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Indonesia Peasants' Union protest against cheap import of potatoes

By Indonesian Peasants' Union - La Via Campesina, December 15, 2016

A large number of small farmers and peasants in Indonesia took out a massive protest against the cheap imports of potatoes, which has thrown the local varieties out of the market and has caused distress to local farmers. 

The statement issued by the Indonesian Peasants' Union read as follows;

We, potato and horticulture peasants from particularly peasants of Dieng Plateu were worried again by circulation of imported potatoes in traditional markets which have lower price than local potato. Noted that throughout January to September 2016, import volume of potatoes reached 65.195,11 tons. 

The importation of potato cause massive loss to potato peasants in Indonesia. Potato peasants of Dieng Plateu, Central Java, have allegedly lost Rp 24,000 on each hecatre. The total potato land area in Dieng Plateu around 15.000 hectare and the loss is estimated to be about Rp 360 billion annually.

In normal condition, peasant potato is usually sent to Jakarta and other areas. But, as a result of cheap potato import -particularly from China and Pakistan - Local potato varieties are pushed out of the market. In Jakarta Kramat Jati Market, on 24 October 2016, Peasants potato was sold around Rp. 8500/kg while import potato was only sold around Rp. 6.000/kg. After import potato spread into traditional markets, local potato was only appreciated around Rp.6.500/kg at the peasant level. By selling price around Rp. 6.500/kg, local potato peasants experienced many loss about Rp. 12 million/hectare at each planting season. Where in a year at least there is twice planting season. Meanwhile to fulfill capital, peasants have to selling potato at minimum price around Rp. 7.500/kg

Not only potato, based on data of data center and information system of agriculture ministry, some of horticulture crops throughout January to September 2016 was also imported and it spread into traditional markets. These are fresh carrot from China, Australia, Malaysia and New Zealand as much as 26.047 tons, 1.767 tons of fresh cabbage and 45 tons of fresh spinach from China, Australia and France. 

Free Trade Agreements pushed through WTO and bilaterally are the root cause of this price crash and crisis. The impacts of trade deals and partnerships such as the AEC (Asean Economic Community) and CAFTA (China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement) is devastating. The free trade mechanism will be more strengthened by approval of RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) leading to more distress. 

Even though RCEP is a new kind of agreement, but it is still maintain the form of free trade which previously exist. Even RCEP can be called as more expansive action of market expansion because it involved cooperation between ASEAN members and China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. It means that food and horticulture crops import policy, potato in this case, already done systemically and planned.

Import of Food and horticulture has clearly hurt peasants and threatened food sovereignty. In fact, peasants in potato central production such as from West Java, Central Java, East Java, North Sumatra, North Sulawesi and Jambi Province have been able to fulfill national needs. Currently, the national potato consumption is around 2,1 kg/capita per year or if it is calculated, the national potato consumption is around 542 thousand ton per year. While national potato peasants production in 2105 reached 1.219.277 tons. 

Fulfilment of potato, horticulture and the other national food needs must be undertaken by food sovereignty principles which was already decanted in constitution number 18 of 2012 in terms of food and fulfillment on the rights of peasants such as which was also decanted in constitution number 19 of 2013 in terms of protection and empowerment on peasants.  

Moving towards a UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and other People Working in Rural Areas

By Elizabeth Mpofu - La Via Campesina, March 9, 2017

The need for a UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and other People Working in Rural Areas is all the more urgent and evident in the 21st century. Despite years of campaigning for a better recognition and protection of the rights of peasants, displacements and criminalization continue affecting hundreds of thousands of peasants globally.

Hunger and malnutrition, unemployment and poverty all have something in common; they are more prevalent in rural areas and the countryside. Because of this, most people coming from the countryside, have been exploited (policies forced upon them with limited consultation and participation), dispossessed, displaced, criminalized, brutally treated by those in power and the rich, sometimes taken to court and/or killed for defending their rights related to natural resources, values and culture. Such injustices in most cases have gone unpunished or reported. Laws or political concepts have been made to sanitize and sanctify social injustices. The future UN declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas will contribute to solve these problems by recognizing rights to land, water, seeds and other natural resources and stressing the importance of improving access to productive resources and investment in appropriate rural development. This will be a milestone for peasants and rural people all over the world.

