In solidarity with their comrades in Korea, farmers from Indonesia and the Philippines joined the rally of the Korean Advanced Farmers’ Federation (KAFF) and the Women Advanced Farmers’ Federation (WAFF) in Yeouido Park, Seoul, South Korea last September 29, 2010.
Vicente Fabe (PAKISAMA) and Luisita Esmao (LAKAMBINI-PAKISAMA) from the Philippines and Ika Krishnayanti (API) from Indonesia joined around 10,000 farmers and supporters from all over South Korea in the public demonstration.
PAKISAMA, API, KAFF, and WAFF are all members of the Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA).
The participants brought different flags, thousand of balloons, straw dolls, posters, banners, and other accessories to help deliver their message to the Korean government.
Farmers belonging to KAFF and WAFF came from each county of Korea, such as Gyeonggi-do, Gangwon-do, Jollebukdo, Jollanam-do, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Gyeongsangnam-do, Cungceongbuk-do, and Cungceongnam-do.
As the music of KAFF’s marching tune spread in the air, the thousand of colorful balloons were released to the sky.
The event then continued with the speeches of each farmer-leader present. Government representatives also participated in the event and gave their speeches.
The farmers had 3 demands.
First, “the participants demanded the government to keep the price of rice stable,” said Kim Gi Cheol, a member of KAFF.
He explained that the price of rice keeps getting lower and lower each year. The price that they demand is not less than 170,000 Won/package (1 package = 80 kg). But usually, the price is 20,000 Won/package.
“170,000 Won is the minimal price we demand!” added Kim Gi Cheol.
While Korean rice farmers have to pay a lot of money to store the rice in the warehouse when produce surplus during the harvest season, the government does not allow them to export the surplus rice to North Korea, even if it is cheaper.
Second, the farmers were also rallying against the Korea-China FTA that is being negotiated this year. Negotiations on the Korea-US FTA is still in a deadlock.
Third, the farmers were also demanding for more bank credit for agriculture through the agricultural cooperative federation.
(Report and photos by Ika Krishnayanti, API)