16 Days of Global Action on Land and Resources mobilise farmers and small food producers, rural women, fisherfolk, agri workers, advocates across the globe

With the theme “Defend Food Sovereignty! Strengthen Community Resilience amid Climate Crisis,” the 16 days of global action on land and resources successfully reached out to more than 380,000 people across the globe, with more than 200 partners and network groups in 18 countries in Asia, Pacific, Africa and Latin America. (click here to see photos of the activities)

Same goals, diverse strategies

Through a 16-day series of collective actions under PANAP’s Save Our Rice Campaign: Save Our Rice Campaign: Strengthening Rice Biodiversity –Based Ecological Agriculture (BEA), Safe Food and Community Resilience in the Face of Climate Change, the globally-coordinated campaign which kicked-off on September 30, ran from October 1-16, 2016 and culminated on Rural Women’s Day (15 Oct) and World Food(less) Day (16 Oct). Its aims were: (1) To raise awareness to the public on the impact of food and climate crises, particularly highlighting specific impacts of land and resource grabbing to farming communities and movements; (2)To generate solidarity in the struggle to defend collective rights to land and resources and mobilise people to be involved in the people’s resistance against corporate agriculture, land grabbing and all forms of repression; (3) To gather broader support and promote people’s initiatives, particularly of small food producers and farming communities on food sovereignty and agroecology as an alternative to corporate agriculture and (4) To forward farmers’ and rural women’s agenda and demands for food sovereignty at the national and global platforms.

The 16 Days of Global Action on Land and Resources saw the diverse forms of collective action by the partner groups- from the forums, discussions, dialogues with government agencies and workshops to militant mobilisations, rallies and pickets to creative forms such as poster designs, handicrafts and theatre performances.

In Southeast Asia, CEDAC and Mekong Youth Alliance for Organic and Sustainable Agriculture (YOF) facilitated a youth exchange programme attended by rural youth from Cambodia, Thailand, Lao PDR, Vietnam and Myanmar. The programme included on the job training on organic farming and experience sharing. CEDAC also organised farmers’ markets in 5 provinces which highlight the important role of agroecology in providing healthy food, sustainable agriculture and environment. The group also organised a radio talk show tackling climate change adaptation of women farmers which reached out at least 10,000 listeners. In Malaysia, a forum on land and food sovereignty was facilitated by North-South Initiatives among rural youth and indigenous people. In China, ECO-WOMEN collected climate-friendly farming technologies and methods aimed at raising people’s awareness and encourage them to practice these methods. ECO-WOMEN also designed and exhibited in three villages, five posters portraying different climate-friendly farming technologies. Sustainable Development Foundation or SDF based in Thailand, campaigned against ocean grabbing and for food security. A documentary showcasing communities’ resistance against ocean and resources grabbing was produced. In the Philippines, educational exchanges and immersions among peasants and students were conducted by National Network of Agrarian Reforms Advocates-Youth (NNARA-Youth) and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Peasant Movement of the Philippines). Sinagbayan staged in different locations an original theatre production about sugar cane workers’ plights in Southern Philippines while AMIHAN (National Federation of Rural Women) mobilised rural women and advocates through several activities including a rally in commemoration of Rural Women’s Day (RWD). In Indonesia, Serikat Perempuan Indonesia (SERUNI) facilitated a cultural campaign and discussion on food sovereignty while Gita Pertiwi Ecological Studies Programme conducted public campaign on the impact of pesticides on food, collectively harvested rice seeds, utilised well-known games in showcasing climate change, food sovereignty and pesticides impacts on food. Farmers group AGRA conducted several activities for the RWD and World Hunger Day such as discussions, agrarian camps and mobilizations. In Vietnam, Research Centre for Gender, Family and Environment in Development (CGFED) organized farmers’ markets to introduce agroecology products of women pioneer groups while Centre for Sustainable Rural Development (SRD) conducted workshops on agroecological livelihood.

