Thursday, December 5, 2013

Bali Ministerial: Indian Farmers urge Minister Sharma to continue support to farmers and right to food

PRESS RELEASE
4 December 2013
                                                                  
Bali Ministerial:
Indian Farmers urge Minister Sharma to continue support to farmers and right to food

The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movement (ICCFM) reiterates its support to Minister Anand Sharma and the Indian government for taking a strong stance in support of the hungry and small farmers of not just India, but the entire developing world at the WTOs 9th ministerial meeting. There is tremendous pressure on the Indian government to accept the Bali package, which could result it being forced to roll back the farmers Price Support System and the National Food Security Act, which provides subsidized food to more than 800 million people in India.

Members of ICCFM from Bhartiya Kisan Union, KRRS and SICCFM are present in Bali and are closely monitoring the ongoing talks and the stand of the Indian delegation in Bali. They have been part of several actions both inside and outside of the WTO venue, and demonstrations on the streets of Bali in order to demand the rights of farmers and the hungry and to keep the WTO and its free trade agenda out of Agriculture. “The millions of small farmers in India depend on farming as the main source of their livelihood. Agriculture is not a business in India, it is a culture and a way of life for the poor. We will not allow the WTO or any other free trade deal to endanger the livelihood of millions of our farmers,” said Yudhvir Singh of BKU.

The ICCFM urges the Indian government to deliberate deeply on its position on agriculture and global trade along with Indian farmers after the Bali talks end and permanently safeguard the interests of Indian farmers and hungry by ensuring strong national food security laws that support local production.

The WTO is forcing developing countries to cut already meagre subsidies to their hungry and poor, while allowing rich to continue huge trade distorting subsidies to their own agribusiness. At the same time it is forcing developing countries to open their markets to rich country products, while they face several barriers to exporting their own products. The Peace Clause in the current Bali package is an empty promise to developing countries which will leave them open to challenge in the four year interim period. “The peace clause is just a way to get us to accept the deal, eventually we will totally lose our ability to produce food and thousands of farmers will commit suicide if agriculture imports from rich countries flood our markets,” said Nandini Jairam of KRRS.

“We have communicated our concerns to Minister Sharma here in Bali. We will wait to see the stand that the Indian government takes at the end of the talks. If they don't reject the Peace Clause and protect Indian farmers and hungry, then we will come out on the streets all across the country and the consequences will be serious,” said Rakesh Tikait of BKU.

The ICCFM announced its intention to mobilize in a strength of more than 1 lakh in March 2014, the exact form and intensity of the mobilization will depend on the stance taken by the official Indian delegation here in Bali, and its behavior back in India.

For more information, please contact:
Yudhvir Singh, Coordinator and National Secretary, ICCFM (Yudhvir55@yahoo.com)
Rakesh Tikait, Spoksperson, BKU
Ms. K.S. Nandini Jayaram, President, KRRS Women’s Unit (nandiniksgowda@gmail.com)

Ashlesha Khadse: ashlesha.khadse@gmail.com, In Bali:  +62 87862889108

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Global Day of Action: #endWTO! Justice for Farmers!

In the midst of the 9th WTO Ministerial, La Via Campesina South Asia took part in the Global Day of Action at home in Mangalore and abroad in Bali. All over the world on December 3rd, farmers, trade unions, fisherfolk, women, and indigenous people joined together to demand a decisive blow to neoliberalism: an end to the WTO, once and for all.

In Bali, the mobilization was organized by Gerak Lawan, SMAA, and #endWTO. Each group of protesters had a colorful presentation: Koreans held a funeral for the WTO while a local Indonesian drum band played on in the background. More than 30 nationalities were present.

More photos here.

“The Bali package is a terrible deal for the developing world. We are forced to accept a legally binding agreement on trade facilitation and cut our small subsidies for farmers and the hungry. The peace clause is a trojan horse to get us to accept the WTO deal.” said Henry Saragih of Indonesia. 

“We don't want to get into discussions on weather the peace clause should be for 4 years or 10 years, the point is that the WTO is doing nothing for the farmers, in the long run it spells death for us. Indian farmers will never accept such a deal,” said Yudhvir Singh of BKU.

(More coverage: Jakarta Post, Economic Times)

Meanwhile, in Karnataka, India, farmers mobilized on the ground at a place of great meaning to agriculturalists trying to make a living in South India: the Mangalore port, an import hub of the nation. Farmers from four Indian states - Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, and Maharastra - came together to demand India leaves the WTO. They blockaded the port and burned an effigy of the WTO.


According to The Hindu:
The protesters viewed the limiting of subsidy on agriculture produce by the WTO, and the facilitation of cheap, duty-free import of agricultural produce by the Free Trade Agreements as “an extension of colonialism” and hurting the interest of farmers.

Coffee-grower M. Manjunath from Mudigere in Chikmagalur taluk, believed that the prices of coffee would increase by around Rs. 1,500 per quintal if cheap imports from Brazil were stopped. “Up to four per cent of the 3 lakh tonnes produced in India can be imported. Because of this, there are no buyers of our produce,” he said.
Similarly, K.G. Umesh, a sugarcane farmer from Maddur taluk in Mandya district, said the duty-free imports of sugar from Brazil and Malaysia were eating into the profitability of farmers here.
K.T. Gandadhar, general secretary of KRRS, said the import of sugar, maize, pigeon peas (tur dal), palm oil, rubber, areca nut were hurting domestic farmers.
He asked Parliament and Union government to ensure that developing countries walk out of the WTO talks. The protesters burned an effigy of the trade organisation.
“On the one hand, the cost of agriculture is soaring. On the other, farmers are being pushed into distress because of the dumping policies of the WTO. India should ensure that all imports are taxed, and should follow a path that aids farmers,” said Chamarasa Mali Patil, president, KRRS.

