Monday, June 19, 2017

Regional Political Declaration was passed during LVC South Asia Regional Conference

La Via Campesina South Asia:
 Political Declaration
Sri Lanka: 14 June 2017

La Via Campesina South Asian regional conference was held in Nainamadama, SriLanka on 14th June 2017. Member organisations from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Srilanka and Pakistan participated in the conference. MONLAR, our member orgainsation in Sri Lanka hosted this meeting. The meeting mainly focused on important  internal matters of the region such as election of new representatives for the International Coordination Committee from the region. Two new potential members were welcomed and many issues concerning the region were debated and a regional declaration was passed during the meeting. 

The South Asia region of La Via Campesina has had a vast experience of peasant right movements and agitations and with the neo-liberal model of economy coming to picture , the issue of agriculture and Peasant rights have become all the more prominent and needs imminent and immediate attention. The situation is more volatile with the farmer’s suicide soaring on the one hand the adverse policies framed by the government , on the other hand. Under these   circumstances , we the members of the South Asia region of La Via Campesina, having gathered for the regional meet, commit ourselves solemnly on the following issues.

We the peasants organisations from South Asia, women, men and youths , reiterate our rights on land, water and territories; right against all forms of discrimination; rights on seeds and livestock (including dairy and fisheries);  rights to fair price and market; right to fight agribusinesses, trans-national organizations, free trade agreements and WTO; We pledge to save Mother earth from climate change through agroecology and peasant seeds and most importantly reiterate our commitment for achieving food sovereignty. We declare our solidarity to peasants all around the world as we direct our efforts to a fair and equal society. 

We believe that the present threats to the peasant communities are higher than ever. The governments and Trans National Corporations(TNCs) are assuming the role of imperialists. We demand rights to design policies suitable to our needs. Through this declaration, we ask the States to ratify the United Nations declaration on Peasants Rights which La Via Campesina has been fighting to achieve for the last decades. We demand that States fulfil our right to an adequate standard of living for ourselves and our family through the genuine agrarian reforms: including the right to food and adequate nutrition, hunger free.

We consider Food Sovereignty and Agroecology as fundamental to our vision to cooling down the planet. We consider them as the only way of changing the current model imposed by agribusinesses and transnational companies. We reject neoliberal, patriarchal, and capitalist models that run counter to nature’s harmony and its relationship to human beings. We reiterate that peasant and indigenous agriculture is the only way of feeding humanity in a way that is healthy, sustainable, and that safeguards biodiversity and identities. We demand the state support farmers and more towards agroecology through supportive public policies.

We acknowledge the rights of peasant women: equal rights and access to land, protection from all forms of violence, exploitation and discrimination, decision making, equal wages, health care, sexual and reproductive rights. We stress on the need of a collective struggle against patriarchy.

We reiterate our Right to Seed Sovereignty, absolute freedom from GMOs, HYVs, and other green revolution corporate owned farming techniques which are detrimental to our food systems. We emphasise  our ‘right to reject’ by a ‘right to choose and to be protected’. We want no interference with our traditional knowledge on seed preservation, and free exchange of seeds within farming community.

We lay emphasis on the Rights of workers, labourers, also Indigenous Peoples and pastoral communities including their right to self determination, right to autonomy or self government in their local matters, right to not to be forcibly evicted from their lands and territories.

 We commit to work in tandem with the new line of leadership and recognize the role of the youth. It is important that the youth is given opportunity to spearhead the struggle of peasants. We agree to fight for rights of peasant youth.

We express our deep concern regarding the crisis South Asian peasantry and agriculture is facing at this point in time: biggest one being the consolidation of the agrochemical sector.  Farmers debt and suicide are rising continuously in India, climate crisis, migration and GM issues in Bangladesh, migration and rural distress in Nepal, land grabbing and growing fundamentalism in Pakistan, land grabbing and climate change in Sri Lanka are just to name a few problems  which has serious impact on peasants all over South Asia. We continue our struggle against these challenges, resist and fight back all the injustice to defend our rights.

Finally, we welcome our new member organisations; Pakistan Kissan Rabta Committee from Pakistan and Bangladesh Agriculture and Farm Labour Federation from Bangladesh. We will continue our collective struggles against capitalism, neoliberalism and urban driven development model.
                                             “Globalize struggle, Globaliize hope”

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Amrita Bhoomi alumnus regenerates waste dump with waste water to create flower farm- an inspiring story

Narendra at his farm

Narendra was a young graphic designer who comes from a small peasant family but had no farming skills and was forced to shift to an urban job in the city. Always fascinated by agriculture, he went to Amrita Bhoomi as a volunteer intern for a year and learned how to work the land. Today, he has restored his one acre farm on the outskirts of Bangalore which was used as a dumping yard by the Bangalore city municipality. Glass shards and syringes still dot the field. Because it was unfit for food cultivation, Narendra is now using waste water from buildings around his farm to grow flowers. His father who thought he was crazy initially, is now inspired by his son and takes care of his field. Narendra considers himself a lifetime volunteer and supporter of Amrita Bhoomi and is thrilled he could start a new life closer to the land. He has many plans for his farm- a root garden is coming up soon.  As a side income he is working as a head gardener at an apartment complex in suburban Bangalore where he has set up an organic garden to sell affordable organic veggies to the residents of the apartments. Narendra is an inspring example for rural youth who with their creativity, diligence, and some support (from peasant schools) can return to the land and live satisfying lives as new farmers. 

"For me being a graphic designer was boring. I sat at a desk all day long and worked for someone else. We could be fired any time, our life was uncertain, there was no real future. Now I work for myself and am constantly learning and growing. Going to Amrita Bhoomi and learning the practical skills of farming was one of my greatest life decisions."

Although most around Narendra's farm have sold off their lands - Bangalore city seems to swallow up farmland rapidly, Narendra is adament. "I will never sell our farm," he says. 

Narendra's father stands by their waste water tank. He is thrilled with the way Narendra revived their farm. He says it gives him enough to live on and enjoy his old age taking care of it. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Farmers’ organisations across India, condemn the police firing that killed at least five farmers in Madhya Pradesh

Statement of Condemnation issued by the All India Coordination Committee of Farmers Movement (AICCFM)

(7, JUNE 2017)
On Tuesday, June 6, several agitating farmers in Mandsaur district in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh - who were demanding loan waivers and better support price for their produce, have been shot at by the police.
According to latest available media reports, at least five of them have been killed in the firing.
The All India Coordination Committee of Farmers Movement (AICCFM) strongly condemns this heinous attack on our sisters and brothers and demand urgent action against all officials who are responsible for this murderous act. We also demand that the State Government take moral responsibility and resign immediately.
This is an incident that is bringing back painful memories of the British era, when farmers and farm labourers were often shot at for claiming their rights. It is a pity that people who work the land and feed the population continues to be treated inhumanely and killed for voicing their disappointment with the State.
Hundreds of thousands of farmers and farm workers who were forced to commit suicide due to increasing debt over the last two decades and several more millions who are facing a precarious and unpredictable future across India, exacerbated by extreme climatic conditions, have for long been demanding that attention be paid to rural distress and steps be taken to support farming families and workers.
The demands of the protesting farmers – calling for loan waivers, better support price - have been the demands of all farmers’ organisations, including that of AICCFM, since a very long time and we reiterate our resolve to take to the streets if our demands are not met.
AICCFM is also calling upon our sisters and brother of La Via Campesina, the global peasant movement to condemn and protest this brutal killing and join us in our struggle for justice to peasants worldwide.