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PCFS Held National Consultation on Food Sovereignty in Sri Lanka

The People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty together with IBON International and the Green Movement of Sri Lanka successfully held a National Consultation on Development Effectiveness and Food Sovereignty in Sri Lanka last September 4, 2010.

The consultation  is part of a series of country level activities that aim to: 1) develop capacities of civil society organisations (CSOs) at the national level in addressing agriculture and food sovereignty issues; 2) take essential actions from shaping consensus among CSOs in formulating the development effectiveness agenda on agriculture and food; and 3) engage in policy dialogue on agriculture and food issues to improve mechanisms for cooperation towards a development effectiveness agenda at the national level.

More than 50 participants representing peasant organizations and NGOs working on agriculture and rural development participated in a national consultation held in Colombo, Sri Lanka last September 4, 2010. Delegates from different regions including the Tamils from the north actively participated in the consultation that was organized in coordination with the Green Movement in Sri Lanka.
Subsequent to the lighting of the traditional oil lamp, Mr. Suranjan Kodituwakku of the Green Movement of Sri Lanka Inc. opened the sessions and described the forum that was set up to discuss the quality, quantity and effectiveness of the aid provided to agriculture and rural development.

Mr. Sarath Fernando of Monlar, a firebrand peasant leader in Sri Lanka, served as the resource person for the state of food insecurity in Sri Lanka. Mr. Fernando emphasized that regardless of what anyone says, Sri Lanka does not enjoy food security. He referred to the World Food Summit in 1996, when the Government of Sri Lanka stated that a human being requires at least 250 kcals but that 2/3 of the citizens of Sri Lanka can only get less than 1600.

Dr. Lionel Weerakoon of the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture Research and Development (SARD) served as the speaker for the topic on Food Sovereignty. He discussed the definition of Food Security by the FAO but also explained that the government systems had accepted this at its inception. He further discussed the concept of Food Security, which was promoted by global controlling agencies such as the FAO and World Bank as a system primarily based on markets.
For the topic on the crisis of the global food system, Roy Anunciacion, Secretariat Coordinator for PCFS, outlined the problem and the way in which the number of hunger incidence has changed over the years. He explained that a full 78.5% of the population of the developing countries live in poverty on USD 1.25-2 per day. He also provided statistics that show over 50% of the world’s hungry live in Asia despite the fact that Asia is the food basket of the world.

Mr. Anunciacion in his closing remarks regarded the consultation as an excellent start and congratulated the forum and its organizers for the positive overall effort. He also outlined Food Sovereignty and its importance as a rallying point that can serve as a platform for farmer’s organizations, CSOs, research institutions among others; and as a policy framework for advocacy on issues in agriculture and rural development. He concluded by inviting all members to join the PCFS and thanking the participants, especially the farmer organizations from remote locations who came and contributed valuable inputs into the forum.

The facilitator, Arjuna Seneviratne, stated in conclusion that the onus was on the forum to take the discussions on the ground to serve as practical actions that will bear concrete, tangible results for the people. ###



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