Agro-fuels, GMOs, climate smart agriculture are put on the table as a solution to the current climate, food and economic crisis. It opens further the doors for the expansion of industrial agriculture and the exclusion of peasants. The primary role of agriculture is to produce food, not agro-fuels and commodities. Our struggle is for the recognition and acknowledgement of Peasants’ Rights, to achieve both equity and equality, socially, economically and ecologically.

Globally, millions of peasants have been illegally evicted from their lands to make way for “modern agriculture”, agro-fuels, forests (REDD+ for carbon trading) and other natural resources (water), and many other fictitious commodities created for profits by transnational corporations and elites. This has not only affected peasants but also many indigenous peoples. In Africa we see an increase in the erosion of peasants’ rights to seeds and land and access to water in general. These were initiated following the global food crisis by various actors, such as the G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa (NAFSN), the harmonization of seed regulatory systems by Common Markets for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). There has been visible widespread land grabbing by foreign interests in many African countries which led to dispossession and displacement of hundreds of thousands of rural peasants. The less visible is the on-going reforms of Seeds Acts and policies to align them to the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) 1991 to promote big seed industries and to move towards criminalizing peasant saved systems, undermining the rights of peasants.

The rising influence of TNCs in global politics is affecting many of the rights held by peasants: rights to participation and information, safety and health, work, decent incomes and livelihoods, access to justice, life, liberty, physical and personal security and free movement. States must respect, protect and fulfil the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas. In this particular aspect, we need States to be present both in their territories and also extra-territorial. We need our government to protect peasants and other people working in rural areas- so that individuals, organizations, TNCs and other businesses do not negate our rights.

We see the capture of public policies and the promotion of Free Trade Agreements (TTIP, CETA, TTP, EPAs, RECPs) as the attempt to dominate and monopolize new markets for profits. Neither nature nor humanity are respected but rather are destroyed and exploited for profit maximization. Last year criminalization in the form of continued threats, abductions, torture, persecution, illegal evictions and killings in a number of countries such as Honduras, Colombia, and Brazil, among others, were prevalent. Thus, millions of affected people leave their territories and migrate to developed industrial countries.

We promote a model based on Food Sovereignty and support for agroecological peasant agriculture as a solution to food, climate and social crisis. Why is big capital investing billions of dollars in technologies (toxic agro-chemicals and fertilizers) which we all know cause harm to humanity and the planet? Why are land and natural resources from peasants taken away to produce for export? Such violations are mainly led by capitalist interests. Transnational companies keep violating basic rights with impunity while people struggling to defend the rights of their communities continue to be criminalized, at times killed. We as La Vía Campesina, together with allies, continue to engage and lobby our respective governments and the UN to ensure that such violations receive urgent attention.

The stage we have reached is a critical milestone in the long road towards the creation of an international legal instrument protecting peasants’ rights. After discussing it internally for several years, La Vía Campesina submitted a first proposal in 2008 to the UN Human Rights Council (UN HRC) so that the rights of peasants- men and women- are formally recognized. This includes the right to life and adequate standards of living, the right to land and territory, to seeds, to information, justice and equality between men and women. Using the UN human right mechanisms is seen by the international peasant movement as a strategy to legitimize the peasant’s struggle and to support local struggles everywhere in the world. The UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and other People Working in Rural Areas will provide a new tool for peasants to defend their lives and their land. We also need to mobilize support for the UN Declaration on peasant rights process to achieve some of these desired goals. The Declaration will ensure and reinforce the interpretation of the implementation of human rights in relation to peasants whose specific rights are insufficient and inadequate in existing legal instruments. Today, March 8th, peasant women are also mobilizing all over the world to stop violence on our bodies and on our territories and for the recognition of our rights. Peasant women are the main producers in the world and therefore this declaration is especially important for us.

