Friday, December 7, 2018

Mass Production by the Masses : Kannaiyan Subramaniam at FAO's International Symposium on Agricultural Innovation for Family Farmers

Kannaiyan Subramanian uses the successes of the dairy industry in India as an example of innovative produces resulting in sustainable self-sufficiency for small-scale food producers.






Kannaiyan Subramaniam is an activist with the South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (SICCFM), a member group to La Via Campesina South Asia. SICCFM is a coalition of farmers movement, founded on 2nd October, 2009, in a conference against World Trade Organisation and Free trade Agreements organised by Karnataka Rajya Ryotha Sangha (KRRS) and Thamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam in Bangalore, Karnataka. 

Kannaiyan Subramaniam can be contacted on sukannaiyan69@gmail.com.



Thursday, December 6, 2018

Land is their life; name land to tenants

(File photo -Tenant farmers of Okara Military farms in a public meeting)

Supreme Court orders release of tenant leader framed in false robbery case


Today Supreme Court Lahore registry ordered to release Malik Salim Jhakar, a tenant leader of Anjman Mozareen Punjab, on bail. He was falsely inducted in a robbery case last year in November. For three days, the case was argued at the Supreme Court by our advocate Azam Nazir Tarrer advocate on the grounds that this is a false case and the only “crime” of Malik Salim Jhakar is that he is demanding land rights at Okara Kulyana Military Estate.

Farooq Tariq with father of Malik Salim Jhakar
Today, the judges of the highest court, asked the lawyers of the state that how come that Salim was carrying the identity card of the person who claimed that he was victim of the robbery even after few days of robbery. They asked the question how could a villager who accepted in the court that he knew Malik Salim because he lives next to the village of Malik Salim (accused) told the police in the first report (FIR) that he is robbed by an unknown person and later recognize him. That how could police claim that the 25,000 Rupees recovered from Malik Salim were the same that he has looted?
The Supreme Court two judges, Mr. Justice Manzoor Malik and Mr. Justice Mansoor Ali Shah both questions the truthfulness of the case again and again. The State lawyers had no answer to the questions posed by the judges.

Our advocate Azam Nazir Tarrer told the court that Malik Salim was inducted in over 80 false cases by the local administration since the last five years. He is one of the main leader of Anjaman Mozareen Punjab who are demanding land rights at Okara Military Farms. He was either acquitted or released on bail in all the other cases apart from one where he was sentenced to three years and appeal against that case is still pending.

After an hour of arguments, Malik Salim bail application for the immediate release was accepted. The elderly father of the Malik Salim who was in the court alongside with me was bloody happy.
The fact of the case is that Malik Salim came to visit me in Lahore late last year after he was released in all false cases spending two years in jail. The Okara administration came to know that he was in Lahore to meet Farooq Tariq. Very next day, he was arrested and within days of his abduction he was framed in a robbery case.

While Malik Salim was in jail during 2016, six persons were brought by police at Malik Salim village and were killed and later it was announced that religious terrorists were taking refuge at Malik Salim home. And Police killed then in an encounter when they went to arrest them. This was typical story of police after such “police encounters”.

I went to the press same day and contradicted police story and said that Anjman Mozareen Punjab is totally oppose to religious fundamentalism and also religious terrorism. This is a story by police to register more cases against Malik Salim family.

The case was registered against Malik Salim’s younger brother and he went in underground and escaped the arrest. Malik Salim came to me in Lahore in November 2017 after his release. He requested me that I should speak to late Asma Jehanghir to take up the case of his younger brother who is in underground for fear of arrest in this false murder case of six persons. Very next day, he was abducted and later this false case of robbery was registered against him.

A week before her death, Asma Jehanghir met Shamshad Ali at her office in Lahore, a local advocate from Okara along with me and promised that she will take up this case and also of Malik Salim arrest.

After Asma Jehanghir’s death, I requested Azam Nazir Tarrer, a close associate of Asma Jehnghir and member Pakistan Bar Council to take up this and Noor Nabi case. He accepted our request. This was done on volunteer basis. We cannot afford the fees of the lawyers like Azam Nazir Tarrer. He is at present lawyer of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz and has taken up the cases of former prime minister and chief minister Mian Nawaz Sharif and Mian Shahbaz Sharif.

Today, Azam Nazir Terror was called again and again by Mian Shahbaz Sharif’s friends because he has to appear in another court on his behalf. However, he prioritize to appear on our behalf at Supreme Court and got our tenant leader bail approved.

Last week, Azam Nazir Tarrer appeared on behalf of Noor Nabi advocate who is elected chairman of his union council at Okara Military Farms. Noor Nabi was also arrested on a similar false robbery case. There is in line with a pattern by police in Okara that whenever a tenant is released on bail, he should be arrested again on a false case. Noor Nabi bail application was also accepted last week.
At present Mehar Abdul Sattar, Younis Iqbal, Noor Nabi, Malik Salim Jhakar are in jail for demanding land rights at Okara Military Farms. Two would be released if they are not framed again in any other false case. Mehar Sattar is sentenced to 10 years by an anti-terrorist court earlier this year. His appeal against the sentence is fixed on 9th January 2019 at Lahore High Court.

We have not seen any other part in Punjab apart from Okara where dozens of false police cases have been registered against the leaders of a mass movement of peasants. There was a reign of terror at Okara for the tenants. That is still going on. Tenants are refusing to pay what they have paid for over 100 years as part of crop sharing. They are demanding to fulfill the demands of land rights on over 13000 acre of fertile land at Okara. Fifth generation of tenants are working on these lands. Almost all governments including the present Tehreek Insaaf has promised land rights to tenants. Without exception, no one has fulfilled the promise.

Today is a small victory of a movement that is going on since 2001. We say that military should hand over these agriculture land to the tenants living in 19 villages of the district. The land should not be cultivated by military institution. It should come out of a business that is not related to them.
This dispute at Okara is going on for over 17 years now. I appeal to Prime Minister Imran Khan to fulfill his promise made at a public meeting in Okara in 2013 that this land would be given to Okara tenants. This is a high time to fulfill the promise.

I also appeal to the chief of the army staff to take an interest in this ongoing conflict with the most down trodden section of the society, the tenants. They cannot go anywhere else. Land is their life and that is what they can do. Please grant them land rights and the honor and prestige of military would be at a better stage after this decision.

By Farooq Tariq, General Secretary, Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committe

(Farooq tariq can be contacted on kissancommittee@yahoo.com/ Facebook)

Suggested reading :

This Land is Our Land: Peasants in Okara fight for their rights

Harvest of Hope | The struggles of tenant farmers in Okara Military Farms, Pakistan

Peasants demand land rights at Kulyana Military Estate Okara

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

‘Without participation of women, there is no liberation’: Peasant women’s meeting in Sri Lanka

Over 60 peasant women leaders from 20 different countries across the globe joined the Global Meeting of Women Articulation, organized by La Vía Campesina.