In South Asia, discussions, trainings, forums, public meetings and rallies were organized. In Pakistan, KHOJ Society for People’s Education gathered rural women to discuss and advance advocacy on their rights. Roots for Equity on the other hand, organized women’s assembly, press conferences and rallies for RWD and World Hunger Day. In India, Thanal conducted a workshop on ‘Food security and the Changing Climate.’ Farming and food sovereignty, Ecological Agriculture, Biodiversity and food security, Farming and water resources, changes in food habit over the past decades, were the topics addressed in the workshop. The group also conducted awareness-raising activity tackling climate change and agriculture vulnerability, biodiversity, food sovereignty, agroecology and land as a productive resource. Youth participants created their own advocacy posters after the activity. NISARGA focused on awareness-building on Bio diversity Based Ecological Agriculture and  impact of  climate change on the lives of rural communities with special focus on agriculture workers, Dalits,  women & marginal farmers. Their activities reaching out to 150,000 population included simultaneous village meetings in six mandals (administrative division), school meetings and rallies. On the other hand, KUDUMBAM organised “Documenting climate resilient technologies involving village youth.” It was a programme for rural university students at Kolunji Ecological farm and training center, Odugampatti, Pudukottai district of  Tamil Nadu.  The programme organized for rural university students and lead farmers from 15 villages of six panchayats (village councils). Tamil Nadu Women’s Forum (TNWF) conducted village level campaigns utilising public meeting, seminar and workshop, and mobilised people for the World Foodless Day and Rural Women’s Day rallies. Their campaign tackled issues of land grabbing, protection of land and resources and food sovereignty. They were able to reach out to more than 10,000 people. In Bangladesh, SHISUK gathered rural women and farmers in different venues to highlight the calls of the 16 Days of Global Action on Land and Resources.  BARCIK, on the other hand, organised an event recognising farmers and farmers leaders “for their tireless effort in food production and keeping nation’s development wheel moving forward.” In the said program, farmers from different agro-ecological zones depicted their challenges in food production. Apart from these, farming experience, and initiatives were shared and described on how they produce despite all adversities. In Sri Lanka, Savisthri (Women in Development Alternatives) Movement held a weekly fair of organic food production aimed at highlighting food security and food sovereignty while Vikalpani National Women’s Federation also conducted activities forwarding the calls of the campaign.

Partner groups in Central Asia designed various artistic and popular campaign activities. In Kyrgyztan, Alga mobilised rural women, farmers and professionals in eight Raions (Districts) reaching out to 1,300 individuals. Meetings, a song festival and handicraft-making depicting issues of rural women were organised. In Mongolia, CHRD organised meetings in universities on the occasion of World Foodless Day and Rural Women’s Day for awareness-raising among students on impacts of pesticide and climate change and Organised a press conference on the World Foodless Day and Rural Women’s Day. The People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty-Mongolia chapter organised gatherings to highlight call for food justice.

In the Pacific, femLINKpacific Media Initiatives for Women of Fiji organised rural women’s meeting in District level and led a national consultation of rural women and civil society advocating for women’s participation in disaster response planning and management. For the said activities, femLINKpacific was able to reach out to 10058 individuals.

In Africa, PAN-Ethiopia and PAN-Africa were the partner organisations. In Ethiopia, PAN Nexus continued its facilitation of dialogue between women farmer representatives and local government agriculture officials with the aim of assessing the change after last year’s presentation of women farmers’ problems and demands. In Senegal, Africa, PAN Africa organized a meeting to inform women’s farmers about agroecology, alternatives on pesticides and climate crisis and produced radio programs that reached out to 120,000 individuals. FAHAMU in Kenya also participated.

In Latin America, Instituto Politécnico Tomás Katari (IPTK) and PCFS in Bolivia conducted a workshop with kids, teachers and parents’ about the Right to Food, Food Injustice, Roots of Hunger and Genetically Modified Organisms. IPTK and PCFS also launched some of the educational materials they produced.

