2024 | February Newswrap: Updates from Member Organizations Worldwide

February was marked by a series of major mobilisations by trade unions and farmers’ movements in Europe and Asia. Members of La Via Campesina were remarkably engaged in these peasant struggles and their presence was forceful, vigorously opposing the WTO, free trade agreements and European policies aimed at destroying our food systems and reinforcing the domination of the capitalist system. These actions exacerbate social and economic injustice, leading to the destruction of small farmers’ livelihoods and the loss of countries’ sovereignty to agribusiness and investors. To find out more about these struggles, we invite you to read the statements by our members available on our website and social networks. In addition to these demonstrations, training courses, workshops and events are being organised on every continent.

As the International Women’s Day on 8 March draws closer, La Via Campesina also issued a call to all its members and allies in February, to mobilize and hold solidarity actions. The rallying slogan for the action day is “With conviction, we are building food sovereignty and fighting against crises and violence. In February, La Via Campesina also persisted with its campaign to draw global attention to the ongoing genocidal war in Gaza and called on its members and allies to intensify global solidarity to fight against wars and for lasting peace in all countries of the world.

In Asia, recent reports indicate that during the month of February, farmers across the continent took to the streets and issued statements calling for fairer prices for their crops and an end to free trade agreements that encourage the influx of cheap imports. Movements in Korea, Indonesia Kenya, Chile, Italy and Sri Lanka have expressed their concerns and organised demonstrations on these issues. Meanwhile, in India, farmers are protesting once again, calling for price support, the safeguarding of public food stockholding programmes and challenging WTO policies.

In other news coming from the region, in Sri Lanka, the Movement for Agrarian and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) has carried out an in-depth and critical analysis of the Sri Lankan government’s “URUMAYA” programme, which aims to provide freehold land titles to two million farmers. They recommended that instead of ad hoc programmes, comprehensive land reform policies should be implemented. These policies should prioritise the fair and equitable distribution of land, strengthen legal frameworks to guarantee security of tenure and the protection of the land rights of small-scale farmers, and promote programmes for peasant agroecological agriculture.

The Bangladesh Federation of Agricultural Workers continues to campaign for the formalisation of contract workers at the Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation and for an increase in their wages. In November 2023, the union won a crucial victory after the Ministry of Agriculture ordered the regularisation of BADC contract workers. However, progress has been slow. The movement also reported that the state-run BADC had failed to deliver seeds to farmers on time, creating an artificial shortage and forcing farmers to buy seeds at higher prices from private importers.

The Northen Peasant Federation in Thailand, on February 24th, met with the the Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives calling for the government to address and expedite fundamental issues including drafting a new constitution, decentralization of power, judicial reform, fair land distribution, natural resource management, disaster management, ethnic group protection, resolving rights and status issues, promoting welfare state, and addressing basic living and public utility development.

In Europe, French and Dutch farmers from ECVC responded to a call from their Belgian counterparts, FUGEA and MAP, by gathering outside the European Parliament in Brussels. They demanded that the European Union commit to guaranteeing fair prices for farmers, covering production costs and ensuring a decent income for farm workers. Following this powerful wave of mobilisation by farmers against police repression, the cabinet of Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, committed to organise a meeting with ECVC in Strasbourg.

In the heart of Madrid, a synchronised uprising took place in Spain. Farmers from Bilbao, Salamanca, Aragon, Castilla and other communities joined the national strike, demanding the implementation of the Food Supply Chain Act, which aims to support agricultural prices.

The Çiftçi-Sen in Turkey concluded its second general assembly with the motto “Global struggle, local resistance,” emphasizing the need to connect local struggles with global movements. They condemned government-backed open-pit mining projects threatening rural communities, demanding environmental assessments. The peasantry expressed concerns over imperialist control of agriculture and food production, advocating for policies supporting local food sovereignty.

The ÖBV Austrian Mountain Farmers Association celebrated its 50th anniversary, highlighting commitment, solidarity, and success in peasant struggles. Events included sharing local realities, a theater by peasant women, and a raffle funded by contributions from participating peasants.

At the 8th IFAD Farmers’ Forum, peasant organizations called for the integration of agroecology, the strengthening of fair market policies and support for small-scale producers. They clearly expressed their opposition to the financing of large-scale land acquisitions and speculative investments. Their priority is now to promote sustainability, long-term investments and building the internal capacity of farming organisations.

In Zimbabwe, farmers from the Zimbabwe Small Holder Organic Farmers’ Forum (ZIMSOFF) and the Topora Smallholder Farmers’ Organisation (SFO) visited peasants in Bikita as part of an exchange visit. The visit enabled the peasants to observe the agroecological practices of the Kumboedza community, focusing on the use of natural inputs, crop rotation and intercropping to improve soil fertility and reduce the use of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides. They also exchanged knowledge on crop varieties, water harvesting and integrating livestock into farming systems to improve soil health and increase crop yields, in response to the drought caused by El Nino and climate change.

In Uganda, from 12 to 16 February, ESAFF Uganda and a team from the Ministry of Agriculture and the NGRC plant genetic resource centre and allies visited three communities in the Soroti and Amuria districts to evaluate and learn more about peasant seed varieties. The visit was part of ESAFF Uganda’s ambition to see farmers’ seed varieties recognised and appreciated for their true value.

The National Farmers’ Organisation of Tanzania (MVIWATA) has published its first newsletter for 2024, presenting a summary of the main events of 2023. It also marks 30 years of organising for the interests and rights of peasants in Tanzania.