November 24, 2018 by Peoples Dispatch







Global Meeting of Women Articulation, organized by La Vía Campesina, an international peasant movement, began on November 22 in Negombo, Sri Lanka. This international meeting aims to reflect on the different challenges faced by peasant women and women in general. Over 60 peasant women leaders from 20 different countries across the globe joined the conference.

‘Long live peasant woman! Long live feminism!’: peasant women’s meeting in Sri Lanka concludes

“We understand that capitalism is the main source of inequality and that many forms of violence emerge from these inequalities.”

La Via Campesina
(Photo -La Via Campesina)
This article by Tanya Wadhwa, first appeared on Peoples Dispatch on November 28, 2018

On November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, a global peasant women’s meeting in Sri Lanka culminated with a clarion call to end patriarchy and violence against women, and fight the onslaught of capitalism.

“Let us put an end to violence against women, break the silence, resist and confront patriarchy and capitalism…We must overcome barbarism, fascism and the lack of respect for the most fundamental rights. We must fight today and every day as a working class. We understand that capitalism is the main source of inequality and that many forms of violence emerge from these inequalities. That is why this struggle is such a class struggle”, emphasized La Vía Campesina (LVC) in a statement released after the culmination of event.

The Global Meeting of Women Articulation, organized by LVC, a global peasants’ movement, which began on November 22 in Negombo, Sri Lanka, concluded with a feminist solidarity meeting in Naula, a town in the Matale district of Sri Lanka. The conference was attended by over 60 peasant women leaders from more than 20 .countries across the globe. The main aim of the conference was to reflect on different challenges faced by peasant women and women in general, to strengthen organizational tasks at the regional and international level, and to construct an action plan for the training of women members of LVC.

A La Via Campesina poster calling for an to end to violence against women.

“I think it is our time now. Today, when I see women from different regions, with different skin color, speaking different languages, united by poverty and similar challenges, coming together in solidarity to fight against capitalism and patriarchy, I’m sure that in future all the women around the world will be free and will have equal rights”, said Torkia Chaibi, middle east coordinator, La Vía Campesina, Tunisia.

On the first day, peasant women from the Americas, Africa, Asia and Europe, associated with different social organizations shared experiences and problems they face every day. Some of the key challenges brought out in the conference were lack of equal rights, political power, decision making rights, and access to education, leading to exclusion of women; feudal mentality of men; differential wages and different forms of violence against women.

On the second day, a detailed continent-specific evaluation of the problems and struggles faced by women was carried out. The historical battles fought by women associated with LVC for their rights were recalled. Action plans to organize campaigns for issues pertaining to women on March 8 and November 25 were discussed.

Throughout the third day, debates were held on how to strengthen political alliances in the struggles of women and feminists and how to expand the reach of La Vía Campesina locally and internationally so that more and more peasants, small farmers and landless agricultural workers could be helped. Women were encouraged to continue fighting political battles within their country and to continue fighting for their rights based on the methods learned from the experiences shared by their comrades from different parts of the world.

“There is a need to strengthen peasants’ movements at the grassroots level. Farmers should be made aware of international policies and agreements, such as free trade agreements that affect them directly and how multinational companies are taking authority over seeds, food production, marketing and distribution. (…) We should encourage local production, local marketing techniques and promote local consumption”, said Nandini Jayaram, member of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, India.

On November 25, a field trip to Naula was held during which the delegates attended a session held by women leaders associated with the Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) and Naula Women’s Federation. During the session, the members of these movements talked about the dangers of the Moragahakanda multi-purpose irrigation project inaugurated by Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena in June. They talked about how this project had been publicized as an initiative that would strengthen the hydro-electric system of the country and provide irrigation facilities to 81,422 hectares in the dry zone of Sri Lanka, whereas the truth was that it had eradicated 12 villages and added to the misery of more than 14,000 families, making them homeless and landless.

‘No more violence against women’, ‘not one more’, ‘enough is enough’, ‘no means no’, ‘we are equal’, ‘it’s our time’, ‘long live peasant women’, ‘long live feminism’, ‘there is no socialism without feminism’ etc. were some of the prominent slogans that resonated through the conference venue over the three days.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

#25Nov: Breaking the silence, ending the violence. Resist patriarchy, Resist capitalism!


25 November 2018, Negombo, Srilanka:


We the peasant women of La Via Campesina coming from Americas, Africa, Europe and Asia and assembled here in Negombo, Srilanka this week for the Global Meeting of Women Articulation, unanimously condemn all forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls everywhere.

We say this while we realise that much remains to be done – to ensure that the violence that has occurred and is still occurring today in our countries, in our homes, in our organizations, rooted in patriarchy, taking the form of rape and commodification of women, is erased from our society, our territories, our bodies and lives.

On this 25th of November and every day, the peasants of La Via Campesina say:

“Let us put an end to violence against women, break the silence, resist and confront patriarchy and capitalism. We are against all types of violence that still affect many women in rural and urban areas. We must overcome barbarism, fascism and the lack of respect for the most fundamental rights. We must fight today and every day as a working class. We understand that capitalism is the main source of inequality and that many forms of violence emerge from these inequalities. That is why this struggle is such a class struggle.

Our proposal and our tools for transformation come from the land in which we women are anchored. It comes from the land cultivated in agroecology to achieve food sovereignty; from the collective research we carry out for the construction of equality in our spaces of action and study; from the marches and struggles in which, women participate to build the NEW WOMAN AND THE NEW MAN that will build the new society.

It is clear to us that the only way to end machismo is to confront oppression and exploitation and that only women and men organized in our popular, peasant, urban, fishing and forest peoples’ movements can carry out this struggle for the construction of equality.

We peasants of the world of Via Campesina, present in the 81 countries of the world, say YES to equality, and END to violence against women. We want and commit ourselves daily to building a life without violence, discrimination and exploitation against women.
The society we want is free of violence against women!

Contact for interviews:

ES: Nury Martinez |Fensuagro Colombia| +57 310 772 0098

FR: Ehaibi Torkia| 0026 93116634

EN: Anuka de Silva|Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform|Sri Lanka|+94 71 588 3723

Download our materials here: https://cloud.viacampesina.org/s/j9JXXsNwYBq8LWd

You can also tag us on:

Facebook www.facebook.com/ViaCampesinaOfficial

Twitter @via_campesina @via_campesinaSP and @viacampesinaFR @viacampesinaFR ]

Saturday, November 24, 2018

“Resist patriarchy, resist capitalism”, proclaims global peasant women’s meeting in Sri Lanka




This article by Tanya and Vysakh, first appeared on People’s Dispatch on 23 November

Global Meeting of Women Articulation, organized by La Via Campesina, an international peasant movement, began on November 22 in Negombo, Sri Lanka. This international meeting aims to reflect on different challenges faced by peasant women and women in general. Over 60 peasant women leaders from 20 different countries across the globe joined the conference.

La Via Campesina (LVC) [the peasants’ way] operates in 81 countries with the objective of bringing together millions of peasants, small farmers, landless people, rural women, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers. It aims to defend peasant agriculture against corporate driven agriculture and to build food sovereignty globally. It is committed to the struggle for the liberation of its people and the continuous transformation of their reality. Strengthening and promoting popular peasant feminism is one of the central agendas of LVC.

