Replacing chemicals with agroecology increases Cambodian farmers’ income by four-folds

Despite the bans, restrictions and withdrawals of highly hazardous pesticides over the past few decades in Asia, many workers are still continuously being exposed to highly hazardous pesticides. A recent report has highlighted the sad plight of Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand. Working in farms that extensively use chemical pesticides, they are not given health-screening guidelines, or language training to understand the Thai warnings on pesticide containers. Most (80%) of them do not wear proper protective clothing.

Backpack sprayers are doubly at risk since they get in contact with the easily absorbed fine vapors. A high 75% of the workers have abnormal blood cholinesterase levels. Indicative of organophosphate pesticide poisoning, their symptoms include dizziness, headaches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

In recent years, land conversions have further forced farmers to work as laborers and as pesticide sprayers in Cambodia. A 2015 study by the Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community shows that at least 200,000 farmers are displaced and dispossessed due to massive conversions and deforestation brought about by rapid agro-industrial development and mining.

Agroecology-based agriculture which is free from pesticides has been documented to offer better option for labor, rural farming communities, and the consumers. Although laborious and may take time, conversion to chemical-free farming must be initiated for it brings about tremendous benefits.

Agroecology frees us from the many consequences of pesticide use such as cancer, endocrine disruption, mental retardation, and organ failures among others. It frees households from the burden of having illnesses that drain not only finances but also emotions as one is left to bear the suffering of having to endure watching loved ones slowly deteriorate. On a larger scale, it frees governments from the “cost of inaction” that may reach billions of dollars.

A recent study by  Scholz  (2016) on the impact of Centre d’Etude et de Développement Agricole Cambodgien’s (CEDAC) interventions found that organic farmers that are part of its network have on average 4.8 times more income compared to non-CEDAC farmers. CEDAC’s organic farming bundle primarily aimed to address rural poverty, includes awareness building on the hazards of pesticides; hands-on training on organic farming and Participatory Guarantee System; and linkage-building with local and international markets.

CEDAC is one of the Pesticide Action Network in the Asia-Pacific’s (PANAP) partner organizations. It’s innovative approach started with the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in 1999, which facilitated farmer trainings on organic and good agricultural practices and helped build farmer knowledge. With its success, the SRI was mainstreamed in the Cambodian government’s strategic development plans. CEDAC’s target group consists of subsistence growers who are able to produce a minimum surplus of 500 kg jasmine rice per producer group. As of now, CEDAC is in 22 out of the 25 Cambodian provinces.

One of the farmers who benefited from CEDAC’s and PANAP’s activities is 38-year old Nhem Sovanry who has 1.5 hectares of rice fields and 800 square meters of home garden. Sovanry is very happy to see farmers practice what they have learned, and see how it contributes to their own livelihoods.

“If farmers in Cambodia practice organic farming, families will be self-sufficient just like us. Farmers should understand the basic principles of farming: one has to have a pond (or water source), paddy field, home garden, and animals such as chickens or cows. With these four elements, including hard work, one can be a successful and self-sufficient farmer,” she said.

CEDAC has made organic farming economical by using group certification. Group certification is where farmer groups implement an internal control system and are certified collectively by a third-party certification body. Certified organic rice fetches a premium price and is thus, more profitable to farmers.

“At first, it was difficult to take care of the crops and collect the fertilizers. But the value of the vegetables has grown and the selling price has increased,” said Sovanry happily.

Sovanry and other farmers are part of the independent national farmers’ association network known as the Farmer and Nature Net. This network is comprised of 1,249 village-based farmer associations across 12 provinces in Cambodia that supply products to local farmers’ markets. Stories of Sovanry and 25 women who are taking the lead in agroecology are featured in Stories from the Field.

CEDAC also organized the women vegetable farmers of Kampong Speu province. Through sustainable organic farming, members of the Women Organic Vegetable Producer Group now enjoy better living standards.

(Watch the video of Sovanry and other famers here.)

Ten CEDAC shops have been formed in Phnom Penh as a result of pioneering efforts to link small food producers to the wider market. These shops aim to ensure that safe food is supplied to Cambodian consumers and to improve locally produced food.

