Thursday, March 5, 2015

Budget 2015, a let down for farmers and agriculture ---- BKU, बजट 2015 ने कृषि और किसान को किया निराश----भाकियू

Budget 2015, a let down for farmers and agriculture ---- BKU

Chaudhary Tikait said that in a country where 70 percent of the total population are farmers, the budget allocation for agriculture is only 24, 8000 million, whereas a tax reduction amounting to Rs. 23,0000 million to the corporate houses is appalling. It is evident from the budget that agriculture is not the primary concern for the current government. The budget cut of Rs. 1,2000 million in agriculture sector is beyond comprehension and indicates that agriculture is not the priority of the government. The policies regarding Krishi card, irrigation, livestock, etc. which the Government talks about will die its own death due to lack of funds. Budget was an opportunity to make policy decisions on the livelihood of farmers who are suffering from drought, flood and are forced to commit suicide but these have not been given attention by the government. The high hopes of farmers from Narendra Modi's government were shattered post budget. Increase of crop insurance coverage, fixed minimum income for farmers, adequate price for crops, direct subsidies to farmers, the reduction in the costs of chemical and fertilizers etc. such were the expectations of the farmers but the allocated budget left the farmers distraught. The budget has made it clear that the BJP government village is anti-rural, anti-poor and anti-farmer. The farmers will be forced to leave agriculture and commit suicide or they would lose their land in debt. It is clear from the budget that under the BJP government farmer will have bad days and corporate houses will have good days.

बजट 2015 ने कृषि और किसान को किया निराश----भाकियू

प्रेस नोट
बजट 2015 ने कृषि और किसान को किया निराश----भाकियू
देश की कुल आबादी के 70 प्रतिशत किसानों के लिए केवल 24800 करोड का प्रावधान, औ़घोगिक घरानों को 23000 करोड की छूट शर्मनाक-----चै0 टिकैत
भारत सरकार द्वारा की गयी बजट की घोषणा से निश्चित है कि सरकार की नीति में कृषि प्राथमिक मुद्दा नही है। बजट में कृषि की घोर उपेक्षा की गयी है। कृषि क्षेत्र जिस दौर से गुजर रहा है उसे सम्भालना सरकार की जिम्मेदारी थी, लेकिन कृषि बजट में 1200 करोड की कटौती कर स्पष्ट कर दिया है कि कृषि सरकार की प्राथमिकता में नही हैं। बजट आवंटन की राशी को घटाना समझ से परे है। कृषि कार्ड, सिंचाई, पशु पालन आदि की जो बातें सरकार द्वारा की गई है, बजट आवंटन राशी को देखने से लगता है कि यह सभी योजनाएॅ धन अभाव के कारण दम तोड देगी। आज देश का किसान सूखा बाढ़ आत्महत्या से पीडित है बजट में किसानो की आजीविका तय किये जाने की आवश्यकता थी लेकिन इन तथ्यो पर सरकार द्वारा ध्यान नही दिया गया है। किसानों के साथ भद्दा मजाक किया गया है।
देश की 70 प्रतिशत आबादी के लिए बजट की राशी का आवंटन 26 हजार करोड से घटाकर 24800 करोड कर दिया है दूसरी तरफ औघोगिक घरानो को 23000 करोड की छूट प्रदान कर दी गई है। किसानो को नरेन्द्र मोदी की सरकार से काफी उम्मीदे थी जो बजट के बाद निराशा मे बदल गई है। किसानो को फसल बीमा योजना का दायरा बढाने, किसानो की न्यूनतम आमदनी तय किये जाने, फसलों का लाभकारी मूल्य, किसानो को सीधी सब्सिडी, रासायन एंव उर्वरको के मूल्य में कमी आदि कई योजनाओं की उम्मीदे थी। लेकिन बजट आवंटन की राशी ने किसानों को झुनझुना थमा दिया। बजट से यह स्पष्ट हो गया है कि भारतीय जनता पार्टी की सरकार गांव, गरीब और किसान विरोधी है।
यह बजट किसान विरोधी है। इससे किसान खेती छोडने और आत्महत्या करने को मजबूर होगा और कर्ज के जाल में फंस कर अपनी जमीन खो देगा।
इस बजट से स्पष्ट है कि भारतीय जनता पार्टी की सरकार में किसानो के बुरे दिन और औघोगिक घरानो के अच्छे दिन आ गये है।

                                                                       चै0 राकेश टिकैत
                                                                     (राष्ट्रीय प्रवक्ता भकियू)

REPORT: January 24 and 25, 2015 -- Karnataka State Farmers’ Association (KRRS) holds Study Camp for Women Farmers

January 24 and 25, 2015: Karnataka State Farmers’ Association (KRRS) holds Study Camp for Women Farmers

KRRS activists involved in land struggle in Shimoga district
On January 24 and 25, Janapada Loka, a campus filled with Karnataka Folklore, turned green as nearly two hundred women from KRRS participated in a Women’s Study Camp, shawls on their shoulders. The first of its kind since 1987, this Women’s Study Camp was an opportunity for KRRS women to learn about the need for gender justice in agriculture. From the speeches from visiting guests Neela K, Kavitha Rai, Stanley K.V., and Dr. Aruna, to the small group discussions on women’s struggles in each district, KRRS women created a female-friendly space open to laughter, banter, and even kabaddi! (an Indian sport that combines tag with wrestling)

 “KRRS has existed for more than 30 years,” Chukki Nanjundaswamy and Nandini Jayaram welcomed guests. “We have tackled challenging social questions like caste and dignity for farmers in that time, but never gender. Women do 70% of agricultural work, yet do not see themselves as farmers – only as farmers’ wives, or daughters! We are here to build a KRRS Women’s Wing – to create and defend a space for women in the farmer’s movement and build the identity of women as farmers.”