Regional group People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) on the other hand, led Representatives from social movements in Senegal on a workshop on Food Injustice and Repression who all agreed to set up a coalition on food sovereignty. The group also led the global day of action against food injustice and repression on 12 October.

Narratives from the ground: collective action impacts communities

With the diverse activities and massive outreach, it is therefore expected that the 16 days of global action has impacted the people from the grounds.

In Southeast Asia, very noteworthy are those from Cambodia, China and Vietnam.

In Cambodia, the different activities conducted by CEDAC has mostly highlighted the important role that rural women play as food producers. The farmers’ markets and agroecology workshops for instance, reaffirmed the commitment of women farmers to agroecology such as Ms. Mi Thim from Kampong Chhnang. She said, “Women farmers are very patient and have high commitment to do organic farming as it is not as easy as conventional practice. But we are happy in doing it as it makes us living in a healthy environment, earning good income and having nutritious foods.”  For ECO-WOMEN of China, the impact of the 16 Days of Global Action is that key women leaders realised that climate-friendly, traditional agriculture techniques and methods can reduce farmland soil erosion, protect farmland ecological environment, and obtain ecological and economic benefits.

In Vietnam, CGFED’s farmers market has brought together female farmers’ groups of the three communes of Hai Son, Hai Cuong and Hai Xuan. The groups were able to share experiences and ideas and the way they produce safe and healthy food. Furthermore, through the farmers market, the farmers from the said communes were able to gain the attention and support of local authorities in the promotion of agroecology and elimination of hazardous pesticides in their farms.

In South Asia, empowerment of marginalised communities was highlighted. In India for instance, the activities organised by NISARGA boosted the confidence of the communities on their strength to assert their rights, while the youth displayed interest to continue the campaign against drought and climate change. On the other hand, Tamil Nadu Women’s Forum, through the different strategies, was able to convince the government to temporarily halt their order to confiscate 1300 acres of land that were given to 120 landless Dalit farmers.

In Central Asia, it is important to note the impact of the campaign to the women in Kyrgyztan. Through the different creative activities facilitated by Alga, rural women reaffirm their role as empowered members of the society. They claim their part in the fight against climate change: “We, rural women, first persons to fight against climate change, to survive climate crises. We are the basis for development. That’s why we want policymakers to listen to us!”

In the Pacific, women power was the order of the day, as well. Fiji women say that, through the different consultations facilitated by femLINKpacific, they have learned to act upon policies, conventions and issues at hand. For instance, Mareta, a representative of a vendors association says, “these opportunities have given me a lot of courage and educated me to stand and speak up for myself…” while Vani Tuvuki of Koronubu Resettlement in Ba stated that they have gone through a lot of awareness and now know “the importance of women in the community.”

In Africa, women leaders were capacitated further. In Ethiopia, women cotton farmers who have been working with PAN-Ethiopia in reducing pesticides use formed associations. PAN-Ethiopia continuously facilitates capacity-building training and discussions that help the women farmers in their incomes. In Senegal, the campaign has been instrumental in making communities aware of the intertwining issues of pesticides use, climate change, the promotion of food sovereignty and agroecology.

Effective platform for agroecology advocacy

The 16 Days of Global Action on Land and Resources also gathered support signatures for the International Monsanto Tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands. At least four thousand signatures were gathered by the partners while 21 groups signed up on the online petition. PANAP executive director Sarojeni Rengam hosted an event at the tribunal’s ‘Peoples Assembly’ to share findings from the newly released Glyphosate Monograph, a “state of the science” review presenting a large body of research documenting the adverse human health and environmental impacts of glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides.

The 16 Days campaign also launched “Stories from the field: women working towards a non-toxic environment,” a booklet contains a collection of stories of 25 women from five countries who are involved in an inspiring, ongoing campaign to eliminate use of chemical pesticides and promote agroecology in the Mekong Region.

