World Food Day
World Food Day was proclaimed in 1979 by the Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). It marks the date of the founding of FAO in 1945. The aim of the Day is to heighten public awareness of the world food problem and strengthen solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty. In 1980, the General Assembly endorsed observance of the Day in consideration of the fact that \"food is a requisite for human survival and well-being and a fundamental human necessity\" (resolution 35/70 of 5 December 1980). The first International Day of Rural Women was observed on 15 October 2008. This new international day, established by the UN General Assembly in its resolution 62/136 of 18 December 2007, recognizes “the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.” Small food producers are composed of farmers, agricultural workers, fisherfolks, pastoralists, indigenous peoples and women, men and young people (CSM Lobbying Document on developing guidelines/framework/code on responsible agricultural investment). Food Sovereignty is the inalienable RIGHT of peoples, communities, and countries to define, decide and implement their own agricultural, labour, fishing, food and land policies which are ecologically, socially, economically and culturally appropriate to their unique circumstances. Rights of small producers; indigenous peoples for self-determination; gender justice in food and agriculture; and rights of agricultural workers are part of this struggle and are directly linked to the right to life and livelihoods. Widget by Way2Blogging


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

World Food Day: Govt urged to protect rights of farmers

KARACHI, Oct 16: Farmers, fishermen, non-governmental organisations
and researchers gathered at a hotel on Tuesday to debate over the
matter of the nation’s food insecurity and produce from land and sea
at a conference held on the occasion of the World Food Day.

“Food for the people directly involved in growing it comes first,
followed by its supply to the market with trade as the third option,”
said Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) chairman Mohammad Ali Shah during
the first session looking at land, agriculture and food sovereignty.

“The government should come up with a policy to protect farmers’
rights as they are entitled to the food they produce first. But we
learn that they are the ones going without food,” he observed.

On the occasion, he read out the seven-point charter of demands for
land reforms presented by the civil society for the government to
consider. “There should be a distribution of state land to bona fide
haris. The Sindh government should do this starting with the landless
haris with priority given to the released bonded labourers and
flood-affected people including women. The haris should be given the
right of shelter and housing. The Sindh Tenancy Act 1950 should be
reviewed, updated and amended to bring it in line with the prevailing
conditions and requirements of haris. All labour laws, inclusive of
the Industrial Relations Act, ESSI, EOBI be also extended to haris.
The land reforms should be as per the 1977 Bill and, finally, the
Sindh government should take steps to allocate land and provide
incentives to the haris to form agriculture cooperatives.”

Throwing more light on the issues that were threatening Pakistan’s
agriculture, Dr Niaz Shaikh of the SZABIST said that if you look back
in history food had been the cause of migration and even war in the
world. “The people of North and West Europe came down to South when it
became too cold to grow food. Food storage is also an important issue.
The Egyptians can be hailed for their food storage facilities. Your
produce is most important as it is the cash crop. Its accessibility
process, how it reaches the people should also be a major concern and
it should be affordable, too,” he pointed out.

Nadeem Mirbahar of the IUCN in his presentation concentrated on the
opportunities and significance of mangrove ecosystems. He said that
the mangroves had great coastal and marine resource potential. Over
20,000 people here were dependant on mangroves for their food.
“Deforestation, hyper salinity, encroachment, pollution, natural and
climatic disasters are the main drivers of mangrove ecosystem
degradation,” he said.

Ismail Khumber of the Sindh Agriculture University Jamshoro said that
too much pesticide and artificial fertiliser was taking a toll on
agriculture. “The farmers believe that they need these for better and
more produce but it will hurt them in the long run,” he warned.

Giving his view on the discussion, Karamat Ali of the Pakistan
Institute of Labour Education and Research, who was chairing the first
session of the conference, said that the children in rural Sindh were
suffering from malnutrition. “What are we doing degrading our new
generation? It will ruin our future. We don’t struggle for our rights
any longer. And until we do that we will carry on suffering,” he said.

“We had started the Sindh Land Reform Movement with big expectations.
We had thought that we will share information about our farmers’
problems and work on how we could go around solving their various
issues. But we haven’t even met for the next meeting even after six
months of making the charter,” he said.

“How can we end food insecurity and begin land reforms without sharing
the problems of the common people. Why isn’t the common man’s issues a
priority for us? You can’t go about starting a successful movement
without including the common man and his issues. Why isn’t our action
connected to our plans? We really need a serious movement for land
reforms. If we don’t do anything now after even knowing what’s wrong
in our farmers’ lives, then we should seriously look for structural
problems among ourselves rather than speaking of the drawbacks in the
structure of government organisations,” he said.The second session of
the conference concentrated on fisheries and food sovereignty.
The session was chaired by PFF vice president Mustafa Mirani.

Dr Ely Ercelan, who is associated with both the PFF and Piler, said
that it was about time the farmers and fishermen of Sindh became

He said that even after giving some land to the poor farmers, there
would be enough left for the feudal.

He also spoke of collective rights to manage community-based assets.
“Like, the owner of five acres may not be able to afford a tractor but
he could always borrow it from another farmer who can afford a

PFF’s senior vice chairperson Tahira Ali Shah spoke of the rights of
women fisherfolk. “Our men get arrested at sea by the Indian
government. They are not terrorists, only fishermen. Where are the
human rights to get us back our breadwinners?” she inquired, while
pointing towards a little girl in the audience, the daughter of a
fisherman serving a sentence in India after being caught by their
coast guards in 1999.

“The girl, Nazia, is 13 today. She hasn’t known her father as she was
still in her mother’s womb when her father Usman was arrested at sea.
Her uncle Nawaz Ali Mohammad just returned in a casket from India. We
have no idea about her father’s fate now,” she said.

Questioning the need of the sum of Rs1,000 per month given to the
rural women through the Benazir Bhutto Income Support Programme, Ms
Shah said: “It would have been better to open a centre or vocational
training institute for women from that money instead”.

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