The Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA), in cooperation with Farmer and Nature Net (FNN), held a member-to-member cooperation and learning exchange visit last March 9-13, 2015 in Cambodia.
The visit was one of the activities under the project entitled “Advocacy for Increased Government Support for Sustainable Agriculture and Farmer-led Enterprises” funded by Agriterra.
Participants included Sidig Pamungkas, Manager of the Organic Rice Enterprise of APOLI (a local member organization of Aliansi Petani Indonesia or API in Central Java); Hasthanari Pamintasih, Finance staff of API and support staff/translator to farmer leaders’ representative; Sushma Neuphane, Youth woman entrepreneur and youth woman leader of National Land Rights Forum (NLRF); Jagat Deuja, Executive Director of Community Self-Reliance Center (CSRC); and, Victoria Serrato, Enterprise development and Marketing Officer of AFA.
Continue reading AFA holds learning exchange visit in Cambodia
Opaque private sector deals, increasing demand for land, insufficient consultations and impact assessments, and alleged complicity of powerful interests in land grabs, among others, have contributed to continuing land insecurity in Cambodia. This, in turn, has led to wide-spread forced evictions and land-grabbing among poor farmers, as activists call for transparency in economic land concessions and resolution of land disputes, while government promises a moratorium on new ELCs, a review of existing ones, and a nationwide titling program.
With support from Agricord, through AsiaDHRRA and CSA, AFA hosted a knowledge session focused on drawing out key lessons on farmers’ engagement in the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), particularly through the project entitled “Supporting Inclusive Planning of country projects financed by the GAFSP” last November 8-10, 2012 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The learning session was participated by FOs and NGOs from four countries, namely, Mongolia, Nepal, Bangladesh and Cambodia. It was also an opportunity for South-South learning exchange with the participation of Mamadou Cissokho, a key leader of ROPPA, a strong regional farmer federation from Senegal.
Results of the activity will feed into efforts at strengthening FO involvement in government agri policies and programs as well as in future project proposals that may be developed to support FO involvement in policy making processes for GAFSP.
One of the major lessons learned was the primacy of a strong farmers’ organization with capacity to constructively engage government and other stakeholders as key to the success of any food security program like GAFSP.
This video presents the experiences of small scale women and men farmers, fishers, and indigenous peoples with agricultural land investments and their impact on their lives and livelihoods.
Six cases are featured – three in Cambodia and three in the Philippines.
The video is one of the knowledge products that came out of the project “Expanding the Dialogue on Large-Scale Land Acquisition and their Alternatives” implemented by the Asian Farmers’ Association (AFA) with the support of the International Land Coalition (ILC) in 2011-2012.
Total running time: 12 minutes
AFA congratulates Dr. Yang Saing Koma, founder of the Center for Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC) for being one of this year’s recipients of the Ramon Magsaysay award. CEDAC help found the organization of small farmers in Cambodia called Farmer and Nature Net (FNN), which is now a close partner of CEDAC and an active member of AFA. FNN’s Chairperson, Mr. Uon Sophal, is also the Chairperson of AFA. Dr. Koma delivered a lecture series for the Ramon Magsaysay Center on August 29, with AFA Secretary General Esther Penunia as discussant. Dr. Koma will formally receive the RM award tonight, together with other recipients. Below is the link to an article about Dr. Koma that appeared today in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Cambodian rice expert produces ‘more with less’
When he introduced his novel rice production method to Cambodian farmers more than a decade ago, Yang Saing Koma had to battle skeptics who laughed at his idea. How could less irrigation and shallower planting result in higher yield?
But Koma, founder of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture (Cedac), only had to tap one brave farmer to get his program going.
Today, his System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is an official rice production method endorsed by the Cambodian government, credited for doubling the country’s total rice output in the last decade.
And while other Asian nations, the Philippines included, still depend on rice imports, the country of almost 15 million is looking to expand its market internationally as grains constantly grow by Koma’s design.
The Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA) called on the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to ensure the meaningful participation of small-scale farmers in designing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating irrigation projects.
AFA made the call during the Asian Irrigation Forum (AIF) held on 11-13 April 2012 at the ADB Headquarters in Manila, Philippines.
The Asian ADB organized the forum to “review the region’s performance in irrigation and irrigated agriculture, explore the future of irrigation and drainage in rural development, and identify needs and opportunities for strengthened partnerships to deliver more productive irrigation services throughout the region.”
