Malian farmers want their land back

IPS

BY SOUMAILA T. DIARRA

Bamako — A group of smallholder farmers in Mali have turned to the courts to try to recover land they say they have lost to big private investors. The legal action comes as foreign investors are losing interest in Mali due to political instability and an armed rebellion in the north.

"We have laid a complaint against the agricultural land grabs that have hit so many smallholders," said Lamine Coulibaly, a member of the National Coordination of Peasant Organisations, which is resisting the large-scale acquisition of agricultural land by foreign investors.

The farmers next day in court will be on Sep. 27, in the central Mali town of Markala. They hope to put the brakes on the requisitioning of land they have been cultivating for generations.

"There have already been several sittings without actual deliberation, but we have confidence in the justice system. We are convinced that we are in the right and we can win this case," said Coulibaly.

The respondent in this case is Office of the Niger, a government department which oversees the the development of a million square hectares of farmland in this central region. A dam constructed by the French colonial authorities in 1932 could be the basis for enormous agricultural potential in the region, but barely 100,000 hectares had been developed before the arrival of foreign investors in 2008.

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The European Coordination Via Campesina supports the actions of SOC-SAT and their leaders

The SOC-SAT (Sindicato de Obreros del Campo –Sindicato Andaluz de Trabajadores) has undertaken many different actions in recent months to achieve fairer production, consumption and sales’ regulations for agricultural produce in the context of food sovereignty.

The political courage shown by SOC-SAT and particularly by their leaders is unprecedented. By undertaking actions of resistance, and proposing alternatives, SOC-SAT is challenging the current neo-liberal system and its disastrous impacts on people.

Recent actions include that of 24th July by SOC-SAT agricultural workers in Andalusia who occupied the La Turquilla farm.

SOC-SAT demands that the farm laborer’s cooperatives be allowed to work the land of the 2,000 hectares of fertile land that is owned by the army, in order to feed their families, instead of using it to grow export crops and rear horses.

Given the current serious economic and social crisis affecting Spain as well as the rest of Europe, SOC-SAT’s actions provide credible solidarity alternatives for defending social justice and human rights in a way that reaches beyond capitalist dogma.

Farmland should first and foremost be used for small-scale family farming and meet the social, environmental and economic challenges of our society.

We also call for an initiative for European agrarian reform of land use, to serve food security and sustainable development.

Contact : Javier Sanchez, Member of the Coordinating Committee of ECVC

For further information : SAT http://www.sindicatoandaluz.org

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012...

Bukit Tinggi Declaration on agrarian reform in the 21st Century

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Bukit Tinggi Declaration

Agrarian Reform and the Defense of Land and Territory in the 21st Century

14 July 2012

We have been meeting here in Bukit Tinggi, West Sumatra, Indonesia, from July 10 to 15, 2012, for the International Workshop and Seminar "Agrarian Reform and Defense of Land and Territory in the 21st Century: The Challenge and the Future," convened by La Via Campesina and the Global Campaign for Agrarian Reform, in the midst of a global emergency caused by the multiple crises of food, climate, finance, poverty and unemployment. We have been evaluating our strategies and lessons learned during the last two decades of struggles for agrarian reform, and the defense of the lands and territories of our peoples.

The most recent worldwide avalanche of land grabbing lends urgency to our analysis. As we stated in the Dakar Appeal and the Nyeleni Declaration against Land Grabbing, this is a global phenomenon promoted by elites with local, national and transnational investors, and governments, with the goal of controlling the most valuable resources on this planet.

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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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Additional information