Monday, September 8, 2014

In memory of Sarath Fernando




Sarath Fernando, a founding member of LVC movement Movement for National Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) in Sri Lanka, passed away last night.

He was one of the top leaders of La Via Campesina in South Asia Region. He was leader of Sri Lanka who advocated for agroecology, land to the landless, and agrarian reform. Via Campesina South Asia pays tribute to Sarath Fernando. May his soul rest in peace.


"We have been associated with Sarath from last 15 years. He was a very intelligent, sincere, and cooperative worker. He was full of knowledge regarding the movement - everything, and every issue. He was always keen to discuss the issues and the help people. His behavior and nature was always supportive to the people." Yudhvir Singh, Bharatiya Kisan Union


"Agroecology and the Global Crisis" Part 1 of 4
featuring S. Fernando
(rest of links below)

“We are extremely shocked to hear the death news of comrade Sarath Fernando. He was so active in La Via Campesina and PGA in addition to his own organization, MONLAR. He was committed to agrarian reform for decades. However, last couple of years he has been advocating so seriously on the question of zero-budget natural farming which drew attention of many radical activists in the world. Even he disseminated a long article on the natural farming as model of sustainable development goal couple of weeks ago keeping in view the post MDGs development goals. Actually his approach to natural farming agrees with the agro-ecological farming method which is best answer to global climate change. He is no more but his visionary thoughts are with us. We expressed our deep condolence with his family bereaved. We wish his departed soul peace forever.”
Badrul Alam, Bangladesh Krishok Federation

“Sarath was the in Chikballapur with us during the regional conference in 2012, he was really active at that time and engaging in all the debates in LVC conference. Later he was in the field with us and visited Krishnappa in Bannur, and he liked the concept of Zero Budget Natural Farming. He used to say that ‘Agroecology is the only solution for the world’s subsistence and sustainability.’ It’s a great memory for me having debates with him about hybrid seeds and seed sovereignty, til midnight. He was strongly believing in the smallest of the small farms, those with 1/10th of an acre. He was a very humorous and friendly person, and he was able to collect the young people.” S Kannaiyan, SICCFM


“Sarath Fernando was a man who spent his whole life sacrificing for the farmer community and played a wider role in the community as well. Person who stood up for the farmers community and fought against multinational companies through organic farming. It is our duty to see that his ideas are fulfilled. He’s a person who was in the movement for organic farming. The political situation in Sri Lanka, which has created a lot of problems for farmers there, Mr. Sarath has played a positive role for the farmers movement there through organic farming. Accepting his ideas, LVC has given a lot of importance to the role that agroecology plays in food sovereignty. His sad demise is a great loss not only to the people of Sri Lanka but also to the farmers of the world. From the side of Kerala Coconut Farmers Association as well as my personal side, I express deep gratitude to Sarath for the role he has played in our collective upliftment. May his soul rest in peace.” Ravi, Kerala Coconut Farmers Association.

"I met Sarath Fernando for the first time in Sri Lanka, and since then he was a guide to me, in terms of intellect and in terms of his disposition. During the first meeting, there was a controversy meeting, and throughout he remained quiet. In the end, he was able to resolve the controversy and satisfy all parties with just a few minutes of sharing. I was so impressed. He was a kind-hearted, intelligent, and hard working man. He gave life to MONLAR in two ways- from his heart and from his knowledge. He had such a high regard for the movement and other movement leaders, and always remained humble. His loss is unbelievable to us." Nandini KS, KRRS

"I am very shocked hearing the news demise  of Comrade Sarath  Farnado. He was  not only great fighter  of genuine agrarian reform  but also a great  democratic fighter. He devoted his life in favor of  fighting brave human right and democracy.   In his absence, I believe new generation would continue his desire." Balram Banskota, ANPFA  

Agroecology vs. Global Crisis. p.1 The global crisis, aspects and responsible. (Sarath Fernando) 

Agroecology vs. Global Crisis. p.2 The answers, from capital to nature. (Sarath Fernando)

Agroecology vs. Global Crisis. p.3 Zero Budget Natural Farming: a concrete example. (S. Fernando)

