Via Campesina Declaration On World Bank/IMF Annual Meeting Singapore

“World Bank/ IMF Out of Agriculture”

We, members of La Via Campesina, together with other social movements organized a series of activities in Medan, Jakarta (Indonesia), Batam, and Singapore simultaneously on the World Bank (WB)/ International Monetary Fund (IMF) annual meetings on September 15-20, 2006. We as farmer’s representative from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Philippine and Indonesia gathered to share the impact of the WB/IMF policies on our respective countries. We also discussed on how it was possible for social movements develop alternative proposals to struggle for alternative proposals and their implementation.

The conference revealed that peasant’s lives turn into misery when their government starts working with the World Bank. On the other hand, when the IMF enters the country with its promise for economic recovery from economic crisis, a deeper crisis actually occurs and farmers actually become the victims of those policies. It is usually assumed that the governments are proposing the development programmes and the loans to be financed by the World Bank. But in reality, the WB only supports and develops programs where they can make large profits. More over, the WB program requires laws and regulations’ amendment that guarantee transnational corporation interest. This means that farmers never benefit from the loans – even marginally- but on the other hand, they have to pay back those loans with the tax they pay to the government.

We also learned that behind the WB and the IMF, there were some developed countries’ governments. They are the big shareholders of these sisters’ institutions and they benefit financially from the exploitation of other poorer countries.

During the conference, farmers gave several examples on how the WB policies had created difficulties to the farmers’ families.

The construction of the Pak Mun Dam and other mega projects supported by the WB in Thailand have tremendously impacted the people and their environment. Farmers are being displaced and evicted form ther fertile farmland and houses. While the environment degradation and biodiversity loss could not bee recovered anymore. — for more details, see paper sent by AOP Thailand (www.viacampesina.org)

In the PHILIPPINES, the free market and export led development strategy have not delivered their promises of development in agriculture. The World Bank/IMF instigated privatization and deregulation policies with direct consequences to rural livelihood that overlapped with GATT-WTO trade exchange rule.

These policies of privatization and deregulation related to agricultural production and exchange have largely reinforced, not undermined or eroded pre-existing agrarian structures dominated by domestic and transnational elites. The overall outcome is the opposite of neo-liberal reformers predictions: from a net agricultural exporting country, the Philippines became a net agricultural importing country.

Massive imports are killing domestic agriculture and manufacturing industries like tires, steel, textile, shoes, paper industries and many more. This caused a lot of labor displacement and millions of workers lost their jobs – summing up to more than 8 million Filipinos being unemployed.

The IMF-WB strategy has failed to address the persistence of poverty, economic development

and growing inequality not only in the Philippines but all over the developing countries. The international financial institutions became an economic colonizer through repressive policies resulting to widespread poverty and injustice. The IMF-WB policies control the lands, production and economy of the member nations. As a consequence, their development was curtailed. The promise of development became the bait that trapped the member nations into misery creating corruption, injustice and death of our democracy.

The landless people movement in Brazil struggles to reclaim land from the landlords and to use this land to farm and feed our families. Our struggle for life is facing terror, and even murder. Access to public services can not reach the landless people, especially woman and children.

The Indian economy is completely dependant on World Bank aid. Government policies are therefore framed by the WB/IMF. WB four-year Country Strategy for 2005-2008 focuses on lendings for infrastructure, human development, and rural livelihoods. The Bank is increasingly focusing on providing analytical reports on the country’s major development challenges, and extending impractical advice to policy makers by sharing practices and experience from within the country and abroad. This is the strategy adopted by the WB/IMF to control India policy making. New lending to the country in financial year 2006 was US$1.416 billion. Of this, US$500 million was from the IDA, the World Bank’s concesional lending arm, and US$916 million from the IBRD. At end of June 2006, the Bank group had 56 active programs in India. The policies of the WB/IMF are disastrous; they create huge unemployment, displacement of land holders, and they increase rural migrations to urban areas. They increase poverty.

