Website of the Asian Farmers Association for Sustainable Rural Development

June 28th, 2013

International Course on Mainstreaming Gender in Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation

There is a growing recognition and consensus that there is causal relationship between climate change and gender. Gender inequalities exist in access to valuable resources such as land, credit, technology and extension and training services that would have an impact on men’s and women’s capacity to adapt. Climate change tends to magnify gender inequality, and gender inequality can exacerbate the adverse impacts of climate change particularly on women and girls.

The course will focus on building capacities in integrating gender concepts and methodologies in developing programs for climate change adaptation. The course will also help understand the existing problems and concerns of men and women in the community as a result of climate change. It will also introduce to the participants practical tools they can use to mainstream gender in climate change adaptation. The course will also help program and projects to identify interventions for climate change adaptation.

The 10-day course will be held at IIRR’s Y.C. James Yen Center in Cavite, Philippines from September 17 -26, 2013. Deadline for application is August 16, 2013. This course will be conducted jointly by IIRR,  Gender Works and AFA.

Click here to download the training brochure

June 28th, 2013

PRESS RELEASE of NO GMOs! (Network Opposed to Genetically Modified Organisms!)

(PAKISAMA, an AFA member in the Philippines, is a member of NO2GMOs.)

Contact person:
Nina Somera, Third World Network
+63 9177014286

International anti-GMO advocate Jeffrey Smith arriving in Manila, urges PH to label GMO products

GMO labeling advocate Jeffrey Smith joins his Filipino counterparts in urging the Philippine government to require the labeling of products containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). As of February 2013, the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI) has so far approved the entry of about 70 GMO products for food, feed and processing as well as for propagation into the local market, without any information to consumers that these have GMO contents.

“The Philippines FDA was being overly optimistic when they claimed that the GMOs on the market meet the FAO/WHO safety assessment criteria. In fact, the Bt-corn, Roundup Ready soy, and GM papaya all fail their criteria. Furthermore, companies refuse to use the FAO/WHO safety testing guidelines, choosing instead research protocols that are far less capable of finding health problems.” Smith points out. Earlier this week, the country’s Food and Drug Administration issued an advisory declaring GMO food products safe. Read the rest of this entry »

June 26th, 2013

AFA participates in a panel session during WEF-East Asia meeting in Myanmar


[World Economic Forum on East Asia, Nay Pyi Taw, 5-7 June 2013. (C) World Economic Forum]

June 6, Nay Pwi Taw, Myanmar – The World Economic Forum (WEF) conducted its 22nd forum in East Asia last June 5-7 in Nay Pwi Taw, capital city of Myanmar, with the theme “Courageous Transformation for Inclusion and Integration”. Around 900 participants from business sector, government and civil society attended the conference.

AFA Secretary General Ma. Estrella Penunia joined a parallel session held June 6, entitled “Building Food Security,” as a panelist together with Rusman Heriawan, Vice Minister of Agriculture of Indonesia, U Ohn Than, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation of Myanmar, Rajeev Vaidya, DuPont’s President for South Asia and ASEAN, Franky Oesman Widjaja, Chairman and CEO of Sinar Mas Agribusiness & Food, Indonesia, and Debbie Taylor, co-founder of Proximity Designs in Myanmar. The session was moderated by Jamil Anderlini, Beijing Bureau Chief of Financial Times, and had as rapporteur Dang Kim Son , Director General of the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development (IPSARD) of Vietnam. The session was organized by the team from the New Vision for Agriculture, a WEF initiative led by 29 global companies.