Agroecology vs. Global Crisis. p.4 A call to regenerating the Nature. A challenge and a dignify job

Friday, August 29, 2014

LVC South Asia Regional Meeting: Sevagram, August 25-28, 2014

La Via Campesina's South Asia Region convened in Sevagram Ashram on August 25th-28th, 2014 for our regional meeting. We had over 50 participants, coming from Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and India. Women and youth were well represented, and participated in the Youth and Women's meetings. We had presentations on recent developments regarding the WTO and GMOs from Afsar Jafri (Focus on the Global South) and Kavitha Kuruganti (ASHA). LVC activists joined in on a field visit to a local natural farm as well as a session by a local agriculture innovator (solar powered electric fence to keep out wildlife). A highlight of the four-day meeting was a cultural performance by a local musician who sings songs about organic agriculture and environmentalism in a typical bhajan style. We also had the opportunity on the first day of our meeting to visit a local village during Pola, a farmers' holiday when the bulls are fed sweets and get the day off! (See bulls dressed for the occasion below)


Pola Festival



Women resolved to hold a leadership training for women from the region before the end of the year, and the youth have taken on many projects include communications, youth exchange, and leadership development. LVC General Assembly resolved to make Amritha Bhoomi in Karnataka (International Center for Development and Agroecology School) the first LVC Agroecology School in South Asia. We also resolved to develop our relationship with other South Asian movements.

A more in-depth update and summary of action plans will be released soon.



Presentation from Afsar Jafri (Focus on the Global South)
Women's Meeting
Youth Meeting - Jenny sharing about MONLAR in Sri Lanka Youth Plan

Youth Presentation from Food Sovereignty Alliance

Field Visit to Natural Farm

Update from ANPFA (Nepal)

Mid-session musical entertainment courtesy of Ramanna from KRRS


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Farmers Support GOI's pro-Farmer position at WTO, call for Agriculture out of WTO

Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements
Road No. 2, A – 33, Mahipalpur Extension, New Delhi – 110 037, IndiaTel: 011 - 2678300026784000; Fax: 011-26785001; Email: yudhvir55@yahoo.com

August 6, 2014
To: Shrimati Nirmala Sitharaman,
Minister of State Finance
138, North Block, New Delhi
Dear Shrimati Nirmala Sitharaman:

We are a network of farmers’ organizations in India, comprising of farmers movements from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Maharastra.

We appreciate the Government of India’s uncompromised stand in the WTO and commitment to food security. At the WTO General Council the Government of India has postponed the Trade Facilitation Agreement indefinitely until a solution on public stockholding has been found.  We appreciate the roles the Government of India and you have played in this position, and we will extend support to the Government of India for any pro-farmer and pro-poor position you have in the WTO. However, our position since the Uruguay Round has always been that there is no place for agriculture in the WTO, and Indian farmers have been the champion of this fight, both at home and internationally.

We agree with you that a permanent solution on the issue of public stockholding for food security is paramount to trade facilitation. Thank you for taking a permanent stand for India against pressure from developed countries such as the USA and protecting the interests of Indian farmers. Protecting farmers means protecting food security at large for Indian citizens. Recognizing and acting upon this is a first step for seeking justice for small farmers in a body such as the WTO.

However, the WTO is a fundamentally flawed institution that bends the economic playing field in favor of developed countries and large MNCs at the cost of the livelihoods of the poor.  Since the creation of the WTO, farmers’ organizations of India have held strong that agriculture has no place in the WTO. Especially for a country like India, which has a majority rural population, relinquishing sovereignty of our food system to the interests of foreign corporations and developed countries will have a fatal impact for our population. To truly take the “farmers’ stand” the Government of India must demand an end to agriculture in the WTO altogether.