Day One

K Neela, Karnataka office-bearer of All-India Democratic Women's Association
and professor in Bidar, North Karnataka
K Neela inaugurated the assembly by debunking many Indian myths about gender. She supported women’s right to 50% of land and property, advocated for women’s reproductive rights (in the face of recent right-wing claims that Hindu women should have 4-5 children), and criticized social taboos related to widows. Memorably, she called out the tendency to blame the victim in rape cases: “Society says that if women wear skimpy clothes or Western wear, they are more likely to get raped. But Western wear can be less revealing than the traditional sari. And, while working in the fields or transplanting paddy, women must hike their sari up above the knee. When a man rapes her, we blame her – ‘Her legs were showing!’ Men also wear lungi, and tie it up revealing their thighs! But how many men get raped for such skimpy dress? We must identify and combat the real causes of rape.”

Kavitha Rai, professor of gender studies at Karnataka Open University, deepened the inquiry: “We think of men as the promoters of patriarchy. But women also promote violence on women, just look at the relationships between daughter-in-law and mother-in-law. Actually, the problem isn’t men or women – the problem is power. Power doesn’t have any gender.”

After a post-lunch community theatre performance, KRRS senior leaders took to the stage to tell the women’s history (her-story?) of KRRS.

Listening to senior women activists' struggles
Annapurnamma, from Shimoga district, shared, “In the 1980s, loan collectors would come home to confiscate all our things if we defaulted on the loans. The men would jump the back wall, leaving the women at home. The collectors would take our year’s supply of rice and our vessels – but more than losing that, we lost our honour. I had a one month old baby, and I was very shocked. In that pain, my breast milk stopped flowing for a couple of days. With determination, I joined the Raitha Sangha and went village to village to build women’s committees at every level – village, Taluk, District. From that point we started to fight, and no one came into my house for confiscating. I dare anyone to try!”

Raji from Hassan district told, “In my village, I have been a part of many struggles. We fought for electricity bills to be waived by a collective boycott. We refused to pay water bills until each of our homes had a tap. We also fought against the police who had privatized a community fishing pond. We rooted out corruption in our local PDS system, once we were aware of our entitlements. In another instance, a corrupt doctor asked a bribe from the family of a child with appendicitis. With the help of KRRS, we went to the Lokayukta (Anti-Corruption) office and set a trap to catch him red-handed. Now he’s in jail.”

The evening closed prematurely after dinner, only to reignite 15 minutes later in singing and dancing, pulling most activists out of bed to enjoy the unique female-only space for a few more hours.

Maadevi from Shimoga District
Day two

Early morning, small groups formed from each district to discuss and strategize around women’s problems and solutions in each KRRS group’s territory. Each group made a presentation of their discussion.
Mandya district women pointed out the many types of freedoms farmer women need: financial freedom, freedom to make choices, freedom of expression. From Chikballapura, many concrete ideas for direct action came out – dismantling of the scanning centers where sex-selective abortion take place, for example. A campaign to demand equal land rights for women was proposed, as well as a campaign 50% women’s participation in the politicial process (currently the quota is 33%).

Stanley, from Odanai NGO in Mysore, and Dr. Aruna, survivor of a child marriage and now teaching doctor at JSS women’s college, discussed the importance of farmer women’s wellbeing next.

Stanley discussed the link between rural crisis and violence against women – women are migrating into precarious situations, where they are more likely to be sex trafficked or forced to commercialized their body due to distress, “While farmer men commit suicide out of desperation, farmer women go into sex work in order to take care of their families. This issue should be as closely addressed as the farmer suicide crisis.”

In the afternoon, KRRS women sat together and decided how to participate in the KRRS state committee. Women from each district present were selected to attend state committee meetings, quadrupling the number of women hitherto involved at that level.

Embracing the all-female space for some dancing and sports

Men serving women food in a rare role reversal

Monday, January 26, 2015

Farmers Angry with NDA Government Policies on Agriculture- Planned a Massive Demonstration on 18 March: BKU

Press Release
24th January 2015

Farmers Angry with NDA Government Policies on Agriculture-
Planned a Massive Demonstration on BKU

The farmers unions affiliated with the All India Coordination Committee of Farmers Movement (AICCFM) met for 2 days at the Punjab Bhawan in New Delhi under the chairmanship of Shri Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, President Bhartiya Kissan Union, Punjab. During this meeting, the farmers leaders from 12 farmers unions intensely discussed the current burning issues in Indian agriculture which included, the Land Acquisition Act Ordinance, NDA government U-Turn in the WTO, the recent report of the Shanta Kumar High Level Committee for restructuring FCI, and others. The meeting started with a 2 minutes silence to mourn suicide by hundreds of farmers during the current NDA government regime. The farmers suicide in India are continuing despite many promises by the Narendra Modi before the election that he would work for the Indian farmers. However after becoming Prime Minister, he expressed no concern for agrarian crisis and continuing farmers suicides. During NDA Government since May 2014, more than 7000 farmers have committed suicide.

