South Asia: Home of small family peasants, landless peasantry and agricultural labourers.
A vast majority, i.e. 60 per cent of the 1.5 billion South Asians depend on agriculture for their livelihood. However, peasants in the region lack access and control over productive resources with adverse policy regimes. Increasing suicide in the region, rapid outmigration from rural areas, diversion from farming, increasing number of poor and hungry as well as increasing gaps between rich are poor proves that the present development paradigm pursued in these countries are detrimental to the farmers. With the intensification of multiple global crises such as food, energy, environmental and climate, financial and debt etc. during last decade, the condition of peasants in the region has gone from worst to bad. In this context, it is urgent to deliberate on these issues to not only ensure peasants rights and justice but also to look for sustainable ways of protecting biodiversity, respecting natural balance and conserving culture.
SAPC convergence: South Asian Peasants Convergence
The regional convergence will be the largest political events of the South Asian farmers (Small and marginal farmers, peasants, farm workers, fisher folks, indigenous and ethnic people, Dalits, landless and women farmers, pastoralist and herders, human rights groups, youth peasant and representatives of other small food producers) to meet and discuss their common agenda and formulate strategies to fight against the neo-liberalism.
The main objective of the convergence is to bring together South Asian peasant' organizations to strengthen the solidarity across the region. The convergence will be also focusing on various thematic areas such as land grabbing, climate change and peasants’ rights to achieve food sovereignty. The specific objectives of the program are:
- to discuss issues faced by South Asian Farmers such as lack of access and control over productive resources.
- to analyse the impact of current policies, climate crisis, land grabbing and WTO regime on farmers of south Asia.
- to discuss food sovereignty as an alternative paradigm ensuring peasants rights and their access to productive resources.
- to draw regional strategies against land and resource grab by the States and big capital.
Neo-liberalism and its impacts on small-scale farmers
Neo-liberal policies are reinforcing the poverty cycle that is already endemic to the region. Various catastrophes like land grabbing, climate change, environment degradation and other crises are also the result of this growth model affecting the livelihood of small farmers in the world as well as in South Asia. The hegemony of this order is being strengthened by institutions like IFIs (WB, IMF & ADB), WTO, IPRs, TRIPs and FTAs, RTAs. etc.
Food sovereignty as the alternative paradigm
Sustainable development of agriculture is only possible if direct producers, i.e. poor peasants, agricultural labourers, landless peasantry, etc. have more rights on productive resources (land, water, forests, etc.) as well as the decision-making power. This means that apart from radical agrarian reforms, agriculture should be kept out of WTO and other predatory agencies.
Climate change manifested through change of weather pattern, frequent floods, prolonged droughts, increased temperature, emergence of diseases and pests, has affected crop and livestock production impacting the livelihood of South Asian farmers.
Land, a principal economic resource not only for farmers but for many communities around the world. In the case of South Asia, where almost 60 per cent of the people depend on agriculture for their livelihood, it is not only a simple source of food and shelter but also a matter of identity in the social and political power sharing. Land has been, therefore, the major property asset to grab and accumulate, which compels small peasants to become more and more vulnerable and landless. At present, besides political elites and the land owning classes, big capital (MNCs and local corporates) and the military in some cases are taking control of fertile land, thus displacing communities and menacing the source of livelihood. There is an increasing trend of land grabbing in South Asia in various forms.
At least 50 participants including around 15 international participants from at least 5 countries of South Asia would participate in the program. Apart from peasant organisations of South Asia researchers, academician, individual farmers and personalities from the agrarian field are also expected. The members of South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication, South Asian Peasants’ Coalition and La Via Campesina South Asia, Food Sovereignty Network South Asia would participate in the events.
Date and Venue
The event is scheduled to be held in Kathmandu, Nepal from February 2-3, 2-17. The local host will be All Nepal Peasants’ Federation (ANPFa).