More photos, coverage here.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

BREAKING NEWS: ACTION BY INDIAN MOVEMENTS INSIDE WTO MEETING



December 3



India: Defending the Poor and Hungry is Non-Negotiable!

2 December 2013

On the occasion of the Ninth Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Bali, Indonesia, several farmers’ organisations, trade unions, mass organisations and peoples’ campaigns resolved to support the Indian Government’s position to not trade away national food security.

The group welcomes the decision of the Indian Cabinet on 28th November to reject any peace clause that does not guarantee a permanent solution. The peace clause has been widely opposed by the Chairs of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce and Agriculture, several political parties including the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Left parties, and mass organisations.

However, the group cautioned the Indian negotiating team headed by Commerce Minister Mr. Anand Sharma, not to bow to any pressure to weaken India’s position on defending and upholding national food security as a sovereign right. The group declared that the safeguarding and promotion of the country’s food security, rural employment and livelihoods are non-negotiable, and that food security cannot be ensured without supporting agricultural production by small and marginal farmers

The group reminds the WTO members that no country needs to be on the defensive about protecting the right to food and fighting hunger in their countries. And that aggressively upholding the rights of its citizens is not tantamount to collapsing the ministerial talks. On the contrary, such pressure tactics must be exposed as a conspiracy to keep people hungry and poor.

It was decided that the group would closely monitor the negotiations during the ministerial meeting to ensure that the interests of the poor and hungry are not compromised in any way.

Bhartiya Kisan Union
Bharatiya Krishak Samaj
Bharatiya Majdoor Sangh
Focus on the Global South India
Great Mission Group Consultancy
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS)
Public Services International
Right to Food Campaign
Shram Seva Nyas
South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers’ Movements
Swadeshi JagranManch
Third World Network India



December 4


Sunday, December 1, 2013

2 of our own in Indonesian Youth Caravan to #endWTO





The Indonesian Youth Food Movement Youth Caravan departed Jakarta on 25th November from Jakarta with forty-five energetic participants, ready to campaign across Java for the end of the WTO and the Free Trade Regime. Among them were two international guests from South Asia, Pathak representing BKF and Savitha representing KRRS.
"I decided to participate in the caravan because I wanted to understand the peasant movements of Indonesia - their strategy for building strength and and what is the lifestyle of the peasants. I wanted to know how they are fighting for their rights." Patak 
"For me, I wanted to join in the Caravan so I could compare Indian movements with Indonesia, especially the youth movement. I was excited to learn how they actively oppose the agrarian crisis, and how the student unions work together with the farmer movements. I'm a unversity student, so I can bring the ideas from Indonesia back to our own Youth Movement - The Green Brigade." Savitha

The first stop was Cirebon, where the Youth Caravaners met with local fisherfolk who are part of SNI- Serikat Nelayan Indonesia. They shared about the acute crisis they are facing because MNC fishing companies are able to overfish and still survive. Local fishers have to cope with the overfishing conditions by going far out into the ocean, and for those who can't manage, they migrate to Thailand as fisherman or Saudi Arabia as domestic workers.

At the second stop, Semarang, an Youth Caravaners had an action in front of the government action. "It was a fruitful action - after the action, the government called the Youth Food Movement representatives to talk, and committed to supporting food sovereignty at a local level. They also plan to work against climate change (though within the limitations of the already-existing WTO agreements)," said Pathak.

Next was Solo, a provincial city, where a cultural event and street theatre was held in the middle of the road. "Women's students participated and put forward drama and skits about food sovereignty. I took away a lot of inspiration for my university, we haven't found anything like it in Karnataka," said Savitha.

At Surabaya, both Savitha and Patak were able to share during the International Seminar on WTO at Veteran University. Savitha talked about the multiple crises of land grabbing, oil seed farmers, farmer suicides, women farmers, and the dairy sector, while Pathak spoke about the campaign to #endWTO and the alternatives such as food sovereignty, to an audience of over 200 people.


Last stop was Banyuwangi, a coastal town, where the Youth Caravan got to sleep on the beach in coconut leave houses. They met with the Baffel community who is fighting against the gold extraction since 1995. "The community faced violence from hired paramilitaries - some people were killed and the community still lives in fear. Not only did they lose their land to the gold mining industries, but also their peace of mind. Indigenous people especially suffered," told Savitha.

"As a former organizer of the Bangladesh Climate Caravan, it was interesting to see a youth-oriented caravan. Our caravan is more farmer-oriented, but now we are interested involving student groups as well," Pathak commented. "As a member of a student group and a researcher, I am inspired by the students unions in Indonesia. I hope to organize student groups in Karnataka as well that join with the farmers' movement and to end the agrarian crisis and free trade regime," Savitha concluded.

La Via Campesina thanks the Youth Food Movement for welcoming our representatives and for giving them a platform to share about the Indian and Bangladeshi context!