The principle objectives of Vía Campesina’s peasant women’s meeting are to realize collective study and political training as a way to advance organizational consciousness, and to leverage and strengthen organizational tasks for the LVC women articulation (refers to organising in Latin America) at the regional level as well as internationally. The meeting also aims to be a platform to share experiences of women’s struggle in different regions, and to exchange organizational and formative work processes with the women members of LVC in different regions and finally to construct an action plan for international articulation.

“We are developing the strategies with La Vía Campesina, the biggest peasant movement and it is a way forward for us. Recently, the peasant rights declaration was approved by the third committee of the United Nations [it is yet to be adopted by the UN and is expected to happen in December]. It is La Vía Campesina who first fought for these declarations and peasant rights and for those working in the rural areas”, said Elizabeth Mpofu, representative of the Small Holder Organic Farmers’ Forum, Zimbabwe.

The event began with the Mística ceremony [a ceremony in which the four elements: earth, water, fire and wind are honoured]. Peasant women from Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe associated with different local and regional social organizations shared the experiences and problems they live through every day. Lack of equal rights, political power, decision making rights, educational access leading to exclusion of women; feudal mentality of men; differential wages; violence against women; etc. were some of the key challenges brought out and emphasized in the conference.

“All the lessons that we learn by traveling and coming together with our compañeras [fellow comrades] from different countries have led us to the realization that this is a globalized effort, that we cannot do it regionally. So, this is why we do it and this is why we will continue to do it”, said Rosemary Martinez, president of Sin Fronteras Organizing Project, Texas, highlighting the importance of the event.

The event will culminate on November 25, with a solidarity demonstration to mark the International Day to Combat Violence against Women.



La Via Campesina
on Thursday
EN| #LaViaCampesina - Peasant women leaders from Asia, Americas, Africa, Middle East and Europe are meeting in Srilanka this week to study and deepen their commitments to strengthen popular peasant feminism within the movement and in their territories. Here is glimpse from the first day
ES| #LaViaCampesina Las lideresas campesinas de Asia, América, África, Medio Oriente y Europa se reunen en Sri Lanka esta semana para estudiar y profundizar sus compromisos para fortalecer el Feminismo Campesino y Popular dentro del movimiento y en sus territorios. Aquí fotos del primer día.
Aucun texte alternatif disponible.
L’image contient peut-être : 9 personnes, personnes souriantes, personnes debout, enfant et plein air
L’image contient peut-être : 8 personnes, personnes souriantes, personnes debout et plein air
L’image contient peut-être : 9 personnes, personnes souriantes, personnes debout et plein air
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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

UNITED NATIONS: Third Committee approves the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas



PRESS RELEASE | LA VIA CAMPESINA

19 November. Monday, [NEW YORK]

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) of the UN General Assembly voted in favour of the UN Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas, through the Resolution no. A/C.3/73/L.30.

The resolution was approved by 119 votes in favour, 7 votes against and 49 abstentions. It is a significant leap forward in a campaign led by La Via Campesina, the world’s largest peasant movement supported by many organizations across the world, including FIAN and CETIM.

The UN Declaration aims to better protect the rights of all rural populations including peasants, fisherfolks, nomads, agricultural workers and indigenous peoples and to improve living conditions, as well as to strengthen food sovereignty, the fight against climate change and the conservation of biodiversity. The endorsement of the UN Declaration also constitutes an important contribution to the international community’s effort to promote family farming and peasant agriculture.

Bolivia, the chair of the process, stressed upon the importance of the UN Declaration in realising more resilient, sustainable and inclusive societies:

“We believe this is a major step towards public policies that recognize not only the rights and needs of peasants but also their contributions to the well-being and quality of life of the societies they nurture through their daily work. We are sure that this instrument will play a central role in human rights as well as in the eradication of hunger and poverty, in line with Agenda 2030 for sustainable development and the Decade of Family Farming, without leaving anyone behind.”

Since its adoption at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in late September, La Via Campesina and its allies’ focus has been to make sure that this UN Declaration is adopted by the UN General Assembly. La Via Campesina delegates who have been present in New York since the beginning of the Third Committee session expressed their satisfaction after the voting results.

“In this historic moment, in which financial capital and corporations are deepening their offensive to monopolize food and concentrate land and natural goods, at the cost of our lives, the adoption of the Declaration of Peasant Rights in the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly is a strategic victory, not only for peasants but for the peoples of the world as a whole. We will continue on this long path of struggle and unity, for rights and social justice, convinced that full democracy is only possible through Agrarian Reform, the social function of land and the full enjoyment of the rights of peasants”, said Diego Monton La Via Campesina (CLOC)

The Committee’s approval of the UN Declaration was marked by some debate but it benefitted from a consistent support from Africa, Asia and Latin America regions. Some negative reactions came from Europe and other regions, with the US delegation rejecting the text as they have longstanding concerns about the UN Declaration, which sought to expand upon existing rights, singling out the human rights of peasants above those of other groups, and also on the collective rights stipulated in the contents. The European countries were divided in their response.

“In the Third Committee, where all the UN countries participate, we have witnessed a great diversity of positions in Eastern and Western Europe. For those who supported us, we thank them greatly. Your votes in favor put human values in the human rights, giving hope for millions of peasants, men and women, across the continent. For those who abstained or voted against, we wish to tell you that peasants and small family farmers in your countries cannot be left behind”, said Ramona Duminicioiu from La Via Campesina Europe.

“After December’s UNGA approval, we will start a new chapter of the Rights of Peasants and we are demanding that all UN countries commit themselves to implementing the Declaration. We are determined to contribute to a better society, to fight climate change, to end hunger, to provide diverse and nutritious food for everyone”, she added.

Zainal Arifin Fuat, from La Via Campesina Asia,  said that this declaration is a landmark moment in the peasants struggle.

“The Declaration acknowledges the prominent role that peasants play in solving multiple crises facing us today – food, environmental, social and economic. Peasants are essential to food security and sovereignty and the realization of the right to food, particularly in developing countries where they provide up to 80% of the food locally consumed. This UN Declaration will also contribute to the humanity’s efforts to end poverty, hunger and achieving our sustainable development goals. In Asia, we believe that if our rights are recognized and further protected, people will be able to develop rural areas and then avoid the rural-urban migration that creates insoluble problems”, he added.

“The scramble for resources that is going on in the African continent and elsewhere has put peasants in an extremely vulnerable position. The ongoing attack on peasant seed systems have repercussions that go beyond those who produce the food. It indeed affects everyone. For 17 years we have been patiently campaigning for an international instrument that can protect our rights as peasants and to guard our food systems from being dismantled to favour a few. It is a proud moment today for millions of peasants worldwide, who never give up when faced with adversity”, said Elizabeth Mpofu, General Coordinator of La Via Campesina

“The power of the peasant movement is being felt at the highest level of international governance: for this, we must acknowledge the hard work and passion of so many peasants worldwide. The solidarity of peasants internationally is a testament to how closely we and our issues are linked, regardless of where we live. However, today is only a stepping stone on the long path of human rights justice for rural people. We must carry forward this momentum and put the declaration into action at every level of society,” said Jessie MacInnis, La Via Campesina North America

The UN Declaration will be formally ratified by the UN General Assembly on December 2018, following the decision taken by the Third Committee this afternoon.