The plight for further protection of the rights of peasants has been a movement-driven process, with La Via Campesina and peasants, fisher folk, indigenous, pastoralists, rural workers, women, and youth organizations at the forefront. This is a demand from people all over the world. In achieving this, we hope to solve current realities, from hunger, malnutrition to rural development. In championing the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas, humanity also wins.

Unite against the FFA for the future of agriculture!

By various - La Via Campesina, April 3, 2017

A call from civil society 

The 10th edition of the Forum for the Future of Agriculture (FFA) was held in Brussels on the 28th of March. Its organisers, Syngenta (a multinational chemicals and agrifood firm) and ELO (an organisation that lobbies for large European landowners) presented their brand of agriculture, which they claim will meet food and environmental challenges. A coalition of farmers’ organisations (members of La Via Campesina), civil society organisations and citizens have denounced these false agribusiness solutions and are issuing this appeal to send a firm message to the organisers and attendees of this forum: this agriculture has no future! 

False solutions to the wrong problems 

With its winning tagline, “where agriculture and environment meet”, the forum brings together a prestigious panel of speakers (EU, OECD, UN, etc.) alongside nature conservation NGOs and intellectuals. But this façade of open debate conceals a costly exercise in political lobbying. At a time when the reform of the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the regulation of certain pesticides are under discussion, agribusiness players need to act now to protect their interests. So they present themselves as champions in the fight against global hunger and as leaders in environmental conservation ; yet the solutions that they advocate are false solutions. Their answer to current and future food challenges is an unchanging litany : increase the productivity of farmland through technology and further reduce barriers to free trade. 

By asking the question, “how to feed 9 billion people by 2050”, the FFA organisers are perpetuating the myth that we do not produce enough today to feed the human race. But according to the FAO we already produce enough food for 12 billion people ! The causes of hunger and malnutrition are rather to be found in extreme poverty (especially in rural areas, where about 70% of hungry people live), food waste (30% of global production is wasted, according to the FAO) and the conversion of agricultural land to biofuel production and livestock rearing (feed and pasture). 

Lobbies and multinationals sell what they call “smart agriculture”, which uses robotics, chemicals, biotechnology and specialisation. Yet it does nothing to feed those who are starving ; instead it makes producers even more dependent on agribusiness multinationals. As well as their negative impact on health and the environment, these technologies are driving small farmers into debt and putting them out of business. 

And there’s more. The way that we class food as a simple commodity for trading on the free market is one of the main causes of rural impoverishment and loss of biodiversity. Both in the North and the South, competition between farmers favours large farms at the expense of small farmers, who bear the brunt of the disastrous consequences of this model : falling incomes, unemployment, the disappearance of farms, massive debt, speculation on agricultural land and foodstuffs, etc. Over the last 30 years, Belgium has lost 63% of its farms – 43 every week. It is mostly small farms that are affected. 

Greenwashing dealers in death 

The agriculture of machines, chemicals and international shipping cannot continue to exist without fossil fuels. Yet Syngenta claims to champion environmental causes. At FFA 2016, cuddly bees were distributed amongst attendees to promote initiatives that were far from transparent. The company probably wanted to deflect their attention away from its aggressive lobbying to overturn the ban on neonicotinoids – singled out by the scientific community for their disastrous consequences for natural pollinators such as bees and bumblebees.

On its website, the company claims that opposing the use of GMOs, chemical fertilisers and pesticides means using more water and land. This is proof of its bad faith as it pretends to ignore solutions that have already been proven to be effective. 

Solutions do exist : agroecology and food sovereignty 

The agriculture that agribusiness offers us is nothing new. It merely follows the same path that has brought about the destruction of our soils, the deterioration of biodiversity, the pollution of our waters and the disappearance of our farms. Truly smart agriculture, the agriculture of the future, should be modelled on natural ecosystems. A publication of the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food states that agroecology could double food production in 10 years, mitigating climate change, protecting water resources and creating new jobs in the rural sector. 

