Category Archives: Member: Ainokai

Various activities, important decisions mark AFA’s 5th general assembly

The Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA) held various activities and decided on important matters on its recently concluded 5th general assembly, which was also a celebration of its 10th anniversary.

Vietnam Farmers Union (VNFU) hosted the event in Hanoi, Vietnam last March 9, 2012 back-to-back with regional farmers’ consultations on March 7-8 and a CSO consultation on the 31st FAO APRC that AFA attended on March 10-11.

The series of events officially opened on March 7 with a cultural presentation from a Vietnamese folk group, who also performed traditional songs and dances with participants from different Asian countries, and with welcome speeches from VNFU Vice-Chairperson Dr. Nguyen Duy Luong and incumbent AFA Chairperson Mr. Tsai, Shun-Te.

Around 45 representatives from 12 farmer organizations and partner NGOs from 10 Asian countries, such as API (Aliansi Petani Indonesia), FNN (Farmer and Nature Net) in Cambodia, VNFU (Vietnam Farmers Union), SorKorPor (Farmer’s Federations Association for Development Thailand), PAKISAMA (Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka) in the Philippines, AINOUKAI in Japan, KAFF (Korea Advanced Farmers’ Federation) and WAFF (Women Advanced Farmers’ Federation) in South Korea, TWADA (Taiwan Wax Apple Development Association), TDFA (Taiwan Dairy Farmers Association), KKM (Kendrio Krishok Moitre) and Action Aid in Bangladesh, NLRF (National Land Rights Forum) and CSRC (Community Self-Relience Centre) in Nepal attended the event, and ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency) in Mongolia.

Representatives from partner agencies, such as Nellie van der Pasch of Agriterra, Ignace Coussement of Agricord, Thomas Price of GFAR (Global Forum on Agricultural Research), Marlene Ramirez of AsiaDHRRA, Jose Osaba of WRF (World Rural Forum), Michael Commons of Green Net, and Dinah Fuentisima of WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals) also graced the occasion.

Review of accomplishments and decisions

Opening with a video showing photos of the past four general assemblies of AFA, the 5th general assembly reviewed AFA’s accomplishments in the last two years (2010-2011) vis-a-vis the strategic plans it set for 2011-2015, while member FOs gave updates on their respective organizational activities.

The assembly also heard, discussed and adopted the Chairperson’s report regarding the administration and activities of AFA and confirmed decisions made by the Executive Committee in between general assemblies.

Exhibit, field visit, and courtesy call

As part of AFA’s knowledge sharing activities, each AFA member organization also put up an exhibit of its country’s agricultural products and traditional processed foods just outside the meeting room, where participants exchanged information on the items on display.

On March 8, participants also went on a field visit to an organic farming project, which is run mainly by women farmers.

It was followed by a short meeting with the VNFU chairperson and other leaders at the VNFU headquarters in a new building in Hanoi, where the two sides shared their aspirations and activities for farmers.

Two-year thrusts, new members, and new officers

The 5th General Assembly set the thrusts of AFA for the next two years, focusing mainly on governance and organizational development, capacity building, knowledge management, and policy advocacy.

The assembly welcomed AFA’s first two member FOs from South Asia — KKM (Kendrio Krishok Moitre) in Bangladesh and NLRF (National Land Rights Forum) in Nepal — whose applications for regular membership were previously approved by the AFA Execom.

It also determined the new set of Executive Committee members for 2012-2014, which in turn elected the new set of officers.

Through a collegial process that follows the tradition of leadership rotation, the Execom elected FNN President Uon Sophal as the new AFA Chairperson, the representative from Ainoukai as Vice-Chaiperson and the representative from API as Treasurer, while re-appointing Esther Penunia as Secretary General.

10th year anniversary, international women’s day, and tribute to farmer leaders

The general assembly was also an occasion for celebration and commemoration.