The
 WTO 
has 
always 
been 
the
 centerpiece 
of
 the 
free 
trade
regime
 with 
its 
multilateral
 reach 
and 
its 
special 
ability
 to
 legally
 enforce
 and
 penalize
 countries
 in
 order
 to
 implement
 global
 trade
 rules.
  It
 has
 been
 18
 years
 since
 the
 WTO
 was
 established.
 The
 multiple
 crises
 of
 finance,
 food,
 climate,
 can
 all
 be
 linked
 to
 the
 free
 trade
 regime
 and
 how
 it
 has
 overexploited
 the
 planet,
 pushing
 us
 into
 this
 climate
 crisis,
 poisoning
 our
 food
 and
 speculating
 on
 prices
 driving
 them
 up
 beyond
 people’s
 reach
 and
 letting
 banks
 and
 transnational
 corporations
 run
 unregulated
 pushing
 us
 all
 into
 the
 brink
 of
 a
 global
 recession.

What 
we 
need 
is 
not 
more 
free
 trade, 
but
 rather,
 a 
new
 system,
 one 
that 
is 
based
 on peoples’
 sovereignty,
 economic,
climate,
 social 
and
 cultural
 justice.
What 
we 
need 
is
 a
 trade
 that
 is
 based
 on
 complementarity,
 solidarity
 and
 that
 has
 at
 its
 heart,
 the
 peoples’ 
interests 
and 
not 
that 
of 
corporations.
We
need 
an 
agricultural 
system
 that 
is 
based
 on 
food 
sovereignty
and 
not 
based 
on 
growing 
cash 
crops 
for 
the 
markets.

There
 are
 hundreds
 of
 alternatives
 from
 communities,
 from
 social
 movements,
 from
 peasants,
 workers,
 women, 
migrants,
 fishers, 
youth 
and 
economic 
justice 
activists.


One again, thank you for standing strong for farmers at the WTO and holding back on the Trade Facilitation Agreement in the interest of public stockholding. We urge you to continue to work in the same direction until agriculture is out of the WTO altogether.

Sincerely,

Yudhvir Singh

Convener, ICCFM


Rakesh Tikait,
BKU U.P

Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, State President, BKU Punjab,

KS Puttanaiah,
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha,Karnataka

Chamarasa Patil
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha,Karnataka
Sh Vijay Jawandhia
Shetkari Sanghatna Maharashtra

S Kannaiyan
South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements

CK Janu
Adivasi Gothra Mahasabha

P Raveendranath,
Kerala Coconut Farmers Association



Chukki Nanjundaswamy, Karnataka Rajya Ryot Sangha, Karnataka

Sella Mutthu,
President, Tamila nadu Farmers Association, Tamilanadu

Nallagounder,
Uzhavar Ulaippalar Katchi,
Tamil Nadu Farmers Assocation

Friday, July 25, 2014

Trade: India must stand firm on food security issue, say farmers

Trade: India must stand firm on food security issue, say farmers

Geneva, 23 Jul (Kanaga Raja) -- A number of farmers' organisations in India have called upon their government to stand firm on linking the issue of food security with the Trade Facilitation Agreement.

In a statement issued in New Delhi on the eve of the WTO General Council meeting (24-25 July), the groups called on the Government of India to not buckle down under pressure from the United States, the European Union and other developed countries, and to not dilute its position of linking trade facilitation with food and livelihood security and by pushing for a permanent solution to the G-33 proposal on public stockholding for food security purposes.

"We call upon the Government of India to use current negotiations to correct fundamental WTO wrongs, to build up and lead a coalition/alliance of like-minded countries to collectively secure safeguards for sovereign development policy space, food security and the livelihood concerns of farmers and its people," said the groups.

Among the groups that endorsed the statement are the Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA); All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS); Bharatiya Krishak Samaj (BKS); Bhartiya Kisan Union, Haryana; Bhartiya Kisan Union, Punjab; Green Brigade, Karnataka; Kerala Coconut Farmers Association (KCFA), Kerala; BJP Kisan Morchha; Maharashtra Shetkari Sangathan; and Tamil Nadu Farmers Association, Tamil Nadu.

"In the backdrop of rising costs and extremely volatile global market prices, and to fulfil the constitutional obligation of food security to its people, and also to ensure the livelihood security of producers, the Government of India needs to sustain and increase domestic agricultural production through price support, procurement and other measures to achieve self-sufficiency in food production, across different food grains," said Yudhvir Singh, leader of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), one of the largest farmers' organisations in India, in a press release.