Editor’s Note:

Information Note on UN Declaration can be downloaded here

Full text of the Resolution and Declaration is here

For more information, visit www.viacampesina.org

Press Contact:

Ramona Duminicioiu (English, French) : +40 746 337 022 , ramona@ecoruralis.ro

Jessie MacInnis: (English) : +1 (902) 292-1040 , jessiemacinnis@gmail.com

Diego Monton (Spanish) : +54 9 261 561-5062 , diegomonton@gmail.com

Reblogged from https://viacampesina.org/en/

Saturday, November 17, 2018

South Asian Peasant Movements and Civil Society urge their Governments to vote in favour of the UN Declaration

17 November 2018: In a letter sent on Saturday to Mr Syed Akbaruddin, Premanent Mission of India to the United Nations and copied to the Prime Minister and President of India, the Indian Farmers’ Movements and Civil Society organisations have urged the Government of India to fully support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas, which will be discussed at the 73rd session of UN General Assembly in New York.

On a similar note, the Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Labour Federation also sent a letter to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, seeking support for the UN Declaration.

Here is the full text of the letter from India;



Shri. Syed Akbaruddin

Ambassador

Permanent Mission of India to The United Nations

New Delhi, November 2018

Re: Requesting Support for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas at the United Nations General Assembly

Respected Shri Akbaruddin,

We are representatives of peasant organizations, civil society, activists, NGOs, and citizens from all corners of India. We are writing to request your full support for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas which will be discussed at the 73rd session of UN General Assembly in New York.

The resolution to adopt the UN Declaration was recently passed at the 39th session of UN Human Rights Council after six years of intense talks (A/HRC/39/L.16)[1], with an overwhelming majority – 33 votes in favour of the Declaration. India has always been very supportive of the process and we fully appreciate that.

As you are well aware, the process was initiated by the Human Rights Council in September 2012 (UN Human Rights Council Resolution 21/19) — and the intergovernmental working group was formed following a report of the Advisory Committee recommending the adoption of a new international instrument in the form of a United Nations declaration to address the multiple human rights violations and discrimination suffered by peasants and other people working in rural areas. In 2012, a study[2] by the Human Rights Council’s Advisory Committee (its body of experts), recognized peasants and other people living in rural areas as victims of discrimination and systematic violations of their human rights and recommended the adoption of a United Nations Declaration on the rights of peasants and other peoples working in rural areas as well as the recognition of the right to land, among other rights, in order to better protect and promote their rights.

Therefore, this is an immensely important initiative for millions of peasants and other rural workers throughout the world.

Inclusive by design, the Declaration concerns not only peasants, but also fisher-folks, nomadic pastoralists, agricultural workers and Indigenous Peoples. The United Nations Declaration can undoubtedly contribute to better protecting the right to a decent livelihood in rural areas. It will also reinforce food security, solutions to climate change, and the conservation of biodiversity.

The UN General Assembly has a crucial role to play in ensuring the adoption of this declaration. This UN Declaration will reinforce the human rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas. It would represent an important contribution to the efforts of the international community in favour of family farming, peasants and other peoples working in rural areas. This adoption will be in line with the initiatives of the United Nations General Assembly which, while recognizing the important contribution of family farming to feeding humanity (production of more than 80% of the world’s food), declared 2014 the International Year of Family Farming and recently launched the decade of Family Farming from 2019-2028. The declaration will reinforce existing human rights standards.

As this UN Declaration will be voted on during the 73rd session of UN General Assembly, we urge India to vote in favor. We deeply appreciate that India has been supportive of this process so far. We would be grateful if you could encourage other Member States to support this Declaration.

CC

Smt Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs

Shri Radha Mohan Singh, Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare

Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Law and Justice

Sincerely,

Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA)
Adivasigal Gothra Maha Sabha
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Delhi
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Haryana
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Himachal Pradesh
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Punjab
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Madhya Pradesh
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Rajasthan
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Uttar Pradesh
Environment Support Group, Bengaluru
Focus on the Global South
Housing Land Rights Network
Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM)
Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF)
IT For Change
Jai Kisan Andolan
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha and Hasiru Sene (KRRS), Karnataka
Katch Sarpartra Thamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam, Tamil Nadu
Kerala Coconut Farmers Association, Kerala
MIJARC, India
New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI)
South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (SICCFM)
Tamilnadu Organic Farmers Federation
Thamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam (TVS) Tamil Nadu
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), New Delhi
Uzhavar Ulaippalar Katchi, Tamil Nadu
Vanagam-Nammalvar Ecological agriculture training and research centre, Kadavur

Notes :

[1] http://undocs.org/A/HRC/39/L.16

[2] https://www.cetim.ch/legacy/en/documents/G1210803.pdf




Here is the scanned copy of the letter sent by the Bangladesh union;


Sunday, November 4, 2018

India: Youth camp by Karnataka Rajya Raita Sangha (KRRS) in images

Amritabhoomi, the agroecology school of La Via Campesina recently hosted a youth training camp from Sep 21st to 23rd, in the southern State of Karnataka, India. Lots of debates and discussions were held on issues around agraran crisis and responses by social movements. Youth training is one of the most important programs of KRRS and Amrita Bhoomi. Young people, the future of the movement get an opportunity to come together, learn, debate, and become better leaders.

IN A GROUP DISCUSSION




TALKING ABOUT WOMEN FARMERS WITH KAVITHA KURUGANTI AND KAVITHA SREENIVASAN OF MAKAAM. ALL THE YOUNG FARMERS AGREED THAT WOMEN MUST OWN LAND EQUALLY.


Dr.VASU OF JANASHAKTI SPEAKING ON LEADERSHIP

KP SURESH TALKING ABOUT THE AGRARIAN CRISIS



GROUP WORK : YOUTHS PRESENTING ABOUT THE ACHIEVEMENTS AND LIMITATIONS OF THE FARMER’S MOVEMENT




SINGING THE ANTHEM OF KRRS



SINGING SONGS OF STRUGGLE IN THE EVENINGS



TAKING AN OATH OF COMMITMENT TO THE FARMER’S MOVEMENT AT PROFESSOR NANJUNDASWAMY’S MEMORIAL STONE


Monday, October 15, 2018

Defend the rights of peasant women! - La Via Campesina South Asia




South Asian farmers’ movements have been and continue to be nonviolent, mass based forces for agrarian reform and food sovereignty. In the face of climate change and Industrial agriculture, farmers’ movements fight for small agriculturalists to remain as the base of a sustainable, just food system, often through street politics and civil disobedience.Women farmers and farm laborers’ ought to be farmers’ movements’ largest constituency. Women do the majority of farm work, bear the brunt of farming families’ hardship, and have proven to be successful community organizers,yet their rights are not upheld. They remain invisible. Women protect seed heritage, biodiversity, landholdings, and traditional knowledge systems. However, in very few local languages the word “farmer” exists in the feminine conjugation, and in very few movements’ women farmers’ issues are championed and women participate meaningfully. They don’t have access to land or even basic legal entitlements. This must not continue. We must support peasant women’s leadership within our organizations. We must support the struggle for equal partnership between men and women in farming and women’s equal ownership over resources.

