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La Via Campesina

Agroecology to Combat the Climate Crisis

Resisting RCEP from the ground up: Indian movements show the way

By staff - GRAIN & ICCFM, January 2020

In the history of people’s resistance against free trade agreements, 4 November 2019 is a day to remember. On this day, bowing to immense pressure from peasants, trade unions and rural communities, India’s central government decided to pull the plug on its participation in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), intended to become the largest free trade area in the world. The announcement, made at the ASEAN summit in Bangkok, has implications for free trade negotiations in the entire region and puts a fork in the wheels of unifying the Asian market – a project clearly favouring the interests of agribusiness and transnational corporations.

While countries such as Japan, New Zealand and Australia are making every effort to convince India to come back to the negotiating table, whether they will succeed is not clear. For now, Delhi’s decision has provided immense relief to millions of small-scale food producers and rural workers in India.

So how did a government that is overtly neoliberal, capitalist and with visible authoritarian traits end up bowing to the pressure of farmers and workers? To understand that, we need to understand the decade that just went past us.

Read the report (PDF).

Women’s Struggles for a Peasant and People’s Feminism

By Francisca Rodríguez Huerta - La Via Campesina, June 17, 2019

Opinion: The agrarian issue and current challenges

By Fausto Tórrez and Elsa Nury Martínez - La Via Campesina, June 7, 2019

Throughout history, the progressive transformation of agricultural production has at its basis the struggle for land. This struggle aims to introduce a radical change in the productive structure; as a consequence, the agrarian issue is significant for the coexistence of humanity and it was dealt with by the leaders of social struggle.

Government prepares to legitimize Dole Lanka’s illegitimate endeavors company allowed to retain forest land illegally encroached?

By Sajeewa Chamikara - La Via Campesina, January 19, 2018

Movement for Land and Agriculture Reform (Monlar)

The current United National Front for Good Governance (UNFGG) administration seems to be continuing the support given to Dole Lanka Private Limited, which has illegally cleared protected forests, which acted as catchment areas and destroyed farm lands owned by small holders, given by the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration. The Department of Forest Conservation has obtained court orders to remove farm lands operated by Dole Lanka Private Limited, scattered in various lands owned by the department in the Sri Lankan dry zone. However the government has halted the implementation of these court orders and is attempting to hand over the land to the controversial company.

The first step of this legitimization of Dole was the cabinet paper (CP 16/1934/752/023) regularizing the land used for banana cultivation by Dole Lanka Private Limited in Kuda Oya and Demodara in Moneragala district’ on September 15, 2016 by Malik Samarawickrama, Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade. President Maithripala Sirisena, as the minister of Mahaweli and Environment as well as the ministers of Lands and Finance has also noted their observations to the cabinet paper. The note to the cabinet by President Maithripala Sirisena clearly states that Dole Lanka Private Limited has not obtained the permission of the Department of Forest Conservation to establish these banana plantations. The note also states that the Dole Lanka Private Limited has admitted before court that it is using the lands in Kuda Oya and Demodara without permission or approval. However the cabinet memorandum has recommended to seek the advice of the Attorney General to come into an agreement with Dole Lanka Private Limited, so that the company can continue to use the lands. Thus the Attorney General is studying how Dole Lanka Private Limited can keep on using these lands.

However according to the laws of the land, it is not possible to transfer the ownership of land that belong to the Department of Forest Conservation to Dole Lanka Private Limited, or any other private entity. The Commissioner of Lands can release lands for any investment, only if approval is granted by relevant agencies after conducting the necessary feasibility studies. The government can release the land, on long term lease, to a private entity, according to the Section 199 (G) of the land Ordinance, only after that requirement has been completed. For this the approval of the Minister of lands is needed and the land can be released after recommendations by the President.

Although this is the standard procedure when it comes to releasing land for an investment, a number of factors prevent Dole Lanka Private Limited from accessing state owned land. Chief among them is the fact that Dole Lanka Private Limited has encroached the land that belongs to the Department of Forest Conservation and has used these lands for several years illegally and the fact that they have used the land without any feasibility studies prior to the commencement of the project. Moreover the Forest Conservation Department has taken legal action against Dole Lanka Private Limited, for illegally maintaining farm lands in Kuda Oya and Demodara at the Wellawaya Magistrates’ Court (case numbers MC 215 and 216.) Given this context the attempts by the Cabinet to handover these illegally encroached lands to Dole Lanka Private Limited is a bad example.

Morocco: women agricultural workers are organising to resist slavery

By - La Via Campesina, January 31, 2018

Hidden behind the showcases of Moroccan food and cosmetic exports is the abject poverty of a million women and men agricultural workers. These workers have been reduced to a contemporary form of slavery; they are organising in a daily struggle to obtain their rights and to safeguard their dignity.

The case of the women and men working at “Les Arômes du Maroc” stands out. These women, who come from peasant families and who have worked for decades picking aromatic plants, fruit, and blossoms, live in extreme poverty. They are subjected to practices reminiscent of the Middle Ages that one would have expected to belong to the past: forced labour, wages below the Minimum Guaranteed Agricultural Salary SMAG (5.63 euros) and even below the poverty line, over-loaded work days, the loan of workers to other businesses, etc.

The company uses a pay system, prohibited by law, which is a combination of salaried work and piece work. Wages are based not on the number of hours worked but rather on the weight of the produce that has been picked. By setting goals that are impossible for pickers to reach, the company keeps workers’ pay below the minimum wage.

In addition to their “contractual” work (there are in reality no work contracts), the women are obliged to perform other cleaning and picking tasks, for all of which they receive the paltry daily wage, as we have been able to verify by their pay stubs, of 1-5 dirhams (1 dirham = 0.08 euros).

In the words of one of the women: “So as to keep our jobs we are obliged to perform other tasks and chores such as cleaning. We work all day picking blossoms, which are very light and must be handled one by one. In the best of cases, the weight picked is no more than one kilogram per person per day, although, in order to be paid the salary for a day’s work, we are expected by the company to pick 50 kilograms. This means that what we receive is a fiftieth of the minimum daily wage.” Between contract work, over-time work, and the time that is spent waiting for wages to be paid, work days are as long as 14 hours for a salary that does not cover the cost of living. Added to this are other scandalous practices: the women workers are lent to the neighbouring farm of an Emirate prince – without being provided with any means of transportation to get there; safety equipment (to be used, for example, when climbing trees or handling plants with thorns) is non-existent.

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