Indian farmers' movements in the news for organizing against WTO

NEW DELHI, December 1, 2013
Updated: December 1, 2013 02:03 IST

Farmers’ panel urges PM not to accept Peace Clause

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movement on Friday urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh not to accept at the ninth World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting the ‘Peace Clause’, which is a time-bound immunity against penalty for breaching the 10 per cent ceiling on farm subsidy provided to developing countries like India. The panel comprises farmers’ groups in various States and State units of the Bhartiya Kisan Union.
“It is sad that the United Progressive Alliance government, in a hasty move, agreed for this temporary reprieve instead of holding to its original position for a permanent solution through changes in the Agreement on Agriculture [AoA], i.e. allowing such subsidies under the green box, which contains no conditionality on subsidy limits. This would have removed the imbalance in the AoA, whereby the developed countries have the flexibility to provide high subsidy directly to their population in the form of food stamps, but developing countries are unable to meet similar objectives,” the committee said in a letter written to Dr. Singh.
“By accepting the ‘Peace Clause’, India may help with the deal on Trade Facilitation and the successful end of the WTO Ministerial in Indonesia, but the Congress-led UPA will be condemned for compromising price support system (or minimum support price) which provides livelihood support to millions of subsistence farmers and ensures adequate food production for public stockholding essential to run the food security programme in India, home for one third of world’s hungry population,” the letter said.
“As an eminent economist, it must be clear to you that India can ensure food security only by supporting both production and consumption. Weakening the production, as the ‘Peace Clause’ is bound to do, will not help food access. The Indian government has to defend its right to freely procure food from 600 million farmers and get it across to its 870 million hungry people in the country,” the letter said.
It said that the European Union and the United States interest in the WTO were to get market access in developing countries, while at the same time protect their farmers and agri-business through doling out huge subsidies. “In the last 18 years of the WTO regime, the U.S. and E.U. have not fulfilled any of their commitment on reduction of their subsidies, rather, are openly continuing their domestic subsidies as well as export subsidies.”
The letter is in a series of protests expressed by political parties, former bureaucrats and civil society groups in the country in the run-up to the Bali ministerial beginning on Tuesday.
----
SHIMOGA, November 30, 2013

KRRS slams WTO’s cap on food subsidies

STAFF CORRESPONDENT

Accuses the world body of pressuring India to revoke Food Security Bill

Wealthy nations through World Trade Organisation (WTO) are trying to pressure India to either withdraw or dilute its Food Security Bill, working president of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha K.T. Gangadhar has said.
The WTO has fixed the caps on the food subsidies and minimum support price (MSP) of its member nations on the directions of United States of America (USA) and the European Union. It is the right time for India to reconsider its ties with WTO, he said at a State-level seminar on social justice held at Dr. Ambedkar Bhavan in the city on Friday.
He said that, the below poverty line (BPL) families as well as the small and marginal farmers will be benefited from Food Security Bill. The Bill was a major step towards the alleviation of poverty and hunger. If the Bill was implemented, the amount India spends on food subsidy would breach the cap fixed by WTO. The issue will come for discussion during the ninth Ministerial conference of WTO that will be held in Indonesia next month, he said.
The cap on food subsidy fixed by WTO was inhuman and it should be opposed. The policies of WTO were against the interests of the poor and the marginalised. By pressurising for withdrawal of the Food Security Bill passed by the Indian Parliament, the WTO has shown disregard for democracy.
He stressed on the need to mobilise a strong public opinion against the policies of WTO.
He said the socio-economic disparities in India were widening owing to the liberal economic policies. The Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and the Backward Class were not benefited in any manner from economic liberalisation, he said.
He said the Dalit and peasant movement in Karnataka should rework their strategies to face the challenges posed by the forces unleashed by economic liberalisation and globalisation. Rather that resorting to extreme measures, the Dalit and peasant organisations should adopt Constitutional and legal means to get their demands fulfilled, he said.
The political parties try to come to power by issuing false promises to the voters. The social activists should carefully study the election manifesto of the political parties and create awareness among the voters on them, he said.
The programme was organised by Karnataka Dalit Sangharsha Samiti (DSS). Convener of DSS H. Rachappa, social activists Mallesh Harihar, Shivananda Kugwe, Somashekhar Shimoggi and Rajappa Mastar were present.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Farmers to picket Mangalore port against WTO conference


Shimoga, November 29, 2013

Farmers to picket Mangalore port against WTO conference

2,500 people will take part in the protest, says KRRS leader

Members of the South Indian Inter-State Coordination Committee of Farmers’ Organisations will stage a protest by picketing the harbour operated by New Mangalore Port Trust in Mangalore on December 3 against the 9th Ministerial conference of World Trade Organisation (WTO) that will be held in Bali in Indonesia, working president of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) K.T. Gangadhar has said.

The policies of WTO are against the interests of the farmers and below poverty line families in India. A meeting of farmers’ organisations of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Goa and Maharashtra was held in Bangalore on November 17 and 18 and it decided to stage protest against WTO Ministerial conference. More than 2,500 farmers will take part in the protest, Mr. Gangadhar told presspersons here on Thursday.

India has recently passed Food Security Bill which guarantees foodgrains at subsidised prices for the poor families. India also procures foodgrains under minimum support price (MSP) from the farmers when there is fall in the price of agricultural produce. The food grains procured at MSP are distributed among the poor families at subsidised prices through the food security programmes. The cap imposed by WTO on its member nations on offering food subsidies and extending MSPs are unscientific, he said.

When the agriculture subsidy in the member nation crosses the permissible limit, WTO can impose fine. Under the Food Security Bill, India will provide 5 kilo subsidised foodgrains for 67 per cent of its population. If the Act is fully implemented, the cap on food subsidy offered by WTO will be breached. Prior to the Bali conference, WTO is pressuring India to withdraw the Food Security Bill passed by the Parliament and thereby has insulted the sovereignty of the nation, he said.

As per the direction of WTO, India has lifted quantitative restrictions on import of agricultural produce due to which there was a sharp in the price of foodgrains grown by the farmers here. The import of sugar, silk, pulses and milk powder at cheap price that has harmed the interests of the farmers here should be stopped immediately, he said.
The farmers will also take out a protest march from the railway station in Mangalore city at 11 a.m. to the Mangalore port, he said.
Functionaries of KRRS Yashwanth Rao and D.V. Veeresh, Umapathi were present in the press conference.