In Senegal, the Conseil National de Concertation et de Coopération des ruraux (CNCR) has called for the constitution to be respected following the recommendation to postpone the presidential election, initially scheduled for 25 February. CNCR continued to encourage its farmer members to push forward the reforms to have their status recognised and in favour of family farms.

In Togo, the Coordination Togolaise des Organisations Paysannes et de Producteurs Agricoles (CTOP-Togo) has organised training to build the capacity of 720 women processors involved in the production of nutritious flour for children. The aim of this initiative is to diversify the range of products produced by women’s cooperatives, thereby ensuring the availability of quality products while promoting the use of local ingredients such as moringa, néré and/or orange-fleshed sweet potatoes.

In Palestine, the situation continues to worsen. The Israeli occupation continues to starve and attack civilians in Gaza, intensifying the blockade in Rafah to prevent the entry of humanitarian aid. In response to this situation, the UAWC is launching a global action against the use of starvation as genocide in Palestine, entitled “9 March: Global Day of Fasting in Solidarity with the People of Gaza”.

In Tunisia, a tragic traffic accident occurred in the Ouled Khalifa district of the commune of Jelma in Sidi Bouzid, causing the death of a 50-year-old farm worker and another worker, as well as injuries to 29 other women farmers. The accident occurred when a lorry carrying women farm workers, including two children and their mother, overturned. Million Rural Women and the Landless urges the authorities to ensure safe transport for women farmers and workers, guaranteeing access to land and dignified work opportunities for those who produce food with their own hands and feed our people.

In Puerto Rico, the Organisation Boricuá de Agricultura Ecológica and ClocLVC have launched the campaign – “Land for Agriculture and Rooftops for Energy”, in collaboration with other community initiatives and projects, to continue defending the land: agricultural soils that guarantee the possibility of sustainable planting and feeding while protecting biodiversity, as well as land of high ecological value, homes and communities. The campaign has four strands: Education, Advocacy, Public Policy, Agroecology and Community Renewable Energy.

Haiti, member organisation Ték Kole ti Peyizan Ayisyen, a member of Cloc – Via Campesina Caribe, took part in a Dominican solidarity meeting with Haiti, where they discussed the fight against colonialism by the Core Group, the de facto government and the paramilitaries.

Dominican Republic; On 20 February, the Latin American Agroecological Institute IALA Mama Tingo organised a forum on endemic and native species in the municipality of Restauración, province of Dajabón, in the Dominican Republic.

In Honduras, the Lenca Indigenous Environmental Council of Honduras (CILAH) is fighting against an attempt by the mayor and certain members of the municipal corporation of Opatoro, La Paz, to dispossess them of the land on which their training centre, which has been in use for 30 years, is located. Despite their complaint, CILAH continues to face constant pressure. La Via Campesina Honduras expresses its solidarity and calls on the authorities to investigate this case.

The Committee of Peasant Unity (CUC) of Guatemala expressed its profound solidarity and support for the Oficina de Derechos Humanos del Arzobispado de Guatemala (ODHAG), a respected organisation that plays a crucial role in the defence of human rights. Recently, ODHAG’s offices were broken into, an attack on the organisation’s ongoing efforts to promote justice, historical memory, child protection and social change in Guatemala.

In Nicaragua, the Agricultural Workers’ Association congratulates the third-generation agroecology graduates from IALA Mesoamérica and Santa Emilia. They received their diplomas on the IMHA campus in Santo Tomás, Chontales.

In Brazil, a solemn session was held to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Landless Rural Workers Movement of Brazil. This was an important moment of recognition for the largest social movement in Latin America and in the country’s history, for its fight for agrarian reform and social justice. It took place in person at the Chamber of Deputies in Brasilia, with the participation of parliamentarians, government representatives, embassies, political parties and grassroots organisations.

The National Farmers’ Federation (FNC) of Paraguay organised a day of protest on 20 February, condemning the State’s abandonment of small-scale production in the midst of a climate disaster and denouncing the low price of production. At the same time, FNC demonstrations were held in San Pedro, Caaguazú, Canindeyú, Guairá, Itapúa, Misiones, Paraguarí and Caazapá.

This year, the National Agrarian Coordination (CNA) of Colombia is celebrating 27 years of its organisation and resistance. Founded during the peasant mobilisations of the 1990s, the organisation now brings together women, men, fisherfolk, farmers and rural workers from 22 departments across the country. Together, they carry the aspiration of transforming the Colombian countryside and building a new society.

In Peru, the National Agrarian Confederation (CNA) and its agrarian federations took part in the second meeting of the national macrocentre “Agenda Indígena”. The meeting addressed a number of issues, including the revitalisation of indigenous culture, advances in science and technology, extractivism, land dispossession in communities, good living and harmonious coexistence with biological diversity. They also stressed the need to reform the system of political representation of indigenous peoples in the State.

In Chile, ANAMURI has launched an appeal for solidarity following the fire in Valparaiso on 4 February, a disaster that claimed the lives of 131 people, destroyed 1,300 homes and burnt more than 500,000 hectares. The ANAMURI National Association has launched an international campaign to help the families affected and has called for an end to the destruction and horror caused by a cruel and unsustainable production model of monoculture forestry and unscrupulous property companies.

In Canada, NFU is offering the public a free opportunity from January to April to delve deeper into the major topics related to the complex challenges that farmers face today. These topics include agroecology, climate crises and free trade.

If there are any important updates that we have missed, please send the links to communications@viacampesina.org so that we can include them in the next edition. We only include updates from La Via Campesina members. For a comprehensive update on various initiatives from Janury 2024, please visit our website. You can also find the previous editions of our news wrap on our website. In addition, condensed versions of our newswrap are accessible as a podcast on Spotify.