AFA celebrated its 10th year of existence through an exhibit of agricultural products, solidarity night, ritual of mixing and distributing traditional rice varieties from each Asian country, reading of solidarity statements from partners, awarding of plaques of appreciation, launching of a draft anniversary video and banners containing 10 themes, and the announcement of a plan to come out with a coffee table book highlighting AFA’s important achievements and future plans.

AFA also celebrated International Women’s Day during the field visit, courtesy call to VNFU headquarters, and solidarity night on March 8.

The Women Advanced Farmers’ Federation (WAFF), AFA’s first and so far only FO member composed solely of women, gave away gifts to women farmers during the field visit to the organic farming project.

VNFU’s Chairperson and other leaders also presented gifts to all AFA women during the courtesy call at the VNFU headquarters.

AFA’s women were again honored during the solidarity night, where they were given roses and asked to share their sentiments about the occasion.

Finally, the general assembly also set aside a special time to commemorate the heroism and martyrdom of farmer leaders in AFA who have died in the struggle for farmers’ rights.

The life and death of farmer leaders Lee Kyung Hae of South Korea; Vicente Paglinawan, Renato Penas, and Florita Caya of the Philippines; and women farmers Lamlaya Chamchamagar and Janak Kumari Chaudhary who died during the land rights campaign in Nepal were presented at the opening of the general assembly, followed by a moment of silence and a dedication of the event to their memory.

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Voices from Fukushima: J?kichi Ishizawa

The following article was written by Mr. Jukichi Ishizawa, a 78-year old organic farmer from Fukushima, Japan. His place, Kouriyama City, is located 60 kilometers away from the Daichi nuclear plant that was damaged by the tsunami and is emitting nuclear radiation. He has been farming in Fukushima for the 61 years and is a member of Ainoukai, an organization of organic farmers in Japan, which is a member of AFA. (Translated into English by Abe Chatterjee Shantonu, also an Ainoukai member.)

Summer in Fukushima has come a week early after a brisk rainy season which brought perfect conditions for growing vegetables and rice. I grow rice using natural farming methods, and every other year, my crop is attacked and weakened by rice water weevils, so much so that it is impossible to make out the rice plants among the fast-growing weeds. This year it is different. The various tests that the prefectural government had to carry out to measure the radiation levels from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident led to delays in rice-planting. Apparently, this delay allowed my crop to be spared the weevil infestation, so this year my rice plants are growing proud and tall, dwarfing the weeds. I can only pray that the bountiful harvest is not contaminated by radioactive substances.

My vegetables too, are growing well. Cucumber vines are growing vigorously, and the summer crop of eggplants, bell-peppers and tomatoes has not been damaged by pests. Sadly, with no market to sell these vegetables, I will have to rethink my plans for the next few years.

It is thanks to the tireless efforts of people involved in and supporting organic agriculture that I am still somehow selling my produce. All the same, it is disheartening to hear customers who have supported us for the past 35 years say that they cannot buy my vegetables anymore because they are afraid of radioactive contamination.

As a member of Ainoukai, I have always been proud of the fact that my produce is safe and delicious, and that my customers place their trust in me. It is therefore worrying for me that I cannot guarantee the safety of my crops and dispel the anxieties of my customers because of the accident at the nuclear facility.
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Voice from Fukushima: Mr. Jukichi Ishizawa

The following article was written by Mr. Jukichi Ishizawa, a 78-year old organic farmer from Fukushima, Japan. His place, Kouriyama City, is located 60 kilometers away from the Daichi nuclear plant that was damaged by the tsunami and is emitting nuclear radiation. He has been farming in Fukushima for the 61 years and is a member of Ainoukai, an organization of organic farmers in Japan, which is a member of AFA. (Translated into English by Abe Chatterjee Shantonu, also an Ainoukai member.)

There is a saying that “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away”. These were the words of General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers in charge of the occupation of Japan, when he was relieved of his duties by the American President on grounds of insubordination.