During this 2 days meeting, farmers leaders focussed on some key issues which are of great concern and they made the following demands to the NDA government to express their frustration with  this government agrarian policies. These are:

1.    Withdraw Land Ordinance (Dec 2014): Farmers Reject the Ordinance to Amend the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013, promulgated on 30 December 2014. This Ordinance completely reversed all pro-farmers provisions of this Act, which was achieved after a long struggle since 1894. The present Ordinance brought the Land Acquisition Act back to the 1894 level, rather worse than that. If it gets passed in the Parliament, it will be a completely Pro-Industry and an Anti Farmer Act. The AICCFM farmers demanded to withdraw this Ordinance and effectively implement the 2013 Act on Land Acquisition. 
2.    Provide Remunerative Price for Farmers Produce and Implement C2+50: Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), in its manifesto (2014) announced to provide remunerative price for farmers produce and to implement Swaminathan Report’s (2005) recommendation to provide MSP based on Cost of production (C2) plus 50% as premium as the procurement price for 23 crops announced every year. Despite coming into power for more than 240 days, NDA government has made No attempt to implement Swaminathan report and no substantial increase was made in the MSP announced in 2014. We demand from the NDA government to fulfil its commitment as announced in its manifesto and provide remunerative price for farmers produce.
3.    Farmers Reject Shanta Kumar High Level Committee Report and Recommendation on Restructuring FCI: Farmers organisations present at the meeting were quite outraged at the Anti-Farmers and Anti Food Security recommendations of the High Level Committee (HCL) on restructuring of Food Corporation of India (FCI). BJP again made a U-turn on its promise made in the manifesto which favoured universal food security. But the recommendations of HCL completely revered this position. It says FCI to step out of procurement operations as well as to dilute the National Food Security Act (NFSA) to reduce its coverage from present 67% to 40% which would be disastrous not only for the livelihood of millions of farmers but will affect food security of the millions of India’s landless, poor and destitutes. And in order to finish the MSP system, this committee recommends bringing in the cash transfer in the food security programme.
4.    Write off all farm loans: Today the increasing farmers suicide indicate that Indian farmers are still under huge loan burden from institutional sources and private moneylenders. Farmers leaders demanded that the NDA government must write off all institutional loans of farmers. Government must also instruct public Banks and Cooperatives banks to give fresh loans to farmers at 0% interest.
5.    Institute Government Policy to compensate loss due to Natural Calamity: Farmers leaders demanded that the NDA government bring in a Union Policy to compensate farmers for the crop loss due to natural calamity. There should be a clear-cut provision for irrigated and non-irrigated farmers for compensation. The Government must also institute an Emergency Fund to provide compensation to farmers on an urgent basis in case of crop loss due to natural calamities, like floods, heavy rains and drought.
6.    No Trade Liberalization in Agriculture: The NDA government Must not allow any trade liberalization in agricultural goods through WTO or FTAs. Due to the huge loss of Indian farmers because of subsidised imports of agricultural goods from developed countries, farmers demand from Indian government to move a proposal in the WTO to remove Agreement on Agriculture (AoA). Farmers also demanded that agriculture related provisions from all FTAs negotiated by the Indian government must be dropped.    
7.    Institute Farmers Pay Commission: Farmers demanded from the NDA government to institute a Farmers Minimum Income Guarantee Commission to provide income support to farmers. Through this commission, government must ensure income to farmers which is equal to the salary of a 4th Grade government employees to help them live a dignified life.
8.    NO GMOs: The Farmers unions like to remind the NDA government to fulfil their promise made in their manifesto not to allow field trials, commercialisation or import of any Genetically Engineered seeds or crops or trees.
9.     Pay Arrears to Sugarcane Farmers: The sugarcane farmers have not received their arrears for last two years. The farmers leaders demanded that instead of forcing sugar industries to pay to farmers, the government instead pay all arrears due to sugarcane farmers immediately and collect the same from the industries.

The farmers’ leaders are completely dissatisfied with the way the present NDA government is dealing with the agrarian issues. All the achievements made in last several decades in the interest of the Indian farmers have been undone in last 240 days of NDA government. Therefore all the farmer unions associated with All India Coordination Committee of Farmers’ Movements decided to ORGANISE A MASSIVE RALLY AND DEMOSTRATION ON WEDNESDAY, 18th March 2015 at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.  One Lakh farmers from all over India will converge in Delhi to put pressure on the government to accept their demands.


