End corporate control in food and agriculture! Fight for genuine land reform and rural development to truly transform the world’s food systems!

Day of the Landless 2021 statement

Today, Day of the Landless, we – farmers and peasants, poor farmhands, agricultural workers, contract farmers, Dalits, indigenous peoples, rural women and youth, and land reform advocates across Asia – vow to further our resolve in fighting against landlessness. Landlessness breeds social injustice, hunger, and impoverishment. Landlessness is a bane to farmers and all the people of the world.

Now more than ever, we are ready to link arms to assert our right to land and genuine land reform in our respective countries and across the region. We are determined to espouse and achieve rural development to transform the world’s food systems dominated by corporate monopolies. We will work hard for a better world wherein the majority of the population is unbound from hunger and exploitation.

We are uniting under the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) to call an end to corporate control in agriculture and food systems. It is unacceptable that farmers and food producers who feed nations do not have access to land and are food insecure as a result of land and resource grabs, and of global monopolies in agricultural production and trade.

The COVID-19 pandemic that ravaged the world in 2020 further exposed the profit-oriented nature of global food systems as it drove millions of people into chronic hunger. By the end of 2019, at least 8.9 percent of the world’s population, or 690 million went hungry. By the start of 2020, hundreds of millions of people continue to suffer acute food insecurity as they face conflict, climate change, and economic crises of epic proportions.

As of October 2020, a staggering seven million people have died of hunger. Pandemic-related hunger also led to the deaths of 10,000 more children each month over the first year of the health crisis. Forecasts even warned about multiple famines in the coming months as the lowest-income households are most likely to face increased hunger. Strict lockdown policies and quarantines have affected all stages of food supply, resulting in a steep rise in food prices and widespread food insecurity.

Hunger and poverty of Asian peasants and sectors in agriculture are among the direct results of centuries-old landlessness. Large-scale land deals and acquisitions — land grabs led by corporations have dispossessed and displaced farmers from the land they till. Millions of hectares of land planted with staples, grains, and other food crops, as well as indigenous lands, and public lands were land grabbed and converted into plantations, extractive mining projects, and farms devoted to export cash crops. Governments have become willing accomplices in these land grabs through public-private partnerships that take away land, water, and other natural resources from the people.

Profits keep pouring into the pockets of the few as the majority of peasants and their families endure worsening landlessness and land grabs amid a pandemic.

Farmers who assert land rights are faced with attacks either from local landlords, big corporations, and even government agencies. Peasant killings and other forms of brutalities against farmers happen on a daily basis.

In the past years, we have also witnessed the strengthening domination of corporations over the agriculture and food sector. We have seen mega-mergers and multi-billion deals between companies that have control over the seed market, agrochemicals, fertilizers, farm equipment and machineries, and the entire chain of food production. Conglomerates today have a tighter control of the world’s food production and distribution. They have made a profitable empire while trampling upon the lives and livelihoods of farming families and the rural people.

Deepening poverty ravages the world’s countryside as appropriate, indigenous, and collective knowledge and practices on agriculture are suppressed by agrochemical transnationals. Employing the most compassionate words and imageries, these monopolies violently impose their economic models over the peoples of the world for the singular purpose of maximizing profits. The toiling people of rural areas are increasingly cut off from their own countrymen as imported seeds, inputs, machines, and agricultural products deluge their local markets. At the same time, through coercion or force, peasants are increasingly “integrated” into the “global value chain” as cheap sources of raw materials and docile labor, and as captive dependent markets. As the people’s food sovereignty is continually undermined, there can be no genuine rural development.

Yet, even during the pandemic, we have seen the rising up of people’s movements to assert democratic and socio-economic rights. Mass protests and people’s strikes have swelled across countries. In Asia, the largest mobilizations we have seen in recent months are of India’s farmers, taking to the streets in hundreds of millions, to oppose and protest neoliberal agricultural laws that will make them more vulnerable to a few powerful corporations.

We are alarmed that ongoing efforts to address the rising global hunger and poverty through the upcoming UN Food Systems Summit will only end up in legitimizing and further advancing tighter imperialist control over food and agriculture. The overall direction that the preparations and discussions by those leading the UN Summit are leading towards the greater use of harmful and contentious technology like genetic engineering and digital agriculture. Solely motivated by maximum profits, these technologies are designed to consolidate and expand the presence and powers of big agribusiness in determining how the world should produce food.

In contrast, there are no meaningful discussions or even space to address the structural issues underlying hunger and poverty such as the landlessness and lack of effective control over the means of production by farmers and other rural sectors that directly produce the world’s food. Instead, the push in the UN Summit is to further expand monopoly capital and profits through greater liberalization, privatization, and deregulation that will drive hundreds of millions of farmers and rural people into more landlessness, bankruptcy, and impoverishment.

Thus, we call on the courageous peasant movements in Asia to organize and mobilize for our own people’s summit together with other marginalized and oppressed sectors that suffer the gravest hunger and poverty because of imperialist control and domination over the world’s food and agriculture. We must create our own spaces and assert our own voice in how a radical transformation of food and agricultural systems can and should take place.