Rather than surrendering agricultural production to the free market and the dictates of agribusiness, it is the people themselves who should determine agricultural and food systems. Only this way will they be able to have a healthy diet, tailored to their needs, locally produced and sustainable. That is why we believe it is essential to commit to food sovereignty.
We do not want arms dealers calling the shots in times of peace ; nor do we want dealers in poison to decide what we eat. They are only interested in making money. Their brand of agriculture is sounding the death knell for small farmers, consumers, and the environment. It represents the past. 

We want to send a clear message to European and international policymakers. They must curtail the influence of agribusiness and private interests and commit to the agroecological transition. 

We call on as many organisations and movements as possible to sign this appeal   

Unite for our future ! 

Agroecology, a way of life, struggle, and resistance against capitalism!

By staff - La Via Campesina, October 17, 2011

Synthesis

Agroecology: a way of life, struggle and resistance against capitalism. Agroecology is the basis for peasant agriculture and food sovereignty. Agroecology continues to be open to debate and dispute; from the perspective of our movements, it is the guarantee, care and protection of our Mother Earth. For that reason, it is transversal in all the spaces of the land, subsoil, territory, water and space.

The cosmovision and epistemology of our peoples tell us that agroecological practices are the center of our ancestors’ production, since they are the coexistence of all living beings. The land does not belong to us; we belong to the land. We are balance and equity, solidarity, integrity, diversity, territorial defense, the ‘buen vivir’, the dialogue between ways of knowing, expressed through the peasant-to-peasant method.

We do not want sustainable development, we want sustainable life. Agroecology gives our identity back to us. Women played a historic role in the evolution of peasant and indigenous agriculture.

Our processes of agroecological training make use of the Latin American Agroecological Institutes (IALA) training centers, through the learning routes that CLOC-LVC has built in the continent. Agroecology is a multidimensional space of social processes, sharing, culture, and art that we can only find in our territories.
All support processes for agroecology should be led by organizations of peasant families, indigenous peoples, farm workers and family farmers, including men and women, with the greatest possible participation of young people.

Agroecology and peasant seeds are mutually dependent, because agroecology is incompatible with genetic engineering, there can be no agroecology with agrochemicals or with the transnational agribusiness corporations.

The theories of Marx and Engels (including the division between the countryside and the city) and indigenous cosmovisions are similar and complementary in agroecological thought and in the unity between culture and the dialogue of ways of knowing. Our agroecological proposal regenerates agroecosystems, including plant, animal and soil biodiversity, as well as indigenous cultures with their diverse ways of producing in harmony with Mother Earth.

Farmers storm India’s national capital, demanding freedom from debt and better price for their produce

By staff - La Via Campesina, November 23, 2017

Several thousand small-holder farmers from across India held a massive demonstration in New Delhi, from 20-21 November to draw attention to the acute agrarian distress plaguing the countryside and seeking immediate intervention by the Union Government.

Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha and South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements – who are also part of the global peasant movement La Via Campesina, joined in large numbers.

For long, farmers movements and civil society organisations in India have been pointing out the problem of mounting debt in rural farm households.

A steady and steep increase in cost of production over the last three decades, near-stagnant farm incomes and increasing cost of rural household expenses, which are exacerbated by crumbling public welfare services and privatisation drives, have resulted in nearly 60% of the farm households trapped in a cycle of debt. Back-to-back droughts and unseasonal rains since 2012 resulting in severe crop losses, a crash in farm prices over the last several seasons have only worsened the crisis.

On a set of 25 crops, the Government of India offer a guaranteed and minimum support price across to the country’s farmers. However, for several years now as social movements have pointed out, this support price is marginally above – in some instances below – the cost of production.

In 2014, while campaigning for general elections, Narendra Modi who is currently the Prime Minister, had publicly promised to procure farm produces at a higher rate, which would be at least 1.5 times the cost of production. Yet, this is far from reality. What is worse is also that farmers are right now forced to sell their produces at levels that are even lower than the minimum support price.

Green revolution and the subsequent opening up of Indian agriculture to the global free market, has exposed the country’s small-farmers to unfair and unequal competition on the world scene. Agricultural policies that are focused on exporting food, rather than promoting local production and distribution has only favoured agribusinesses and severely marginalised the peasants and small-holder farmers. Despite this, global institutions such as the WTO continue to mount pressure on the Indian government to reduce the support price further and to lower the import tariffs!

