Category Archives: Issue: Food

AFA asserts farmers rights to land, seeds and markets in sustainable development dialogues

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Farmers need to have secure land tenure, control over their own seeds, support for agro-ecological approaches, access to markets for their products, and meaningful participation in governance processes at all levels, in order to effectively play their role in ensuring food and nutrition security and reduce poverty in the countryside.

This was one of the main messages delivered by AFA during the Rio+20 UNCSD “Dialogues for Sustainable Development” held in Riocentro, in Riode Janeiro, Brazil last June 16 – 19, 2012.

Specifically, AFA directly participated in the Sustainable Development Dialogues on the topic “Food and Nutrition Security” last June 17, where Secretary General Esther Penunia was one of the panelists.

Also in the panel were:
• Mr. Paulo Prada (Brazil), Reuters, Moderator;
• Dr. Vandana Shiva (India), Director, Research Foundation for Science
• Mr. Carlo Petrini (Italy), Founder, Slow Food Movement
• Ms. Hortensia Hidalgo (Chile), Indigenous Women Network of Latin America and the Caribbean for Biodiversity (RMIB)
• Ms. Josette Sheeran (United States of America), Vice-President, World Economic Forum
• Dr. Luísa Dias Diogo (Mozambique), Former Prime Minister of Mozambiqu
• Mr. Marco Marzano de Marinis (Italy), Executive Director, World Farmers Organisation
• Dr. Martin Khor (Malasia), Executive-Director, South Centre
• Dr. Mary Robinson (Ireland), Director, International Institute for the Environment and Development (IIED)
• Dr. Renato S. Maluf (Brazil), Coordinator, Center for Food Security, Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRRJ)

The Dialogue’s session on food and nutrition security dialogue came out with three recommendations that were eventually presented to the official Rio+20 Summit:
1. Promote food systems that are sustainable and contribute to improvement of health.
2. Develop policies to encourage sustainable production of food supplies directed to both producers and consumers.
3. Eliminate misery and poverty-related malnutrition. Empower women farmers, small holder farmers, young farmers and indigenous people. Ensure their access to land, water and seed as well as their full involvement in public decision making regarding food production and food and nutrition security.

The first recommendation was voted by those who participated in an online voting conducted prior to the Dialogue session; the second was voted by the audience during the Dialogue session itself while the third was the synthesized recommendations from all the panelists.

These three recommendations, along with other three recommendations for each of the nine other topics (Unemployment, decent work and migrations; Sustainable development as an answer to the economic and financial crises; Sustainable development for fighting poverty; The economics of sustainable development, including sustainable patterns of production and consumption; Forests; Sustainable energy for all; Water; Sustainable cities and innovation; Oceans) were conveyed directly to the Heads of State and Government present at the Summit.

The government of Brazil organized the four day Sustainability Development Dialogues, with the support of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The Dialogue Initiative was launched through a digital platform in order to provide the wider public a democratic space for discussion.

The online debates on each of the ten themes of the Dialogues, facilitated by researchers from renowned academic institutions around the world, resulted in ten concrete recommendations that were viewed and voted for in a public website. The ten recommendations in each theme, ranked by the votes received in the public website, were then presented to the Panelists of each theme as well as to the audience during the face-to-face interaction.


Click here for more information on the Sustainable Development Dialogues
Click here for the fact sheet on the Sustainable Development Dialogues
Click here for the final recommendations on the ten topics of the Sustainable Development Dialogues

CSOs call on FAO to act on food security issues

AFA joined other civil society organizations from the Asia Pacific region in calling on the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and its member states to act on issues affecting global food security such as, climate change adaptation and mitigation, land grabbing and food sovereignty, trade and investment, global food and financial crises, and agriculture and food governance.

The CSOs met in a consultation in Gyeongju, South Korea last September 27-28, which was attended by around 70 representatives of organizations of small farmers, fisherfolk, indigenous peoples, rural women, pastoralists, youth, cooperatives, and NGOs in the Asian region.