Ch. Rakesh Tikait,
National Spokesman,

Yudhvir Singh
General Secretary,

Ratan Singh Mann
BKU President

Rajvir Singh
Ajmer Singh Lakhowal,
State President,
BKU Punjab,

Chamarasa Patil
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, Karnataka

Vijender Singh
BKU, Haryana

KT Gangadhar
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, Karnataka
KS Puttanaiah (MLA),
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, Karnataka

K. Sella Mutthu,
President, Tamil Nadu Farmers Association, Tamil Nadu

Uzhavar Ulaippalar Katchi,
Tamil Nadu Farmers Association

Ms. Rajariga
President, Women Wing,
Tamil Nadu Farmers Association

Friday, January 16, 2015

Building Bridges with MST

Building Bridges with MST

In the past year, LVC India built solidarity through three knowledge exchanges with our comrades from the Landless Workers  Movement (MST), in Brazil. This came as a beneficial follow-up to our work in 2013 (see story here about the trip to Bihar shared with Karnataka Farmers).

Aditi and Laura (Spanish translators), Pardal, and Murgamma

In March, we hosted Adalberto “Pardal” Martins for ten days traveling throughout Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, and Karnataka. Pardal is a long-time member of MST, and has contributed in many areas, including the organization of production and cooperatives, agroecology, and political training. His visit occurred at the timely juncture of the political division of Andhra Pradesh into two states – Andhra and Telengana. Telengana was born of a historical struggle for land against feudal landlords, one of many commonalities with the narrative of the Landless Workers Movement of Brazil.

The conflict over land and the potential of capitalists' vested interests to dominate in the political vacuum in Telengana was a hot debate, and as Pardal met with pastoralists, adivasis (indigenous peoples), and small and marginal farmers who are members of Via Campesina ally Food Sovereignty Alliance, he asked them a provocative question - “Why don’t you just take them? The lands, why don’t you just occupy them and take them?”

“We will seize the lands, if we don’t get justice!” responds a young pastoral activist, whose grandparents fought in the 1942 armed rebellion against the Nizam. “Today the Telengana political leaders speak of massive capital investment as a positive future, but as shepherds our struggle is for our common lands and resources, not the same path of capitalist growth.”

“Though rivers flow through our lands, we get none of the water,” adds an Adivasi (indigenous) activist. “We are denied rights to our forests and resources. Whether there is one new state or one million new states, we just want autonomy over the natural resources and right to protect the forest. Our struggle is not just for our land but for the Mother Earth and the humanity of the world.”

"Occupy, Resist, Produce!"
Most visitors would ask the activists why they don’t they seek legal forms of redress, or take to the streets with banners, or invoke UN Conventions in order to put forward a strong voice in the new development of their state. But Pardal goes directly to direct action: occupy, resist, produce. This is a method that he has seen tried and tested in his home country of Brasil. He has been a member of the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST) or the Landless Workers’ Movement for over twenty years. MST is a movement which organizes peasant families to occupy unproductive and private lands which fail to meet their social purpose, as legally provided for in the constitution. Since MST was formed, 30 years ago, 420,000 families across 24 states of Brasil who have won land through the struggle and have organized into cooperatives.

But despite the differences in the scale of the organizations and their contexts, Pardal can’t find anything but commonalities: “It amazes me how common our struggle is, how common our enemies are, how common our vision is. These are all struggles for food sovereignty – be they of landless farmers in Brazil or by dalit (so-called “untouchable” castes), adivasi, farmer, and pastoral sanghams in India.”

This is Day One. By Day Ten, Pardal finds himself even more convinced. In the nine days between he met KRRS activists near Channapatna, Karnataka who have been fighting against the granite mafia for 30 years. On an early morning visit to see milk collection among members of a dairy cooperative in Madanapalli, he addressed their first question, “What’s the status of the Indian cows Brasil has done research about?” After a tour of the production houses of Dharani Cooperative, based at Timbaktu Collective and owned by 1800 farmers, certification processes were compared and debated. He also contributed to an exchange of the status of GMOs in Brazil and India at Economics of Happiness conference.

(if the above slideshow isn't working, you can find photos of Pardal's visit here.)
In November 2013, Kannaiyan Subramaniam, a farmer activist from Tamil Nadu, had the opportunity to continue the conversation with MST while visiting Sao Paolo. He went to the Acampamento Serrana (Serrana Camp), near a small town called Ribeirão Preto. The land was occupied when a sugar factory went bankrupt. The Camp Kannaiyan visited is 1817 hectares, occupied by 350 families. It has been occupied 8 times, and each time with forced evictions, following which they regroup and return with a new strategy for occupation. It is still in an insecure state.

Camp in Ribeirão Preto region

Kannaiyan observed the differences between Brazil and India: “Throughout Brazilian history there was always land concentration, monoculture, plantation, high technology and international-capital intensive agriculture. Unlike in India, in Brazil agriculture has been developed without people but with capital and technology (machines). Banks + media + international finance + technology + machines + government is the equation for agriculture in Brazil. A huge amount of people were evicted from the land and migrated to big cities. Few people stay in the countryside, yet those who live in the cities also don’t have quality of life.”