The consequences have been devastating. Since 1995, at least 300,000 farmers in India have been forced to commit suicide unable to bear their piling debt and harassments from lenders. Government data shows that on an average 2000 farmers are forced to quit agriculture everyday and migrate to cities in search of work in factories and construction sites.

Faced with the rise of nationalism and xenophobia, Food Sovereignty is more necessary than ever

By Michel Buisson, et. al. - La Via Campesina, March 17, 2017

With the Brexit, the election of Donald Trump, the rise of the extreme right in Europe and the increase in migration, there is an urgent need to intensify the cooperation between countries and their populations. Wars, climate change, the depletion of natural resources, poverty, hunger and malnutrition, but also the increase in inequalities, are all fundamental problems that humanity must seek to resolve together.  This cannot be done without questioning both the current neoliberal globalization, and the xenophobic and nationalist orientations that are opposed to economic globalization while protecting and defending their own interests. 

The false answers to neoliberalism are in the spotlight, notably that of Donald Trump  who, in his presidential project,  on the one hand develops protections against imports and brings the Transpacific Treaty to a standstill, and on the other promotes financial capitalism, US transnational corporations, fossil fuels, and green capitalism,… while denying climate change and repressing social struggles. The European Union is no exception, which imposes on Africa very unequal economic partnership agreements (EPAs), and maintains, in its Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), masked tools enabling protection and dumping . Official criticism, including that of the IMF, of the defects or excesses of globalization, the postponement of the transatlantic treaty project (while the CETA  is in the process of adoption), and the current reduction in international trade, show us that the neoliberal framework is out of breath. But these developments do not prevent transnational corporations from pursuing their offensives, protecting themselves with patents, and seeking to impose private arbitration tribunals in trade agreements. 

Social movements are struggling against the negotiation of “free” trade agreements, and demanding climate justice, international solidarity, and that the human rights of all be respected, everywhere.  These various struggles aim to meet the expectations of the populations affected by the impacts of neoliberal globalization, in the areas of food, the environment, income and employment. At the heart of these struggles is the food sovereignty movement, which claims the right of peoples to democratically decide their food and agricultural policies, and aims at radically changing our food systems. 

Our response to the rise of nationalism and xenophobia lies in strengthening mobilizations at four levels (local, national, regional, international) to achieve food sovereignty, a demand made by the global peasant movement La Via Campesina and many other organizations since 1996.

Food sovereignty is “the right of people, their countries or unions, to define their agriculture and food policy, without dumping vis-à-vis third countries", (La Via campesina, 2003). It « puts those who produce, process and consume healthy and local food at the heart of our agriculture and food systems […] instead of the demands of market and transnational companies …"(Nyéléni Forum, 2007). Food sovereignty is a democratic requirement, which goes contrary to the capturing of power by the corporate agenda. And this is not an agenda of withdrawal: the social movements who claim food sovereignty express international solidarity, and they do not question the role of international trade – although they call for its regulation and for a rebalancing between international trade and reinforcing local food systems.

Food sovereignty must be translated at the UN into new international trade rules, favouring the adoption, at national and regional levels, of agricultural policies that are adapted to the needs of countries in terms of market organization, and are conducive of sustainable agriculture and alternative production and exchange practices. It aims to provide food security in good conditions.

Food sovereignty is not autarky. It wants to put international trade in its proper place by giving priority to agriculture and food for the people, not to markets. It provides a new framework, favorable to policies of relocalization of production, agro-ecology, and sustainable access to/protection of natural resources. It makes it possible to develop culturally adapted food systems that prioritize nutrition, health, and the environment. 

At the international level, food sovereignty provides the basis for moving from currently hegemonic trade - favoured by WTO rules and benefiting powerful states and transnational companies -, to cooperative exchanges, which set limits on the advantages of countries that could abuse their competitive position.  To the duty of countries not to harm the agricultural economies of third countries, must correspond the right to put in place real protections – tariffs and import quotas in particular -, that are justified on economical, social and environmental grounds. 