We will actively support and lead the Global People’s Summit for Just, Equitable, Healthy and Sustainable Food Systems that would bring to the fore the peasant’s aspirations and struggles for land and genuine agrarian reform. For the people’s summit to truly make an impact, it must be built on an ever-growing and strengthening peasant and people’s movements on the ground fighting for systemic change that will pave the way for development that is truly for the people and truly sustainable.

Farmers and peasants can settle for nothing less than genuine land reform and rural development towards the true transformation of the world’s food systems. We recognize that the key to this transformation are solid people’s organizations and a global mass movement, the only real spring of change amid a decaying world order. #

The APC statement is endorsed by the following organisations:

Global/regional organisations:

  1. A Growing Culture (AGC)
  2. Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)
  3. Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN)
  4. Asian Rural Women’s Coalition (ARWC)
  5. Coalition of Agricultural Workers International (CAWI)
  6. IBON International
  7. Indigenous Peoples’ Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL)
  8. PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP)
  9. People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS)
  10. Youth for Food Sovereignty

National/local organisations:

  1. Agroecology X, Philippines
  2. Alliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria, Indonesia
  3. Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon, Philippines
  4. Anakpawis, Philippines
  5. Andhra Pradesh Vyavsaya Vruthidarula Union (APVVU), India
  6. Apit-Tako Cordillera, Philippines
  7. Asha Parivar, India
  8. Bangladesh Resource Center for Indigenous Knowledge (BARCIK)
  9. Bayan Philippines
  10. Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC)
  11. Centre for Human Rights and Development (CHRD), Mongolia
  12. CNS, India
  13. Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community (CCFC)
  14. Consumers Korea
  15. Danggayan Dagiti Mannalon ti Cagayan Valley (Cagayan Valley Peasant Alliance), Philippines
  16. E Consumer, Korea
  17. Eastern and Southern Africa small-scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF)
  18. Foodscape Collective
  19. Front Mahasiswa Nasional (FMN)
  20. Gabungan Serikat Buruh Indonesia (GSBI)
  21. Gita Pertiwi, Indoneisa
  22. Good Clean Cart, Philippines
  23. Green Foundation, India
  24. Humabol Bohol, Philippines
  25. Human Development Organization (HDO), Sri Lanka
  26. Ibon Foundation, Philippines
  27. Jharkhand Nagrik Manch, India
  28. Kadamay, Philippines
  29. Kasama Bukidnon, Philippines
  30. Kasama TK, Philippines
  31. Kenyan Peasants League
  32. Kilusang Magbubukid ng Bikol, Philippines
  33. KMP Bikol, Philippines
  34. KMP Negros, Philippines
  35. KMP Socsargends, Philippines
  36. KMP, Philippines
  37. Kudumbam, India
  38. Labour Resource Center, Bangladesh
  39. Magbabaol, Philippines
  40. Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG), Philippines
  41. Mansa Punjab farmers and Punjab State Socialist Party, India
  42. National Agricultural Workers Forum, India
  43. National Federation of Peasant Women in the Philippines (Amihan)
  44. National Fisheries Solidarity Organization (NAFSO), Sri Lanka
  45. NISARGA, India
  46. NNARA Youth, Philippines
  47. North South Initiative, Malaysia
  48. OPPUK, Indonesia
  49. Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek
  50. Pamanggas Panay, Philippines
  51. PAN Aotearoa, New Zealand
  52. Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)
  53. Pemuda Baru Indonesia (PEMBARU-Indonesia)
  54. Perisai Association
  55. Philippine Network of Food Security Programmes (PNFSP)
  56. Rastria Vyavasaya Vruthidarula Sangam, India
  57. Rihai Manch, India
  58. Roots for Equity, Pakistan
  59. Roshni Tariqiyati Tanzeem, Pakistan
  60. Rural Women’s Advocate (RUWA)
  61. Rural Women’s Liberation Movement, India
  62. Rural Workers Movement, India
  63. Sagupa SB, Philippines
  64. SAHANIVASA, India
  65. SAKA, Philippines
  66. Save our Schools Network, Philippines
  67. Save San Roque, Philippines
  68. Sekretaris Tumenggung Adat Desa Subah
  69. Serikat Demokratik Mahasiswa Nasional (SDMN)
  70. Serikat Perempuan Indonesia (SERUNI)
  71. Shikha Shastha Unnayan Karzakram (SHISUK), Bangladesh
  72. Sibat, Philippines
  73. Sinagbayan, Philippines
  74. Socialist Kisan Sabha, India
  75. Socialist Party, India
  76. Society for Rural Education and Development, India
  77. Society for the Rights of Indigenous People in Sarawak (SCRIPS), Malaysia
  78. State Alliance of people’s Movement, India
  79. Stop Exploitation Ilocos, Philippines
  80. Struggle to Economize Future Environment (SEFE)
  81. Sudanese Consumers Protection Society (SCPS)
  82. SUKI, Philippines
  83. Sustainability Strategist Pte Ltd
  84. Synergy for Sustainable Development, Philippines
  85. Tamil Nadu Dalit Women’s Movement, India
  86. Tamil Nadu Women’s Forum, India
  87. Tanggol Magsasaka, Philippines
  88. Tenaganita, Malaysia
  89. Vikalpani National Federation, Sri Lanka
  90. Women’s Coalition for Change, India

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