We are members of farmers movements from across South Asia and today on October 15, Rural Women’s Day, we celebrate the immense leadership and contribution of peasant women to our food sovereignty. 


*(Picture Credit -Internet)

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

WE CONDEMN MODI SARKAR’S VIOLENT ATTACK ON FARMERS IN NEW DELHI


     
               Ironically, these attacks took place on Gandhi and Shastri’s anniversaries, both staunch defenders of farmers rights

Public Statement, 2nd October, 2018

We are representatives of many farmers organizations, civil society organizations, NGOs, and citizens and we are appalled at the violent treatment of farmers by the Indian government. 50,000 Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) farmers who were peacefully marching from Haridwar to Delhi as part of the Kisan Kranti Yatra were met with tear gas, water cannons, police batons. The Rapid Action Force was deployed. Many were gravely injured and there were no ambulances or medical supplies available. Others were cordoned off and had no access to food or water. Ironically, it also happens to be Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th anniversary, a man who taught the world the value of non-violent protest and insistence upon truth through satyagraha.  It is also our late Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri’s anniversary, who coined the slogan “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan” in honour of our farmers and soldiers.

The farmers started their march on the 23rd September in Haridwar UP and were on their 7th day of walking and were hoping to enter New Delhi with their letter of demands. They merely wanted to bring attention to the abysmal state of farmers in India. They were blocked at the Delhi –UP border in Delhi by the police and RAF.

Their demands not new and are being echoed by every other farmer union of our country. They were asking for fair and remunerative prices, guaranteed incomes, freedom from debt, pension for rural people, payment of arrears, end to unnecessary imports, among other demands. In fact, the Modi government had manipulated farmers via lofty election promises related to the same demands before coming to power and now is greeting them with tear gas.

Even after so many years of independence, Modi government has shown that it is no different from the pre-independence British government in India. We will never let the government forget this and so many other acts of aggression towards India’s annadatas. We will come together and form a national force to defeat all governments that attack our farmers.

Endorsed by:


Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM)
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) Karnataka
Thamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam (TVS) Tamil Nadu
Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA)
South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (SICCFM)
Kerala Coconut Farmers Association, Kerala
Uzhavar Ulaippalar Katchi, Tamil Nadu
Katch Sarpartra Thamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam, Tamil Nadu
Adivasigal Gothra Maha Sabha
Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF)
Food Sovereignty Alliance, India
Swadeshi Andolan
Prof.Ravivarma Kumar, Senior Advocate
Prakash Raj, Artist
AK Devison
Rajegowda KM
Geeta Devarajan
Suma Josson, Film Maker
Leo Saldanha & Mallesh, Environment Support Group
Nachiket Udupa
Rosamma Thomas
Rukmini Rao
D.Narasimha Reddy
Benny Kuruvilla
KV Biju
Aruna Rodrigues
Afsar Jafri
Biswajit Dhar
Himanshu
The Oakland Institute, CA, USA
Jayati Ghosh
Manasi Karthik
Vikas Rawal
Anil Chaudhary, PEACE, New Delhi.
Abhishek Srivastava
Anil Chamadia
Jitendra Kumar
Jaya Mehta, Joshi-Adhikari Institute of Social Studies, Delhi
Vineet Tiwari, Progressive Writers’ Association
Ovais Sultan Khan

Harimohan Mishra
Ankur Jaiswal
Rahul Roy
Dr. A.K. Arun
Prashant Tandon
Pyoli
Amalendu Upadhyaya
Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi
Dilip Khan
Uday Prakash
Zeeshan Akhtar (India.com, Lucknow)
Anand Swaroop Verma (Samkalin Teesari Duniya)
Debadityo Sinha (Vindhya Bachao Abhiyan)
Utsa Patnaik
ujjwal utkarsh
indu prakash singh (President, Forum Against Corruption & Threats and Facilitator, CityMakers Mission International)
Indra Raghuvanshi, Advocate,  Secretary,Forum Against Corruption & Threats (FACT)
Human Rights Defenders Alert - India
People’s Watch
Arjun Prasad Singh, Morcha Magazine
Aflatoon, General Secretary,Samajwadi Jan Parishad.
Ujjwal Bhattacharya
Nityanand Gayen
Sreedevi L
Navin Kumar, Journalist
Chandra Bhushan Choudhary, Samajwadi Jan Parishad
Local Futures/ISEC


Thursday, September 27, 2018

“WE WILL NOT GO BACK EMPTY-HANDED” – FARMERS VOW TO SECURE THEIR LONG PENDING DEMANDS FROM THE GOVERNMENT

Close to 10,000 small-scale farmers and farm-workers are marching towards India's national capital demanding freedom from debt, better remunerative prices for their produce and peasant friendly public procurement and payment system from the government. The long march that started on 23 September from Haridwar has mobilised thousands of farmers on its way and is expected to reach New Delhi on 02 October.



ON DAY 5 OF KISAN KRANTI YATRA, FARMERS REACH MEERUT AFTER STARTING IN HARIDWAR ON SEPTEMBER 23 2018

Thousands of farmers are joining the KisanKrantiYatra initiated by BhartiyaKisan Union (Tikait) on September 23rd 2018 in Haridwar. The yatra crossed Muzaffarnagar today, with long lines of tractors joining the foot marchers. Farmers who are walking in the yatra seemed enthusiastic about raising their issues with the Central Government and have expressed their anger at the inaction of the government. The KisanKrantiYatra is expected to reach Delhi on October 2nd 2018, Gandhi Jayanti.

The main demands of BKU’s KisanKrantiYatra include that MSP for all agricultural produce (including horticulture products and milk) should be fixed using Swaminathan Commission formula of C2+50% in addition to ensuring the MSP actually accrues to all farmers; loan waiver which is unconditional, of all loans including farmers’ loans from moneylenders, that too implemented in one go; Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana should be recast to make each farm a unit, with all premium paid by the government; Farmers should be assured a minimum guaranteed income in addition to smallholders and marginal farmers as well as elderly farmers above 60 years being assured a monthly pension of at least Rs. 5000/-. Farmers are also demanding that the NGT order prohibiting the use of diesel pumps in the NCR area should be exempted in their case, when it comes to tractors, pump sets and other diesel engines etc.

The yatra witnessed massive support of villagers all along the route – every five kilometres, the yatris have been welcomed by local communities with food and warm hospitality. Around 25000 farmers have become part of this yatra so far, led by BKU leaders like NareshTikait, RakeshTikait, Yudhvir Singh, Dharmendra Malik and others.

