This summer in India, the monsoon is not as strong as it used to be; rain is less abundant. Some will reckon it is a natural coincidence, but we see climate change and its impact on rural populations in the world, regarding access to water, agricultural production and health.
The life of rural populations is highly dependent on natural elements, which is why for centuries they have learnt to find their own place within ecosystems. Peasants, small farmers in particular, are the main pillars of this sustainable balance between human beings and the rest of Nature.
Through their lifestyles and specific production modes adapted to each territory, they preserve biodiversity, mainly seed banks and local variety crops; have their own water management systems and production-adapted eating habits. Thus, they ensure the food sovereignty of their territories.
However, we currently see the development of a land-grabbing phenomenon. Foreign companies, or even States, grab hold of the lands used by these peasants. Indeed, as some have destroyed their local farming systems and changed their eating habits, they are not able to provide food and raw materials to their populations anymore. They buy land in other countries and exploit them in order to export their resources to their country of origin, mainly agrofuels.
This phenomenon is disastrous for the inhabitants of grabbed land, as it deprives them of their means of subsistence and disrupts the natural balances they had built. On the other hand, it does not solve the problems faced by countries that lack land. Many scientists showed that small farmers are far more productive than big-scale agriculture: they use little energy and the food they produce is more nutritious. Besides, the biodiversity they protect offers them a better adaptability and resistance to climate vagaries.
Land-grabbing, instead of being guided by this wisdom, tends to continue a production model which is not viable, does not enable peoples’ food sovereignty and is doomed to failure.
Fortunately, we did not wait for the low monsoon to grab theses challenges. Actually, we are here to hold a study day:
“Biodiversity, seeds, the role of small producers and land-grabbing”
Saturday July 24, 2010, in Kerala State, India.
The day will start in Aroormuzhy, Kerala, with a round-table opened by Prof. K.V. Thomas, Minister of Agriculture & Consumer Affairs, food & Public Distribution.
Then, a panel of specialists will take the floor, including Dr. Vandana Siva, Miss Carolin Grieshop, Mr. Alphons Kannanthanam MLA, Mr. V.D. Satheesan MLA and Dr.C.R Neelakandan.
This round-table will be followed by a conference in Chalakudy (St Mary’s Forane Church Parish Hall), held by Dr. Vandana Siva, Monsignor Mar Andrews Thazath, (Thrissur Diocese Archbishop), Monsignor Mar Poly Kannookkadan, (Irinjalakkuda Dioscese Bishop), MIJARC members and actors from Kerala State Dioceses.
Mouvement international de la jeunesse agricole et rurale catholique (MIJARC)