  • Ninth Ministerial Conference of WTO will be held in Indonesia from December 3 to 6
  • ‘The policies of WTO are against the interests of the farmers and BPL families in India’


  • More In: KARNATAKA | NATIONAL

    Friday, November 22, 2013

    Roundtable on WTO and FTAs brings state-level movements together for regional action

    Roundtable on WTO and FTAs, hosted by South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers' Movements
    On November 17th and 18th, 2013, leaders of farmers' movements from four states - Karnataka, Kerala, Maharastra, and Tamil Nadu - came together to strengthen their ties and discuss a topic which has been blasting Indian agriculturalists for 18 years: the World Trade Organization and the resulting onslaught of bilateral and multilateral free-trade agreements.

    Building bridges for collaboration
    Starting with an analysis of farmers' unique context in each state, each movement brought to light a different aspect of the struggle for food sovereignty. Farmers from Kerala situated the farmers' movement inside a broader struggle for land reform, pointing out that the farmers' movement must take into consideration landlessness and accompany the Dalit movement in the pursuit of land justice. Friends from Tamil Nadu discussed the unique adversary they face in the Nilgiris -- the so-called environmental scientists who are booting tribals off of their own land in the name of conservation and 'green capitalism.' They pointed out that each state does indeed share a turf in spite of borders: the biodiverse and highly threatened Western Ghats. Jawandia ji from Maharastra framed the local issues within the global context of free-trade in agriculture and predatory subsidies, putting forward a radical proposal that farm laborers receive the same minimum wage as the government employees. He also brought to the discussion the antodaya in the farmer community - rain-fed farmers - and put out a call to fellow movements to commit to addressing their issues.

    The hosting movement, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, listened to each report with open ears and open mind for future collaboration, and also briefed the visiting movements in recent developments such as a massive mobilization on October 29, 2013 that effectively relaunched the Karnataka State Farmers' Movement as a unified front. Movements found common ground for moving forward in issues such as a shared watershed/river basin, situations in which imports in one state affect production in another state where imports are banned, and the continued struggle to bring the farmer suicide epidemic to light.

    The outcome of the meeting was a strengthened momentum for the South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers' Movements, with a renewed commitment to building leadership among women and youth, as well as reaching out beyond the classic farmer constituency to landless laborers, dalits, and adivasis in the fight for food sovereignty. The next meeting will be held in Kerala before the end of January, 2014.

    The World Trade Organization and FTAs: A timely and terrifying lesson
    SICCFM was honored to receive two guests - Mr. Afsar Jafri from Focus on the Global South and Ms. Kartini Samon from GRAIN - who shared with us an explanation and analysis of the role of the WTO and FTAs in the current agrarian crisis. Mr. Jafri delineated the WTO history and structure, with a special focus on the Agreement on Agriculture and subsidies. In India, the Food Security Ordinance passed this year provides food at an affordable rate to below-poverty-line citizens. However, the so-called "developed" states of the WTO have challenged the subsidy as trade-distorting (nevermind their own gluttonous subsidies, which conveniently fall into a category exempt from inquiry). Jafri advocates that if India must participate in the Bali negotiations, that we do not accept a peace clause but instead argue that the Food Security Ordinance should also fall into the "Green Box." However, this is not looking likely, and India seems ready to accept a Peace Clause which provides several years of leniency without a real food security plan.

    Ms. Kartini spoke chiefly about the dairy sector in India, and the attempts of foreign investors to enter an already self-sufficient market. Right now, most of the dairy sector in India is dominated by "backyard" milk producers,  and industrialists are looking to set up massive dairy production centers with tens of thousands of heads of cattle. This will have a fatal impact on the dairy cooperatives in India and will also be detrimental to food safety.

    After being updated on the threat the WTO and FTAs pose to the agriculture sector, especially the small and marginal farmers, SICCFM members reaffirmed our position that the WTO should be shut down. S. Kannaiyan, the convener of the meeting, furiously stated: "The WTO kills peasants and farmers. We must see an end to the WTO before it is too late." The next ministerial is occurring on December 1-6, 2013 in Bali, and we gave a gave a hearty send-off to the three South Indian farmers who will be representing SICCFM and La Via Campesina at the WTO Ministerial Bali Week of Action. Additionally, they committed to not only taking up these issues through a shared mobilization on the Global Day of Action on December 3, 2013 but also through a village awareness campaign ov

    "Return of WTO: The Bali Package" by Mary Lou Malig


    Tuesday, October 8, 2013

    Bihar's agroecological farmers host international farmers' delegation


    Earlier this year, when Sumant Kumar and his 4 friends, all young farmers from the Nalanda region in Bihar, made headlines for breaking the world records in rice and potato production without using any chemicals, herbicides or GM seeds, it inspired farmers across the world. Through the global network of peasants' movements called La Via Campesina, farmers in the state of Karnataka in southern India got a call from Brazilian farmers, asking if they could go see this unbelievable feat together. The Brazilian farmers from the Landless Peoples' Movement (MST) represented one of the largest organic rice production cooperatives in the world, but hadn't come close to the 22.4 tons/ha yield obtained by Kumar, which defeated even the Chinese world record holder and “father of rice,” Y Longping. Together, La Via Campesina and local activists of the GM Free Bihar movement members of ASHA organized a “see and learn” field visit for farmers from south India and South America – namely Karnataka, Brazil and Haiti. 

    It's important to note that this happened against the backdrop of a string of high profile reports from across the world that have rejected industrial farming and GMOs as the solution to global hunger. The latest one by UNCTAD this September, with contributions from more than 60 international experts claimed that “monoculture and industrial farming methods are not providing sufficient affordable food where it is needed, while causing mounting and unsustainable environmental damage.”