“It has been a unique experience so far – it is not just farmers who have been welcoming us, but traders and other sections of society too. What is more important is that farmers’ issues are bringing together people of different communities and we have seen Hindu, Muslim and Sikh farmers walking together to claim their rights, without religion dividing them in any way”, said BKU in a statement today. The Yatra has completed 100 kms of foot march so far and the night stay will be in Kathauli tonight.

The yatra is seeing the participation of young, old as well as children, men and women.

“Our farmers are greatly determined to ensure that the government stops cheating farmers any more, and that farmers’ just demands related to freedom from debt and remunerative prices are met. We will not go back with empty hands”, said Bhartiya Kisan Union in its statement.



For more information, please contact: Dharmendra Malik at 9219691168.
For updates on social media, follow BKU facebook page 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Indian Farmers Reject RCEP Trade Agreement, plan major national level agitations






19 Sep, Coimbatore:In a strategy meeting held in Coimbatore today, farmers leaders from the South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (SICCFM) [1] have rejected the RCEP Trade Agreement, a mega trade deal between some of Asia’s biggest economies, because of disastrous impacts on India’s farmers livelihoods, who are already reeling under an agrarian crisis and low incomes. [2]  They announced plans to agitate nationally in collaboration with other farmers alliances. Two major farmers protests are planned in New Delhi on 2 October [3], and 30 November [4] and RCEP will be high on the agenda.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a a free trade partnership which will open India’s markets to some of the largest economies in Asia- like China, Japan. The RCEP is currently being negotiated between 16 countries- which includes ten ASEAN countries [5] as well as other Asia Pacific countries include AustraliaChinaIndiaJapanSouth Korea and New Zealand. Although the member countries want to conclude the deal by Nov 2018, Indian government is unlikely to acquiesce because of growing resistance at home by farmers and workers[6].

The RCEP agreement will be the largest in the world in terms of population (3.4 billion or 49 per cent of world population), with a combined GDP of around $22 trillion and a trade share of 30 per cent. India has been asked to remove import duties on 92 % of all traded commodities[7]. While India has been resisting and asking for 80% [8]. A key controversial point is that once reduced to zero, the RCEP will not allow India to raise duties at a later date – a provision that even the WTO did not impose.

Major agricultural products like fruits, vegetables, pulses, potatoes, spices, plantation crops, seeds, silk, sugarcane, as well as processed foods will be impacted, as cheaper imports from massive economies like China, Australia will flood the market damaging the livelihoods of local producers.

Dairy in particular is of concern to the SICCFM farmers, as over 15 crore Indian farmers, majorly women are milk producers. Australia and New Zealand want India to remove all duties on dairy in India.“We want production by the masses, not mass production. Our Indian cooperative milk system allowed hundreds of poor farmers to sell milk and earn an income. Now these big dairy companies Australia and New Zealand like Fonterra want to enter our market and displace us,”said KTGangadhar of KRRS.

Indian seeds will also come under threat because of the patent laws which could criminalize seed saving by farmers and will replace local seeds with corporate own commercial seeds[9].Japan in particular has been pushing for this. “If a farmer’s field becomes contaminated by these corporate seeds- then we can go to jail! If we save the seeds for re-planting, they will arrest us for copy right infringement. Seed is life and it belongs to all of us-we reject corporate patents on life,” said Sellamuthu of Tamil Nadu VyavasaigalSangham.




NOTES
[1] SICCFM is an alliance of south Indian farmers movements like Karnataka RajyaRaitha Sangha (KRRS) of Karantaka ,TamilaVyavasaigalSangam (TVS) of Tamil Nadu, Kerala Coconut Farmers Association of Kerala, Adivasi GothraMahasabha of Kerala.
[2] See https://www.grain.org/article/entries/5741-how-rcep-affects-food-and-farmers
[3]  More information on the October 2nd Mobilisation, called the “kisanKrantiyatra”, can be found here: http://lvcsouthasia.blogspot.com/2018/09/indian-coordination-committee-of.html
[4] On Nov 30th there will be the KisanMuktiKooch by the All India KisanSangharsh Coordination Committee. See: https://chinimandi.com/farmers-body-announces-nationwide-stir-against-modi-govts-msp-betrayal/
[5] See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Member_states_of_the_Association_of_Southeast_Asian_Nations
[7] See: https://www.livemint.com/Industry/JYHbei7aTvTi23ojHwhfDL/India-allays-exit-fears-to-remain-engaged-in-RCEP.html
[9]  See: https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/india-on-stronger-footing-to-resist-ipr-framework-at-rcep/article9557719.ece

CONTACT:
S Kannaiyan, Convener, SICCFM (Tamil & English)
09444989543, sukannaiyan69@gmail.com

Devison AK, Kerala Coconut Farmers Association, (Malayalam)
09895183882,

Ravi Kiran Punacha, KRRS (Kannada)
09480279037


Monday, September 17, 2018

“No borders, only bridges”- International activists train local students on solar dryer construction at Amrita Bhoomi





Students at Amrita Bhoomi are learning how to build and use solar dryers. These training workshops are being conducted by renewable energy technicians and activists Txell and Kartxi from Catalonia, Spain, who raised their own funds from the Catalan government to carry out these trainings. As members of the Anarchist and Feminist movements in Catalonia, they believe that knowledge should be shared freely for people’s wellbeing.


“We didn’t want to just come and build something, but actually teach how to do it with locally available materials so that our students can reproduce these models easily,” said Txell. “It’s important that such projects of mutual support and solidarity exist so that people’s movements have the ability to build some practical models for self-reliance in different areas like farming, energy and others. We want no borders, but want to build bridges,” she said.



Solar dryers have a number of uses for farmers and aid in the preservation of produce especially during times of surplus production. Farmers can dry vegetables, fruits, and herbs and turn these into interesting food products like dry fruits, herbal teas, dry ginger/garlic powder, sundried tomatoes, and so many others.

Consumption of dried fruits like papaya, mangoes are becoming popular among consumers, and farmers can tap into new markets where there is demand for such products. Importantly, farmers can also preserve foods for later consumption in their own homes. “I didn’t know it was possible to dry produce using direct sunlight so easily. I am excited to build this on my farm and try this out. It will cut food wastage too,” said Guruswamy, a local farmer from Chamrajnagar.



As there are serious power problems in the countryside- these dryers can help to reduce reliance on grid-based power and provide an autonomous source of energy.

Two workshops have been conducted so far- one for ten days, where a large dryer was constructed on Amrita Bhoomi’s campus, and another smaller two-day workshop where smaller portable dryers were made. The large dryer can dry up to 100 kilos of produce in 3 days’ time, while the portable ones can dry 15 kilos in the same time.

Students have come from across the state- some from as far away as north Karnataka- an overnight train ride away. There is a mix of urban and rural people. Two young women also joined, which was really appreciated and encouraged by Amrita Bhoomi. “We hope that more and more young women start doing such technical work which is considered to be men’s domain,” said Vasantha Kumari of Amrita Bhoomi.

