“Together to Protect Farmers’ Rights”

UAWC press release

(Ramallah-Palestine, 18-01-2014) In the presence of 140 members of the agricultural committees from all the Palestinian Governorates, local and international organization in addition to media organizations the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) organized a conference for the agricultural committees on the 18th of January 2014 under the slogan “Together to Protect Farmers’ Rights” at the Palestine Red Crescent in Al-Bireh. The audience of the annual agricultural committees’ conference recommended framing the Palestinian farmers within a Palestinian farmers’ movement to advocate for farmers’ rights and strengthen their resilience on their land.

The first part of the conference focused on discussing the gaps between law and practice regarding the Palestinian farmers’ rights. Farmers’ rights are divided to two main parts; the rights regarding their daily exposure to the Israeli violations and the rights regarding their work in land to provide food to the society in pursuit of achieving food sovereignty. The legal framework is formed from a wide network of laws and agreements such as the agreements on forming the FAO organization as an international body and the Fourth Geneva Convention. Noting that the Palestinian law gives the farmers 29 rights which include:

  • Improving the advisory services to raise the awareness in the agricultural sector and its role in development.

  • Conduct periodic tests for agricultural water to find out the period of its suitability for cultivation.

  • Exemption from fees for services and licenses referred to in the laws, regulations and instructions with regard to the agricultural sector.

During the second part of the conference, an overview about the importance of a Palestinian Farmers’ Movement and the actual role of the agricultural committees was discussed. This aspect is important especially after the accordance of Palestine, represented by UAWC, as a full member of La Via Campesina movement in June/2014. The movement defends small-scale sustainable agriculture as a way to promote social justice and dignity, and it holds in it about 200 million farmers around the world, in addition to 183 agricultural organizations in 88 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. The accordance of Palestine was a result of UAWC’s intensive work for nine consecutive years.

It is important to note that the Palestinian farmer’s movement is a social movement with farmers and workers in the agricultural sector as its members. This movement is the grassroots movement that advocates for the farmers’ rights locally and internationally. The movements’ vision revolves around the fact that the farmer in all societies is the person who provides food for the people and thus all his/her rights should be assured.

Moreover, the representatives of the agricultural committees in the West Bank and Gaza Strip gave small presentations along with presenting success stories about the Palestinian farmers focusing on the concept of volunteer work to support the rights of farmers’, and pointing that the agricultural committees have worked along with UAWC against the occupation’s policies that aim to expel Palestinians from their land.

At the end of the conference the audience recommended the following:

  1. Framing the Palestinian farmers within a Palestinian farmers’ movement to advocate for farmers’ rights and strengthen their resilience on their land.

  2. Advocating for amendments to the agricultural laws, in addition to raising the national budget of the Ministry of Agricultural and putting a clear national plan to support the agricultural sector.

  3. Necessity of activating the mutual visits between the agricultural committees in different regions in order to exchange experiences.

  4. Documentation of the Israeli violations against the Palestinian farmers through a joint FaceBook page for the usage of all the agricultural committees.

  5. Activate the interaction between the agricultural committees in order to market for their products in different Palestinian Governorates.

  6. Intensify UAWC’s workshops especially the workshops that talk about legal issues.

Finally, UAWC honored 27 agricultural committees, 5 women farmers and 10 journalists representing different media organization for their continuous support for the Palestinian farmer.