"This is all the more important in the context of hundreds of thousands of farmers committing suicides in desperation," he added.

Kavitha Kuruganti, of the Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA), said: "The Government of India lost a historical opportunity in correcting deep-seated WTO wrongs in the Bali Ministerial. At least now, they need to stand firm on our sovereign policy space related to food and livelihood security, and sustainable development pathways."

"Indian government at that time settled for a temporary solution with so called ‘peace clause'. Lack of progress towards a ‘permanent solution' vindicates our apprehensions. At this point of time, the government should not buckle under any international pressure. It should remain firm in its position," she added.

Don’t allow field trials of GM crops: farmers, activists








http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/dont-allow-field-trials-of-gm-crops-farmers-activists/article6234812.ece

Don’t allow field trials of GM crops: farmers, activists

The recent decision of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) to allow field trials of GM rice, mustard, cotton, chickpea and brinjal has been met with strong opposition from farmers’ groups and environmental activists.
Seeking the intervention of Union Environment and Forests Minister Prakash Javdekar, the Bhartiya Kisan Union has asked for “annulment” of the approvals.
Questioning the need for release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the fields, the BKU leaders said they were concerned over the nation’s seed and food sovereignty.
“This is because most genes as well as transgenic processes are already patented and these Intellectual Property Rights work for the monopolistic benefit of the profiteering multinational corporations. The ease with which a transgenic technology allows corporations to claim ownership rights over seeds makes it attractive to them to hype why the world needs GMOs and seek control over entire food chains — from production to marketing — jeopardising the livelihood security of farmers,” BKU leaders Naresh Tikait, Dharmendra Malik and Yudhveer Singh said in a letter to the Minister.
In a separate letter to Mr. Javadekar, the Coalition for GM-free India said the GEAC approvals came at a time the Supreme Court was about to pronounce its orders on the issue of field trials of GM crops, based on the recommendations of the Court’s Technical Expert Committee (TEC). “Realising the potential of field trials to contaminate the seed, food supply chains and environment, and owing to the lack of a proper regulatory system, the TEC has recommended a moratorium on open-air field trials.”
“It is ironical that the BJP manifesto promise of not allowing GM foods in the country without full scientific evaluation of their long-term effects on soil, production and biological impact on consumers is the main subject for this PIL petition in the Supreme Court. It was pending the decision of the apex court that former Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan had stayed GEAC meetings... The last time the GEAC approved some GMOs for open- air field testing, prominent BJP leaders had condemned the move,” Rajesh Krishnan of the coalition said.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

KRRS Martyrs remembered as Karnataka village Muttagi struggles against thermal power project

Agitation against NTPC power plant in Muttagi and commemoration of Farmer Martyrs’ Day

KRRS farmers show solidarity with the people of Muttagi after a police shooting took place at a similar protest on July 5th, outside the NTPC power and ask for a judicial probe into the shooting.

On Monday 21 July, 2014, thousands of farmers came from all over Karnataka, mobilized by Karnataka Rajya Rayta Sangha, to lend solidarity to a farmers in North Karnataka struggling against the construction of a thermal power plant just outside their, Muttagi (Bijapur District). It is only fitting that the day marks the Farmer’s Association’s Martyrs’ day, as on July 21, 1980 another police shooting of farmers took place at Naragund.  The plant in question is the NTPC power plant at Kudgi, in which 12 crores rs has already been invested as a step towards so-called “development.” Farmers in Muttagi are adamant that the disastrous health impacts (such as in-utero affects on babies and respiration problems) as well as environmental effects (poisoning of soil and draining of groundwater) seen as a result of other thermal power plants in India should not become a permanent part of their day-to-day reality.

video
Minute of silence for martyrs


Farmers’ protest for life & livelihood met with gunfire from police
On 5 July, almost 10,000 farmers from 10 to 15 villages surrounding Kudgi organised a protest and tried to storm the gates of the power plant. Women were pushed to the front of the crowd to discourage the police from physical violence. The police were unfazed, and charged at the crowd using lathi. When this was an unsuccessful deterrent, shots were fired by the police. Basuraj Chimmaragi, the former Gram Panchayat President of Muttagi, whose leg was fractured as a result of the stampede, said that the official reports were misleading: while two people had bullet wounds, over 50 people were injured and rushed to the hospital.

