Tuesday, December 20, 2011

South Asia Climate Caravan in Bangladesh Nov 14- Dec 2: System Change not Climate Change! Small Farmers are the Solution!

Bangladeshi peasant organizations -Bangladesh Krishok Federation, Bangladesh Kishani Sabha along with the global peasant movement La Via Campesina in solidarity with other networks and activists organized a 2 week long caravan across Bangladesh ending on Dec 2 2011. This was timed with the Durban COP 17 to bring out the voices of the people from one of the most vulnerable parts of the world to climate change - South Asia and especially Bangladesh. Find the declaration of the caravan below. For more info you may visit BKF website listed on this blog.

Declaration of the South Asian Caravan on Climate, Gender, and Food Soverignty 2011

We men and women, small farmers, adivasis, workers, fishworkers, landless people, youth organized a caravan across Bangladesh to bring people together for climate justice and peoples solutions to the climate crisis. Our South Asian Climate Change, Gender and Food Sovereignty Caravan, was organised by the Bangladesh Krishok Federation; Bangladesh Kishani Sabha, and La Via Campesina which are peoples movements struggling for dignity and the rights of rural peoples.

We visited 18 villages in 12 districts of Bangladesh, covering both the north and south of the country. We were joined by many in the same struggle from our sister peasant organisations of India, Pakistan; Sri Lanka; Nepal, and the Philippines; as well as friends of our struggles from the U.K.; Germany, and Australia.

In many villages 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. Our very existence is becoming precarious through landlessness; land grabbing by elites; local government corruption; 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. While the prices that we receive for our produce is so low that many farmers end up in a  cycle of indebtedness and poverty.

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. Our sister peasant women face a double burden by working to make ends meet as well as taking care of our families and children at home.

Given these crisis faced by us we totally reject the market-based interventions into Bangladeshi 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 and 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.

In Bangladesh peasants have rightfully responded by occupying khas land, water bodies, and unused railway land to grow food, earn a livelihood and lead lives of dignity. We demand that such 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) constitutional recognition and rights for adivasi peoples and support to indigenous farming.

(iv) reparation rather than loans paid to the governments of Bangladesh and the rest of the Global South as part of the climate debt owed by industrialised countries of the Global North.

(v) all adaptation measures to climate change to include full participation and consultation with local communities.

(vi) a legally biding agreement to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions signed by all governments responsible for those emissions.

(vii) a full and just transition to renewable energy.

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; People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty,) climate justice networks such as Climate Justice Now! and Climate Justice Action; trade unions; and indigenous peoples movements. We demand system change not climate change.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Indian Farmers Protest At Governments "Unsustainable" Agribusiness Meet

Dec 2, Bangalore: Farmers from South India organized a parallel platform and protest at Karnataka governments Global Agri-business and food-processing Meet of 2011. This was Karnataka governments attempt to lure foreign corporate investment in the agriculture sector of the state- starting from seeds to retailing and food processing, from dairy to fishing and apiculture. Farmers movements of south India members of LVC have been opposing the corporate onslaught on India's and global agriculture. These agribusiness companies they say are not interested in feeding people, preserving the ecology and biodiversity or generating livelihoods. Their main aim is to patent nature for themselves, industrialize farming for exports, monopolize nature and make farmers and people dependent on them for food and farming. Their primary concern is the generating profits while the continue to cause climate change and increase hunger. Ironically the Karnataka government called it “sustainable” agribusiness summit, when agribusiness promotes a type of agriculture that is far from sustainable.

Globally as a result of the peasants movement, environmentalists, economic justice movement, and others fighting for safe food, the UN and other bodies have already agreed that in the future, the only sustainable way to feed the world and prevent climate change is to promote small farmers and let them continue to feed the world. Industrial agriculture on the other hand has already proven completely unsustainable. More than half the worlds population relies on agriculture and the worlds food is produced primarily by small farmers, who also protect nature and biodiversity and minimize climate change.

