Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fact Finding Mission in Nepal - Industrial Toxic Waste Expulsion in Rautahat District

The Fact Finding Mission's Major Findings:


Site Observation 

-Damage to farmers' rice paddy plantation by toxic chemicals released into the local river

-Polluted water has not only affected farmers but have put the aquatic creatures including fish, snake, and frog on the verge of extinction.

-Skin problem to local inhabitants.

-Serious environmental degradation, yield and soil health reduced.

-Deterioration of soil.

Industry Inspection 

-No treatment plant in all industries

- Mixed the untreated water into the river.

-Lack of proper management of waste

-Large amount of effluent is generated from industries,

-Disposed waste matter into the river .

Farmer's Demands

-Compensation of damaged paddy plantation.

- Industries should release only treated water into the river.

- Necessary action against industries for should be taken

Waste water discharged from distilleries and Sugar mill has polluted local river in Rautahat, affected aquatic creatures and damaged farmers' rice paddy planting. From 5 to 7 September 2014, the National  Peasants Coalition (An alliance of major farmer's association in Nepal) organized a fact-finding mission among local farmers who are the victim of industrial toxic expulsion, and toxic generator three industries (Shree Ram sugar mills, Joyti distillery and Baba distillery) in Rauthat District Nepal, with the support of IFAD/MTCP2 National Implementing Agency, to document, analyze and investigate the concerns about the waste and toxic water released, lack of proper management of waste by three industries and affected area such as the farmer's land and their paddy plantation , aquatic creatures and so on.

For all members of the mission, it became highly evident that Shreeram Sugar Mill in Garuda, Jyoti Distillery in Pipara Pokhariya and Baba Distillery in Birta are allegedly responsible for the damage and It was sheer act of negligence that they disposed harmful chemicals into the flooding river, which damaged paddy cultivated in a huge swath of land in the lower riparian areas. Furthermore, the mission also found the truth that toxic waste released by local -distilleries into the Jhanjh River during the monsoon floods, thousands of farmers from over a dozen villages, including Rajpur, Matsari, Badaharwa, Mithuawa, Jayanagar and Jhunkhunawa were affected and around 800 hectors cultivated paddy plantation which costs approximately Rs 600 million(6 million US Dollar) at local price, was also damaged. After observing the reality the mission team submitted its preliminary report to the Prime Minister Mr. Sushil Koirala, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Mr. Bamdev Gautam and Agriculture Development Minister Mr. Hari Prasad Parajuli urging to fulfill the farmer's demand and solve the problem as soon as possible. The mission was coordinated by Mr. Balram Banskota and advised by Mr. Chitra Bdr. Shrestha, Bhanu Sigdel, Prof. Keshave Khadka and Thakur Sharma 

 By National Peasants Coalition, In support with IFAD/MTCP2 National Implementing Agency Nepal

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The People's Caravan for Seed and Food Sovereignty- MONLAR, Sri Lanka


During World Food Week, the Movement of National Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) held an island-wide Seed Caravan for Food Sovereignty. This campaign stems from the need to address core issues related to the food system in Sri Lanka around the themes of Justice, Equality and Regeneration. More than 50 farmer, women, plantation workers, fisheries and other civil society organizations based across the country participated. The journey of the caravans started from Murukundi in the Northern province in the island and concluded in Colombo after covering a total 25 cities.

Fisheries, labors and plantation workers join hands with Famers and consumers for food sovereignty in Sri LankaAround 600 farmers, fisheries, labors and plantation workers marched in Colombo on the World Food Day (16th of October) to present their demands to the Government for ensuring food sovereignty of the people.  This march was the culmination of the Seed and Food Sovereignty Caravan 2014 which traveled across the country for 6 days.

The caravan has mobilized around 4,000 food producers and consumers for 6 days under three major themes 1. Right of food producers for their resources should be ensured; 2. Regenerative agriculture practices should be promoted; 3. Consumers’ right to have safe and nutritious food should be ensured.


During 6 days of the Caravan Farmers, fisheries, labors and plantation workers from North, South and East joined their hands for a common struggle for people’s right for their resources and food. They exchanged seeds among themselves to oppose the proposed seed privatization act.
Awareness programs were held in more than 20 cities on the importance of promoting eco friendly food production systems and the rights of people to have safe and nutritious food.
Policy proposals formulated by social movements were handed over to Provincial authorities in around 10 Provincial councils. Participants held number of protests campaigns against land grabbing, water and seed privatization and agro chemical industry which causes severe threats to the health of the people and eco systems.

The caravan was also a great platform for the people in all ethnic groups to join for a common struggle on their rights where they opposed the militarization and corporatization of natural resources which violates rights of the people for their resources and livelihoods. Northern provincial council minister of agriculture, minister of education and Tamil communities from Northern Province participated in the
inauguration of Caravan in Kilinochchi showing solidarity among all ethnic groups against violation of their rights. Rev. Mahamankawadawa Piyarathena Thero, convener of the National Movement for Protection of Seeds distributed indigenous seed from south among the communities in North to mark the solidarity.              

On 16th, Caravan joined with trade unions, civil society organizations and other social movements to mark the World Food Day. They marched to the Colombo Fort with displaying placards and distributing leaflets. Set of proposals for agrarian reforms to ensure fair and sustainable food system, which has been discussed and endorsed during the caravan, has been submitted to the government after the rally.

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.