Kudgi NTPC Power Plant on 21 July 2014

In the face of such danger, farmers continue to fight. The proposed thermal power plant, will have a generation capacity of 4000 MW and will use water from the Alamatti reservoir, a dam built on the Krishna river. Most local farmers have non-irrigated land and the Krishna river is a major source of irrigation. If diverted towards the power plant, given that the monsoons are become more unreliable every year, the farmers will have close to nothing to fall back on. Though the company has acquired around 2995 acres of land in Kudgi, the effects of the plant will spread to over 40 of the villages in the periphery.  

Public awareness grew when Mr. M.P. Patil, a retired atomic scientist from the village of Masuti, took it upon himself ti educating the people about the thermal plant's repercussions. He later filed a case in the Supreme Court which will be heard on August 5th. Patil campaigned in villages through video screenings of documentaries of other power plants in India, such as in Ranchi. He explained to villagers that the plant would not only will it affect the air and soil adversely, but these villages will get none of the benefits from the plant, with one-sixth of the total electricity produced in already existing power stations being transferred only to Bangalore. There are now 6 cases pending against Mr. Patil, due to which he has gone into hiding. Similarly, after the July 5th protests, over 27 farmers have pending criminal cases against them.

Farmers’ response to so-called “Development”
Farmers’ leaders encouraged government energy policies to shift towards sustainable energy sources. Puttanaiah, MLA from Mandya District, challenged India’s tendency towards coal power plants when the rest of the world is giving up on them. He also demanded a judicial inquiry into the police firing.

“The NTPC is the kind of project that our government calls ‘Development’! But development for whom?” asked Nandini Jayaram, KRRS Women’s Wing President. “They promise to build railroads and give electricity, but without water we cannot grow food. What use is a railroad if we are starving?”


Women sit in protest against the backdrop of the power plant and fertile farmland

But some Muttagi residents find that they are already starving, and NTPC is a short-term solution. One marginal farmer found relief when she and her daughter secured cleaning jobs at the NTPC. She says she hides her face from disapproving neighbors as she goes to work everyday, along with one thousand local coworkers at the plant – all salaried as office boys, cleaners, and other laborers. Her 2 acres of land could not support her family, which she heads as a single mother, and so the combined 17,000 INR/month she and her daughter make at NTPC provide her “rozi roti.” She told us, “I’m not sure if the videos they showed of places like Ranchi are doctored or not… such as babies being born without limbs… but, regardless, at this point I’m unwilling to fight. I need the money here and now.”

Shankaramma of Muttagi
Other women gathered at the protest are hopeful that with KRRS backing their efforts to stop the erection of the power plant will be more organised and that they will eventually succeed in stopping NTPC. Shantabai, a protester, says, "My family discourages me from being involved in this struggle. But even if I die during this struggle, it does not matter. At least that will be a honourable death." Adds Gangabai, “I do not even have land where I can be buried anymore! If I die, I will die a martyr's death, and at least they can bury me though my family cannot." 


The government has taken an extremely firm stance and has refused to stop the development of the power despite the growing unrest among the people of the region. Though official figures say that about 70% of the construction is complete, it is alleged that in reality only 30% of the plant has been built.  But if the government refuses to budge, then the people of the land along with the KRRS are willing to match them step for step. Like their slogan says, "Come what may, let us unite." And that is exactly what they are doing. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

La Vía Campesina’s position on the International Year of Family Farming - 2014

Press Release - La Vía Campesina

La Vía Campesina’s position on the International Year of Family Farming - 2014

A space for the promotion of concrete policies on peasant family farming



(Harare, June 2014) La Vía Campesina defines participation in the International Year of Family Farming, propelled by the UN in 2014, as the creation of a space for discussion and collective action to to push Food Sovereignty that has peasants and small farmers as a basis. All throughout the world they continue to grow and distribute healthy, self-produced food in their towns, in stark contrast to the commercial food industry, whose priorities are profit and speculation and whose strategy is to make agriculture increasingly dependent on agro-toxics, increasing their profits through the sale of herbicides, whilst damaging and contaminating natural resources.