Overall, the Cambodian experience shows that organic farming must be coupled with interventions similar to what CEDAC has adopted.  Through the CEDAC approach of replacing chemicals with agroecology and contract farming, we may finally achieve a pesticide-free world.

 

References

Kijewki L. 2017. Pesticides pose risk to workers, research finds. http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/pesticides-pose-risk-workers-research-finds

Scholz B. 2016. The economics of organic farming: A comparative analysis in Takeo, Cambodia. A Master’s Thesis submitted to Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany.  85pp

PANAP. 2017. Stories from the Field. Penang, Malaysia. http://library.ipamglobal.org/jspui/bitstream/ipamlibrary/871/1/Stories-from-the-field.pdf

PANAP 2017. Women Organic Vegetable Producer Group. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6eQtd3ve10

 

 

International Women’s Day: Inspiring stories of women vs. pesticides

Press Release

“Farmers are unable or unwilling to focus on environmental or health issues so long as they are experiencing poverty. They are less willing to experiment, because they are afraid of risking yield,” said woman farmer Khonsawan from Nongno Village in Laos.

But the story of Khonsawan and other women farmers also show that change in behaviour can be inspired even by just one positive experience or example that farmers can witness for themselves.

As techniques and environmental health improve, so does the quality and quantity of their produce. These stories show that the advance of ecological agriculture practices are always accompanied with increase in income, as women begin to enjoy savings from not buying chemical pesticides and fertilizers.

Khonsawan’s story and of other women farmers are compiled in the booklet “Stories from the field: Women working towards a non-toxic environment”. This 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. It was launched today by the Towards a Non-Toxic Southeast Asia programme as it joins the commemoration of the International Women’s Day.

Towards a Non-Toxic Southeast Asia programme aims to reduce health and environmental risks from chemicals by monitoring, regulating and managing agricultural, industrial and consumer chemicals. It is an initiative of the Swedish Chemicals Agency (KemI), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP), and The Field Alliance (TFA).

The impact of the programme and experiences of the partners are captured and summarized in 25 stories contained in the booklet. “The booklet provides positive examples that women and men, communities and organizations across the region can learn from, be inspired by and hopefully develop further” – Jenny Ronngren, Adviser/ Programme manager of International Unit, Swedish Chemicals Agency.

On average, women in Asia represent 40 to 50% of the world’s agricultural labour force. Their role in food production exposes them to pesticides. “Women are exposed as pesticide applicator and in other ways, including while working in the sprayed fields, during cleaning the spray tanks or when laundering clothes used during pesticide application. Unfortunately, women farmers and workers are discriminated and often do not have equal access to resources, education, training or information.” – Sarojeni Rengam, Executive Director of PAN Asia Pacific.

This inequality has created gaps on how women understand the impact of pesticides on their health and their communities’ health as well as on the environment. They are also rarely involved in training and lack information on pesticide risk reduction initiatives or on safer pest management methods that includes ecological agriculture.

Thus, the programme throughout its implementation has introduced various tools and interventions consisting of Farmer Field Schools (FFS) – Integrated Pest Management (IPM)/Pesticide Risk Reduction (PRR) trainings, Community-based Pesticide Action Monitoring (CPAM), Rural Ecology and Agricultural Livelihoods (REAL) programs, policy advocacy, research and outreach, among others to actively address this gender gap.

The equal and meaningful participation of women in all activities conducted by partner organisations was ensured. This is in recognition of women’s marginalisation and double burden, made even more acute by the effects of uncontrolled use of toxic chemicals on their livelihood, health, environment, family and community.

It also fuelled most of their drive to inform other community members, including their husbands, on the harmful effects of pesticides. Significantly, these stories resonate with how pesticides use is most successfully reduced or even eliminated when accompanied with trainings and educational campaigns that introduce ecological agriculture practices, such as Farmer Field Schools-IPM and System of Rice Intensification. – Johannes Ketelaar, Chief Technical Advisor, FAO Regional Pesticide Risk Reduction Programme, FAO Regional Office for Asia and Pacific

Furthermore, organic produce are able to fetch higher prices at the market. In Peak District, Laos, SAEDA (Sustainable Agriculture & Environment Development Association) held trainings that led to the creation of the Organic Farmers Association, which now helps women market their produce. Additionally, the initiative contributed to increased consumer awareness and support for agro-biodiversity.

