To Till the Land
Deccan Development Society women in front of the community grain bank.
For millions of people living in rural areas, access to land is essential for survival. Inter Pares supports people as they defend themselves against forced displacement, and assists farmers to make more productive and sustainable use of their agricultural lands. We also support local initiatives that promote policies and regulations to facilitate rather than hinder small-scale farmers’ important contribution to food security.
- In rural Bangladesh, Nijera Kori works with more than 800,000 agricultural day labourers to organize to negotiate better terms for their labour, as well as to press local governments to provide their communities with essential public services such as water and sanitation. It also assists landless people to gain access to communal lands and water sources, which are frequently illegally privatized by wealthy land owners. Working with people living in coastal regions, Nijera Kori helps them organize to defend themselves from the often-violent takeover of communal coastal land for the production of shrimp for export.
“Land grabbing” is the sale or long-term lease of large tracts of agricultural land to external interests for export. In West Africa, the Coalition for the Protection of African Genetic Heritage (COPAGEN) represents millions of small-scale farmers. COPAGEN educates rural and urban communities and politicians about the consequences of land grabbing, which gives away land needed by locals for their livelihoods and food security, while burdening them with the environmental costs of intensive industrial farming. COPAGEN members are demanding greater transparency from their governments on public land transactions, and are seeking reform of land ownership laws to take into account the interests of family farms.
In the semi-arid Deccan plateau region of India, the government land reform program provided some land to poor people in the district. However, the land was of such poor quality that crop yields were extremely low. The Deccan Development Society assisted five thousand women in fifteen villages to improve the land using organic techniques, eventually restoring over ten thousand acres of their land. The women now grow, store, and distribute enough food so that even during droughts they have adequate supplies and no longer require government food assistance.
The loss of rice land is a major problem in many Asian countries. Land grabbing, land speculation, and the conversion of land from food production to biofuel production threaten the livelihoods of millions of small-scale rice farmers. Pesticide Action Network – Asia Pacific (PAN-AP) works with farmers’ organizations in eighteen countries to protect rice farmers and to promote the conservation of traditional rice varieties. Through educational and cultural events, training, research, and advocacy, PAN-AP and its members promote concrete ways to create productive and sustainable agricultural ecosystems without harmful pesticides. PAN-AP engages with governments to advocate for the creation of agricultural polices that recognize small-scale producers as the foundation for national food security.
|Reviewed May 21, 2010||Publishing Policies|