We have witnessed a profound food crisis, which has brought attention to peasant based food production and the eradication of hunger within the UN’s agenda. The UN has recognised the crucial role that male and female peasants play in this arduous task.

During the International Year of Family Farming, La Vía Campesina looks to offer political proposals within the framework of Food Sovereignty, constructed by small farmers. The term ‘family farming’ is vast, and may include almost any agricultural model or method whose direct beneficiaries are not corporations or investors. It includes both small-scale and large-scale producers (with farms covering thousands of hectares), as well as small-scale producers who are entirely dependent on the private sector, through contract farming or other forms of economic exploitation, promoted though concepts such as “The value chain”. This is why La Vía Campesina defends family farming in terms of peasant based ecological Farming, as opposed to the large-scale, industrial, toxic farming of agribusinesses, which expel peasants and small farmers and grab the world’s lands.

It is imperative, during this International Year of Family Farming, that critical steps be taken and that commitment be mobilised so that policies to protect and to strengthen peasant family farming might be implemented. La Vía Campesina supports a model of food production which promotes Food Sovereignty. This includes:
  • Access and control over productive resources such as land, water, seeds and finance. It is important to highlight, in this space for discussion, the urgent need for Integral Agrarian Reform: the democratisation of land, and the creation of direct employment, housing and food production. We consider that the concept of integral agrarian reform should not be limited to just the redistribution of land. We support an Integral Agrarian Reform which offers full rights over lands, which recognises the legal rights of indigenous populations over their territories, which guarantees fishing communities access to and control over fisheries and ecosystems, and which recognises the right of access to and control over livestock migration routes and pastures;
  • The recognition that female peasants and female agricultural workers have the same rights as their male counterparts;
  • The prioritisation of local food systems and markets;
  • The recognition of rights and protection against corporation-led production, and the large-scale production of agro-fuel;
  • The use of ecological production methods.
Yudhvir Singh from Bharatiya Kisaan Union, and member of LVC South Asia ICC, presents at the International Year of Family Farming conference on "Family Farming and Research" in Montpellier, France this May.
During this UN International Year, as La Vía Campesina, we contemplate certain threats such as the criminalisation, the judicialisation and the continuous repression under which male and female peasants live, not just at the hands of their states, but also at those of the transnational corporations. Conflicts over land and other natural resources exist throughout the world.

Of the national governments, we therefore demand: an end to land grabbing, and that of water and seeds; that they promote policies which guarantee Food Sovereignty, biodiversity and peasants’ seeds, and that they improve access to land and water; that they recognise peasant rights regarding the production, reproduction and exchange of their traditional seeds, guarantees of agro-biodiversity and peasants’ autonomy; and that they increase the support and public investments for peasant based production, and guarantee markets and equitable trade.

At international level, we urge governments to apply the Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests, and other key decisions from the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), and that they adopt the UN Declaration of Peasants’ Rights. Additionally, we urge that they implement the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, and that they end negotiations for any new commercial agreements, particularly the TTIP (Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) or the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership).

In La Vía Campesina, we believe that we have to use this year to redirect agriculture towards a model of Food Sovereignty which will generate employment, provide healthy food, and respect natural resources. We call for the creation of an alliance between countryside and city, that it might revive the peasants' dignity and highlight their great contribution to food production; we need important political changes, both for our tables and for our fields.

Contact for the press: 
 
S.Kannaiyan: +91 9444979543 - sukannaiyan69@gmail.com
Chukki Nanjundaswamy: + 919845066156 - chukki.krrs@gmail.com
Andrea Ferrante: + 393480189221 - a.ferrante@aiab.it