Pakistan is in the grip of unprecedented flooding that has already taken over 1300 lives and affected more than 50 million people. The torrential rains have also washed away roads, crops, homes, bridges and other infrastructure. The country’s Federal Minister of Climate Change, Sherry Rehman, described the situation as a “climate-induced humanitarian disaster of epic proportions.”
Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee, the LVC member in Pakistan, has worked with other citizen groups to mobilise materials and volunteers for relief camps in Southern Punjab, Sindh, and Balochistan. Civil society members in Lahore came together to collect materials and put together a team of volunteer doctors who could work in the relief camps.
Monstrous floods in Pakistan are not isolated events. News of heatwaves, droughts and wildfires have been increasingly hogging headlines worldwide. In May, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) predicted that the world is poised to break a crucial heat barrier by 2025.
Yet, despite these extreme climatic events, which disproportionately affect peasants, fisherfolks and indigenous peoples, governments and agribusinesses are unrelenting in repressing those who resist and question the status quo.
The July Newswrap ended with an alert about Thailand’s growing repression against protestors and students. In August, instances of repression of social movements and human rights activists only grew further, with the news of the arrest of Chintaka Rajapaksa of MONLAR and other activists in Srilanka for taking part in peoples’ protest, and then detention, imprisonment and criminalisation of five peasants in Indonesia for protesting land grabbing by a plantation firm. Chintaka was granted bail on August 26. La Via Campesina also condemns the recent arrest of Walden Bello in the Philippines over statements he made during the electoral campaign.
It is unacceptable that governments everywhere are resorting to brutal police actions and illegal detentions to silence and intimidate us. In another shocking incident this month, the offices of six Palestinian human rights organisations, including LVC’s member organisation UAWC, were illegally raided and locked up by the Israeli Occupation’s military forces. Multiple International institutions, such as the UN Human Rights Council, denounced the intimidation and criminalisation tactics followed by the Israeli army. Yet, these illegal and criminal acts continue with impunity.
In another instance in Peru, the headquarters of the National Agrarian Confederation, a member of LVC, was attacked on August 9. A pellet shot destroyed the glass façade of the building. The attack occurred after several national peasant and indigenous leaders announced a press conference regarding the country’s political crisis. This building is usually a meeting point for several national organisations to build a process favouring Food Sovereignty and the recent Agrarian Reform Law. Part of this trend of persecution and harassment by private groups interested in land grabbing is what is happening in Santiago del Estero, Argentina, where several peasant families have been violently evicted from their homes with the backing of court orders.
These actions blatantly violate the many provisions cited in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas and many other International Humans Rights Instruments.
Despite these hardships, the peasant members of the movement continue to advance their struggles for peasants’ rights.
In Thailand, the Assembly of the Poor held webinars and public meetings on land reform and land use in the country’s South and Central regions. The Northern Peasants’ Federation (NPF) held a public demonstration against the Forest Reclamation Policy, which, in essence, accuses the people who live in “forest areas” of causing climate change and natural disasters. In related news, to mark the World Amazon Day, the Mouvement d’Action Paysanne and other associations have called for a demonstration at the central station in Brussels on September 4. They insist that governments must assume their responsibilities regarding the climate crisis, which ravages populations with heat waves, forest fires, torrential rains and droughts worldwide.
The peasant and indigenous movements in Chile are living a crucial moment for advancing their struggles. On September 4, the government will put the proposal for a New Constitution to referendum. The peasant and indigenous peoples’ organisations that are part of the process have included, among their main recommendations, the right of peasants and indigenous peoples to the unrestricted use and exchange of traditional seeds. If approved, this would mean a significant advance against the neoliberal policies that the country has been promoting for years.
India’s peasant movements caught the world’s attention in 2021 after a year-long protest against attempts to introduce market-friendly reforms in the agricultural sector. They also demanded a legally guaranteed minimum support price (MSP) for their produce. The historic protest had forced the Indian government to withdraw the controversial laws, and the State had guaranteed to set up a consultative committee to review the Support Prices. Yet, several months later, the coalition of farm unions that led the protest remained disillusioned by the lack of meaningful and concrete actions to bring MSP. In August, they held a 75-hour-long rally at Lakhimpur Kheri in India, the site of a gruesome murder of protesting peasants last year, demanding the resignation of a Senior Minister whose son is allegedly involved in the crime. Similar protests were also held in other locations. They have warned of widespread agitation if their demand for a legally guaranteed support price is not met. Bhartiya Kisan Union and Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, both LVC members, are part of the coalition of farm unions leading this agitation.
Tea garden workers in Bangladesh are protesting on the streets. Nearly 150,000 tea garden workers, among the lowest paid in the country, demand an increase in daily wage by 150 per cent. Meanwhile, even as workers struggle for basic wages, grain traders to supermarkets, transnational corporations are binging on profits throughout the food chain!