The consultation was a parallel event to the 30th FAO-Asia Pacific Regional Conference also held in Geyongju, South Korea on September 27 to October 1.

The AFA delegation was composed of Esther Penunia (Secretary General), Vicente Fabe (AFA Treasurer), Luisita Esmao (LAKAMBINI-PAKISAMA/WOCAN Leader), and Ika Krishnayanti (API International Relations Officer).

In the statement sent by the CSOs to FAO, they said that, “In the last five years, manifold crises have afflicted the world. The financial crisis caused the closure of banks and many financial institutions. The food crisis resulted from the destruction of food systems through neo-liberal reforms in poor countries. Food prices remain high, and now, 1 billion people are hungry and malnourished with more than 700 million found in Asia. A climate crisis is upon us due to unsustainable industrial and agricultural policies.”

Click here to download the full statement.

Click here for more information about the CSO consultation.

In the News: To Feed the World, Gov’ts Break New Ground with Civil Society

BANGKOK, Oct 15, 2010 (IPS) – For over a decade, seasoned activist Sarojini Rengam’s efforts to storm the bureaucratic barricades at global food security meetings in Rome hardly produced any cracks. The tightly structured agenda at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) gatherings she went to were unequivocal about where activists stood – in the margins.

The likes of Rengam, the executive director of the Asia-Pacific branch of global green lobby Pesticide Action Network, were given limited time to air their concerns towards the end of the annual Committee of World Food Security (CFS) meeting. Moreover, this virtual postscript to the conference came after government policy makers had already drafted a final document.

“Civil society organisations were often seen as environmental terrorists,” said Rengam of how groups like her Penang-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) and others from the global South were viewed by government officials who dominated the annual event hosted by the U.N. body in the Italian capital.

But not any more.

Read the full story at IPS

In the News: Food Prices Rise as Asia Projects Stall

TUGUEGARAO, Philippines—Failure to boost farm investment in poor countries after a global food crisis in 2007 and 2008 could prolong a recent jump in food prices, contributing to inflation in the developing world.

In the wake of the 2008 crisis, governments of developing countries and donor nations, as well as private investors, proposed a wealth of new spending, and industrialized nations committed billions of dollars to promote sustainable agriculture and emergency food assistance, notes a report to be released Monday by the Asia Society and the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines. The efforts included plans to develop unused or underused lands to farming in the Philippines, Cambodia and Indonesia and to expand farm roads and grain-storage infrastructure in India.

Some countries with well-developed agricultural markets, including the U.S., have significantly boosted production. But in Asia, the source of much of the world’s new food demand, some projects aimed at increasing production have been dropped or delayed amid the financial crisis, limiting the gains. Disputes over land ownership, lack of capital and concerns over environmental issues have held back other investments.

Read the full story at The Wall Street Journal

In the News: Is Another Food Crisis Coming?

Will governments panic from fires and drought in Russia, floods in China and Pakistan and other concerns to ban exports?

Over the past month, global grain exports have been hit by two calamities that have been exacerbated by worries over global warming, particularly affecting the world’s rice crop. For the better part of a decade, the world’s food scientists have been warning against what they have called an Event – a confluence of natural calamities that drive the price of staples – particularly grains – past the point where hundreds of poor will no longer be able to eat.

The question isn’t whether there are enough grains but whether governments will panic again as they did during the 2007-2008 rice crisis. (As Asia Sentinel reported here, in May 2008). Governments across the planet from Vietnam to Egypt banned exports, driving rice prices from US$300 per metric ton to more than US$1,100 and causing shortages and food riots in several countries and resulting in the fall of the Haitian government. Russia has ordered an export ban until the end of the year and Ukraine is said to be considering one as well.

Two reports, one by the International Food Policy Research Institute on the devastation to wheat stocks in Russia and the Ukraine from drought and fires, and a second on climate change and rice, by the International Rice Research Institute, paint a rather grim picture that has been complicated by some of the worst flooding in history in Pakistan, China and the Indian province of Ladakh.

