La Via Campesina’s leader demands genuine agrarian reform at the FAO conference

Press release

ImageHenry Saragih, international coordinator of La Via Campesina, opened the International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development today in the name of the civil society forum. La Via Campesina is a global movement of peasants, small-scale farmers, indigenous people, landless, women’s and rural workers’ organizations. More than 150 leaders of the movement from  Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas gathered for the forum along with thousands of members of Via Campesina Brazil.

Speech text

I am Henry Saragih, international Co-ordinator of La Via Campesina and I bring the voice of the Forum on Land Territory and Dignity that is taking place parallel to this Governmental Conference.

A genuine and integrated Agrarian Reform that redistributes land of the big properties to the landless and allows access to and control over natural and productive resources is crucial to eradicate poverty and misery in the rural areas. Without an Agrarian Reform it is impossible to achieve these goals.

At the moment, peasant-based food production, artisanal fisheries, pastoralism and the management of natural resources by communities and indigenous people is also severely threatened by the expansion of corporate-based development and the neo-liberal policies of the World Bank, IMF and WTO. Therefore it is crucial to maintain and strengthen the control by communities over these resources based on the principle of food sovereignty.

FAO´s mission is to eradicate hunger and poverty in the rural areas. Therefore we expect a strong commitment of FAO on this issue.

We demand that the member states of FAO, our national governments, take the necessary steps to define an international plan of action that requires governments to implement a genuine integrated agrarian reform that guarantees the following:
–    Active participation and respect and support for the initiatives of organisations and movements (landless, indigenous, peasants, fisher folk) towards a genuine agrarian reform,
–    National legislation to protect and enhance a genuine agrarian reform,
–    Definition and implementation of a national plan of action
–    A commitment to reserve and spend the necessary funds to establish and strengthen the necessary institutional instruments
–    A commitment to establish policies to realize adequate control over natural resources by the communities concerned.

We expect the national governments and FAO to set up a preparation process at the international level to allow the broad and full participation of organisations and movements of those affected as well as an in-depth preparation at the governmental level in order achieve results responding to these needs. The International Planning Committee for Food sovereignty should continue to play its central role in facilitating this process.

We feel that this Conference, given  the lack of engagement by governments and the enormous difficulties that we had to organize serious participation of Civil Society,  cannot be the moment to finalize international commitments on such an important issue for the coming years. We demand that this Conference should be just the first step in this process.

Therefore we propose that the Conference decides in its final resolution to begin this process, to increase the capacity in FAO regarding agrarian reform, to insist that FAO take leadership on this issue and that governments, especially the developed countries, free up sufficient means to implement a broad, open, participatory process for an international plan of action that effectively leads to the implementation of a genuine, integrated agrarian reform.

If we want to eradicate poverty and misery in this world we need engagement, courage, political will, and the necessary solidarity to achieve the urgently needed changes.

We cannot wait another 30 years!
Land for Life, Land for Dreams, Land to Affirm our Dignity, NOW!


For more information:
Daniel Cassol : 51 9944 8407
Isabelle Delforge: 51 8178 9855