Faced with the global concentration of agrifood power, consumers and citizens have developed both an increased understanding of the stakes and their capacity for action. Initiatives to relocalize food systems are multiplying but remain fragile under current policies. In this battle for food sovereignty, let us not leave peasants alone. Food is everyone’s business. Together,  peasant and civil society organizations, institutions, researchers, must propose new rules, new frameworks for international trade in agriculture and food and agriculture policies, building on successful local « transition » alternatives. It’s urgent. The forthcoming adoption at the UN of a Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and other people working in rural areas, and advances at the Committee for World Food Security (CFS), including on the importance of access to territorial markets for small food producers, should constitute a base towards food sovereignty.

Through the large and plural mobilizations it implies, and its many contributions, food sovereignty is an essential battle in this current period of high risk: to curb nationalism, injustices, xenophobia, and to safeguard and develop peasant agriculture, the production of affordable, nutritive and healthy food, and the protection of our planet.

“Food is political!” 33,000 demand quicker change of our agricultural and food systems

By - La Via Campesina, January 30, 2018

Excerpts from the joint press release of German civil society organizations participating last weekend in Berlin’s “We’re fed up with it” demonstration. For the complete text (German only) please click here

With a deafening cooking-pot concert, 33,000 people at the “We’re fed up!” demonstration at the start of the Green Week in Berlin called on the next German government to come up with a new agricultural policy. ‘Industrial agriculture and food industry is causing local and global problems for farmers, climate, animals and the environment,’ says Jochen Fritz – spokesperson of “We´re fed up!” – on behalf of the more than 100 organisations that called for this demonstration. He adds: ‘The transition to an environmentally friendly, animal-friendly and climate-friendly agriculture in which farmers can live justly from their work must not be postponed by politicians.’

Demonstrators beat their pans in front of the Agriculture Ministers’ Summit gathered in the German Finance Ministry. They demanded respect for human rights, fair trade conditions and more support for the rural population worldwide. Already in the morning the 160 farmers who led the demonstration with their tractors handed over a protest note to the 70 ministers from all over the world present in the Summit. ‘We want to get out of the fatality of export agendas and land concentration, which have tied a noose on the neck of farmers here and around the world,’ says Fritz about the consequences of agricultural policies. ‘In the last 12 years, one third of all farms in Germany had to close their doors.’

Alliance spokesman Fritz continues: ‘Food is political, more and more people are recognizing this. But our policies are feeding the agricultural industry and produce at the expense of the environment, climate and animals. So that we don’t have all to pay for it in the long term, the big coalition (GroKo – CDU/CSU-SPD) must now turn the tables*. Those who produce and eat sustainably must be rewarded.’

Concrete projects in the next legislative period must be – in addition to glyphosate phase-out and proper transformation of livestock stables and pens – the obligation to label animal foodstuffs, prohibiting last-resort antibiotics in animal husbandry and fair market rules for the protection of farms. Furthermore, the payment of EU agricultural subsidies to non-agricultural investors, who are grabbing more and more farmland, must be stopped immediately.

‘We need a fundamental reform of European agricultural policy. Those who cultivate crops in an environmental and climate friendly way and raise animals in an appropriate manner must be supported by direct payments, not those who own the most land. Farmers are ready, but politicians must create the framework. Rural areas are in particular need of small and medium-size farms’, says Georg Janßen, Head of Office of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft bäuerliche Landwirtschaft (AbL).

* at the moment, the three biggest political parties in Germany (CDU/CSU-SPD) are negotiating the formation of the next government

Grassroots and peasant’s movements deliver solutions that COP23 fails to provide

By Michaelin Sibanda and Boaventura Monjane - La Via Campesina, November 17, 2017

Food sovereignty and peasant agroecology – which should be understood in the context of national sovereignty – are the true solutions to build resilience and resistance.