In Bangladesh there is a huge number of projects supported by the WB. The Bank has lended funds for irrigations projects, water and energy development / privatization. It is creating a huge land crisis in Bangladesh. This has created landlessness, unemployment, marginalization, and massive migration of people from rural area to cities. The IMF/WB projects have escalated poverty. There is a livelihood crisis, natural resources are depleting are periodical famines have become a usual phenomenon.

In Sri Lanka, water privatization and difficulties of rural livelihood have occurred under WB influence on its economic policies. For instance, WB recommend for a policy of Non Plantation Crop Sector Alternative released 1996 and Promoting Agriculture and Rural Non Farm Sector Growth in 2003. In 1996 WB recommend for priority actions to get agriculture moving again through initiation of trade policy liberalization, adopting a policy of full private ownership of agriculture land and land market development programs, commercialization of the irrigation system through creating water property rights and market and a system of management by owners, phasing out all government sponsored market intervention program.

In Indonesia, the WB has been funding many projects which paved the way to large trans-national corporation (TNCs) grip and exploitation of natural resources. It initiated the administration program (LAP) which pushed for land titling of peasant’s land in order to easily take over the land from farmers at a very cheap price. Furthermore, they approved a loan to change the law on water to a new law protecting foreign investors in controlling the water resources. This leads the way to water privatization trough a project called WATSAL (Water Resources Structural Adjustment Loan).

The destructive impacts of the WB and the IMF policies on farmers have been spreading all over the world.

We, as a peasant’s movement could not keep silent in front of this neo-imperialism. This is why resistance and protests against those institutions have been launched. Farmers have been struggling against the WB and the IMF from their farm land in their villages, in their provinces, their countries, up to the international level. We are rejecting all the WB and IMF program because those programs don’t answer farmers needs and demands.

Farmers have been developing their own agenda to have better lives, without WB and IMF. We believe that development with WB/IMF loans and their conditionality attached to it will never bring sovereignty to farmers. It will only drive the country into indebtness. Instead of alleviating poverty, as they promised in their program, they marginalize and evict farmers from their farm land.

Farmers cannot wait passively to become the victims of WB/IMF policies. This is why during the WB/ IMF annual meetings in Singapore, the international peasant’s movement La Via Campesina organized an international conference.

The delegates of Via Campesina in this conference demand:

   1. The world without WB/IMF will be a better place for people to live. We demand WB/ IMF out from our countries as all their policies only bring peoples suffering and poverty.
   2. We denounce the WB and the IMF for their human rights violations , and for their crimes against humanity.
   3. The policies of the WB/IMF and all their conditions are trapping us into new colonialism and lead our countries into crisis.
   4. To stop all the WB’s projects in agriculture because they only create more poverty – instead of generating poverty alleviation.
   5. To push governments in each country to cancel their debt, because those loans are actually financing their institutions instead of helping the people.
   6. WB out of any agricultural and food program, because the neo-liberal approach it goes against farmers demands and needs.
   7. Stop Market Assisted Land Reform (MALR), because it hijacks the genuine agrarian reform demanded by peasants on the distribution of fertile farm land.
   8. Implement genuine agrarian reform in order to fulfill the peasants’ right for their sovereignty. Genuine agrarian reform demanding the land, seed, water, technologies be controlled by farmers and not by agribusiness companies.
   9. Implement food sovereignty as a peasants’ genuine alternative for food production, distribution, trade and consumption. Food sovereignty emphasizes the right of people to food. It does not consider food as commodity or a mere economic good. We proudly state that food sovereignty is our proposal and it is our alternative to WB/IMF practices.

Signatories of this declaration are consisting of:

   1. Federation of Indonesia Peasant Union (FSPI), Indonesia
   2. KMP, Philippine
   3. PARAGOS, Philippine
   4. BKU, India
   5. BKF, Bangladesh
   6. MONLAR, Sri Lanka
   7. MST, Brazil
   8. UNORKA, Philippine

This article is available in