Read the full story at Asia Sentinel

In the News: More investments for smallholder food producers

MANILA, Philippines—To address food insecurity, more investments must be made in sustainable smallholder agriculture, said more than 60 representatives of organizations of small farmers, fishers, indigenous peoples, rural youth and women, and rural development NGOs from 13 countries in Asia and the Pacific.

In a press conference Tuesday, the groups who participated in a two-day conference, dubbed “Investment for Whom and for What,” held here said that investments on agriculture in the region are “problematic” and “inadequate.”

The conference was a civil society preparatory event to the “Investment Forum on Food Security in Asia and the Pacific” organized by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), International Fund for Agriculture and Development (Ifad), and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to be held on July 7 to 9 at the ADB Headquarters in Manila.

Civil society representatives said that sustainable, integrated, diversified, ecological, and organic agriculture, aquaculture systems which are owned and managed by and with small-scale women and men farmers, fishers, and indigenous peoples is a key strategy to increase productivity, enhance food security, mitigate climate change, and build climate resilience.

Read the full story at the Philippine Daily Inquirer

In the News: ActionAid urges G8 to fight hunger

ACTIONAID, an international anti-poverty agency, has urged the G8 countries to commit funds for agriculture to address the high child and maternal mortality rate in poor countries.

Last year, leaders of the world’s eight richest countries, dubbed the G8, pledged $20b (sh45 trillion) for food security in developing nations.

However, ActionAid claims the leaders have been secretive about the release of the funds. This was based on research on agricultural funding to poor countries from the G8 in 2008.

The agency also claims that where the funds were provided, the money was diverted to other projects.

Read the full article at The New Vision

In the News: G20 Summit final statement

(Final statement from the G20 Summit in Toronto, Canada — Admin)

* Preamble
* Framework for Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth
* Financial Sector Reform
* International Financial Institutions and Development
* Fighting Protectionism and Promoting Trade and Investment
* Other Issues and Forward Agenda
* Annex I: The Framework for Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth
* Annex II: Financial Sector Reform
* Annex III: Enhancing the Legitimacy, Credibility and Effectiveness of the IFIs and Further Supporting the Needs of the Most Vulnerable


1. In Toronto, we held our first Summit of the G20 in its new capacity as the premier forum for our international economic cooperation.

2. Building on our achievements in addressing the global economic crisis, we have agreed on the next steps we should take to ensure a full return to growth with quality jobs, to reform and strengthen financial systems, and to create strong, sustainable and balanced global growth.

Read the full statement at the G20 Information Centre

In the News: The battle for Cambodian farm land

Cambodia has reportedly been promised one hundred million US dollars from the United States to help fight hunger and develop agriculture among small-scale farmers. The money will be given directly to the Cambodian government, even though it’s regarded as one of the most corrupt in Asia. While donor countries throw lots of money at the issue of food security, the challenge faced by many small-scale farmers in Cambodia is the forced take-over of their land by those with government or military connections. One of the biggest cases currently being fought out is in Kampong Speu province.

Read the full story

GDAE Article: The True Cost of Cheap Food

How does cheap food contribute to global hunger? GDAE’s Timothy A. Wise, in this recent article in Resurgence magazine, explains the contradictory nature of food and agriculture under globalization. He refers to globalization as “the cheapening of everything” and concludes:

“Some things just shouldn’t be cheapened. The market is very good at establishing the value of many things but it is not a good substitute for human values. Societies need to determine their own human values, not let the market do it for them. There are some essential things, such as our land and the life-sustaining foods it can produce, that should not be cheapened.”

Download “The True Cost of Cheap Food”
Read more on GDAE’s research “Beyond Agricultural Subsidies”
Read more on GDAE’s Globalization and Sustainable Development Program

Views: Filling the rice bowl

Concern about a food crisis has put Thailand at a crossroads, where it must choose whether to be the top global exporter by volume or the market leader in premium grain.

