Srilanka: MONLAR warns of threats to food sovereignty, as 5.3 million people remain food insecure

In a statement released on 16 October, the International Day of Action for Peoples’ Food Sovereignty, the Movement for Land and Agrarian Reform (MONLAR) in Sri Lanka has highlighted the dubious role played by international financial institutions in plunging the country into a debt crisis.

Here is the full statement:

Stop whitewashing the criminal agribusiness empires, IMF, WB and WTO; it’s time for a people’s food system!

As the Sri Lankan government moves to bail out everyone but the people it’s supposed to serve from the catastrophic debt crisis, the people are suffering the devastating consequences of the austerity-driven fiscal policies of this carefully orchestrated attack. The most marginalised people and communities, such as small-scale food producers and the plantation community, have become sitting ducks.

Today, 5.3 million people in Sri Lanka are food insecure. This proves that what the government has been doing to feed its people for more than 70 years has failed. The government’s attempt to ensure food security has failed. What the government has done to secure the livelihoods of farmers has failed. What governments have done to alleviate rural poverty has failed. The laws, bills, policies, international treaties and free trade agreements (FTAs) that have been put in place to ensure food security have left the people hanging out to dry, while a very few businessmen and their political friends have been riding the gravy train for years. At a time when more than a million people are starving in Sri Lanka, the immense wealth created by these oligarchs and the empires they have built through this injustice should be considered a crime against humanity.

Today, on 16 October, the day of struggle for food sovereignty for our peoples, we, the Movement for Land and Agrarian Reform (MONLAR), once again stand with the small food producers and the plantation community. We stand with the small farmers who feed us every day while fighting the debt and climate crises, while being evicted from their land, denied access to their water and their seeds. We stand with the plantation workers who keep our economy going, even as they are robbed of their basic human rights. And we stand with everyone who has been wronged by systemic injustice. We stand with everyone who has been a victim of this premeditated crime!

It seems that both the World Food Forum and the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the institutions that promise to end world hunger, are blind to the fact that hundreds of millions of people around the world are starving. The benefactors funding these failed efforts, such as the IMF, the World Bank and private banks, have only turned the crisis into their cash cow, and now they are looking at more than 50 countries crippled by foreign debt, including Sri Lanka.

While denouncing the IMF and World Bank funded market driven food system in Sri Lanka, we call for a people’s food system from food production to food market and responsible consumption through agroecology, ensuring food sovereignty where small scale food producers have their right to land, water and seeds. We urge the government to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas – UNDROP, which is useful to strengthen the promotion and protection of the rights of food producers in Sri Lanka.

We call on all small-scale food producers in Sri Lanka to stand with us by joining the agroecology movement. Let’s not be fooled into believing that this unsustainable and unjust food system will put food in our stomachs. Let’s join the global struggle to end world hunger and secure our rights!

Faced with global crises, we build food sovereignty to ensure a future for humanity!