Agrarian Reform in the 21st Century

Press release from the international seminar, Indonesia

Bukittinggi, West Sumatra, July 12, 2012

DEFENDING LAND AND TERRITORY, BUILDING A NEW CIVILIZATION AND FIGHTING FOR OUR FUTURE

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La Via Campesina and the Global Campaign on Agrarian Reform with Serikat Petani Indonesia (Indonesian Peasant Union) as local host are currently holding an international workshop and seminar entitled, “Agrarian Reform and the Defense of Land and Territory in the 21st century: The Challenge and Future” from July 10 to 14, 2012 in Bukittinggi, West Sumatra, Indonesia.

This international strategy meeting is happening at a time of a global downturn, the worst since the Global Depression in the 1930’s. The multiple crises of food, jobs, livelihood, climate, energy, and finance, coupled with the staggering numbers of worsening poverty, inequality, hunger and environmental destruction all stand testament to the destruction that capitalism and the neoliberal policies have wrought.

And now, there are 1 billion people living in hunger, the majority of which are living in Asia. This increase in hunger can be correlated to the drastic increase in food prices, making it even more difficult for people, especially those living in poverty, to afford food for themselves and their families. More importantly though, the worsening hunger can be linked to the expansion of the industrial agricultural development, that promotes mono crops and massive land grabbing. Land grabbing is currently a global phenomenon, led by local, national and transnational elites, corporations and investors with the collusion of some governments, with the aim of controlling the world’s remaining and most precious resources. The World Bank and regional development banks are also facilitating these land and resource grabs through their policies.

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India, Moserbaer land grab : report by BKU on farmers'rights violations

Report prepared by Bhartiya Kisan Union : Police brutalities and Farm Land Grabbing for Moserbaer Power Plant in Jaithari Tehsil of Anuppur District in Madhya Pradesh

July, 6 2012.

Dharmendra Malik of BKU along with other activists carried out a fact finding visit to the area affected by the Moserbaer power plant land grab in Madhya Pradesh. They mainly interviewed many of the affected farmers. They found that the entire land of village Mauja Murra of gram panchayat of Laharpur had been acquired. This area is mainly populated by scheduled castes and tribes such as Gauds, Bhaina, Jaiswal, Ganesh, Munka etc.

The mukhia [village head] of this area Mr Sambhu Prasad said that his 1.5 acres were taken in return for a low 1.5 lakh rupees and that too without his consent. Another farmer Gajraj from the same village who lost 14 hectares was of the opinion that the government should provide them alternative land of the same size and quality. Gajraj did not want to give up his land but his land was grabbed without his consent. The trees on his land were uprooted and his well filled up and blocked. His farm had trees of mahua, mangoes, jamun and arjun among other species.

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Paraguay, More than 50% of the rural population lives in a situation of misery

Media Convergence of the People’s Summit –  MST

A conflict between landless peoples and police in Paraguay on June 15th was unleashed by a land ownership reintegration operation where thirty landless people died and hundreds were injured. According to Perla Álvarez, member of the National Coordination of Rural and Indigenous Women (Conamuri), “The current government puts on the pretty face of a progressive government, but behind the scenes agribusiness is growing more than ever before”. The following is an interview conducted by the MST website with Perla, who came to Brazil for the People’s Summit:

How was the Paraguayan countryside before agribusiness?

Paraguay has a long history of struggle for land. The agrarian system was characterized, since the colonial period, by large extensions of land concentrated into the hands of just a few people. However, starting with the dictatorship of general Stroessner, this took on new dimensions because this is the moment that the capitalist system started to enter the countryside, giving way to agroexport companies who use peasant labor. We also saw the expansion of the Brazilian agricultural model across the border. This process began around 30 years ago. But with the development of the genetic industry of GMOs, soy monocultures began to spread starting in the ‘90s.

This is how the process of pushing peasants out of the countryside began and there was an extraordinary growth in these large extensions of land, which went from 2 thousand to 5 thousand to 200 thousand, all the way to one million hectares in the hands of just one landowner. Another problem in this sense is that a large part of these large landholdings are in the hands of foreigners or multinational corporations, mostly Brazilian landlords, who expand the cultivation of GMO soy into our territory. In the last ten years land concentration has worsened: we have approximately nine thousand farming families forced off their lands each year. These people migrate to cities, creating poverty belts.

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Taiwan, protesting local farmers get global boost

La Via Campesina Southeast and East Asia Youth Asia Support Taiwan Farmers Against Land Grabbing

TAIPEI. The struggle of small farmers to preserve agricultural land from expropriation and eviction occurs throughout the world, therefore, farmers must unite to build a strong farmers' organization. This is said by Achmad Ya'kub, Youth Coordinator of La Via Campesina Regional Southeast and East Asia, at press conference in Taipei, Taiwan, last May (30/05).

Ya'kub explained that during several days meeting with farmers in Taiwan, he witnessed firsthand how their persistent struggle in defending their land. "I saw how a watermelon farmer work hard in Wanbao area, farmers who are determined to struggle against land conversion for science park and water grab in the area of Zhanghua, Hsinchu, until Meynong. We experience the same thing in Indonesia. Many farmers in Indonesia are struggling to maintain their farm, from large corporations to individual governments. So essentially the struggles of small farmers around the world are the same, " he explained.

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