The momentum garnered by the 1st 16 Days of Global Action in 2015 definitely helped build this year’s success. With how far and wide it has reached out to this year, the 16 Days of Global Action proves to be an effective platform and should continue to be, if not more so, for the next years as the need to strengthen the communities’ fights will become stronger. ###

 

16 Days of Global Action on Land and Resources: 31 groups from 19 countries push for food sovereignty and climate justice

In a series of collective action of farmers, movements and advocacy groups from different countries from October 1 to 16, PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) organises once again the “16 Days of Global Action on Land and Resources”.

This global campaign addresses the most urgent crises faced by small-scale farmers and food producers, especially in poor countries- climate change, hunger, food insecurity, and land grabbing.

For PANAP, a global campaign on land and resources is urgent, necessary and just, now more than ever. Apart from the massive impact of climate change in their communities, small-scale farmers and food producers are directly affected by aggressive expansion of corporate agriculture in different forms, such as land grabbing. For instance, the latest report of non-government organization GRAIN exposed 491 deals on land grabbing, covering 30 million hectares spanning 78 countries. Under these land deals, small food producers’ rights to land and resources are taken away, undermining their food sovereignty.

On the other hand, it needs to be stressed that when the people resist, it is often met with state aggression and violence. From January 2015 to August 2016 alone, Land Rights and Watch, (LR Watch) has listed 4,651 human rights violations from January 2015 to August 2016 due to land conflicts and struggles. LR Watch is an initiative of PANAP and its partners and networks to closely monitor and expose human rights abuses against communities opposing land and resource grabbing,

Seventy percent of world food is produced by small farm holders, according to a 2014 UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN FAO) report. Ironically though, among those who suffer the most are the small food-producers.

This year’s 16 Days of Global Action on Land and Resources campaign aims to generate solidarity in the struggle for collective rights, mobilise people to be involved in the people’s resistance against corporate agriculture, land grabbing and all forms of repression. It also aims to gather broader support and promote initiatives of small food producers and farming communities on food sovereignty and agroecology as an alternative to corporate agriculture. The campaign will also highlight the different activities of participating groups in putting forward solutions and positive actions within the communities. There will be workshops, educational exchanges, song festival and theatre performances that are aimed at strengthening communities’ resilience amid the crises they are faced with.

In South Asia, women groups are organising training-workshops, public meetings and rallies that will tackle issues such as food security, impact of climate change in agriculture, impact of pesticides use, and rural women’s role in food production. On the other hand, participating groups in Africa will hold workshops and dialogues among farmers and government officials on the issues of local agricultural situation, food injustice and repression. Meanwhile, groups from Southeast Asia are tackling the issues of landlessness, hunger, and food security in different activities during the 16 days of global action.

The 16 Days of Global Action on Land and Resources 2016 will also highlight the Monsanto Tribunal on October 14-16 in Hague, The Netherlands. As part of its support to the tribunal, PANAP will gather signatures all over the world through a petition that will highlight the agrochemical giant’s crimes against humanity. The petition calls on the people to resist corporate takeover on agriculture.

The 16 Days of Global Action on Land and Resources will culminate on International Rural Women’s Day (15 October) and World Foodless/Hunger Day (16 October) through rallies and mass actions across the globe.

Reference: Sarojeni Rengam, Executive Director, PAN Asia Pacific, 16daysofaction@panap.net

Defend food sovereignty!
Support Agroecology! Support Climate-resilient Agriculture!
Fight for climate justice!
Resist Corporate Takeover on Agriculture!
Uphold women’s rights!
Land to the Landless! Land to the Tillers!

Groups vow to strengthen solidarity to press on rural youth agenda

Tarlac, PHILIPPINES – Renewing their call for people’s rights to land and life, thirty-one (31) rural youth activists and advocates from eight (8) countries in Asia Pacific gathered here for a consultation-workshop on enhancing youth participation in rural issues, struggles and alternatives.

A discussion of issues facing the rural youth and sharing of effective strategies and campaigns to confront them highlighted the three-day consultation-workshop. The struggle for land emerged as the key issue facing the rural youth and was the central theme in the discussions.

