difficult to get the land and it is difficult to keep the land. As the days go by, an outsider always comes here and tries to take our land. A man who lives in Fortaleza has some land here next to our land. He is known as Julio the Pirate. We are fighting him in court, because he wants to take all the land on the beach. He is trying to seize our land. He has called us many times to court and he is trying to find a witness to say he owns the land. Through the Association we work with, we are in the courts, fighting him. We coordinate and fight with other associations and other communities that are dealing with the same problems. All over Ceará, he is causing problems. He wants to sell it to people in other countries. He wants to make beach houses and beach resorts. My grandfather was born, raised and died here. We are natives here and we resist. Nobody is going to take our land.

Food sovereignty is what we want — we want to fish and farm for the best of the community. We are fighting for the right to be able to fish and farm. It is important to maintain the Association. If the community is not organized, it is easy to be divided and conquered. We have to stand our ground together, united. We have open space and fresh air – we fish, we farm. We will not give it up. We are used to the sea, to the land. We have our territory. We have our fun, we have our community, our parties, our religion. We have a healthy environment. For me and for everybody who lives here, this is the reason to fight for our land. We have a good lifestyle and the only way to preserve it is to fight.