 India has a very strong history of peasant-based farming and high productivity in peasant-controlled farms, though with such a huge population land holdings can be very small and are rarely held by women and those outside of the traditional farmer castes. In some cases, in the MST occupied places, the people aren’t traditionally farmers – their family have been expulsed from the countryside generations ago. They have fertile lands but aren’t meeting their maximum production. An exchange programs for them to learn about farming in India could definitely help the MST settlements to improve their production, Kannaiyan suggests. But there’s a lot for Indians to learn there too:

Kannaiayan (Left) interviews MST Activists

“MST is a very strong movement with a strong sense of training. Training creates a very strong cadre and leader base for MST, and involves youths, which are largely missing in leadership structure in Indian movements. There are hundreds of thousands of ideologically and practically committed people. This is what really impressed me. They are using nonviolent struggle, in every level of debate. They are committed for a total systemic change.”

In his visitas Kannaiyan was also able to visit another settlement, Maria Lago, which had 600 families on 1,700 acres, Smack in the middle of a “sea of sugar cane monoculture”. This settlement has met legal peace despite police conflict in 2004 and 2005, and is now is producing agricultural products of agrarian reform. Kannaiyan also visited the Escola Nacional Florestan Fernandes, and you can find his analysis of his visit here.

Alex and Sabina in Kerala

A final linkage with MST occurred in October in Kerala, when Alex Yoshinori Kawakami spent a few days exchanging with youth activist Sabina Yasmin after an international program on agroecology hosted by a team of international NGOs and Indian NGOs. Sabina Yasmin, activist from the Bangladesh Kishani Federation (largely a landless peoples’ movement) came to India for a month of technical training, language immersion, and political exchanges. Sabina and Alex toured some of the agroecological farms of Kerala, observing first hand the negative impacts of switching from local seeds to hybrid seeds in adverse weather, the possibilities for small-scale mechanization, and the agricultural realities of Kerala. Though just for a few short days, exchanges such as these bring immense richness to the struggle for food sovereignty.

In 2015, LVC South Asia plans to build solid pathways between MST and Indian farmers movements – there is much to be shared between us. Methods for participatory training and agroecology are the need of the hour as we launch our first agroecology school at Amritha Bhoomi in Karnataka. Indian expertise in small-scale yet productive agriculture (seen through methods such as Zero Budget Natural Farming) along with Indian traditional medicine and Indian theories of nonviolence are of interest to MST. We intend to exchange delegation of farmers from South Asia to MST to implement this program, and look forward to a fertile future.



Sabina and Alex, accompanied by their Indian hosts out side of Kothamangalam, Kerala, walk home from a field visit.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


Presentation to the inaugural of PSAARC in Kathmandu, Nepal
     Dated 22-24 November 2014
By Badrul Alam, Co-ordinator of the South Asian climate Justice Caravan and President of Bangladesh Krishok Federation; E-mail:

Dear Madam Chair, distinguished guests speakers and respectable audience. Heartiest congratulations to all of you on behalf of South Asian Climate Justice Caravan! I would like to share with you the experience of the caravan that we have already done.

The caravan started from Dhaka, Bangladesh on 10th of November 2014 with 160 participants from different countries like Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, the Philippines, USA, UK, Germany, Australia, Sweden and New Zealand. We arrived in Kathmandu yesterday evening. Today is the 13th day of our long overland journey. The caravan hosts include Bangladesh Krishok Federation, Bangladesh Kishani Sabha, Bangladesh Adivasi Samity, Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Labor Federation, Ekattra in Bangladesh; National Hawkers Federation, Informal Sector Workers' Action Alliance and Jana Sanghati Kendra in India; All Nepal Peasants Federation in Nepal.

It is unfortunate that 17 of our participants were stuck on the Indian side of the border as they were not allowed to enter Nepal by the Indian port immigration according to the lame excuse of having no Nepali visa but we all know Nepal gives port entry visa to Bangladeshi citizens. All of our delegates have their multiple entry Indian visas. So, there was no strong reasonable ground for denial. Following the advice of the same Indian immigration authority they bought plane tickets to come to Kathmandu for joining the PSAARC but they were not allowed by the airport immigration except one person who took his visa in Australia. So the immigration pushed them into further big monetary loss as well. They went back home with bitter and painful experience of the immigration personnel. The whole situation reminded again the urgency of visa free South Asia which we have been demanding over the years. 

Our caravan was for South Asia, covering three countries: Bangladesh, India and Nepal. It was a caravan on Climate Justice, Gender and Foodsovereignty. The main message of the caravan was to highlight the planetary emergency which is in force. Our only living earth planet so far found in the whole universe is in peril due to the global climate change as well as global warning. Green House Gas (GHG) Emissions account for climate change and industrially developed countries such as the USA, Canada, Australia, Japan and European countries have been emitting GHG for the last 200 years since the beginning of the industrial revolution. So they are the major actors responsible for the global climate change. They have been doing so for their development, life-style and over-consumption. Transnational Corporations (TNCs) are playing pivotal role in Green House Gases effect on the atmosphere and the mother earth. They are doing everything for their own profit and capital. The human beings and existence of the mother earth is below their profit making target. They are just profit-mongers, nothing else. The caravan defended the declaration of the right of mother earth adopted in Cochabamba, Bolivia in 2010 which recognized the living existence of the earth and the importance of its ecology.