“Women farmers found most useful trainings that teach them how to make botanical pesticides and natural fertilizers, do composting, crop rotation, red-worm farming, and other techniques that reduce, if not totally rid them of dependence on chemical pesticides and fertilizers. In transitioning from chemical-intensive to IPM or even organic production, farmers in the beginning tended to be discouraged by the results. But as the women practiced and improved upon these techniques, the results only became better and more impressive, attracting the interest of more members of the community” Marut Jatiket, Director of The Field Alliance.

Government or institutional support is seen as crucial by women farmers, especially in the areas of access to water supply and market access for organic produce. Many women have also recognised that in order for alternative pest management to be successful and viable, it has to be applied in large-scale.

As Nguyet from the Hai Phu Commune in Vietnam said, “If I do not apply pesticides for my field while all other neighbours’ fields are sprayed with pesticides, there is no use at all.”

Still, even with the lack of strong government or institutional support, women who have been trained are determined to spread the knowledge and sustain initiatives through community organisations.

“It is very important to become a practitioner yourself, because authority and the power to persuade can only come from actually doing what one preaches,” said Tran Thi Len from the Hai Son Commune in Vietnam.

They gain empowerment not just among their community but also inside their homes. Not a few women told of how their husbands were initially obstructive of their newfound leadership roles, but eventually became highly supportive, especially when their health improved and their family income increased.

On the whole, these stories reflect the happier, healthier, and more enriching lives women lead once unshackled from dependence on pesticides and empowered with knowledge, experience and options with regards to managing their lands and livelihoods. They show the great ability of women in mobilising their families and communities towards a toxic-free environment. ###

Stories from the Field can be downloaded here: http://panap.net/2016/10/stories-field-women-working-towards-non-toxic-environment/

 

For more information please contact:-

Jenny Ronngren (KemI) – Jenny.Ronngren@kemi.se

Johannes Ketelaar (FAO Asia Pacific) – Johannes.Ketelaar@fao.org

Deeppa Ravindran (PANAP) – deeppa.ravindran@panap.net

Marut Jatiket (TFA) – thaied.found@gmail.com

Global Management of Chemicals Beyond 2020

by Meriel Watts, PhD, PAN Asia Pacific

Feb 19th 2017

When nearly 400 delegates met in Brasilia recently to discuss how to manage chemicals beyond 2020, there was a surprising degree of accord that the current multi-stakeholder approach should be preserved in whatever arrangement is arrived at. That means NGOs like PAN would continue to participate in the process as equal partners.

Meriel Watts, PhD, PAN Asia Pacific

Why Beyond 2020? Because the current UN Environment-based Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) expires in 2020. It was supposed to have met its target of sound chemicals management by 2020. Obviously it has not, or pesticide poisoning would not still be occurring.

Despite the accord on the multi-stakeholder approach, there was not a similar accord on whether or not the new approach should be voluntary or legally binding. Considerable interest was shown in a paper recently released by the Nordic Council of Ministers, which discussed amongst other things the idea of an overarching global convention on chemicals management that would scoop together all the existing conventions under one convention. One of its author’s, Sabaa Khan, was at the meeting and such was the interest in the proposal the African Region asked for a special session with her and emerged from it supporting a legally binding convention. NGOs, Africa and others asked the secretariat to prepare a paper on governance options for the next meeting in the series that lead up to the decision in 2020 on what to do next.

Although individual chemical issues where not on the agenda, PAN Asia Pacific did succeed in raising the failure of SAICM to deal with the problem of Highly Hazardous Pesticide (HHPs), especially their impact on children and human rights.