“I am a teacher and came to this workshop so that I can teach my students to build these dryers. My students are young, around 16 years of age, and I want to teach them such constructive work. This workshop has given us seeds that will turn them into saplings in our hometowns,” said Ganesha, a teacher from Mysore.

Amrita Bhoomi youth interns have overseen the project and have created a “solar team” at the center. “We feel confident that we can replicate this model elsewhere. We want to continue this work and improve our skills more over time,” said Shambhu of Amrita Bhoomi.



Friday, September 7, 2018

Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movement to mobilize farmers around the country for BKU's Kisan Kranti Yatra from Sep 23 to Oct 2



September 5, New Delhi

Indian Coordination Committe of Farmers Movements(ICCFM) and Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), who are also members of La Via Campesina on Wednesday announced a 10-day long 'Kisan Kranti Yatra’ from Haridwar to New Delhi, to press for farmers' demands among other things, for farm loan waiver, higher minimum support price for farm produce, GST-free agriculture and no free trade agreements on agriculture that hits domestic farmers.


ICCFM Leaders said: “Farmers are not getting remunerative price for their produce so their debt is increasing, the Prime Minister Crop Insurance Scheme is not working in the interest of farmers but of the insurance companies. Suicides are increasing and many farmers have quit farming”.


Bhartiya Kisan Union will be launching a massive mobilisation where thousands of farmers are expected to march from Haridwar to Delhi - starting 23 September until 02 October. Upset over the Centre’s “C2 + 50” MSP deal, top farmers’ organisations from across the country are planning a ‘Kisan Kranti Yatra’ right through the BJP’s strongholds later this month.

As Left-leaning farmers' and workers' groups on Tuesday took the centre stage, demanding loan waiver, better rates for produce and minimum wages of Rs 18,000 a month, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leaders Rakesh Tikait and Yudhvir Singh accused the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “not fulfilling promises made to farmers”.

Rakesh Tikait said farmers are still protesting even as the government completed its four-and-half year in the office that shows the government apathy towards farmers and their seriousness about problems of farmers. He opined that debt on farmers is increasing as they are not getting the right price for their produce which is causing suicide of farmers. In the past 20 years over 3 lakh farmers committed suicide and he demanded that their rehabilitation should be made and their dependents must be given jobs. He also demanded from the government that it must ensure minimum income for farmers. Small and marginal farmers must be given Rs.5000 pension after 60 years. Ban of 10-year old diesel vehicle in Delhi-NCR must be lifted besides that tractors of farmers, pumping set and diesel engine used for agricultural works must be kept out of it. He demanded that the government must stop import of agriculture goods which are produced in abundance in India. Several countries are exporting such things under ASEAN free trade agreement which they even don't produce.


Farmer leaders are of the view that both the Centre and the state government failed to fulfill promises made by them to the farmers. They are demanding a joint session of Parliament to solve their problem.



BKU (Haryana) president Ratan Singh Mann, said, "the farming community that voted BJP to power feels cheated. Despite completing four years in power, the farmers’ protests emerging at different places are evidence enough that the government is not serious about their problems".

Another leader of the Bharatiya Kisan Union Yudhvir Singh said that Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana is not in the interest of farmers but in the interest of insurance companies. He demanded that every farmer should be considered as a unit and it should be implemented voluntarily. Rs 19,000 crore is still pending to be paid to sugarcane farmers, despite the fact that season is over. The BJP promise to pay dues to sugarcane farmers in 14 days proved to be hollow. Dr Swaminathan Commission report for farmers is biting dust from past 15 years, forget about implementing it was not even discussed in Parliament.

The ‘Yatra’, meanwhile, will commence from Haridwar Tikait Ghat on September 23 and reach Kisan Ghat in New Delhi on October 2. Hundreds of thousands of farmers will walk all the way to Delhi along with their vehicles, including banned old tractors, farmers leaders said.


The yatra will be attended by  farmers from Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu.




Saturday, August 25, 2018

Solving land problems in Sri Lanka

By - Sarath Fernando, Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform


Landlessness has been a serious problem in Sri Lanka for a long period. It has led to serious political conflicts in the country on many occasions. The Northern war that went on for around 30 years was largely based on conflicts that arose on land issues. Sinhala People were settled in agricultural settlements opened up in the Northern and Eastern provinces and this led to the Tamil political parties claiming that N and E provinces should be declared their “traditional home lands”. This ended up in the war for separation led by the LTTE. There had been other insurrections in the country and land reforms were carried out as a solution to the problem of youth rebellion. These reforms were in 1972 and 1975. After the second youth uprising in South Sri Lanka there was a Presidential Task for on distribution and Utilization of land which shows that the reasons for uprising was imagined to be related to land. The World Bank giving economic advice to the Government made recommendations to create a free land market in the country by introducing new Land ownership laws allowing the sale of land given by the Government to people under the Land Development Ordinance of 1930s. All these show the importance of land issues in the country. However none of the above measures have solved the land issues satisfactorily in Sri Lanka.


In Mahaweli and in irrigated agricultural settlements land given to landless farmers are not legally tradable. However, much of this land is now illegally transferred to others and thus land ownership in agricultural land has undergone considerable change. One view that prevails is that; and is too fragmented in the country for profitable investment and therefore land consolidation and accumulation of land should be encouraged. This is the thinking behind most of the land reforms that are being proposed now. “Bim Saviya”intends to give such legal ownership of land to small holders with tradable land rights, “Jaya Boomi”, “Swarnaboomi”, “Ratnaboomi” were other similar programmes which intended to encourage people to get land ownership and sell the land away. In the cities there are efforts to acquire land occupied by slums and shanties by shifting them into sky scrapers built in such locations and getting land in exchange of houses built in such flats. In Uva Province land is to be sold to big agribusiness companies for large plantations such as sugarcane. During the period of rebuilding after Tsunami there was an attempt to push out the coastal people from the beaches declaring coasts as buffer zones in order to promote tourism and build luxury cities on the beaches. This was proposed by TAFREN (Task force for Rebuilding the Nation). So there are complicated issues related to land ownership.


Another very serious issue is that plantation workers population is not given any land ownership at all. They have worked and earned so much for the country but they are not yet recognized as genuine citizens of the country. Unless they are given land they would not be proper citizens of the country and they would not accept Sri Lanka is their country too.


How do we solve these issues?


There are some principle concerns that have to be taken into consideration. Land is required for people to live on. Land is also required for production so it provides livelihoods to many people. Similarly sea is also a part of nature that provides many livelihoods and is a tremendous source of wealth. Since land is a major part of nature and it provides much of the natural resources land should be utilized in a way that would not disrupt the need and ability of nature to regenerate itself. Therefore land should be utilized in a manner that would not destroy the ability of nature to regenerate itself. Can people utilize land without disturbing its ability for regeneration?


This is possible in agriculture if ecological agriculture is utilized. In ecological agriculture soil erosion is reduced by making contour ridges, mulching and utilizing Sloping Agriculture Land Technology (SALT) system where appropriate. By recycling all organic matter, by growing as many trees as possible to capture maximum sunlight, by diversifying crops, by avoiding the use of agrochemicals so that the role played by microbes, earthworms and insects is unobstructed.


