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


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.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

South India Floods: Paddy farmers, plantations, poultry and dairy sector suffer severe losses



Kerala, a Southern State in India, suffered devastating losses after torrential rains that lashed the state in three rounds, wreaked havoc all across. Over 320 people lost their lives and hundreds of thousands had to be evacuated from their homes – when shutters of 80 dams had to be opened due to heavy rains.
People living in districts close to the Western Ghats – namely Wayanad, Palakkad, Idukki, Pattanamtitta were severly affected by landslides and flooding. Parts of Ernakulam, Kottayam and Alappuzha were also inundated.
While a detailed estimate of the loss to agriculture and livestock is yet to be made, the damage to heavy rains from as early as July is expected to have affected small scale farms as well as plantations.
Devison Ak from the Kerala Coconut Farmers Association and also a member of the South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (SICCFM) – both of which are members of La Via Campesina – said “ It has been a total washout. Water levels rose up upto 10 metres and more. People had to be evacuated from the second and third storeys of buildings. An estimated 46,000 hectares of farm land has suffered losses. This was also a festive season in the State – with Onam and Bakrid just around the corner. Paddy, vegetables, banana have all been among the damaged crops.”
Media reports as early as July had indicated that the state would face a crunch in paddy production due to severe rains. With the latest round of heavy flooding witnessed in mid-August, it is expected to aggravate the supply of paddy. Reports indicate that the State requires 4 Million Metric Tonne of Rice every year, of which close to 1.4 Million MT is set aside for the food security of the most vulnerable. Much of it is imported from nearby States.  The economic implications of this flood are going to be severe.
Kannaiyan S, who is also involved in the relief efforts in the district of Wayanad applauded the significant role played by people of nearby States in offering support. “It is heartening to see people coming together at a time of crisis. The fisherfolks played an immense role in rescuing people from inalnds – where only their small boats could reach. In Wayanad – social activists from the district and Tamil Nadu are helpiing secure relief materials to places such as Sugandagini, Manda, Edakkal Caves, Mepadi – where a significant number of adivasis (indigenous people) are residing.”
Besides affecting Kerala’s agricultural sector, the devastating floods have dented the State’s animal husbandry and dairy sector, causing an estimated loss of around ₹800 crore, according to a report in The Hindu Businessline. It is reported that over 100,000 milch cattles and 400,000 poultry were lost.
There has been a loss of rich genetic resources of crop varieties and breeds and the flood-hit districts are some of the best agri production and promotion zones, the report added.

KODAGU, IN KARATAKA ALSO SUFFER HEAVY LOSSES

In the nearby state of Karnataka, the rains made known its fury. In Karnataka, which accounts for over 70 per cent of the coffee produced in the country, rain has damaged plantations in the producing regions of Kodagu and Chikmagaluru. At this point, some members of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha are helping with relief and rehabilitation efforts.


– This article is prepared based on preliminary reports coming in. It will updated as we have more information from the ground —