    Alternatives are not coming from agroindustry, they are coming from peasants themselves -- agroecological farmers like Kumar and millions of others across the world. These farmers are practicing a type of farming that makes agricultural families self-reliant on their own inputs, creativity and local knowledge , rather than on high loans for unsustainable corporate technologies .

    Take for instance “seedman” Mr JP Singh, a brilliant and innovative farmer from the holy city of Varanasi. He has single-handedly conserved more than 460 local varieties of rice, 40 of red gram and 120 of wheat on his farm. Some of his indigenous high-yielding varieties perform even better than those developed by companies and public universities and the government has commercially released them for the benefit of farmers.  During our visit, he shared with us:
    I want the government to promote farmers' seeds. Farmers can save them, reuse them and distribute them. The company hybrids are expensive and we have to buy them every time. There is no need to do this if we shift to farmers' varieties. 1 million farmers buy seeds directly from me from all over the country and I am personally in touch with each one of them,” 
    while displaying JP 85, JP 11, JP Balwan, his own seed varieties. “This wheat is very high in protein, this dark rice has higher quantities of iron, this one can grow without water, this one grows in just 100 days, this one cures diabetes," he narrated to the group of inspired farmers. He has received accolades from presidents and prime ministers alike and points out that such recognition from society for a humble farmer like him is what gives him momentum. But the biggest proof of his success are the farmers lining up at his house who have traveled from the far corners of India to buy his seeds. “I canvas nearby villages on foot and give farmers the seeds. I ask them to distribute them to 5 other farmers at least, and like this we try to spread our native seeds."  JP Singh's sons help him, proudly telling us that they rejected corporate jobs by the agroindustry after finishing their degrees in agriculture; instead, they want to help their community and continue the legacy of their father as farmer scientists in the village. “We will build a seed museum soon and try to train as many others as possible,” says Mohit, JP's son.

    JP is an experienced soul, but young farmers are not far behind. The record-breaking group of 5 Nalanda farmers in Bihar said they shifted to organic farming after receiving training and support on SRI from the Bihar states local agricultural department. System of Rice Intensification (SRI), is a relatively new agroecological technique which uses lesser water and seeds than the traditional methods but helps yield far greater quantities. The Bihar government had introduced SRI to their district in 2008 and almost 90% of the farmers there now practice this method. The yeilds for paddy obtained by the farmers are 22 tons/ha by Krishna Kumar, Nitish Kumar, Ramanand Singh and Sanjay Kumar had yields of 19.6 tons, 19.2 tons and 19 tons per hectare respectively. Nitish Kumar's 72.9 tonnes/ha in potato was later broken by another organic farmer, Rakesh Kumar who obtained 108.8 tons/ha.

    The farmers combined SRI with classic organic practices of mulching, crop rotation, green manures, cow dung, poultry manure, vermicompost, among other things. 
    Some also used organic fertilizer that was distributed for free by the State Agriculture Department. One major source of controversy was that some record-holders used Bayer and Syngenta seeds, giving rise to the doubt that it was corporate seeds alone that achieved the feat. This myth was soon debunked as other farmers in the area that used the same seeds, combined with urea and other fertilizer applications, and still got a lower yield than the Kumars.  The community has started a shift to local seed varieites now, and are receiving similar yields, without the Bayer or the Syngenta seeds. Many even used JP varieties, produced by our new friend JP Singh of Varanasi. The economy of the entire area has changed and farmers claim their incomes have increased ever since they shifted to organic farming.

    Manoj Kumar, a progressive farmer from the Muzzafarpur area of Bihar is yet another example of what can be achieved if farmers' protagonism is encouraged. A natural teacher, he facilitated 350 other families to come together and form a local farmers' club. Together they have converted the entire village to organic farming. Each household has a large green container of vermicompost outside. “Everyone thought I was crazy at first, but they all saw the success of organic farming on my farm and joined me. Our village is totally self sufficient in food and we produce mainly for feeding our community,” said Manoj. Another woman, Vimla Devi, greeted us. She was the first women to start a vermicompost plant, and played a pivotal role in persuading many women to join their club, a stark contrast to other Bihari rural women who we rarely saw outside their family's domain.

    Given that Bihar is one of the most economically poor states in India, infamous for crime and out-migration, these farmers show that if investments are made to promote farmers' efforts, then the true solutions to poverty, hunger, unemployment and migration will be found with them.

    Bihar is showing a lot of promise in organic farming and the state is providing good support, we need our governments everywhere to encourage us farmers, because we can really bring a change in our community level if supported to promote agroecology. We dont want to become dependent on the market,” said Nandini Jairam, an activist from the KRRS.

    KRRS was proud to host the international guests who had traveled with them to Bihar in a tour in their home state of Karnataka. In addition to farm visits, exchange meetings took place wherein KRRS activists asked the international participants about their techniques at home, and what they learned here. Interestingly, both guests cited cooperatives as central to agroecological success:


    "In Brazil, we are producing rice in a cooperative, by collectivizing production, industrialization, and commercialization. It's the secret to our success," said Sidinei Pietroski from MST. His companero Joseph added, "We are so grateful for our visit here - I learned information from agroecological farms in India that I never learned in agriculture university! And it is impressive to see farmers sit and talk about their common issues such as yield and discuss innovative methods for solving their problems. In my country, even though we have many cooperatives, I haven't seen a meeting like this!"

    Friday, September 20, 2013

    LVC in the News: Field Visit to UP to learn about seeds

    TOI MOBILE



    Seedman from UP to host agricultural experts from across the world

    Sep 19, 2013, 07.03AM IST TNN[ Rajiv Mani ]


    ALLAHABAD: With his extraordinary contribution to indigenous farming despite his humble background and failure to pass class X, Jai Prakash Narain is living proof that brilliance does not necessary flow through books.