Yet climate change has become a great concern at global level because of the continued pressure of the global resistance. The responsible countries could not help but talking on this issue. They (Annex-1 countries) even acknowledged their role in the climate crisis and made frequent commitment to cut in emission in order to keep the average temperature of the earth below 1.5 Degree Celsius. But they do not keep their commitment, rather continuing to emit GHG. Now the average temperature of the earth is nearly 2 degrees Celsius, higher than the average, which is so alarming.  

Owing to the adverse impacts of climate change, the entire world is facing devastating super calamities with extreme weather events, like cyclones, storms, water-surges, desertification, droughts, crops failure in agriculture, rising sea level, change in season's cycles, excess heat, excess cold, excess rainfall, excess snowfall, salinity in the coastal belts, melting of concentrated glaciers in Himalayas and in both north and south pole, and so on.

During the caravan in different workshops, seminars, exchange of opinions and rallies we assessed that the food sovereignty ensured by agro-ecology is under threat in the context of global climate change. The caravan agreed on the fact that peasant-based sustainable agriculture with small scale peasants, family farmers and indigenous people can feed the world with nutritious food without causing any harm to the climate.

The caravan expressed concern about the AR-5 (Assessment Report-5) of IPCC which has given an indication of the dreadful consequences the earth will encounter unless there is no significant change in the carbon reduction level. It has predicted the disappearance of coastal countries and small island states in the world within the 21st century. 

The caravan also expressed concern about the level of carbon in the atmosphere which has crossed the ‘safe’ level, 350 PPM. Now it has crossed even 400 PPM. It is over the tolerant level of the atmosphere which existed for millions of years, presenting an acceptable ecology for human beings. The caravan advocated keeping the carbon level in the atmosphere within 350 PPM by reducing GHG emissions.

The caravan put emphasis on the question of climate justice and gender. It clearly assessed that climate justice is the historical and ecological dues of the responsible countries and they have to pay to the global south in the form of reparation. Women are extremely and disproportionately victimized by climate change and deserved the reparation on the priority.  

The caravan argues that South Asia consists of one-fifth of the world’s population and the majority of the population still goes hungry and live in poverty. They have their right to reparation. Following a democratic method, the reparations should go to the people who are affected by the climate change, but have not caused it.

The caravan stressed on the question of building alternatives to climate change from below, not sitting idle. So it has emphasized adopting everywhere agro-ecological farming methods which cool the planet. It also advocated for the use of some renewable energies, namely community controlled solar power, windmills, bio-gas generation, small scale hydro power generation, effective geo-thermal power generation and many more other options instead of fossil fuel-based dirty energy which is contributing to climate change.

The caravan clearly rejected the false solutions like CDM, agro-fuels, REDD+, GMOs, carbon off-setting, smart agriculture, green economy, etc. so far proposed by the UNFCCC as answers to climate change. These will further aggravate the climate crisis. The caravan thinks that the real solutions lie in the grassroots.  

60 percent of the world resources have already been used up by the TNCs. The remaining 40 percent is ocean, sea, forest, air. They are also trying to grab these resources. The caravan is strongly opposed to all types of resource grabbing including land, which is the main source of lives and livelihood of the people.

The caravan highly criticized the adoption of GE Bt. Brinjal (Eggplant) in Bangladesh whereas it is banned in India because of its negative consequences. The caravan considered GMOs unethical and they should have no future. It strongly defended the local seeds for our future, guaranteeing our food sovereignty. It underscored to protect, preserve, conserve and restore the indigenous seeds for ecological balance protection.

The caravan expressed the deep concern of the climate forced migrants which is a reality in the whole world. Their right as climate migrants should be protected by the framework of UNO (United Nations Organization). Presently there are 250 million climate migrants in the world and it is on the increase.
During the caravan there were lots of interactions, sharing, lessons-learned among the participants who met thousands of people on the ground who are naturally trying to adapt to and mitigate with the climate change on their own experience. However, it does not mean that the responsible countries should continue with emissions. It is just an example of the capacity of the grassroots people.
The main objective of the caravan is to build a strong grassroots movement network in South Asia which will be a complement to the global campaign on climate justice.

The caravan urged the Official SAARC to demand climate justice to the northern developed countries for the benefit of the global south. It has also demanded to strengthen the food and seed bank mechanism under SAARC for both the reduction of hunger and for the protection of rich bio-diversity and genetic resources in South Asia.  

A declaration of caravan is under way. It will be submitted to the official SAARC here in Kathmandu and to the climate conference in Lima, Peru to be held next month, prioritizing the grassroots people’s experiences and a proposal to the solutions to the global climate crisis.

Hereby I am ending my presentation by saying that we have had very fruitful, productive, constructive and effective caravan in terms of outreach, and repercussions amongst the people and the caravan participants. However, still we have a long way to go and the ultimate victory is in the hands of the people. We demand system change, not climate change. We have to go hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder, united. Long live South Asia with peace, prosperity, democracy, non-communality, secularism in a visa-free region with people to people and movement to movement connectivity! Long live international solidarity! Long live South Asian regionalism!  
Thank you, Madam Chair and thank you all.

Declaration of the South Asian Caravan 2014 on Climate Justice, Gender and Food SovereigntySubmitted to the People's SAARC, Kathmandu, Nepal and UNFCCC meeting (COP 20), Lima, Peru.