The 2008 food crisis has led to significant developments and expansion in Asia’s rice industry but Thailand, as the leading exporter, has stressed its determination to maintain its leadership position by implementing various measures.

One such measure that Thailand implemented last year was to guarantee farmers’ incomes, and the government remains optimistic about maintaining its export leadership position with expected exports of about 10 million tonnes this year.

The food crisis of 2008 has inspired various countries in Asia to vie for status as the world’s “rice bowl” and many hope to be able to dethrone Thailand.

Among the key members in the region, Thailand, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Burma, and Cambodia continue to dominate the rice trade, with 21.32 million tonnes of the total global trade of 29.3 million in 2009. Their share is expected to rise to 23.4 million tonnes of the total of 30.84 million this year.

Read the full story at Bangkok Post

In the News: China’s soil deterioration may become growing food crisis, adviser claims

The quality of China’s overworked, polluted and artificially fertilised soil needs to be protected or the country could struggle to grow enough crops for the 300 million to 400 million people who will move from the countryside to the city over the next 30 years, a senior government adviser warned today.

Han Jun, an expert on rural policy at the Development Research Centre, said maintaining food security was a major challenge in the process of urbanisation as farmers moved off their fields and into cities, where the consumption of meat, grain and diary products was higher.

In the next three decades, he predicted the share of urban residents in China’s population would rise from 47% to 75%, which would require the clearance of land for residences, roads and other infrastructure.

Noting that China feeds 22% of the world population with only 10% of the planet’s arable land, he said the pressure was growing.

Read the full story at

Featured Website: Right to Food

“In a world overflowing with riches, it is an outrageous scandal that more than 1 billion people suffer from hunger and malnutrition and that every year over 6 million children die of starvation and related causes. We must take urgent action now.” — Jean Ziegler, January 2010

Jean Ziegler is the Vice-President of the UN Human Rights Council’s Advisory Committee, working as an expert on economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to food. During the period 2000-2008, Jean Ziegler was the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food.

This website provides insight into the current and past work of Jean Ziegler related to the right to food, offers information on human rights law developments concerning the right to food and other economic and social rights, and serves as a platform for other relevant news and information.

Click here to go to the Right to Food website

In the News: Indonesian Govt Gives Green Thumb-Up To Plant Papua ‘Food Estate’

EXCERPT FROM THE NEWS STORY: One million hectares of lands will be available to produce food crops such as rice, soy bean and corn. The rest will be split between plantations, fisheries and livestock. Investors will have to purchase a minimum of 1,000 hectares of land each.

But the development, under which many residents will be forced to sell their land, has met opposition from locals and non-government organizations, who have warned of social and environmental problems.

The Indonesian Farmers Union (SPI) has said that the food estate regulation will lead to a “land grab” by big businesses at the expense of locals.

“This will eventually lead [the country] to losing sovereignty in our food [production],” the union said. “Food estates could also lead to feudalism because the role of the indigenous farmers will be just to provide labor to the capital owners.”

Read the full story at The Jakarta Globe

ActionAid and Food First Report: Smallholder Solutions to Hunger, Poverty and Climate Change

With the worsening of the global food crisis, general international agreement has emerged regarding the importance of smallholder agriculture in the battle against hunger and poverty. However, public debate has been highly restricted and increasingly dominated by conventional, market-led, and corporate approaches to aid and agricultural development. These positions call for a return to the World Trade Organisation’s Doha Round, a new “Green Revolution” and the spread of biotechnology to the countries of the Global South. In global and national policy circles, these “business as usual” approaches are eclipsing many proven, highly effective, farmer-driven agroecological and redistributive approaches to agricultural development.

Sustainable, smallholder agriculture represents the best option for resolving the fourfold food-finance-fuel and climate crises. Although conventional wisdom assumes small family farms are backward and unproductive, agroecological research has shown that given a chance, small farms are much more productive than large farms. Small, ecological farms help cool the planet and provide many important ecosystem services; they are a reservoir for biodiversity, and are less vulnerable to pests, disease and environmental shock.