The transnational corporations responsible for over 70% of the man-made emissions continue to push forward new false solutions to address the climate crisis. Such solutions not only focus on growing their profits but create more conditions to commodify nature, while turning a blind eye to the increasing social and environmental crisis they have created. Today, millions of peasants, indigenous people and fisherfolks are losing their source of livelihood to rising sea levels and adverse weather conditions.

It is clear that capital survives and feeds on chaos and destruction of nature. Human dignity and life are not respected at all. Recent climate disasters in Puerto Rico expose this immoral behavior. After suffering two hurricanes (Irma and Maria), the US administration blocked any form of assistance to rebuild the island, only allowing its corporations.

For Jesús Vázquez Negrón from Puerto Rico, who was attending the people’s mobilizations parallel to the 23rdedition of the Conference of Parties (COP23) in Bonn, climate change is real. “We are here to remind the world that the change must be systemic. That is why the proposal of systemic change proposed by La Via Campesina, a global grassroots movement and alliance, is crucial.”

The peasant struggle is not just about climate resilience – which is an act of resistance in itself. It is also a global fight against the expansion of agribusiness, which relies on free trade agreements. There is an urgent need to critically question the mass production of meat and reduce the import of feed from the global south to Europe.

To make sure they keep growing despite global climate change, transnational corporations have developed their own ways – false solutions such as blue carbon, REDD[1] mechanism and climate smart agriculture.

Another issue that is generally undermined in climate change debates is migration. There are today more than ever before a growing number of climate-migrants. According to Massa Koné of the Global Convergence of Land and Water Struggles – West Africa, the climate and the migrantion crisis are the two sides of the same coin. “…  It is those who try to contain migrations who have also provoked it! It is their false solutions that are taking over our land, disturb our rainfall, that create wars! This is why migration increases everyday”, says Koné.

The good news is that the debates have a strong youth movement that is leading the struggle in various places of the globe, as they are the future of humanity. “We are the present for a better future and we will not give up, but continue to defend the interests of the peasants, the whole society, for a social transformation. We, peasants across the world, firmly reject the industrial model of agriculture which is at the very root of climate change”, says young French peasant Fanny Metrat of Confederation Paysanne. “We are the ones who can cool the planet and feed the world”, she added.

There have been many COPs before and many more will follow, but their impact on public policies is minor. Sustainable development, green economy, REDD are the buzzwords of capitalism being hammered these days in Bonn. But social movements expect governments and multinationals around the negotiating table to deliver real solutions.

To change the system, grassroots and peasant movements have to keep growing and establish more alliances. Our governments do not realize the urgency of the situation but the peasantry suffers from it on a daily basis. Food sovereignty and peasant agroecology – which should be understood in the context of national sovereignty – are the true solutions to build their resilience and resistance.

Bharatiya Kisan Union demand compensation for land acquired for Kanpur thermal power plant

By Staff - La Via Campesina, March 2, 2017

They also demanded that farmers arrested from the protest site be immediately released.

Kanpur, India: Since 21 November 2016, farmers in Lahurmau village of Kanpur, whose lands were acquired to build a Nyveli-owned thermal power plant, have been staging an indefinite strike by the banks of Yamuna river. 

These farmers from neighbouring eight villages allege that the construction at the site have already begun even before they have received compensations for their lost land and livelihoods. Nearly 1850 farmers in these villages are directly affected by the power project.

The ownership of the acquired land had already been issued to the power plant. While the planning for the project had begun at least four years before, apart from a few farmers most of them allege that they have not received any compensation so far. 

In these four years, none of these farm families have been able to cultivate in their land, leading to loss of livelihoods and considerable fall in their farm incomes. Farmers have been forced to take to the streets in protest. The project plan which came about during the term of the previous Central government, was pushed forth under the pretext that the affected farmers would be compensated four-times the market rate of land in the region, considering the permanent loss of livelihoods and farm incomes. When the new government came to power in 2014, it took the implementation of the project forward, but farmers’ demands remained unmet. In the meantime, farmers allege that there have been massive discrepancies in ascertaining the compensation amount from what was agreed initially. They also accuse the plant owners for providing inadequate compensation to some farmers before the land prices were expected to appreciate. 