A number of countries echoed our concern, referring to problems they were having with pesticides – no doubt this support was in part because, unusually, officials from health ministries where present to compliment the usual environment ministries – thanks to the World Health Organisation (WHO). CropLife’s comment that there was no need for any extra tools to manage HHPs (although they “didn’t deny the issue is serious”) so incensed the delegate from South Africa that she quotably stated: “HHPs should not even be in the bucket in the first place”. We agree!

PAN and IPEN also drew attention to need to address the special vulnerability of women to chemicals and succeeded, with the support of other delegates, in getting the secretariat to provide a discussion paper on this for the next meeting, in March 2018.

The whole context for chemicals management beyond 2020 will be embedded in the AGENDA 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015, many of which strongly reflect the need for work on HHPs and their replacement with agroecology. Sustainable development cannot succeed whilst the current model of chemical intensive farming continues to dominate.

In time for International Working Women’s Day 2016: Stories of 500 Rural Women Leaders Launched

Press Release

08 March 2016

Women’s stories assert rights to land and resources

“We’ve learned that mining companies are after the rich minerals and biodiversity found in our communities. As a result, our ancestral domain is being grabbed and encroached by greedy businessmen and foreign companies…We still have the same problems my parents faced three decades ago. And we confront these problems like they did:  we fight!”

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The story of Gertrudes Layal, a Lumad leader from Mindanao, Philippines finds resonance with other women’s stories from other countries in Asia, particularly Philippines and Malaysia. These women are at the forefront of the battle against land grabbing by their states, usually for transnational corporations’ interests in mining, agricultural plantations and energy. Their stories are part of a collection of 500 rural women leaders’ stories being launched online today by PAN Asia Pacific and its partner organisations, in time for International Working Women’s Day 2016.

With the theme “500 Rural Women Leaders:  Asserting Rights to Land and Resources”, the collection features the life, struggles and triumphs of current rural women leaders. Their stories speak of a wide range of issues facing rural women today, such as poverty, land grabbing, landlessness, lack of jobs and livelihoods, lack of basic social services, climate change, gender discrimination and violence and caste discrimination and violence, to name a few.

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But rural women are fighting back, at the forefront of their communities and side-by-side with men.  The stories narrate how the women organize themselves into groups, associations or join existing women’s groups to advance common concerns and cause; how they creatively raise awareness through education, trainings and mass campaigns; how they collectively take action through petitions, dialogues, demonstrations and strikes; and how they find viable alternatives in the midst of long-drawn struggles, such as ecological farming against use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers, or land occupation and collective farming against landlessness and land grabbing by the state.

As Aravalli, a Dalit widow from Ananthapuram, Andra Pradesh, India narrates in her story:“On 1st November, the eve of Andhra Formation Day when the government is celebrating, we collectively occupied the land and planted Ragi (finger millet).  When the landlord came with police and revenue officer, I told them that this land belongs to all of us because we are poor and eligible to cultivate the land…The landlord and police held back as we already have the caveat from the court. Although the case is still on-going, land is in our hands.”

Aravalli and Gertrudes’ stories and the rest of the women’s narratives represent 18 countries from 29 partner groups in South Asia (Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka); Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam), East Asia (China), Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan), Pacific (Fiji), and Africa (Senegal, Ghana, Ethiopia).

The collection of stories come under the PAN Asia Pacific campaign “No Land, No Life” and is a continuation of the 16 Days of Global Action on Rural Women, both launched last year. It aims to document and highlight the leadership and importance of rural women, draw lessons from their failures and victories, and inspire others especially the new generation of women, with the collective strength and leadership of rural women.

To read the stories, click the link: http://www.panap.net/campaigns/women-assert-our-rights/500-rural-women-leaders

Reference:  Marjo Busto, PAN Asia Pacific, ARWC Secretariat, marjo.busto@panap.net

Fight Back Imperialist Globalisation, Militarism and Religious Fundamentalism!

Statement of the Asian Rural Women’s Coalition for the International Working Women’s Day

08 March 2016

As we celebrate International Working Women’s Day today, we also mourn the death 5 days ago of Berta Caceres: a Lenca woman leader and environmental activist murdered for the defense of her people and their lands in Honduras. Her life and struggle mirrors that of women around the globe, who suffer but fight back against imperialist globalisation and militarism.

