Tag Archives: la via campesina

Hungry for land — Small farmers feed the world with less than a quarter of all farmland

May 28, 2014. Source: GRAIN

Growing cassava on the banks of the Mekong: small farms tend to prioritise food production over commodity or export crop production. (Photo: New Mandala)

Growing cassava on the banks of the Mekong: small farms tend to prioritise food production over commodity or export crop production. (Photo: New Mandala)

Governments and international agencies frequently boast that small farmers control the largest share of the world’s agricultural land. When the director general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization inaugurated 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming, he sang the praises of family farmers but didn’t once mention the need for land reform. Instead, he announced that family farms already manage most of the world’s farmland – a whopping 70%, according to his team.

But a new review of the data carried out by GRAIN reveals that the opposite is true. Small farms, which produce most of the world’s food, are currently squeezed onto less than a quarter of the world’s farmland – or less than one fifth if you leave out China and India.

“We are fast losing farms and farmers through the concentration of land into the hands of the rich and powerful,” said Henk Hobbelink, coordinator of GRAIN. “The overwhelming majority of farming families today have less than two hectares to cultivate and that share is shrinking. If we do nothing to reverse this trend, the world will lose its capacity to feed itself.” Continue reading

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Resistance grows in defense of peasant seeds

April 16, 2014. Source: La Via Campesina

Image: La Via Campesina

Image: La Via Campesina

This year millions of men and women farmers of the international peasant movement, La Vía Campesina, mobilize worldwide in favor of pasant seeds. Since April 17, 1996 (1) la Vía Campesina designated this day as a global day of action with allies and firends.

With more than 100 actions at a local and global level (see map) in all continents, la Via Campesina reasserts the importance of local struggles and at the same time underlines the need of a global resistance and organization between the cities and the rural areas. Actions such as land occupations, agroecological festivities, debates and seed exchanges will be carried out until the end of the month as part of these global days of action.

La Vía Campesina denounces laws and interests that seek to prohibit the use, exchange and access to peasant seeds that we consider a heritage of the people at the service of humanity, as well as food sovereignty as part of a commitment to end hunger in the world.

Historically, men and women farmers, and indigenous peoples have conserved and cared for seeds. La Vía Campesina says NO to all attempts to criminalize and make illegal our practices for caring for, producing and sharing seeds. Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Africa, Biodiversity, Food Sovereignty, Industrial agriculture, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration

April 17: International day of peasant struggles

April 8, 2014. Source: La Via Campesina

Image: La Via Campesina

Image: La Via Campesina

This year we dedicate the 17th of April, international day of peasant struggles, to the defense of seeds. Seeds are an essential basis for achieving food sovereignty because almost everything in agriculture depends on them: What we can plant and how it is grown; the quality and nutrition of our food, our ability to account for different tastes and cultural preferences; and also the wellbeing of our communities, our ecosystems and the planet. In this article we explain why this implies not so much the defense of seeds as such but especially the defense of peasant seeds—that is, seeds that remain in the hands of the peasant and family farmers of the world. We also give some examples of how we are carrying out this defense among the organizations in the 73 countries that make up La Vía Campesina.

The seeds used in agriculture are different from those that exist in non-cultivated nature. Until several thousand years ago the enormous diversity of peasant varieties of rice, potatoes, cabbages or barley did not exist as such. The richness of our nutrition today is based on the knowledge, practices, visions and needs of the peasant communities around the world that created them in the first place. Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Africa, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Food Sovereignty, Genetic Engineering, Green Economy, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

The WTO pushes through bad deal in the final hours; Developed countries and TNCs are the big winners

Sunday, 08 December 2013 17:02

Social Movements for an Alternative Asia (SMAA), Gerak Lawan and La Via Campesina

b_350_0_16777215_00___images_stories_notowto_noBali_packagescaled.jpgThe 9th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) pushed through a Bali Package in the final hours, extending the Conference to December 7, but at the cost of the developing countries, the poor and the hungry.

Facilitating Trade for TNCs

Hailed as a victory by the WTO for unlocking the deadlocked negotiations, the Bali Package delivers a legally binding agreement on Trade Facilitation that is costly to developing countries and ensures easier access and profits for Transnational Corporations (TNCs). Trade Facilitation, or the easing of customs procedures and borders, clearly benefits only the big TNCs that already control exports and imports. As the 2013 World Trade Report data shows, “80% of US exports are handled by 1% of large exporters, 85% of European exports are in the hands of 10% of big exporters and 81% of exports are concentrated in the top 5 largest exporting firms in developing countries.”

Added to this, is the hypocrisy that this Trade Facilitation deal will open borders in all Member countries except Cuba, as it does not effectively cancel the 60-year long US blockade against the Cuba. The reference to the non-discrimination principle of Article V of the GATT 1994 remains pure rhetoric as it is stated in the Declaration and not in the text of the Trade Facilitation Agreement.

Peace Clause that jeopardizes the Right to Food

In exchange for the costly, legally binding agreement on Trade Facilitation, developing countries received nothing.