We men and women, small farmers, Adivasis, agricultural labourers, workers, fishfolk, landless people, plantation workers, hawkers and youth organized a caravan across Bangladesh, India and Nepal to bring people together for climate justice and peoples solutions to the climate crisis. Our 13 day South Asian Climate Justice, Gender and Food Sovereignty Caravan, was organized by the Bangladesh Krishok Federation; Bangladesh Kishani Sabha, Friends of Bangladesh and All Nepal Peasant's Federation and included these movements as well as the Bangladesh Adivasi Samity, Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Labour Federation, EKOTTRO, National Hawkers' Federation, Progressive Plantation Workers' Union, All Nepal Women's Association, MONLAR, and La Via Campesina which are peoples movements struggling for dignity and the rights of rural and working people. We visited 12 towns and cities of Bangladesh, India and Nepal. We were joined by many in the same struggle from our sister peasant organisations of India; Sri Lanka; Nepal, Indonesia and the Philippines; as well as friends of our struggles from the U.K.; U.S., Germany, Sweden and Australia. Our Caravan culminated in a three day 'People's SAARC' held in Kathmandu, Nepal where movements came together to discuss alternative solutions to the climate crisis and hold demonstrations demanding climate justice. Together we are part of the global people's resistance for climate justice.

In the towns and cities we held meetings, workshops and seminars on the key issues facing our communities. Through this caravan it became clear to us that our problems are shared by our brother and sister farmers in South Asia and across the world. These are dominated by the planetary emergency created by the climate crisis. Our very existence is becoming precarious through landlessness; land grabbing by elites; local government corruption; gender inequality and discrimination (especially women's dual labour in the household and in the fields), and the imposition of industrial market-based agricultural methods (including the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers) which have increased our production costs and debts and forced peasants from their lands and livelihoods.

Climate change is aggravating such problems and also making farming difficult due to flooding; salt water inundation; cyclone damage; desertification and drought; and unseasonal and unpredictable weather. These are being caused by excessive greenhouse gas emissions and unsustainable exploitation of natural resources particularly from the wealthy industrialized countries, but also from industrialized elites in countries such as China, India and Brazil. They bear the responsibility for climate change but the poor in the Global South are bearing the burden and suffering of climate change. Given these crises faced by us we totally reject the market-based interventions into Bangladeshi, Indian, Nepali and Sri Lankan agriculture that aim to further worsen our conditions. The false solutions to the climate crisis that world leaders are pushing at the ineffective UNFCCC process are an attempt by multinational corporations that have caused climate change in the first place to further take over what is left of our lands and livelihoods.
In farming they are pushing through false solutions like climate ready GMOs (such as Bt. Brinjal in Bangladesh after it was rejected by India following farmers' resistance); petrol based polluting fertilizers; biochar; agrofuels at the cost of food; increasing monocultures; and programmes such as the framework of Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) and the Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM). The polluters think that by throwing money at poor countries through loans tied to promoting these false solutions, they can continue to emit carbon and at the same time take over our agriculture. We reaffirm our rejection of, and struggle against, all transnational corporations that pursue profits before people's livelihoods. We demand that the efforts of the people be supported to enable real peoples solutions to the climate crisis.

(i) comprehensive land reform including land and land titles for the landless; all land grabbing by elite interests and multi national corporations needs to be stopped.
(ii) government support for small farmers that feed the world and cool the planet - small farmers need fair prices for their produce, interest free credit, subsidies, guaranteed markets, insurance against disasters, self reliant ecological agricultural methods such as traditional farming methods which need state sponsored research. Small farmer agriculture needs support for food sovereignty of our nations. We oppose dependence on food produced by polluting industrial agriculture and imports.
(iii) recognition of peasant women's dual burden of farming and household labour and the end to all gender discrimination and inequality.
(iv) constitutional recognition and rights for Adivasi peoples and support to indigenous farming.
(v) reparation rather than loans paid to the governments of Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka and the rest of the Global South as part of the climate debt owed by industrialized countries of the Global North.
(vi) all adaptation measures to climate change to include full participation and consultation with local communities.
(vii) a legally binding agreement to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions signed by all governments responsible for those emissions.
(viii) a full and just transition to community-controlled renewable energy.
(ix) legal rights for all climate refugees.
(x) a visa-free South Asia.
(xi) protection of, and end to the privatization of, all biodiversity and genetic resources in South Asia.
(xii) respect for the rights of Mother Earth.
Our demands form part of the wider movement for climate justice emerging across the world enshrined in the 2010 Cochabamba Declaration. We call for a further intensification of international solidarity between farmers movements and networks (such as La Via Campesina; Asian Peasant Coalition; South Asian Peasant Coalition;  Peoples Coalition on Food Sovereignty, Jubilee South Asia and the Pacific on Debt and Development) Climate Justice Networks such as Climate Justice Now! and Climate Justice Action; trade unions; and indigenous and Dalit peoples movements.
We demand system change, not climate change.
The South Asian Caravan 2014: Climate Justice, Gender and Food Sovereignty November, 24th, 2014, Kathmandu, Nepal.

November 2014: Diary from South Asian Climate Justice, Gender Justice, and Food Sovereignty Caravan in Bangladesh-India-Nepal

Another successful caravan for climate justice, this time across South Asia!