    Singh's expertise in protecting and disseminating indigenous high-yielding varieties of seeds has benefitted not only millions of farmers and agricultural experts in the country, but also experts from the developed and developing world. Singh would today be honoured by directorate of seed research, Mau, and would be hosting agricultural scientists from across the world including those from US, Brazil, and Indonesia on September 24.

    A native of Varanasi, Singh recently received the Plant Genome Saviour Farmer award from Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India for his work on high yielding indigenous seeds. He has earlier been felicitated by two former Presidents of the country for developing a treasure of 460 varieties of paddy, 120 varities of wheat, 30 varieties of pulses (arhar) and 4 of mustard seeds over more than two decades.

    While one of his varieties of wheat gives a yield of 79 quintal per hectare of land, another paddy seed (HJPW157) looks like cumin seeds and comes with the benefits of being dwarf, getting ready in just 130 days and using less quantity of water.

    Singh today provides low-cost seeds to poor farmers who have slowly taken to genetically modified seeds, chemicals and pesticides for high yield. His high-yielding seeds are subject of research for various agricultural scientists of different universities of the country.

    Singh told TOI over phone, "I have been invited to Patna to attend the 'Beej Utsav' (seed fair) from September 21 to 26 wherein large number of agro-experts would be discussing the importance of indigenous high-yielding varieties of seeds and the disastrous effects of GM seeds. After this, a large group of experts, including a pioneering farmer from US along with agricultural experts from Brazil, Spain, international and national representatives of La Via Campesina, the international organisation for small-scale farmers, around 20 farmers belonging to Karnataka Rajya Rayot Sangha (KRRS) from Bengaluru and many others would be coming to visit the fields at my village Tadiyan of Rajatalab on September 22 and 23." After visiting the fields, the entire group would be moving to Patna and from there to attend the conference at Bengaluru organised under the guidance of Dr MS Swaminathan, he added.

    Lauding Singh's work, the co-convenor of Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA), Pankaj Bhushan from Patna told TOI, "It is an honour for all of us that experienced farmers like JP Singh would be participating in the meet along with the 'Seedman' of the country Dr Debal Deb."

    "The GM seeds are ruining our poor farmers as they have forgotten to conserve old seeds that were originally used for sowing. The schemes like 'Bringing Green Revolution to East India (BGREI) are a gimmick as although the government has allocated a whopping amount of Rs 1000 crore, the largest chuck of the money is being used for promoting GM seeds, automation of farming etc. Because of this, experts like JP Singh, who have a treasure of indigenous seeds that are not only high-yielding but can be used every year, are marginalised," said Bhushan.

    Friday, August 9, 2013

    Huge Assembly of Citizens Demand that GMOs and Monsanto Quit India, and BRAI Bill be Withdrawn: PM Manmohan Singh gifted with a “non-Monsanto” Indian flag


    Press Release of Coalition for a GM-Free India
    Huge Assembly of Citizens Demand that GMOs and Monsanto Quit India, and
    Bill be Withdrawn:
    PM Manmohan Singh gifted with a “non-Monsanto” Indian flag


    New Delhi, August 8, 2013: Thousands of citizens from 20 states of India came together at Jantar Mantar today for a day-long sit-in and marched towards the Parliament to demand that GMOs and Monsanto should Quit India and also demand in unequivocal terms that the government withdraw the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill, 2013. An Indian flag made out of organic fabric, which does not have Monsanto’s cotton seed used in its production was the centre of focus of this event; this flag was gifted by the congregation to the Prime Minister of India, urging him to unfurl this non-Monsanto, non-Bt cotton flag this year on August 15th

    The participant groups proudly waved the non-BT cotton Indian flags and Pankaj Bhushan, Co-Convenor of Coalition for a GM-Free India said, “It is a shame that cotton and khadi, the symbols of our fight for independence, are today controlled by an American MNC due to our indifference and inaction. 93% of Indian cotton seed has the proprietary technology of Monsanto. On this Independence Day we will hoist non-Bt organic cotton national flags in all the 20 states from where people have joined this dharna; this is a symbolic beginning to regaining our seed sovereignty. We also request the Prime Minister to hoist this flag from the ramparts of the Red Fort this year.”

    Addressing the gathering which also included farmers from all across the country, Saroj Mohanty of Paschim Odisha Krushak Samanvay Samiti said “On the eve of the 71st anniversary of the Quit India Day, we have come together from all over the country as GM technology and companies like Monsanto are threatening our seed sovereignty and livelihoods. He further opined that “Back then, it was the East India Company and now we have “Eat India Companies”! We demand that these companies quit India and strongly urge the Government of India to withdraw the BRAI Bill which has been brought in to facilitate the entry of GM crops, and stop the promotion of flawed and dangerous technologies like GMOs”. 

    The protest at Parliament Street comes at a time when the Union government has introduced the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill, 2013 in Parliament in the last (budget) session. This Bill has been facing strong opposition inside and outside the parliament as it would facilitate the fast track entry of GMOs into our agriculture and environment. The Bill proposes to set up a centralised single window clearance system which is designed to lower the bar for GM crop approvals with no independent long-term safety assessments or need assessment of a particular GM product. Besides this, it takes away the decision-making power of state governments on open field trials in their respective states. The Bill has also faced flak from Right To Information (RTI) groups as it proposes to override the RTI Act. The Bill is now under review of the Parliamentary Standing committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forest.