In the article I wrote for the March and April issues (The Age of Agriculture: 60 Years as a Farmer) I mentioned my desire to work in my fields until the day I am unable to move anymore. However, I fear that the recent happenings may force me to go the same way as General MacArthur. I may need to disappear from my fields.

It was a pleasant, sunny spring afternoon on the 11th of March, 2011. I had taken my truck into the fields in order to harvest carrots. It was then that I suddenly heard a deep rumbling, and the ground started shaking under my feet. My truck was bounced about like a toy on a trampoline, and what little water there was in the irrigation canal leapt to and fro. The tremors made it hard to stand without support, and lasted for nearly 8 minutes. As the quake subsided, the sky to the west became overcast and it started snowing with strong gusts of wind. As the wind quieted down, I could only wonder at the fury of Nature that I had just witnessed.

The radio in the car repeatedly blared out warnings of the imminent approach of tsunamis more than 7 meters high. Glancing at the town, I could not clearly make out the extent of the damage, so I could only pray that it was limited as I headed for home. The road back was full of obstacles, as fallen gate-posts and concrete walls blocked the road. I felt the true extent of the damage then.
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Kobe Declaration on Organic Agriculture

Last May 25, Organic Farmers’ groups in Japan, who form part of the National “Change Agriculture!” movement, conducted “The International symposium to think about agriculture and environment”. This was held in Kobe, and participated by about 300 people. Our partner, Ainokai, joined this event, which one of civli society’s preparatory activities for the G8 summit.

The participants issued the statement below. We hope you can consider this appeal as well as you try to influence G8 leaders who are currently meeting in Japan today.

Kobe Declaration on “Organic agriculture is to solve the global environment problems”
Announced at “The International symposium to think about agriculture and environment” May 25th, 2008.
By the National “Change Agriculture!” movement
We propose “The policy of sustainable agriculture, food, and environment issue based on organic agriculture” for the themes of global warming, biodiversity, food crises, low-carbon/sustainable society, discussed at the G8 summit in Toyako, Japan 2008.

The global scale crises like abnormal climate, food and resource price crises, water resource depletion, are worsening today. In order to solve these crises, we focus on the connection of agriculture, food and environment.

The world’s croplands and pastures, which occupies about one third of the earth surface, have supported human society for centuries. They have produced food, provided clothing and housing for people, formed cultures and conserved local environment. That was the human relationship with the Earth.

However, the modern agriculture was built into modern industrial and business structures, which have pushed industrialization and global trade to extreme. Thus, today’s industrial agriculture takes part in destroying the environment. We aim to overcome the modern industrial society depending on the limited resources, and the heavy market economy centered society based on WTO structure, and to transform into sustainable recycling-based, cooperating society.

We believe the sustainable organic agriculture, that is what real agriculture should be, is the starting point to achieve that goal.

We propose here the issues that governments of Japan and G8 countries should work on to improve the global environment.

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Ainoukai hosts celebration of “inochi” (lives)

Bonded together by the theme “Inochino Rizumu Wotorimodosou” (Regain the Rhythm of Life), around 400 people attended the national convention organized by Ainoukai (an AFA member in Japan) last February 2-3 at the Minabe Loyal Hotel in Minabe-cho, Wakayama prefecture, which is famous for its citrus and plum.

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Former manager still uses Ainokai technology in his farm of the most interesting high-technology yet organic farms visited during the AFA seminar workshop in Japan was Mr. Harada’s farm, consisting of an orchid green house using in-vitro fertilization and a rice field. Mr. Harada used to be a manager of Ainokai 15 years ago. There, he learned a lot of technologies, which he still uses to date.
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Ainokai ‘s training on organic farming continues

On May 2, Mr. Samir Topno from India arrived at Ainou to have training on organic farming. He has been working on rural development in India under the Allahabad Agricultural University as an assistant professor since 2000. Currently, since January 2006, he has been working as a manager in Training Program in Organic Farming for Rural Youth under the college of continuing and non formal education in the same University.
Continue reading Ainokai ‘s training on organic farming continues