  • There is a very bad peace clause that violates the right to food and jeopardizes the right to food sovereignty as it places numerous restrictions on the ability of developing countries to give support to their small farmers and poor constituents.
  • The peace clause only applies to existing public stockholding for food security programs that exceed the Aggregate Measurement of Support (AMS) or de minimis, as of the date of the decision, effectively meaning that only India can apply it and that no future food security programs of developing countries will be allowed.
  • There is a promise of a permanent solution but subject to future negotiations during the next 4 years. What that permanent solution will be is an uncertainty.
  • Most importantly, developing countries will have to accept their guilt in violating WTO rules before they can apply the peace clause

Finally, this peace clause is nonsense simply because no country should have to beg for the right to guarantee the right to food. Food and agriculture should never have been included in the WTO in the first place.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Food Sovereignty, Industrial agriculture, WTO

Social movements remind the WTO about the death of Korean farmer Lee Kyung Hae inside the official ministerial conference through a powerful action

Thursday, 05 December 2013

La Via Campesina, Social Movements for an Alternative Asia, Gerak Lawan

(Dec 5, Denpasar, Bali) Representatives of social movements from around the world carried out a dramatic silent procession inside the ministerial venue in Nusa Dua to commemorate the self sacrifice of their comrade, the Korean farmer Lee Kyung Hae. Lee lives on in their struggle.

Part_2.2Lee Kyung Hae took the extreme step of stabbing himself to death outside the conference halls of WTOs 5th ministerial in Cancun in 2003. He climbed atop a fence outside the WTO meeting, wearing a sign that said “WTO Kills Farmers” and then proceeded to immolate himself, shocking the world and reminding everyone that the WTO literally spells death for farmers around the world.

The protesters, led by Korean Farmers, walked in a column through the halls of the BNDCC, the venue of the ministerial, in complete silence, holding their colorful flags and carrying flowers. A photo of Lee was placed in the courtyard and people placed flowers, fruits and symbolic offerings to honor Lee. The protesters also placed a photo of Lee on one of the walls in the center of the venue where there is a pictorial history of the WTO’s official negotiations to mark 2003 as the year of Lee’s sacrifice.“We will never forget the death of our comrade Lee or the hundreds of other farmers that die everyday of poverty because of the WTO’s free trade regime. We want to show the world the real face and impact of the WTO on the people,” said Yoon Geum Soon of the Korean Women Peasants Association and a member of the International Coordinating Committee of La Via Campesina.

“We want to remind the world the the WTO kills farmers, just as comrade Lee had done by taking his own life. In India, 1 farmer commits suicide every half an hour because of the cycle of indebtedness caused by free trade. We demand our governments to stand firm against any attempt to deny small farmers their right to food and livelihoods,” said Yudhvir Singh of India.

Meanwhile a large group of Koreans carried out a simultaneous action at the Sanur Beach in Denpasar, doing a death ceremony for the WTO . They will make a hundred bows each in the Korean style to remember their comrade Lee and highlight the disastrous impacts of the WTO.

The action was carried out by La Via Campesina- the international peasants movement with 200 million members along with Social Movements for an Alternative Asia (SMAA), a newly formed coordination of Asian social movements and Gerak Lawan- an alliance of Indonesian Peoples Movements against Neocolonialism and Imperialism.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Food Sovereignty, Industrial agriculture, WTO

KPFK Earth Minute: Water privatization promoted at WTO meeting in Bali

By Anne Petermann, December 3, 2013. Source: KPFK Sojourner Truth Radio

kpfk_logoGlobal Justice Ecology Project teams up with KPFK Sojourner Truth Radio each week to produce the Earth Minute and Earth Watch segments. Listen this week for updates on the WTO ministerial in Bali, Indonesia, where water privatization is on the table and peasant movements are rising up against the continued commodification of life and land.

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Filed under Corporate Globalization, KPFK, Politics, Water, WTO

Typhoon Haiyan exposes the reality of climate injustice – We strengthen our resolve to struggle for an end to the climate madness

December 4, 2013. Source: La Via Campesina

On November 8, 2013, the strongest super typhoon ever recorded in history, with winds as high as 314 kilometers per hour, slammed into the Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan devastated several cities in the islands of the Visayas, leaving in its wake, more than 5,000 dead, more than 1,000 still missing and millions impacted with thousands of families left without food, water or shelter.

The Philippines, a country used to an average of 20 typhoons a year, had never seen a category 5 typhoon so destructive that it flattened entire towns. But with climate change, this is the new reality. Warmer seas and warmer air temperatures combine to produce more violent storms. The climate is changing and as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated in its report, “many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia.”

The catastrophic and horrific tragedy however failed to move the developed nations into committing to real climate action. Instead, they moved backwards. Japan, one of the leading emitters, declared that instead of their original pledge to cut emissions by 25 percent, they would increase emissions by 3 percent by the year 2020 based on their level of CO2 emissions in 1990. The Durban Platform, the new global agreement that would apply to all countries and would replace the Kyoto Protocol, is supposed to be agreed by 2015 and implemented by 2020 but the past climate negotiations, including this recently concluded one in Poland, have witnessed developed countries moving further away from real commitments and instead moving towards voluntary pledges and still no specific numbers on targets or cuts.

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Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice, Food Sovereignty, Indigenous Peoples, Natural Disasters, Warsaw/COP-19

Breaking News: Action by Indian movements inside WTO meeting in Bali


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

(Bali, 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.

IMG_1431The 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
Public Services International
Right to Food Campaign
Shram Seva Nyas
South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers’ Movements
Swadeshi JagranManch
Third World Network India

More news on www.viacampesina.org

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, BREAKING NEWS, Climate Change, Commodification of Life, Food Sovereignty, Genetic Engineering, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, WTO