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By Saulo Araujo
February 17th, 2009
We will be posting updates from the Dessalines Brigade in Haiti. Stay tuned.
Last month, a small delegation of four representatives of Via Campesina-Brazil arrived in Haiti. Their mission is to help the Haitian peasant movement in their efforts to build local sustainable agriculture practices and a popular education curriculum on food sovereignty. Besides solidarity and technical expertise, the delegation also brings agro-ecological seeds produced in agrarian reform settlements in Brazil to share with local families.
In 2006 Grassroots International received a report from the Social Network for Justice and Human Rights (Rede Social), one of our Brazilian partners, about rapid expansion of agrofuels production based on large scale plantation-style cultivation of sugar cane for ethanol. We also heard from them about massive expansion of soy plantations and U.S.
Grassroots International Joins with U.S. Allies to Tell the Candidates: "Reform food policy and end the food crisis"
October 31st, 2008
Global food prices have almost doubled in recent years, in large part due to U.S. policies, and now nearly 1 billion people worldwide - including 50 million here in the U.S. - are facing hunger. Keep reading to find out how you can take action for change.
The food crisis is not a crisis in the availability of food. In fact, there is more than enough food to feed everyone in the world. Over the last 20 years, world food production has risen steadily at over 2% a year, while the rate of global population growth has dropped to 1.14% a year.
Members of Grassroots International's partner La Via Campesina -- an international network of peasants, indigenous peoples, fishers, pastoralists, women, and youth -- gathered in late June in Jakarta, Indonesia to defend their right to exist, and called for a UN Convention on the Rights of Peasants. (Below, see their final declaration)
Under intense threat from the expansion of agro-fuels in South America and Indonesia, militarization in Colombia and South Korea, and increasing food prices, rural families are voicing a predicament that affects all communities.
In late June, Grassroots partner, the Landless Workers Movement (MST) made public a document they got a hold of that showed the intention of the Rio Grande do Sul state Public Ministry to "dissolve" the MST. The document is based on a meeting, on December 3, 2007, during which the state Public Ministry decided: to outlaw any mobilization of landless workers, including marches and walks, to intervene in settlement schools, to criminalize leaders and members, and to "deactivate" all the encampments in Rio Grande do Sul.
"Burning food today so as to serve the mobility of the rich countries is a crime against humanity" said Jean Ziegler, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food criticizing the growing push for using food crops as fuel crops and diverting land use from food cultivation to fuel cultivation. In the face of the growing global crisis that he said could lead to "widespread hunger, malnutrition and social unrest on an unprecedented scale" United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon convened a global task force to respond, and called for closing the $755 million funding gap in the UN's World Food Programme.
In recent weeks, several UN agencies have issued warnings against impending food riots because of the acute hike in prices of rice, corn, wheat, and other staples. Morocco, Guinea, Egypt, Mexico, Haiti, Yemen, Mauritania, Senegal, Indonesia, and Uzbekistan have already been rocked by mass protests. The World Food Program (WFP), which feeds 73 million people in almost 80 countries, has called upon donor governments to close the $500 million funding gap by May 1, 2008 or it may not be able to make its food aid commitments. Worst affected by resulting hunger are the poor, surviving on less then $2 a day, in developing countries.
Food activists, scientists, and representatives from governments and corporations around the world will begin meeting in Johannesburg on Monday, April 7th, to finalize a report on how the world can tackle the deeply interrelated issues of hunger, poverty, power, and global agriculture.
But global agribusinesses Monsanto, Syngenta, and BASF have refused to participate. They complained recently that genetic modification of agriculture was under-valued by the 4,000 scientists and experts working on the report, and that the report should not have stated that biotechnology in agriculture poses risks.
From the capital, Port Au Prince, we take a small five-seater plane to the Central Plateau in Haiti's interior. My colleague Maria Aguiar and I are flying to Hinche, the capital of the Department of the Centre. From there we will drive to Papaye to visit Grassroots International's partner the Mouvman Peyizan Papay (Peasant Movement of Papaye), which is convening to celebrate its 35th anniversary and chalk out a plan of action for the next five years.