All these can be done effectively by small farmers doing small scale agriculture and not in large monocrop plantations. In such plantations heavy machinery is used and heavy inputs of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and weedicides are used. This becomes expensive and is damaging to nature, they poison soil, water and environment thus making the food poisonous, water polluted and land is killed. Due to such destruction of land people have to give up using such land and shift to other lands, making the land problem more acute. Diseases caused by such utilization of agrochemicals have become very serious.


It is therefore necessary to think of ways of changing the present patterns of land utilization and land ownership.


In hill country tea plantations




We have to begin this process in the hill country. When the hill country was forest before tea plantations were established it was possible to handle the rain fall better. The trees slowed down the rainfall which reduced erosion and the rich top soil could absorb and retain much of the water in the soil, there was less flooding and there was more water available for the less rainfall seasons. The water that flowed through the rivers and streams were diverted through canals to reservoirs and was available for farming year round. Now there is no such protective forest cover and erosion is heavy which has destroyed the top soil in the hill country. Thus much land is lost and left uncultivated. To restore this, it is necessary to reforest the high elevations, which can be done using agroforestry. People can settle on such land if community agroforestry methods are used. In the next elevations it is necessary to transform monocrop tea into diversified ecological agriculture by giving this land in smaller plots to plantation people to do ecological agriculture. It is very necessary to solve the problem of landlessness of plantation worker families if they are to be made genuine citizens of the country. The citizenship of plantation people was taken away in 1947 when they were seen as voting with the left parties. Now the citizenship that is given to the remaining plantation workers is not genuine unless they are given land to do their own farming, build their own houses and have better facilities of health and sanitation and education facilities to their children so that they become recognized as dignified citizens of the country. This can be begun by distributing the land in the plantation areas to them in small plots to grow their own food, have ther own cattle and so on. This transformation is advantageous to the whole country since ecology of the country cannot be improved without improving the ecology in the hill country. Use of agrochemicals in the hill country pollutes most of the water since the hill country is the main source of water and irrigation. For people in Rajarata ( North Central Province) to have safe drinking water it is necessary to stop pollution of water in the hill country.


In Coconut Plantation Areas


The next area where land problems have to be solved is in the areas where most of the land is utilized for large coconut plantations. This is in the North Western Province (the coconut triangle) here much of the coconut plantations cultivate only coconut and there are many landless people living in these areas. The reason for planting only coconut was not because other crops could not be planted in thecoconut estates but because many of the owners were absentee land lords who only wanted the coconut yields to be plucked during the plucking season. They had their watchers to prevent people entering such land.


Coconut plantations could be divided in to smaller plots of say ½ acre to 1 acre plots and given to landless people in those areas to be used for ecological mixed farming. It is possible to grow other plants such as pineapple, mangoes, arecunut , guava, jack, bread fruit and so on. It is also possible to gliricidia and grow pepper, grow vegetables without affecting the coconut. If ecological agriculture is used yields would increase. Soil fertility improves, recycling and mulching could be done. Dr. Ray Wijewardane’s coconut plantation illustrates this and he did not use any external inputs on his land, he used Dendro power to produce all the electricity needed. This can solve much of the land problems in the North Western Province.


In areas where irrigated paddy farming is done there should be measures to prevent farmers from illegally transferring land to rich farmers. This is largely to pay back their debts. Farmers get indebted since todays paddy farming is not profitable farmers do ther cultivation only to get loans. Indebtedness is due to the high cost of production and low prices they get for their produce. This can be changed by shifting to growing traditional varieties of paddy that do not require costly chemical inputs. Availability of such traditional seeds will have to be improved by encouraging more farmers to grow such varieties that fetch higher prices in the market. This will also improve the health situation of farmers as well as the consumers. Today there is a growing fear among people about diseases such as the Kidney disease which can be a helpful factor to be utilized.
In Uva Province


Another area that could be utilized to solve problems of land is in the Uva Province. There is more land available in this area compared to other provinces. In our studies we came to know that in Siyambalanduwa area each family had around 5 acres of land. However much of this land is not sufficiently utilized due to problems of lack of water. This can also be solved by doing ecological agriculture. If on a small plot of land many different plants are grown this will improve the soil fertility and improved humus content will make the soil retain more water. This land use pattern can be gradually expanded. The overall yield will be much higher. Growing of single crops such as sugarcane or maize must be changed. The overall yield the people get today by growing such single crops can be increased by growing a diversity of crops. Marketing should be arranged through cooperatives doing direct marketing between traders and consumers. The only way of solving water problems is not by construction of reservoirs but by improving the water retention ability of the soil. Use of ecological agriculture will improve soil fertility, water retention in the soil and reduce drought losses. These will make it possible for more people to share the land available in Uva Province. In areas where there are land shortages such as the highly populated areas in Gampaha district and in the Western province better use of land can be done by doing diversified crop farming as done in ecological home gardens. On a small plot of land of say ¼ acre it is possible to grow one or two mango trees, one avocado pears tree, one or two lime trees several orange trees, some vegetables and some murunga trees on the fence and so on. So if such arming is done in a cluster of 25 acres in all there would be a 100 times the number of such plants which is quite a lot.


In urban areas too there are techniques of urban home gardening that can be utilized. In a country such as Sri Lanka where the per capita land holding is small it is very necessary to improve the overall productivity of land. This has to be done without the use of external chemical inputs that are expensive and destructive and they have all to be imported too. This can be done in other areas too, such as in the North and East, in the coastal regions and in all agricultural areas in the country.


One basic principle that must be utilized in relation to land ownership can be learnt through this story.


“ When Prince Siddartha was still young he saw a swan falling from the sky, one day. He ran towards it and found that the bird had been hit with an arrow and was bleeding. He removed the arrow and stated nursing it. Prince Devadatta came running and claimed that the swan was his since he shot the arrow. Siddhartha replied saying that the bird did not belong to Devadatta since he was trying to kill the bird but belonged to Siddhartha since he was trying to save it’s life nursing it”.


Therefore land should belong to those who try to save land and its regenerative ability and not to those who kill land by destructively exploiting land.


Mahatma Gandhi when he launched the salt satyagraha said that the law proscribing Indians to make salt in their own sea was unjust and that he was going to violate this unjust law. He started a long march of about 200 miles and asked others to join. The British police could not stop his march and he made salt when he reached the coast. Others followed him and from next day all Indians began to make salt and the law became ineffective. Private ownership of land did not exist in Sri Lanka, King nominally owned land but the people were free to utilize land. British acquired ownership of land since they wanted to plunder land for their tea and coffee plantations. They cleared the hill country for tea and the next elevations for rubber. The Sri Lankan rich acquired the land for coconut plantations. They have all used land destructively. Therefore it is right for people to enter such land and convert such land for regenerative agriculture that would save life of land. This can be done nonviolently since people are going to allow land to be regenerated, preventing land from death and destruction. This would be the best way land problems could be solved in Sri Lanka.