    Pointing to the increasing evidence on the adverse impacts of GM crops, Kavitha Kuruganti of ASHA (Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture) said “The latest among the growing scientific  reports which have detailed the problems with environmental release of GMOs is the final report of the Technical Expert Committee (TEC) of Supreme Court (in the PIL on GMOs). The TEC has clearly stated that open air field trials of GM crops have to be stopped and effort to introduce Bt in food crops is not advisable. In addition the TEC has also said that herbicide tolerant (HT) GM crops, many of which are in the regulatory pipeline, are not suitable for India. Last year the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture emphasised that protection of biosafety is of paramount importance. PSC had asked for the creation of a comprehensive biosafety protection authority instead of the current BRAI. Why is the government ignoring these highly credible reports and promoting GMOs and pushing the flawed BRAI Bill?” 

    Rajesh Krishnan, Co-Convenor of the Coalition said, “At this critical juncture in Indian agriculture, clearing the BRAI Bill to ensure speedy clearance for GMOs would be detrimental to the interests of our citizens. Indian cotton farmers have already experienced the devastating consequences of the takeover of their seeds and fields by Monsanto through its proprietary  Bt cotton. We can’t surrender our food and farming to the onslaught of GMOs and multinational seed companies like Monsanto. Seed is a matter of sovereignty and this is our struggle to ensure that others don’t take control over our seed and food”. 

    Making a strong case for Multinational Seed corporations to quit India Sridhar Radhakrishnan of Thanal said, “Monsanto has voluntarily withdrawn its transgenic product applications in Europe recently, citing public rejection there; we are here to show Monsanto and such corporations that Indian citizens too do not want or need their products. It is time they withdrew from here”.
    The gathering urged farmers in the country to follow the path of agro-ecological farming with due recognition for women farmers and in consonance with nature. 

    The assembly also demanded that the government stop promoting GMOs and invest urgently in sustainable agricultural solutions to ensure food and livelihood security. “Public sector agricultural R&D system should be made both responsive to the real needs of small farmers and responsible to the people”.

    They urged the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forests, reviewing the BRAI Bill to recommend to the government that it withdraw the Bill.
    They also demanded that all the political parties should pay heed to the democratic voices that are opposing GMOs in our food and farming and declare their commitment to ecological farming, and take a firm stand against GMOs in our food, farming and environment. “It is time that all political parties told the nation whether they stand on the side of sustainable agricultural development based on farmer-controlled, safe, affordable, agro-ecological approaches, or not”. 

    The gathering saw senior leaders from various political parties including Bharatiya Janata Party, Congress, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India, Janata Dal (United), Bahujan Samaj Party, Biju Janata Dal, Telugu Desam Party, DMK etc address the gathering and pledge support on this people’s struggle to keep their food and farming  free from GM crops, and multinational seed corporations and promised to oppose the BRAI Bill in the Parliament (1).
    Farmer leaders from various states and other social movements like the Right to food campaign, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghatan, National Federation of Indian Women, Greenpeace India etc also addressed the gathering.

    The colourful and vibrant events of the day while showcasing the diversity of the country also highlighted this common struggle for food, farming and freedom.The farmers from Gujarat performed a rousing play, while students of Delhi, through street theatre and voluntary work for the event showed that the youth of India reject transgenics; youth from Kerala sang songs about ecological farming for sustainability of farming and food security. Many groups like Desi seed savers’ groups of Karnataka, Beej Bachao Andolan and Vrihi displayed the rich wealth of seed diversity in India, showcasing the splendour of natural wealth that would die or be contaminated if gates are opened for GMOs. 

    Notes to the Editor
    1. Attached are the quotes from senior political leaders who addressed the gathering.
    For more information contact:
    Rajesh Krishnan: 09845650032, rajeshecologist@gmail.com
    Kavitha Kuruganti: 09393001550, kavitha.kuruganti@gmail.com  
    Pankaj Bhushan: 09472999999, mail.tarafoundation@gmail.com





    More photos here: http://on.fb.me/14fzql3

    Thursday, July 25, 2013

    LVC VIth Global Conference - Jakarta, Indonesia - June 2013

    Nandini and Raja Reega from South India
    accept a gift from the Indonesian hosts at
    the Women's Assembly Mistica
    Sanjay, Balram and Pramesh from ANPFA in
    the seat of honor as we rode to
    the village field trip!















    The South Asian delegation at the VIth Global Conference in Jakarta, Indonesia was over thirty members strong. Representing North/South India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, the participants attended the Youth Assembly, Women's Assembly, and International Assembly, taking on a role in producing the three documents you find below. These documents are the outcome of hundreds of wo/man-hours and thoughtful contemplation on the future of the Via Campesina movement for the next four years.


      Declarations

    The Venue and Assembly Hall


    The Jakarta Call

    Women of Via Campesina International Manifesto

    Declaration of the 3rd International Youth Assembly of the Via Campesina 





    From The Jakarta Call -- 
    "We are building new relationships between human beings and nature based on solidarity, cooperation and complementarity. At the heart of our struggle is an ethic of life. La Vía Campesina is committed to giving visibility to all of the local struggles around the world, ensuring that these are understood from international perspectives and integrated into a global movement for food sovereignty, social change and self-determination for the peoples of the world. We call on our organisations, allies, friends, and all those committed to a better future to reject the ‘green economy’ and build food sovereignty...."

    From the Women's Manifesto -- "Our biggest step towards ending injustice in the world is taken by breaking the poverty cycle and granting the rightful place that we peasants have to provide and guarantee sufficient and balanced food for the peoples, recognizing the central role of women in food production..."