Worse, some of the protesting farmers like Niraj Singh Rajput and Vishaka of Bharatiya Kisan Union were arrested by the police in January, false cases slapped and jailed. Visakha, was arrested in the absence of any woman police official and farmers accused the administration of high handedness in dealing with the issue.

In response, on 1st March 2016, Bharatiya Kisan Union, issued an ultimatum to the district officials to immediately release Niraj Singh and Vishaka Rajput. They have also demanded that the false cases slapped on the protesting farmers be immediately taken back. Keeping in line with the original agreement, all affected farmers, including the few who were inadequately compensated, be provided compensation that is four times the current circle rate of the land. They have also insisted that one member from each family, whose land were acquired be given a job as per their qualification and monetary compensation for the families. The agricultural workers, have demanded that they be rehabilitated adequately and members of their families be given jobs at the plant. Farmers whose crops have been damaged as part of the project and whose borewells and electric transformers have been affected be also compensated adequately. Many of them, who have not been able to cultivate for four years and have seen their farm incomes dip in this period have demanded that the calculation of compensation must consider this aspect as well. The common-village land that was acquired also needs to be compensated and this must be passed onto the respective village councils for local development, the union demanded. In their demand letter, the union members have also asked for strict action on the police officers who abused their power and assaulted and jailed protesting farmers.

National Farmers Union joins#MyActionsMatter campaign against Gender Based Violence

By Coral Sproule, Katie Ward, and Toby Malloy - La Via Campesina, December 5, 2017

The National Farmers Union (NFU) is participating in 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. The campaign started on November 25, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and continues until International Human Rights Day on December 10.

“We stand in solidarity with our global counterparts and add our voices to those of peasant farmers in our sister organizations in La Via Campesina,” said Coral Sproule, NFU President. “In Canada on December 6th, we recognize the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women and remember the 13 engineering students and one worker who were murdered by an act of gender-based violence at l’École Polytechnique de Montréal in 1989. We would also like to stand in solidarity at the many vigils that will take place this night in communities across Canada. We wish to acknowledge the disproportionate number of missing and murdered Indigenous women, and also of incidents involving members of the LGBTQ2 community.”

“Recently we have been hearing many stories of sexual assault and sexual harassment, as people are now more willing to come forward and speak about an issue that has far too long been silenced,” said Katie Ward, NFU Women’s President. “We add our voices to those who denounce any and all forms of gender based violence. We have seen a surge of stories that many of us know are all too common — of workplace, household, and everyday incidents of discrimination, harassment and violence against someone based on their gender (biological gender and gender identity or expression).”

“In particular, the rural communities where many of our members reside lack resources to support persons affected by gender based violence,” added Toby Malloy, NFU Women’s Advisory representative in Alberta. “We hope to work with our communities to increase both the awareness and resources needed to bring about positive change for everyone affected by any sort of violence or discrimination in rural Canada.”

“The National Farmers Union has taken concrete steps within the organization by adopting a comprehensive Harassment Policy along with a Code of Conduct and a Safe Spaces policy for our meetings. These mechanisms are now available to address issues related to gender based violence and discrimination,” noted Sproule.  “We have also called for the reinstatement of the STC bus service (Saskatchewan’s rural public transportation system). Safe rural public transportation for people in rural communities in every province is needed to prevent violence against vulnerable travellers and to provide access to support services for isolated rural residents who need them.”

“This year we are sharing the theme of #MyActionsMatter and asking everyone to step up, call out, and speak up on issues involving gender based violence and sexism,” added Ward.

The National Farmers Union endorses, and encourages our members, Locals, and Regions to embrace the following actions as set out on the Status of Women Canada website:

  • Listen – be open to learning from the experiences of others.
  • Believe – support survivors and those affected by violence.
  • Speak out – add your voice to call out violence.
  • Intervene – find a safe way to help when you see acts of gender based violence.
  • Act – give your time to organizations working to end violence, and be the change you want to see.

“Please share this information and do your part to put an end to gender based violence and empower the voices of victims who may have lived in silence far too long,” urged Sproule.

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