Tuesday, August 10, 2010

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Asian Farmers Movements Commit to Promote Agroecology


Asian movements of LVC organized a network building activity of farmer agroecology trainers in Sri Lanka in May 2010. The event was locally hosted and organized by MONLAR [Movement for National Land and Agrarian Reform].

The aim of the meeting was for farmer agroecology practitioners and teachers to make a network in order to promote agroecological practices in the continent of Asia through a horizontal “farmer to farmer” training methodology. This methodology has already been very successful in LVC and other peasant movements of Cuba and Central America and is a challenge to the traditional top down training methodology where the farmer and his own knowledge are ignored. 

The participants formulated an agroecology declaration as well as a draft framework policy for agroecology [or how an agroecology policy should ideally look like.]

The participants also had the opportunity to become introduced to the  ‘Zero Budget Natural Farming’ of Mr Subhash Palekar who was keynote speaker at the event. Many members of MONLAR and KRRS are already practicing his method and the participants had the opportunity to visit the very diverse home gardens in Sri Lanka that were using the ZBNF method.

Both South Asia and South East and East asia are in the process of consulting and formulating regional agroecology work plans. While some follow up activities are already being planned. 

In South Asia a follow up activity to be carried out sometime at the end of this year will be an on farm visit to the KRRS farmers that are successfully practicing agreoecology and the ZBNF method. This will be a practical visit where besides understanding the techniques, the suitability of these methods in other parts of India, and Asia will be discussed.

The Declaration and the Draft policy framework for Agroecology are below:- 


The Colombo Declaration 
Asian Agroecology Encounter
La Vía Campesina
Colombo, Sri Lanka
18-22 May 2010



The La Via Campesina organized a five days Asian Agroecology Encounter, hosted by the Movement for Land and Agricultural Reforms (MONLAR) at the Community Education Centre (CEC) in Colombo, Sri Lanka. This was attended by practitioners and trainers of sustainable agriculture from eight countries in East Asia, South East Asia and South Asia representing mainly farming and agroecology movements.

The encounter was aimed at strengthening up the solidarity and farmer-to-farmer contact among the agroecology movements in Asia, identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the different sustainable farming methods and building a campaign for debt free and poison free agroecology movement in the region with the support and guidance of the La Via Campesina. The encounter was aimed towards putting in practice the principles of food sovereignty, which is fundamental to the Via Campesina, through the sustainable agriculture practices. At the Encounter the participants developed regional work plans to support the promotion of agroecology, sustainable agriculture and natural farming among the member families of La Via Campesina organizations.

This encounter is the second in series, first one was the Latin America Encounter which was held in Barinas (Venezuela) in August 2009, planned by La Via Campesina to bring in a culture of resistance, struggle and autonomy to give a new identity to the peasant community in the world, in order to strike at the monopolization of seeds, indigenous knowledge and promotion of chemical fertilizers and pesticides through the agroecology way of farming. Via Campesina believes that the agroecology is the only way to have a better work conditions for the farmers and to regenerate a farming system which is environmentally and economically sustainable, socially just and culturally acceptable.

The encounter also produced a draft policy framework for agroecology which would help initiate a discussion in the region to have ‘an agroecology policy’ in each country and in each organization to bring in an agrarian reform which is ‘pro farmer’ and not ‘pro Corporate’ in order to ensure the livelihoods of rural population and farming communities. The members and allies of the Via Campesina will work with partners and other movements in each Asian country to influence the ‘friendly’ government to legislate an agroecology policy and implement it effectively for the benefit of the farming Community at large.
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Note:   During the encounter, the participants also had the privilege to come across the zero budget natural farming method presented by Mr. Subash Palekar who is propagating this sustainable method of farming in India and South Asia.

The Policy Framework for Agroecology 

Need for a Policy in Agroecology
  • The need for a Policy for Agroecology, at the national level, to regenerate our farming system which is environmentally and economically sustainable and socially & culturally acceptable and just.
  • Which help to spread and propagate the sustainable agroecology farming system in order to unshackle the slavery of peasants and farmers from corporate agro-business, Debt traps and menace of Toxic chemicals, GMOs, Patents and inefficient use of water resources?

Aim of an Agroecology PolicyTo save farmers and agriculture from the present agrarian crisis and bring in agrarian reform which is pro-people and not pro corporate, discourage and disconnect from all elements of commercialization of agriculture,
  • To ensure the livelihoods of rural population and farming communities and make a positive contribution to the production and productivity in the agricultural sector,
  • To ensure the use of local resources (like seeds, manures etc) without any monopolistic control of MNCs, 
  • To counter the present neo-liberal policies on land, water, seeds and market,
  •  To conserve the environmental resources base and traditional wisdom and sustain it for the coming generation. 

Agroecology policy must ensure
    1. food sovereignty;
    2. fundamental human right to access and/or produce food;
    3. a diverse, family/community (with equal respect to men/women) based peasant agriculture system, in harmony with nature, and embodied in local cultures;
    4. an agriculture system which caters to the people and NOT to the MARKET;
    5. a agriculture system which support fair returns to farm labors and ensure their food security;
    6. a democratic land reform to guarantee equitable access to land in order to bring people back on their fields;
    7. protection from technological interventions until proven safe under the local standards of safety, sustainability, health and environment;
    8. protection from the entry and use of hazardous technologies i.e. chemical fertilizers & pesticides and genetic engineering, which are  harmful for the people, the environment, the field, the biodiversity, the animals and the water bodies;
    9. protection and conservation of agro-biodiversity, varietal diversity, forest diversity, animal diversity and birds diversity;
    10. protection and conservation of local indigenous knowledge about food and food production and its control in the hands of local communities;
    11. empowerment of the local communities to control their lives;
    12. protection of indigenous knowledge and resources from exploitation and commercial appropriation through patents and IPRs system;
    13. Rights of the local communities over their food, seeds, land, water and natural resources;
    14. rights of local communities to form farmers cooperative/federation to voluntarily/collectively enter into sustainable and fair trade to market their SURPLUS produce, in the local and domestic market;
    15. rights of the farmers to receive ‘fair’ and ‘remunerative’ price for their produce which cover the cost of their land, their labor, the cost of production and a profit margin to allow them to live with dignity;
    16. protection from price manipulation, speculation, dumping and unnecessary imports and unfair rules of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements;
    17. That the policy on agro-ecology is in concurrence with all laws and policies on land, water, seeds, food, biodiversity, bio safety etc. If any policy or laws which will be in conflict with the provisions of agro-ecology policy, in that case the agro-ecology policy will prevail.



                         

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