AFA was represented by Chairperson and FNN President Uon Sophal, FNN Staff Noy Kimhong, Sec General Esther Penunia, Policy Advocacy Officer Lany Rebagay, and Marketing Officer Vicky Serrato.
AFA delivered the following messages during the forum:
-Small-scale women, men and young farmers recognize the importance of irrigation in improving productivity and ensuring food security.
-Government should invest in community-based irrigation system, small to medium irrigation scheme, reservoirs and support water-saving farming technology like SRI and other infrastructure that will support efficient use of water e.g. rainwater harvesting storage facilities, repair of irrigation system.
-Ensure meaningful participation of small-scale farmers in designing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating irrigation projects.
-Alongside improvement of irrigation systems, government should make coherent policies that would ensure productivity and food security through appropriate and sustainable policies on land use, granting of rights/access and control of small farmers to productive resources like land, water, seeds including access to markets.
-Expand private-public partnership to include small-scale farmers, CSO, private and public partnership in the principle of social and solidarity economy.
CSOs attending the forum also emphasized the importance of “land tenure to encourage investments, the need to institutionalize participation of CSOs/farmers and inclusion from the beginning and not just in implementation, insufficient water supplies, the need to have access to technology and be ‘trained’, and concerns about ‘privatizing’ irrigation, and the need to make farming profitable.”
The CSOs expressed hoped that these messages will be taken into account as the organizers prepare the forum synthesis and recommendations which will help shape ADB’s agenda on irrigation and drainage for the next 10-15 years.
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.
(written and translated into English by Pan Sopheap, FNN)
Karnataka, India — Farmer and researcher representatives from 12 countries paid a 4-day field visits plus a one-day reflection workshop in Karnataka state, south of India, in order to expose ideas and experiences on food sovereignty.
The event hosted by Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS), in cooperation with La Via Campesina (LVC) from November 2-6, 2011. The participants learned vast experiences from the Indian farmers regarding food sovereignty through application a method of Zero Budget Natural Farming and had also exchanged experiences with other participating countries.
Farmer leaders from 9 national level organizations in South and Southeast Asia, as well as 3 partner countries (researchers) from Latin America, Europe and North America shared their experiences and analysis of a common issues and challenges of the farmers and came up with some recommendations for the farmers, governments, inter-government bodies, and civil society organizations.
by Pan Sopheap, FNN
Chang Mai, Thailand — Mr. Mao That, FNN representative, attended the conference on land rights in Chang Mai last November 9-11, 2011.
Participants to the conference shared their experiences from different countries on land rights issues and how they are responding to them.
A conference statement was issued on the need to raise awareness on land rights and to speed up land titling to secure tenure of small farmers, as well as the implementation of land reform.
Civil society organizations concerned with rural development have been engaging ASEAN in order to pursue agriculture, fisheries and people-centered development, which promotes the well-being of the rural poor and marginalized sectors, especially farmers, fishers, and indigenous peoples.
In the process, they also aim to develop institutionalized mechanisms for the regular consultation and participation of farmers, fishers, indigenous peoples, rural women, and rural development NGOs on matters affecting these sectors.
AFA had another opportunity to push forward this agenda in the recently concluded ASEAN Special Seniors’ Officers’ Meeting for the 32nd ASEAN Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry (SSOM-AMAF) held at Angkor Era Hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia last August 8-9, 2011.
The Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Development (AFA) held a sharing and learning session and 25th Executive Committee meeting in Kampong Cham, Cambodia last April 5-7, 2011.
The back-to-back activities were hosted by Farmer and Nature Net (FNN), an AFA member in Cambodia.
It was attended by nine farmer organizations from seven countries such as TWADA and TDFA (Taiwan), KAFF and WAFF (Korea), VNFU (Vietnam), SORKORPOR (Thailand), FNN (Cambodia), API (Indonesia), and PAKISAMA (Philippines). AINOUKAI (Japan) could not send a representative due to the nuclear crisis that has affected some of its members from Fukushima who had to evacuate to AINOUKAI in Mie.
The sharing and learning session, held on April 5, allowed farmer leaders to share problems and initiatives related to sustainability, water, women, youth, and marketing issues.
Mr. Uon Sophal, FNN President, welcomed all participants to Cambodia and AFA members said a prayer for AINOUKAI and all the Japanese people during the opening session.