After three decades of neo-liberal globalisation, and as its economic and social crisis deepens, women all over the world face intensified exploitation, oppression, multiple forms of discrimination and violence. Women and families coming from underdeveloped countries suffer worse conditions, as the burden of the imperialist crisis is shifted to their countries.

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Neo-liberal globalisation intensifies inequalities of wealth, power and resources between countries, between rich and poor, and between men and women. It further escalates land, water and resource grabbing in the imperialist drive for profit and geo-political control, concentrated in the hands of big transnational and local corporations and landlords, for dams, mining, agricultural plantations and aquacultures. These displace peasant women, indigenous women, fisherfolk women and their families, as well as other rural sectors sourcing their livelihoods from the land and waters. Peasant and indigenous women’s role as food producers and seed keepers are drastically eroded, putting food security and safety at risk and farmers at the mercy of patented and genetically modified seeds.

Mining displaces indigenous women and entire farming communities from their homes, livelihoods, and native cultures. Armies, police and mining company goons inflict gross human rights abuses to the displaced population as well as to those resisting mining. This plunder of natural resources has also resulted to climate change and catastrophic disasters. Rural women bear the brunt of climate change and disasters, as they are in charge of food production, water supply and maintaining families’ homes. Environmental and natural disasters place women and children most vulnerable to health risks, while placing women at higher risks of harm and even death when disasters strike.

Within the framework of neo-liberal economic agenda, the US-led TPPA (Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement) will deepen imperialist economic control of poor and underdeveloped countries in the region as it further opens up land and resources to imperialist plunder. For toiling women of Asia, this will mean further economic oppression.

When imperialist interests are at stake, militarism in the form of wars of aggression and interventions are not far behind. The TPPA is partnered with the “US pivot to Asia” which will strengthen US economic, military and political control in the Asia Pacific as well as contain China as a threat to US power in the region. This will bring about heightened political repression in countries like the Philippines where US-puppet regimes are installed and are eager to surrender national sovereignty. For women activists, movements and human rights defenders in the region, this spells heightened human rights violations and political repression.

Religious fundamentalism is on the rise in the past years, especially in South Asian countries like India. Generated and fanned by the protracted and worsening crisis of imperialism, religious bigotry with the support of imperialist forces, state and non-state actors, have intensified rural women’s invisibility, further restricted women’s civil and political rights, legitimated violence against women, revived religious sanctioned prostitution, perpetuated discrimination and denied women’s inherent right to control their lives, bodies, sexuality and resources. Fundamentalisms and imperialist globalisation processes interact with caste discrimination denying Dalit women the right to life, land, and equal status with men.

Rural women in Asia condemn and resist land and resource grabbing, militarism and fundamentalism and is in solidarity with the women of the world resisting imperialist globalisation.

We reaffirm our demand and persevere in the struggle for genuine agrarian and aquatic reforms and rural women’s ownership and access to land, waters and other resources; food sovereignty and ecological biodiversity based agriculture; the right to self-determination; the right to fair living wages, job security, freedom of association and our demand for development justice.

We reaffirm our demand and resolutely struggle for an end to all state-led, state-supported wars; justice for all human rights defenders and affected communities; the prioritization of basic social services over military budgets; the repeal of repressive laws and an end to extra judicial killings and enforced disappearances.

We reaffirm our demand and determinedly struggle for an end to the caste system and untouchability practices; our inherent right to life with dignity; our sexual and reproductive health and rights; and our right to political representation at all policy levels to represent different religions, ethnic groups and marginalised sectors.

Rural women in Asia are more resolute and more militant in organising, educating and mobilising its ranks, and links its struggles and movements with the peoples’ movements in different countries and the world anti-imperialist movement.

We call on the young generation of rural women to link arms with us and the toiling women all over the world, to collectively march towards our liberation.

Rights, Empowerment and Liberation!

Women of the world unite! Fight back imperialist globalisation, militarism and fundamentalism!