Just as small farms can be more productive and environmentally beneficial, there is also strong evidence that small farm communities can be far superior to large, mechanised operations for improving rural livelihoods. However, this potential is thwarted because smallholders are systematically disenfranchised of their basic human rights and dispossessed of their wealth and basic resources. If smallholders are to be the social and productive base for ending hunger in the Global South, then the rights of smallholders especially women—must be ensured. Ensuring smallholder rights and the equitable distribution of resource entitlements in the countryside not only implies increasing the levels of aid and investment flowing to smallholders, it implies the redistribution of public investment in agriculture, including land reform.

Download the full report at Food First

Featured Article: Bill Gates: We need productivity and sustainability

Influential Bill Gates shares his ideas on what he considers a convergent issue on productivity and sustainability as complementary approaches to helping small farmers towards food security. What are your thoughts and reactions on this?

Helping poor farmers improve productivity is a critical step in reducing global hunger. But there is an ideological divide over how best to help them. The truth is that both sides have something important to offer.

While the World Summit on Food Security in Rome in November did not achieve all it should, it shined a welcome spotlight on small farmers who make up the vast majority of hungry and poor people in the world. Coming on the heels of a commitment by the G20 to invest $22 billion in developing-country agriculture, the summit provided reason to be optimistic that after decades of neglect, we’ll start investing in the single best strategy to reduce global hunger and poverty.

At the same time, I am worried that as momentum builds behind agricultural development as a long-term alternative to food aid, a growing ideological divide may cause the world to squander a real opportunity to fight hunger and poverty.

Read more at The Gates Notes

AFA conducts participatory gender study on understanding the gender dimensions of food security and climate change

The important role of women in ensuring food security and in coping with climate change cannot be denied. Thus, it is extremely important that the gender dimension not be left out in any analysis, discussion, and programs that seek to achieve food security and address climate change.

Last year, through its researcher, Ms. Riza Bernabe, AFA conducted a participatory gender study supported by IFAD in 5 countries – Philippines, Indonesia, Timor Leste, Cambodia, Thailand — in order to seek out this perspective. The research was informed by village, district and national consultations, as well as secondary data gathering.

The initial findings of the research show that: women indeed play very important roles in ensuring food security; climate change impacts women and men differently, with women bearing the brunt of the negative impacts. The research was also able to seek out the different food security initiatives and climate change coping strategies of small scale farmers, especially women farmers, in Asia.

Continue reading AFA conducts participatory gender study on understanding the gender dimensions of food security and climate change

AFA participates in CSO forum parallel to the World Summit on Food Security 2009 (Nov 13-17)

AFA participated in an international conference entitled “People’s Food Sovereignty Now: Civil Society Organizations (CSO) Forum Parallel to World Summit on Food Security 2009″ held on November 13-17, in Rome, Italy.

AFA was represented by Ms. Sudaporn Sittisathapornkul (Khun Paew), Chairperson, AFA, and Adviser, SKP; Mr. Pote Chumsri (Khun Pote), Secretary General, SKP and translator; Mr. Jonjon Sarmiento (Jon), Youth Leader Organizer, PAKISAMA; Ms. Luisita Esmao (Ka Cita), Chairperson, LAKAMBINI; and Ms. Ma. Estrella Penunia (Esther), Secretary General, AFA.

The purpose of the CSO forum was to facilitate the participation of women, small-scale farmers and peasants, Indigenous Peoples, artisanal fisherfolks, food and rural workers, youth, the urban poor, environmental organizations, human rights defenders, NGO and other CSO working for food sovereignty and to ensure that their voices are heard in the World Food Summit; and to seek the commitment of governments and UN agencies to the people’s food sovereignty agenda as key alternative to eradicate hunger.

Click here for the CSO forum program:

Continue reading AFA participates in CSO forum parallel to the World Summit on Food Security 2009 (Nov 13-17)