In similar news from Florida, United Farm Workers and the farm workers in California completed a 335-mile walk to the state capitol to tell Governor Newsom to sign the bill giving farmworkers greater voting rights for workplace unionisation.
The Union Paysanne in Canada alerts us about a collective action against Syngenta, a herbicide manufacturer, in Quebec: it is being filed on behalf of all Quebecers diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease after being repeatedly exposed to this herbicide traded mainly under the Gramoxone brand. The Union Paysanne has also announced its participation at the Urban Harvest Festival in Quebec City on September 10, where members will share their knowledge of organic and peasant agriculture.
Peasant Agroecology is at the heart of the movement
La Via Campesina has repeatedly pointed out that a radical overhaul of the global food system is urgent and necessary to address the ongoing crises of hunger, migration, poverty and global warming. The movement has insisted that food sovereignty achieved through peasant agroecological methods is a critical pillar in this fight for systemic change.
The agroecological schools run by peasants demonstrate how pragmatic these solutions are. As part of a series on agroecology for Mongabay, author and sustainable food advocate Anna Lappé had a chance to catch up with peasant leader Chukki Nanjundaswamy in August (via Zoom), where they explained this philosophy further.
On similar lines, in the last episode of a three-part podcast series – Agroecology and Building a Food System that Works!– Jessie MacInnis, a peasant farmer, academic, activist, and NFU board, explains how agroecology is helpful for her farm and can benefit farmers of all scales.
Similar educational processes are taking place in France, where our members, MODEF and the Confédération Paysanne, are organising a conference to raise awareness of food sovereignty on September 3 and a meeting of women land workers on September 17-18, respectively.
To connect these solutions to our peasant struggles in the United States, our members, the National Family Farm Coalition and Rural Coalition, are participating in a joint event on land grabbing this September 7, addressing land rights issues, eco-justice, climate and financial speculation.
In Uganda, the Eastern Africa Eastern and Southern Africa Small-scale Farmers’ Forum Uganda (ESAFF Uganda) started an initiative to train journalists and communicators on agroecology. Small-scale farmers in Uganda are determined to scale agroecology through practice and policy actions. The organisation believes that if the journalists and communicators understand agroecology, they will report more and help upscale the practice.
Brazil’s Latin American School of Agroecology (ELAA) offers a course for students and young adults who have already finished high school and are looking for political and technical training in agroecology. The school is a product of the struggle of peasant organisations of LVC Brazil and has just celebrated its 17th anniversary.
From the Caribbean region, a political declaration of the XVII CLOC – Via Campesina Youth Camp, held from August 25 to 28 in the Dominican Republic, tells us about the process of political and agroecological formation in which young people from several countries in the region are protagonists. The Dominican Republic also hosted the Training School of the Articulation of Women of the Caribbean Region.
The Korean Women’s Peasant Association held a policy workshop for its peasant members to study and analyse the legal status of women farmers in the country. KWPA and the Korean Peasant League members also attended an agroecological learning exchange hosted by Serikat Petani Indonesia. They use the peasant-to-peasant learning method at the workshop to share agroecological practices. The Sister’s Garden continued to promote its agroecological produce on its Facebook page. Korean Peasant League also issued the latest edition of its peasant newsletter that summarises the many actions in the country.
The Land Workers Alliance Film Club will kick off its second season by screening the critically acclaimed, award-winning feature documentary ‘The Island and the Whales’ on Sunday, September 18, followed by a live Q&A. You can either watch along live or on catch-up until September 25. They will also participate in the People’s Food Summit, with workshops, talks, food and music on how to build food sovereignty in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
In the Western and Central Africa region, our members have started preparing for the 8th International Conference (scheduled to be held in Nicaragua). La Via Campesina members from Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Gambia, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Congo and Togo gathered to discuss various issues affecting the peasants in the region.
In Mali, CNOP organised an exchange workshop between producers and consumers on marketing products from Peasant Agroecology. The exchange establishes dialogue and modalities on pricing and supply. Over 40 participants from the peasants and consumers attended the meeting.
In rural Vermont in the USA, the agroecological meeting “Each One, Teach One” witnessed the participation of a large delegation of farmers from the area and different countries. The host organisation was Vermont Rural, part of the National Family Farmers Coalition. The event facilitated an exceptional sharing of the various agroecology training experiences that the movement has through the IALA and more.
(Have we missed an important update? If so, you can email the links to firstname.lastname@example.org, which we will include in the next edition. Only Updates from La Via Campesina members will be part of this news wrap. For a thorough update of different initiatives in August, visit our website.)
At LVC, we are currently experimenting with audio podcasts that could make content more accessible to our peasant members. As part of this initiative, we have turned the August Newswrap (abridged version) in English into a podcast. Here is our pilot episode to gauge our readers’ and listeners’ feedback and comments. We encourage you to listen in and send your comments to email@example.com.