Reference: Sarojeni Rengam and Marjo Busto, Secretariat, arwc-secretariat@asianruralwomen.net

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*The ARWC is facilitated by the Steering Committee (SC) body composed of 10 member groups of national formations/alliances and regional organisations working on rural women’s issues. The SC members include national alliances: Tamil Nadu Women’s Forum (TNWF) and Society for Rural Education and Development (SRED) in India; Tenaganita in Malaysia; Human Development Organization (HDO) in Sri Lanka; INNABUYOG and GABRIELA National Alliance of Women’s Organization in the Philippines; and the All Nepal Women’s Alliance (ANWA) in Nepal. Regional networks include Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW), and Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PANAP).

For Land and Life: 16 Days of Global Action

Today, rural women from 20 countries across the globe are taking a strong and united stand against the unprecedented scale of land and resource grabbing in the world. For the next 16 days, in what we call the 16 Days of Global Action, rural women under the slogan “No Land, No Life!” will rise to educate, mobilise and engage their communities, schools, governments, and the general public. Through their collective power and creativity, rural women’s groups will assert the need for land to the landless, food sovereignty, biodiverse ecological agriculture, reclamation of traditional seeds and knowledge, and women’s rights.

Started in 29th March this year at the declaration of the Day of the Landless by PANAP, ARWC (Asian Rural Women’s Coalition), APC (Asian Peasants’ Coalition) and partner groups, the campaign No Land, No Life: March for Life! Fight for Rights, Land and Resources! is a response to the deeply felt effects of intensified land and resource grabbing on small-scale farmers and food producers, including women. After the world food crisis seven years ago, the monopoly control of landlords and big corporations over huge tracts of land has tightened more than ever through the neoliberal restructuring of agriculture. Genuine land reform remains an unrealised dream for the millions of farmers who toil under increasingly exploitative and hazardous conditions, while losing control over food production. Globally, food production—which depends on the ownership of land and resources—has become alarmingly unsustainable, as land and resources are utilised by a handful of individuals or corporations only as a means to achieve superprofits.

For rural women, land and resources mean life. Without it, they have no community, they have no livelihood, they have no culture and identity. Without it, they cannot even feed themselves and their own families. Rural women are seed savers and land tillers, community leaders and family managers. They are indispensable to food security and to society. However, they are virtually fighting for survival today, as land, seeds, water and other productive resources are being taken away.

Land and resource grabbing is an unmistakably growing threat. According to the Land Matrix website, around 1,067 land deals covering more than 38.9 million hectares have been concluded worldwide since 2000. Most of the agricultural lands involved are in Africa, Asia and Latin America with investors mainly from the US and Europe.[1] It is a re-colonisation of the world, except that it is being made acceptable by neoliberal policies implemented through various international and national instruments.

It is a re-colonisation that is marked by human rights violations and violence against men and women. Extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests, and even mass evacuations have become more common in rural areas where there are conflicts arising from land and resource grabbing—such as in Southern Philippines, where the indigenous Lumad are being killed for defending their ancestral lands from the encroachment of mostly foreign mining companies. Just last week, social activist Medha Patkar and 10 others were arrested in the Allahabad district in Uttar Pradesh for protesting over the Indian government’s proposed thermal power plant, which has displaced nearly 2,000 farmers from over 500 hectares of land.

The need for rural women to speak up on the threats to their land and life bore life to the 16 Days of Global Action on Rural Women. For the past months, PAN Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP) together with about 75 of its network partners, have been raising public awareness on the rural women’s six demands, namely: (1) land to the landless; (2) genuine agrarian reform; (3) biodiverse ecological agriculture; (4) reclaiming of traditional seeds and knowledge; (5) women’s rights; and (6) food sovereignty. These demands are both timely and timeless. They arose from a meticulous process of collecting their experiences, struggles, and aspirations across the region—through a journal that passed from woman to woman, through speak-outs, public assemblies and fora, lobbying, and marches and protest actions.

For it is the same threats of land and resource grabbing that have encouraged rural women to stand up and assert their rights as women and as members of the affected communities. They do so by defending their lands against encroachers, setting up community seed banks and collectively-owned ecological farms, among others.