    And, From the Youth Declaration, the commitments put forward for the future in full ---

    We demand that states and governments recognise, comply with and regulate food sovereignty in the constitutions of all countries as a basic human right. We also demand that the organisations and authorities that are involved and have responsibility take the following action:

    • Put food sovereignty into practice by implementing holistic agrarian reform, and broad-based agroecological reform in the area of fishing and silviculture, to ensure equal access to natural goods for young people, particularly young women.
    • End land grabbing and conversion in the name of development following the “Green Economy" model of agricultural food production, and production of bio fuels and monocultures that are structural causes of climate change and the energy crisis.
    • Protect and promote traditional seeds and the knowledge and wisdom of our peasant communities.
    • Promote a model that favours people, led by peasants and in accordance with the agroecological and indigenous model.
    • Ensure market access for poor and marginalised people and a fair price for their products, keeping the WTO out of agriculture.
    • Ensure that young people have access to a secure future, both in rural and urban areas, also promoting sustainable job opportunities for young people to reduce migration to urban areas.
    • Stop criminalisation of protest, repression of social movements, murder and extermination of young peasants, while respecting human rights and those who defend them. They must also condemn militarisation, which is worsening living conditions for the poor in our regions, and establish an education system that supports young people who want to be peasants.
    • Dedicate a greater proportion of the budget to agricultural sectors to support young people in production, and education and access to technology in rural areas.
    • Provide a space for representation of young people in leadership and create a suitable environment to empower and support them, so they can show that young people can bring about change in agriculture.
    In addition to these demands, we also make the following commitments: 

    • We will create solidarity between regions that put alternative models into practice in opposition to the neoliberal model, in accordance with the principles of complementarity and cooperation to overcome social inequality.
    • We will set up an accessible political group for young people and practical people’s education on peasant and ecological agriculture.
    • We will promote communication between young people from different organisations and creation and strengthening of people’s alternative communication networks that will be political, creative and transformative.
    • We will strengthen the coordination of young people’s activities at a regional and global level.
    • Political participation and training for young people in organisations and genuine prominence.
    • We will coordinate political, social and cultural alliances and relations between young people from rural and urban areas around the world for social change and transformation.
    • We will create and strengthen spaces for political and technical training in the area of agroecological production and local markets with social justice.
    • We will show solidarity with all peoples who are involved in resistance and struggles for their right to life and their freedom anywhere in the world.

      Photo Albums

      WOMEN'S ASSEMBLY

      YOUTH ASSEMBLY

      INTERNATIONAL ASSEMBLY

      FIELD TRIP

       

    • Tamil Translation Central
    Asma, Patka, and Bisawnath from Bangladesh
    with Pablo from UK in background

    Sunday, July 21, 2013

    Chukki Nanjundaswamy of KRRS proposed to chair Karnataka Agricultural Price Commission

    KRRS farmers leader Chukki Nanjundaswamy's name has been proposed for the First Chairperson of "Karnataka Agriculture Price Commission" Constituted by Govt of Karnataka.
    According to Chennai Online on June 12:
    The Karnataka Government will establish Agriculture Price Commission to fix suitable prices for agriculture produces in the state, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who also holds Finance portfolio, informed the Legislative Assembly today. Presenting the State Budget for 2013-14, his maiden budget after Congress came to power after a gap of eight years, he said, "Farmers are always facing problems due to indeterminate prices for their produce. Most of the times they do not even get the costs incurred hence the establishment of the Commission to fix suitable prices." He said the Commission would consist of farmers, agriculture experts and agro-economist. The suitable prices would be fixed on the scientifically worked out recommendations of the Commission.
    From Kannada news channel Suvarna:

    Tuesday, July 2, 2013

    Rice Day celebrated in Nepal

    National Peasants' Day (cum Paddy Day) Celebrated in Nepal

    Asar 15 following the Nepali calendar is known in Nepal as the rice/paddy day and farmers celebrate this Ropai (rice plantation) festival planting paddy seedling and enjoying flattened rice with yogurt. All Nepal Peasant Federation (ANPFa) also celebrate this day as National Peasants Day organizing paddy seedling program. A grand opening program was organized in Seti Devi VDC-6 in Kathmandu where chairperson of ANPFa, Com. Bamdev Gautam was the chief guest and Leaders Prem Dangal and Balram Banskota; national committee members Ghanshyam Pandey, Jalpa Bhusal and Jiwati Poudel were among few important personalities present in the program. Peasants especially the local young women and men, media persons, ANPFa cadres, students and NGOs person were also present in large numbers to take part in the paddy seedling program, observe and celebrate the National Peasants' Day. Similar programs were organized in various places of the country. Com Keshab Lal Shrestha and Hari Parajuli were guest in the program organized in Narayangadh and com. Sharada Subedi was present in Pokhara.

    This day has been recognized by government as national paddy day and the government of Nepal also organizes program where ministers and high ranking government officers attend the paddy seedling program. Govt. of Nepal has considered Ashar 15 as National Paddy Day from 2004 and this year it marked its 10th Anniversary but ANPFa has been celebrating this occasion since a long.

     
    ANPFa chairperson inaugurated the program in Kathmandu handing over the rice seedling to the women peasants. In his inaugural speech, he shared that, 'agriculture is the backbone of Nepal and rice is the staple crop. Not only in Nepal but also in other Asian countries, the rice is our culture and basis of life. Therefore to ensure right to food and food sovereignty, we need to fight against all threats that destroy the rice fields and displace the farmers. We should defend our culture and territories.' Mr. Gautam who is also the former deputy Prime Minister and chair of the national peasant coalition of Nepal ( and the farmers forum) highlighting the ANPFa struggle to pressurize the government for peasant friendly policy and program said that government has positive response to increase the budget in agriculture.  In this occasion, the Chairperson also informed about nationwide campaign of ANPFa to save local varieties of rice and conserve rice culture. ANPFa has been also launching a campaign against land grabbing in South Asia to stop grabbing and conversion fertile land- he informed. The participants in the program also enjoyed eating beaten rice and curd (Dahi-Chiura) and singing folk songs ('Ashare Bhaka'/Ropai song)  which is also integral part of this festival of peasant.

    June 29, 2013
    Balkhu, Kathmandu