“We believe that landlessness underlines the various structural social ills facing the vast majority of rural people in the region. Lack of own land to till leads to the physical, economic and cultural dislocation of countless peasant and indigenous communities,” read the unity statement adopted by the participants at the end of the meeting. (see the Unity statement here)

YCW-2016-pr

The groups noted that landlessness forces the rural youth to become tenant farmers under exploitative relations, waged agricultural laborers with cheap wages, or migrants vulnerable to various abuses, with young rural women particularly exposed to trafficking and sexual abuse. The youth are also deprived of education, health and other basic social services.

“Education and cultural identity are central to the holistic development of the youth. But poverty and lack of economic opportunities due to landlessness, coupled with abandonment and neglect of governments, deprive the youth of education,” the groups said. “Meanwhile, the kind of education given to the youth promotes individualism, colonial mentality, and subservience to the interest of the market instead of the development agenda and aspirations of the people. Cultural identity and traditional knowledge are systematically eroded to transform the youth as slaves of global monopoly capitalism,” the participants added.

To substantially address the issues facing the rural youth, the participants stressed the need to join the global people’s movement advancing genuine agrarian reform and food sovereignty, and the promotion of people’s collective rights to land and life. The groups noted that the rural youth’s “energy, vitality, enthusiasm, creativity, and commitment” would make them a major contributor to the said movement.

The youth activists resolved to strengthen international solidarity to press on the agenda of the rural youth, including through establishing a network of rural youth groups and advocates that will advance genuine agrarian reform and food sovereignty. A separate planning meeting for a global assembly of rural youth in 2017 was held after the consultation-workshop.

Co-organized by PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) and the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC), with Philippine-based rural youth and peasant groups NNARA-Youth (National Network of Agrarian Reform Advocates), SINAGBAYAN and KMP- Peasant Movement of the Philippines, the consultation-workshop was held on 16-18 July at the MangaRita Organic Farm in Capas town, Tarlac province, about 120 kilometers north of the capital Manila. ###

Contact: Marjo Busto, marjo.busto@panap.net

Rural youth, advance the people’s rights to land and life! Fight for genuine agrarian reform and food sovereignty!

Unity statement issued by participants of the Youth consultation workshop on enhancing youth participation in rural issues, struggles and alternatives, 16-18 July 2016, MangaRita Organic Farm, Capas, Tarlac, Philippines

YCW-2016-01-unitystatement

We believe that landlessness underlines the various structural social ills facing the vast majority of rural people in the region. Lack of own land to till leads to the physical, economic and cultural dislocation of countless peasant and indigenous communities. To survive, many are forced to sell their labor very cheaply as farm workers or migrate to urban areas for odd jobs with incomes that do not afford them a decent living.

Worse, the concentration of land in the hands of a few continues to intensify under neoliberal globalization. In complicity with national governments and international financial institutions, big local and foreign business interests are grabbing away land, water and other resources, including through public-private partnerships (PPPs), from local communities resulting to greater poverty and hunger in the rural areas. Corporate plantations are aggressively expanding and in the process do not only grab away lands but also poison the people and the environment with their agrochemical-intensive and unsustainable farming systems. These agrochemicals include even those that are already banned in industrialized countries and dumped in poor countries.

In addition, extreme weather events brought about by climate change make farming even more challenging and difficult, thus further aggravating the plight of farmers and resource-dependent communities.

Indeed, it is the biggest irony that those who directly produce food are among the world’s hungriest and most food insecure as a handful of landlords, local elites, and corporations accumulate wealth from the poverty and displacement of farmers and indigenous peoples.

We note that the realities of landlessness, land grabbing, and relentless neoliberal onslaught in agriculture in the region exploit and oppress the rural youth in various ways. At a young age, the rural youth become unpaid laborers in haciendas and plantations to help their families make both ends meet. When they themselves become tenant farmers or plantation workers, they suffer the exploitative production relations with landlords, local elites, or corporations. When they migrate to urban centers or to other countries in desperation to look for better economic opportunities, they become even more vulnerable being away from their families at an early age. Rural women youth are particularly exposed to trafficking, sexual harassment and prostitution.