The South Asian Climate Justice, Gender Justice, and Food Sovereignty Caravan was organized in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal between 10 and 24 November, 2014. This year’s caravan informed and mobilized vulnerable peasant populations in order to respond to the threats of climate change, and to further develop international solidarity networks concerning climate change, gender and food sovereignty. It also addressed some of the other key issues in Bangladesh-India-Nepal agriculture sector like seed banks and energy alternatives.

The Caravan was hosted by the Bangladesh Krishok Federation, Bangladesh Kisani Sabha (in Bangladesh), the Bharatiya Kisan Union, IMSE (in India), and the All Nepal Peasant Federation and All Nepal Women’s Association (in Nepal). 

It moved in the following way:

Bangladesh: 6 locations from November 10- 16, 2014
1)      Dhaka (capital): the Caravan commenced here
2)      Gajipur
3)      Madhupur, Tangail
4)      Iswardi, Pabna
5)      Sadhuhati, Jhenaidah
6)      Jagdishpur in Chaugachha, Jessore

India from November 17- 19, 2014: Kolkata
Nepal: 2 locations from November 20-24, 2014
1)      Kakarvitta
2)      Kathmandu (capital)

Audience at the inauguration
Badrul Alam, President Bangladesh Krishok Federation, also the chair, inaugurated the function on 10 November 2014 in the capital city of Dhaka in Bangladesh [which is covered on our blog at link]. It was addressed by Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Labor Federation General Secretary Abdul Majid, Friends of Bangladesh representative Emma from Australia, Meghna Alam from Ekattro, Bangladesh Krishok Federation Office Secretary Pathak Lal Golder, Bangladesh Kishani Sabha Organizing Secretary Asma Begum, and Bangladesh Adivasi Samity President Sree Biswanath Singh, among others. As good as three hundred people including foreign delegates from Australia, Germany, UK, USA, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Sweden and New Zealand attended the inaugural.

Participants were divided in four groups after plenary to brainstorm on GMOs
On the following day in Gajipur, Bangladesh the highlight was the plenary session on GMOs and Bt Brinjal (Egg plant) issue that discussed the significance of local variety of seeds, its impact on human health, agriculture, ecology and the economy and the role of peasants in food production. The key recommendation to the authority was to ban the Bt. Brinjal keeping in view its negative impact.

Visit to Solar water plant, Tangail
Next day the event included a field trip to solar water and seed processing center in Madhupur, Tangail Bangladesh followed by seminar on agro-ecology, grassroots solutions to climate change; food sovereignty and indigenous peoples land right. The participants were of the views that the indigenous people are very close to the nature and preserve the ecology.

On the following day at Iswardi, Bangladesh during the discussion, Mr. Alam spoke on the broader aspect of climate change and proposed to UNFCCC to accept the grassroots people’ thoughts around solutions to climate change. He said, “the real solutions lie in the grassroots consisting of community people. The use of solar power, windmill, bio-gas, small hydro-electric power generation, charcoal, limited scale geothermal power generation can guarantee the clean energy.” The seminar also rejected the existing energy-security based on fossil fuel mining which jeopardizes the usual decoration of nature.
Visit to organic fields, Sadhuhati

Next day a seminar in Sadhuhati, Bangladesh was held with the participation of local communities on climate change, climate migrants, grassroots adaptation and mitigation. The seminar deliberated that the rights of climate migrants should be protected by the UNO convention. The participants asked governments of all South-Asian region to play active role in order to realize the reparation for the people affected by climate change.
The seminar in Jagadishpur, Bangladesh focused on grass-root networking in South Asia to combat the climate change. BadrulAlam said “we have to have a strong solidarity among the movements in South Asia in order to realize the climate justice in the form of reparation from the industrially developed countries.” 

Next day the caravan crossed border to reach Kolkata, India meeting and distributing leaflets during the travel. On 17 November 2014 more than thousand people from National Hawkers’ Federation welcomed the caravan. Climate issues were discussed by Mr. Alam and Mr. Shaktiman Ghosh for two days. 

Then the caravan headed for Nepal on 19 November 2014. Next morning a seminar on climate change and Food Sovereignty was held in Kakarvitta, Nepal addressing the dreadful consequences of climate change in South and South East Asia. The caravan moved to Kathmandu, Nepal the next day.

 On 22 November 2014 a people’s march was organized where the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bam Dev Goutam were present and made an opening speech for the P-SAARC which is a people to people forum in the SAARC region that enables non-government voices to come together at the regional level. Badrul Alam asked SAARC to strengthen the food and seed bank mechanism to ensure food sovereignty.  In the following two days major workshops were held on review of P-SAARC declaration, enhancement climate change, farmers’ capacity enhancement and food sovereignty. This was followed by a closing ceremony of South Asian Climate Justice, Gender and Food sovereignty Caravan.
The caravan addressed the challenges of climate change in South Asian region as well as in the world.   It provided a platform for peasants, indigenous people, Dalit, marginalized, subaltern, fisher folk, pastoralists, herders, plantation workers, agricultural workers, agricultural farm workers, women, and youth to express their concerns and share their experiences.Finally, a declaration was written based upon their experience