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By Lydia Simas
February 17th, 2016
Women farmers of West Africa hold a piece of Black history and ancestral knowledge to be celebrated and honored this and every month. In Africa women produce the majority of food consumed locally, and for centuries they have been the guardians of seeds, passing on local strains from generation to generation.
Grassroots International is supporting rural women farmers associations in five countries in West Africa - Ghana, Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Guinea - to build connections between local associations and to strengthen the voice of rural women farmers regionally.
By Simone Adler
February 11th, 2016
Who we are fighting for is every single peasant farmer – more than 200 million – on the planet. People are eager to join hands in building a global voice.
Transnational corporations are pushing policies in African countries for industrial farming and the use of GMO [genetically modified] seeds, while grabbing our land and [stealing] our natural resources. No one should come and tell us how to produce food.
In Via Campesina, we believe in controlling our land and seeds and producing the healthy food that we want, the way we want.
Water is life. Unfortunately, it is increasingly used as a weapon. And it can be a deadly one when political conflict meets drought.
For decades the Israeli government has had varying degrees of legal and coercive control over the Palestinian water supply. Eighty-five percent of Palestinian water resources are controlled by Israelis and all-too-often, wells and other agricultural projects are demolished or confiscated.
The result is a gaping inequity: Israelis have swimming pools, and Palestinians can barely survive.
The average Israeli uses 300 liters of water per day, but Palestinians are limited by bureaucracy and lack of access to 30-70 liters – and the World Health Organization recommends a minimum 100 liters per day.
Everybody originated with indigenous ways of living and the way of Mother Earth.
The real role of women is in the seed. It is the women who harvest, select, store, and plant seeds. Our seeds come from our mothers and our grandmothers. To us, the seed is the symbol of the continuity of life. Seed is not just about the crops. Seed is about the soil, about the water, and about the forest.
When we plant our seeds, we don’t just plant them anytime or anywhere. We listen to our elders, who teach us about the ecological calendar. The seed follows this natural ecological flow. When it bears another seed, that one is planted and the cycle continues.
If you cut the cycle of the seed, you cut the cycle of life.
Palm oil is the most widely consumed vegetable oil on the planet, with some 50 million metric tons produced annually. High demand for the product is leading to the growth of African Palm plantations in Central America, which, in turn, is fueling environmental destruction, the exploitation of agricultural labor, and the displacement of local peasant farmers by companies often financed by development banks.
After two years of deliberation, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights recently issued two judgements declaring the State of Honduras responsible for the violation of collective ownership rights and the lack of judicial protection in a case brought before them by a Grassroots International partner. The ruling extends protection to Garifuna (Afro-descendant) and indigenous people across the country.
In keeping with the tenet of Free, Prior and Informed Consent, the Court stated that “Regarding the right to consultation and cultural identity, the Court considered that the consultation must be applied prior to any exploration project that may affect the traditional lands of the indigenous and tribal communities."
Despite all the fanfare, the bottom line from the Paris Agreement is that emissions from fossil fuels will continue at levels that endanger life on the planet, and the trading schemes the agreement promotes will lead to an increase in natural resource grabs.
While government dignitaries engaged in UN climate negotiations (the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, otherwise known as the COP21) we had a chance to participate in 10 days of powerful strategy sessions and actions for climate justice in Paris alongside many of Grassroots International’s Global South partners. We will tell you more about movement proposals and accomplishments soon, but let's start by reviewing the official agreement.
Recolonization is happening. There is a second scramble, not just in Africa, but across the global South. Corporations started it. We need to name and shame these corporations – Monsanto, Syngenta, Cargill, and the program promoting them, AGRA [A Green Revolution for Africa] – to take this battle to the next level.
The wars [of conquest of Africa] have not actually ended – the artillery has just transformed into a different type against us farmers today. All of us are fighting.
Last year I had the honor of travelling to the West Bank with a delegation of 15 donors, activists and organizers all committed to winning the recognition of basic human rights in Palestine. We spent an afternoon in the village of Al Hadidiya in the Northern Jordan Valley. There Abu Saqer and his large family live. Abu Saqer was eloquent as he shared the reasons why he has worked with Grassroots International’s partner Stop the Wall to form the Jordan Valley Council--a project Grassroots supports to unite Palestinian farmers and herders who are under constant threat of demolition in Israel’s “Relocation Plan.”
Descendents of escapees from African slave ships and indigenous communities, the Garifuna people live on the Atlantic coast of Honduras. Their beautiful seascape and ecologically rich lands have attracted aggressive interest from foreign investors for plans ranging from tourist resorts to mining to industrial agriculture.