PCFS Assembly Elects New Officers
The People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) held its first assembly since its inception in 2005 to reinvigorate the network and meet the challenge of asserting further the people’s food sovereignty agenda amidst intensifying attacks to people’s rights to food and land such as landgrabbing and corporate control on food and agriculture.
Member organizations of the network from 11 countries met in Colombo, Sri Lanka on January 22, 2011 to elect its fresh set of Steering Council members and approve the coalition’s bylaws. Elected officials are Antonio Tujan Jr. and Azra Sayeed as co-Chairs, while five (5) steering council members for Asia and two for Africa were likewise elected.
The network discussed the current impacts of neoliberal policies on food and agriculture on small food producers and the alternatives and policy recommendations the network will pursue in response to the worsening global food crisis.
PCFS gave focus on the global rush for landgrabbing by foreign corporations, governments and financial institutions in their bid to secure food and energy sources. PCFS Co-Chairperson Antonio Tujan Jr. gave an overview on foreign corporate landgrabbing. He presented the growing phenomenon of landgrabbing by foreign corporations in developing countries, especially in food-insecure Africa, motivated by interests for speculative financial gains, sources of raw materials for energy generation and manufacturing, and food supply. He pointed out the World Bank policy prescriptions for promotion of private investments in agriculture as one factor in the current landgrabbing phenomenon.
Resource speakers from member organizations shared the state of landgrabbing and its impacts on their sectors in their respective country settings. Fatima Burnad from Tamil Nadu discussed the experiences of landgrabbing for “development projects”, special economic zones and biofuel generation in India and its adverse effects to the lives of the indigenous people.
Bayarsaikhan Namsrai of the Mongolian People’s Coalition for Food Sovereignty shared how large-scale mining by foreign corporations have aggravated the food instability of the already heavily import dependent Mongolia. He spoke about how the phenomenon is harmfully affecting the livelihood and culture of the pastoralists.
Moses Shaha of the Eastern and Southern Africa Farmers’ Forum discussed how Africa is “giving away its sovereignty” in the “scramble for Africa” wherein 20 million hectares of land in the region was acquired by foreign corporations in 180 land deals over the last three years.
From the Philippines, Fernando Hicap talked about coastal and foreshore grabbing and its impact on fisherfolks. Danilo Ramos on the other hand stressed on the struggle and victories of the Philippine peasant movement against landgrabbing.
As response to corporate control on food and agriculture, Dr. Irene Fernandez of Tenaganita and Abu Thiam of Pesticide Action Network-Africa presented agro-ecological alternatives and policy recommendations. They stressed on the need of developing agriculture that is not just production-centric but puts the environment and people’s well-being in prime consideration for an ecologically stable production system.
Roshan, Upul, Lakmini of the Green movement of Sri Lanka, Rose Guzman of Ibon Foundation-Philippines, and Azra Talet Sayeed of Roots for Equity-Pakitan imparted their experiences and insights on immediate and long-term responses the people could do to adapt to and battle the climate crisis. They forwarded a wide array of recommendations from utilizing indigenous techniques in farmer’s communities to advocating for state policies for food sovereignty and calling for the dismantling of corporate control on food production.