Dhaka, BANGLADESH: “End Landgrabbing!, this was declared by the participants of the 20-day “South Asian Caravan on Climate, Gender, and Food Sovereignty 2011” held from 15 November until 4 December 2011 from North to South Bangladesh covering 12 Districts and 18 Sub-districts. The statement said that leaders and representatives of the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) coming from the Philippines, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka joined the caravan organized by the Bangladesh Krishok Federation (BKF, Peasants federation), the Bangladesh Kishani Sabha (BKS, peasant women’s organization) and La Via Campesina.
“The caravan across Bangladesh brought the people together for climate justice and peoples solutions to the climate crisis. We were joined different peasant organizations coming from India, Pakistan; Sri Lanka; Nepal, and the Philippines; as well as friends from the U.K.; Germany, and Australia,” said Badrul Alam, APC Vice-chairperson for External Affairs and concurrent BKF President.
“In many villages we held meetings, workshops and seminars on the key issues facing our communities. Our very existence is becoming precarious through landlessness and land grabbing; local government corruption; and the imposition of industrial market-based agricultural methods (including the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers) which have increased our production costs, and debts. While the prices that we receive for our produce is so low that many farmers end up in a cycle of indebtedness and poverty,” added Alam.
Antonio Flores, National Treasurer of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) or Peasant Movement of the Philippines talked on the situation of the San Mariano farmers in Isabela as they battle against the land grabbing of 11,000 hectares of indigenous peoples’ lands by Philippine and Japanese firms Itochu Corp. & JGC Group that want to set up the biggest bioethanol project in the country using sugarcane feedstock. The project also consists of a 19 megawatt cogeneration and ethanol processing facilities concentrated in San Mariano.
“On the other hand, the targeted project area has a potential crop yield of 80 to 90 cavans per hectares for irrigated lands and 60 cavans/hectares for upland rice. If the project pushes through, it will significantly reduce the food production capacity of the community. The affected communities are calling for the project to be withdrawn, ultimately respecting their welfare as well as the gains of the greater majority of stakeholders, rather than advancing the profits and interests of foreign corporations along with a few national accomplices in the government,” added Flores … (full text).