The Execom meeting, on the other hand, was held on April 6 and led to several decisions on important matters such as AFA’s strategic plan for 2011-2015, annual plan for 2011, AFA’s membership at the World Rural Forum and Civil Society Mechanism on CFS, as well as its participation in the Medium Term Cooperation Program.
Mr. Tsai, Shun-Te, TWADA Chairperson, presided over the Execom meeting for the first time since he was elected as AFA Chairperson last April 2010 in Taiwan.
On April 7, a field visit was made to a village in Kampong Cham where farmers were being victimized by land grabbing.
Marketing of organic products where farmers get a bigger share of the value chain. Clean and renewable energy systems that are appropriate for rural communities. These are just some of the concerns of small scale women and men farmers in Asia.
The Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA) arranged a study tour for its Cambodian member Farmer and Nature Net (FNN) and Laos partner Social & Economic Developers Association (SEDA-Laos) last March 2, 2011 in the Philippines in order to share some of the best practices of local NGOs and POs on these two important subjects.
A new study shows that many Cambodian vegetable farmers suffer from acute pesticide poisoning. It is the latest to indicate that Cambodia, like many other developing nations, is struggling to protect farmers and consumers from the dangers of pesticides.
Twenty-two-year-old Srey Kuot is a contract farmer who grows vegetables on a plot of land outside the capital, Phnom Penh. Like most Cambodian farmers she knows pesticides can harm her health. But, like most, she mixes several into a poisonous cocktail.
She says when she sprays pesticides she uses gloves, boots, a mask and a long shirt and trousers. If she did not, she says, it would enter her body and cause illness, which will be very difficult to cure, so she has to take precautions.
PHNOM PENH, 26 August 2010 (IRIN) – Late rains and record low water levels in Cambodia’s two main fresh water systems will affect food security and the livelihoods of millions, government officials and NGOs warn.
“We expect the impact to be very strong,” said Nao Thuok, director of the Fisheries Administration, adding that low water levels along the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers were already limiting fish production and migration.
Crucial spawning grounds in floodplains along the rivers remained dry. “The places where the fish usually lay their eggs do not have much water so the fish population will decrease a lot,” he warned.
Approximately six million Cambodians or 45 percent of the population depend on fishing in the Mekong and Tonle Sap basins, the government’s Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute, reports.
OFFICIALS in Battambang province’s Samlot district met yesterday with local military officers to ask that around 20 families be allowed to resume farming on land that in recent months has been the subject of a violent dispute.
Deputy district governor In Savrith said that officers from Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Military Region 5 had allowed 21 families to resume cultivating their crops yesterday, though a final agreement would not be reached until later this week.
“I don’t think there will be a problem because Military Region 5 has already agreed to accept the return of another group of farmers,” he said.
On July 8, 58 families were given permission to resume farming on a 390-hectare plot in Samlot’s Kampong Lpov commune.
A total of 78 families claim that they have farmed the land since 2005, and that since 2009 soldiers from Military Region 5 have been trying to force them off the land.
PRIME Minister Hun Sen announced yesterday that the government would guarantee 50 percent of commercial bank lending to rice producers in a bid to increase Cambodia’s exports of the grain to a million tonnes by 2015.
Speaking at a Phnom Penh unveiling of the government’s new rice production and export policies yesterday, he said borrowers would still have to repay loans, but the state would cover 50 percent of defaulters’ payments.
“We decided to create this policy in order to encourage all commercial banks to provide loans to be used for expanding paddy production and rice exports without worrying,” he said.
Cambodia’s sugar industry is undergoing a revival, but there is an undercurrent to what would otherwise be a great success story. Hundreds of farmers have allegedly been forced off their land – at gunpoint – to make way for sugarcane plantations, which are controlled by foreign firms and take advantage of Cambodia’s tax exemptions in Europe. Rights groups worry the alleged abuses will continue as the sugar industry and foreign incentives grow.
CAMBODIA risks falling behind its regional partners in trade if it does not adapt to the highly-competitive world of global commerce, officials said Wednesday at the close of a two-day trade-facilitation workshop, where the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) pledged to help identify cost and time bottlenecks that could mean the difference between commercial success or lost contracts.
While acknowledging the garment industry’s importance as a source of exports, Bangkok-based ESCAP Trade Facilitation Chief Shamika Sirimanne singled out the Kingdom’s agriculture sector as being “key to trade”, but an example of how exposed Cambodia is to barriers to commerce.
“Seventy-five percent of Cambodians are farmers and that’s largely where the poor also are,” Sirimanne said.