Below is an article among other media reports documenting the protest of the farmers who tried to disrupt this open selling out of their livelihoods by the Governent of Karnataka.

Farmers be damned, moolah-chasing govt seemed to say [Deccan Herald]
Keen on exploring the latest technologies ‘up for grabs’ in farming, Shivanand G Ninganoor from Bilagi taluk of Bagalkot district hopped onto a bus to Bangalore to be part of the Global Agri Business and Food Processing Meet 2011

Ninganoor spent Rs 600 on a bus ticket and booked a room for himself at a hotel, hoping to find suitable technologies for sunflower seed oil extraction at the Meet.

But little did this farmer know that he would not only be not entertained at the Meet, he would also have to face the humiliation of being roughed up by the police for trying to make way into the Bangalore International Exhibition Centre.

“As the advertisements said that everybody was welcome, I was shocked when the police brandished their lathi at me. They also pulled off my entry pass from my neck. Despite the harassment, I made my way through in search of the exhibition centre. But to my utter dismay there is nothing here. There isn’t anybody here who can guide us around or tell us what is happening. Why is the government making a mockery of us farmers?” he said.

And mockery it was. The BJP government’s pro-farmer stand on Thursday proved to be nothing but cosmetic. In stark contrast to the plush arrangements made available inside the fully air-conditioned venue, the government paid no heed to the pleas of hundreds of farmers who were stranded outside in the scorching heat.

The Meet was designed to specifically cater to the needs of big companies, and not that of the real stakeholder – the farmer - who was gagged, manhandled, ignored, and insulted in every manner possible by the authorities.

Apprehending trouble, the government had stationed police personnel all along the Tumkur Road leading to the venue, stopping any individual adorning a green shawl.

Despite seeking permission to register their protest, farmers’ organisations including the Karnataka Rajya Raita Sangha and South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movement, led by K S Puttannaiah, U R Ananthamurthy and H S Doreswamy, had to make do with faraway corners to stage the protest.

The authorities, in fact, did not even take kindly to six farmers from Maddur and Shimoga who successfully made their way into the main hall. The minute Rakesh Kacker, Secretary of the Food Processing Ministry, began his speech, the farmers stood up and shouted “We don’t want foreign companies,” only to be gagged and dragged out by the police.

The six farmers, who along with 150 others were taken away to the Byadarahalli training station, were kept there till 6 pm. Shivanna C Arahunasi, agriculture expert from Mallapur in Gadag, who was at the event on the government’s invitation could not hide his anguish.

“The farmers of North Karnataka have been hit by the crashing prices of onion and chilli. Many families are going without even two square meals a day. It is ironic to see the government spending lavishly on food and other arrangements. It is unfortunate that we have to endure this paradox,” he said.

Freedom fighter H S Doreswamy, who extended support to the farmers, put it simply. “This is just the beginning. The government is out to harm the agriculture sector in the State. The farmers have no choice but to come together and put up a strong protest. If they don’t, then nothing can save this country,” he said.

Voices of protest

U R Ananthamurthy, Writer
“Thanks to this Meet, the peasant will no longer be allowed to grow and sell what he wants. The government does not understand that there is no alternative to our traditional farming methods which have been perfected over the last 2,500 years. But it does not want to listen to other points of view. Instead of letting the peasant be, the government is making him a scapegoat – his freedom is being compromised with. If the farmer’s land is snatched from him, there will be no peace. The government should put a stop to this Meet.”

H S Doreswamy, Freedom fighter “The small farmers are being targeted. We gravely fear consolidation of holdings. The big companies will enslave the farmers and grow what they want, and it will be very difficult to break from that monopoly. The MoUs may have been signed, but we can send them all out, like the way we sent out the British. We are, however, hoping that wisdom prevails and the government puts an end to this charade.”

K S Puttannaiah, KRRS, Hasiru Sene president
“The American economy has slumped and they (global companies) are eyeing our land. But we shouldn’t allow these foreign dacoits dressed in suits to loot us. Unfortunately, the government is handing it all to them on a platter.”