Education and cultural identity are central to the holistic development of the youth. But poverty and lack of economic opportunities due to landlessness, coupled with the sheer abandonment and neglect of governments to provide education for its people under neoliberal globalization, deprive the rural youth of access to education. Meanwhile, the kind of education being peddled by neoliberal globalization promotes individualism, colonial mentality and subservience to the interest of the market instead of the development agenda and aspirations of the people, including the promotion of agriculture for national industrialization and food sovereignty. Cultural identity and traditional knowledge are systematically eroded to transform the youth as slaves of global monopoly capitalism.

We also take notice, with utmost urgency, how the rural people, including the youth and children, become victims of human rights atrocities and repression being carried out by state and private security forces to protect and expand corporate interests in the rural areas.

In the face of such huge challenges, we, the rural youth, as members of families and communities of rural people; and collectively the inheritor of the future we choose to forge today, demand:

  1. The implementation of genuine agrarian reform through the free distribution of land to the landless, and dismantling the land monopoly of landlords and corporations.
  2. The promotion of food sovereignty or the power of the people and their communities, including the rural youth, to assert and realize their right to food and to define their own food systems.
  3. An end to land grabbing being carried out through the expansion of agricultural plantations, implementation of so-called “development” projects under public-private partnerships, etc. to enable the rural population to enjoy the fruits of their labor and have a degree of economic security.
  4. The promotion of and support for farmer-centered agricultural research and development, including adequate and reliable state support in infrastructure and other services as part of a genuine agrarian reform program, to ensure sufficient livelihood and decent employment opportunities for rural people and end forced migrations.
  5. The promotion of just wages and safe labor conditions that will allow the rural youth, including migrant workers, and others engaged in waged agricultural work and their families to achieve decent living standards.
  6. The preservation and promotion of indigenous, traditional, and collective culture and knowledge among the rural youth.
  7. The democratization of access to education, which sufficiently discusses the important role of sustainable agriculture in the comprehensive and appropriate development of national economies responsive to the immediate and long-term needs of its people.
  8. The delivery of sufficient basic social services and safety net programs to the rural areas, including health and medical services for young rural women; and expose bogus social protection programs, which merely serves to obscure landlessness and other fundamental causes of rural poverty.
  9. The protection of the environment and people’s health by promoting organic and agro-ecological farming, climate-resilient agriculture, and safe food as opposed to corporate, chemical-intensive agriculture.
  10. An end to state-sponsored political persecution and human rights violations against rural people, including the youth, who are defending and asserting their collective rights to land and livelihood; make accountable all those responsible for the abuses; and assist the families of the victims.

We vow to use various strategies to push forward our demands, including through grassroots education, organizing and mobilization; policy advocacy; research and documentation; cultural work and advocacy; exchange programs; alliance building; coordinated regional and global actions; and maximizing information and communication technology, among others.

As youth activists and advocates, we firmly believe in the energy, vitalitity, enthusiasm, creativity and commitment of the rural youth to become leading participants in the movement to defend the people’s collective rights to land and life, for genuine agrarian reform and for food sovereignty.

Rural youth rise now! Assert people’s rights and food sovereignty! Fight for genuine agrarian reform!

Talk on phasing out highly hazardous pesticides with agroecology

The talk by Dr Meriel Watts, a farmer-scientist-advocate, shows the relationship of science, practice and movement-building in agroecology. Listen to her speak as she emphasizes agroecology giving importance to farmers’ and communities’ control over their own farms and food supply, whilst providing enough healthy food to feed the world without destroying the environment. She also outlines the 7 core principles in agroecological farming practice, which is strongly discussed in her book, Phasing Out Highly Hazardous Pesticides With Agroecology.