For the next 16 days, they will thus bring their struggles for land reform and food sovereignty to policymakers, opinion makers, and the general public through various awareness raising activities. An active online campaign utilising social media and using the hashtags #NoLandNoLife #RuralWomenRiseUp will also be launched. All these will culminate with mass actions on October 15, World Rural Women’s Day, and October 16, the World “Foodless” Day.

Through these activities, rural women will call for justice for their sisters and brothers who have fallen victim to countless human rights violations resulting from land and resource grabbing. For it is the everyday life-or-death struggles for land that gave birth and strengthened the resolve of rural women across the globe to fight for their future – one that is intricately intertwined with the future of food production that serves the interest of the great majority instead of the profits of the few. As we are imperiled by fast dwindling resources and poisoned land, the need for rural women and other marginalised rural sectors to fight back remains urgent, necessary and just more than ever.

No Land, No Life!

Women, Assert Our Rights to Land and Resources!

*The 16 Days of Global Action on Rural Women is a global campaign to highlight and support the struggles, leadership and victories of rural women as they continue to assert and reclaim their rights to land and resources. From October 1-16, more than 70 organisations and movements in 20 countries are holding various activities to forward the rural women’s agenda and demands.

Reference:  Marjo Busto, Programme Coordinator, PANAP (marjo.busto@panap.net)

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[1] Data from http://landmatrix.org/en/ as accessed on 29 September 2015

 

16 Days of Global Action on Rural Women Launched

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – At a farmers’ picket-protest against land grabbing in Rodriguez, Rizal, PANAP in coordination with AMIHAN Philippines (National Federation of Peasant Women) launched yesterday the 16 Days of Global Action on Rural Women (#16Days4RuralWMN).

“This is a global campaign to highlight rural women’s struggles, victories and leadership in their assertion to defend food sovereignty and their rights to land and resources. From October 1 to 16, various women’s groups in at least 15 countries will hold simultaneous activities which will culminate on October 15 and 16, International Rural Women’s Day and World Food (Less) Day respectively,” stated Marjo Busto, Coordinator of Women in Agriculture Programme of PANAP.

AMIHAN is a PANAP partner participating in the #16Days4RuralWMN campaign. At the picket-protest, women farmer leaders gave fiery speeches opposing quarrying and land grabbing in the municipality of Rodriguez in the province of Rizal.

Zenaida Soriano, AMIHAN Chairperson, said “We are firmly opposed to big landlords grabbing the lands we have been tilling for generations. We fight against quarrying which only benefits big business but is hazardous to the environment and our health. We demand decent housing, livelihoods, and genuine agrarian reform.” AMIHAN held a nation-wide protest activity yesterday, highlighting farmers’ local issues and demands such as the enactment of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB).

A woman farmer leader from Ilocos Norte (province in northern Philippines), Elizabeth Alfiler expressed solidarity with fellow women farmers in the picket-protest: “Like you I am a woman farmer, a wife, a mother, and an activist. To women farmers like us, land is life. Without land we cannot feed our families, we cannot send our children to school. I am one with you in opposing land grabbing and demanding for genuine agrarian reform.” Alfiler is also a journal writer in the Women’s Travelling Journal (WTJ) for Food Sovereignty, a collection of personal stories written by 50 rural women in 6 countries portraying the realities of their struggles on land and other resources. The WTJ was also launched yesterday as part of the campaign #16Days4RuralWMN.

“With this campaign we hope that rural women’s voices are heard by policymakers and governments and that rural women’s demands to stop land and resource grabbing and to uphold women’s rights are met,” emphasized Marjo Busto. “From now until October 1 to 16, we enjoin women’s groups and advocates to support us in this campaign,” she added.

The #16Days4RuralWMN is being done under PANAP’s banner campaign “No Land, No Life!”— a year-long campaign which aims to highlight land and resource grabbing as human rights issues, raise greater awareness on and generate broader support for ongoing local cases of land and resource grabbing at the international level, and coordinate and reinforce the various national campaigns against land and resource grabbing.

Reference: Marjo Busto, Programme Coordinator, PANAP (16daysofaction@panap.net)