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June 19th, 2013

AFA joins PAKISAMA and FAO-Bangladesh in hosting farmer-to-farmer study tour in Philippines

bangladesh study tour field shot

“I learned the importance of business planning, youth formation, and good relationships with the local government. I will develop a business plan for marketing for our primary alliance. I will also request our central leaders to develop a network among youth. I will also develop a plan to improve our organization’s communication and relations with the local government and to resolve problems in our organization.” (Marjina, Treasurer, Mithaganj Krishak Moitree)

“I have learned a lot about how the local farmer organizations in the Philippines utilized their local resources. I will share my learnings with my association in Bangladesh. We will organize more farmers marketing groups.” (Md. Bablur Rashid, President, Bangladesh Farmers Marketing Group Association)

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June 19th, 2013

SBSTA: Parties agree to focus on adaptation in agriculture outcome

(The following is an update from Third World Network on the Bonn Climate Change Conference held on June 3-14, 2013. For more updates, go to: http://www.twn.my/title2/climate/bonn.news.11.htm )

Bar Harbor, USA, 18 June (Doreen Stabinsky and Azeb Girmai) – After an inconclusive late-night session on 13 June, negotiations on agriculture at the 38th session of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) ended Friday 14 June with a short set of chairs’ conclusions focused on adaptation.

Parties agreed on a submission process, followed by a workshop to be held at SBSTA 39, on “the current state of scientific knowledge on how to enhance the adaptation of agriculture to climate change impacts while promoting rural development, sustainable development and productivity of agricultural systems and food security in all countries, particularly in developing countries. This should take into account the diversity of the agricultural systems and the differences in scale as well as possible adaptation co-benefits.” Parties will consider the report of the workshop at SBSTA 40 (2014).

The negotiations on agriculture during the Bonn session took place in a contact group chaired by Ester Magambo (Kenya) and Hans Ake Nilsagard (Sweden). The chairs’ conclusions were subsequently adopted by the final SBSTA 38 plenary on 14 June.

The contact group opened on 6 June, with Co-chair Magambo noting that discussions were continuing in what would be a long-term process.

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June 14th, 2013

AFA joins Southeast Asia land hearing advisory group

In a meeting last June 11, 2013 at the Partnership Center in Quezon City, Philippines, AFA represented by Maria Elena Rebagay, agreed to join ANGOC, OXFAM and other regional and national groups in the Southeast Asia Regional land hearing advisory group tasked to provide advisory support in the conduct of regional land hearing. The group aims to:

1) Provide an overview of the facilitating and constraining factors on the entry of agricultural and land investments in the communities in different Southeast Asian contexts;
2) Assess the negotiation terms and processes to see if they are transparent, inclusive and participative, and if they conform to the prevailing legal/regulatory policies and standards (both national and international);
3) Analyze current and potential impacts of these investments on the communities in relation to land tenure, livelihood, basic services, food security and the environment, and develop community safeguards based on the people’s perspectives;
4) Recommend appropriate actions, whether by reforming policy or accountability mechanisms and structures, to address the flaws and gaps in regulation and in the negotiation terms and processes and identified (potential) impacts at community, national and international levels.

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June 13th, 2013

AFA video on land investments shown at ADB brown bag session on VG and RAI

IMG_0005An AFA video featuring case studies on land investments in the Philippines and Cambodia was shown last June 10, 2013 at ADB West Core Resource Center at the opening session of the ADB brown bag session on the voluntary guideline on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forestry in the context of national food security (VG) and the responsible agricultural investment (RAI).

AFA Policy Advocacy Officer Lany Rebagay summarized the video presentation and emphasized the negative impact of irresponsible land-based investments which lead to the displacement of smallholder farmers, loss of biodiversity due to the introduction of unsustainable package of production and processing technologies including the unequal sharing of risks and benefit caused by unbalanced negotiation in the contracting process. AFA also stressed that small-scale farmers can effectively contribute to food security and poverty reduction if they are given security over their rights to productive resources like land, water and seeds.

Click here to watch the video

Click here for Lany’s powerpoint presentation

Click here for the program

June 12th, 2013

AFA participates in 2nd ASEAN rice trade forum

ASEAN rice trade forum 02

Represented by its Policy Advocacy Officer Maria Elena Rebagay, AFA attended the second ASEAN Rice Trade Forum convened by the ASEAN Food Security Reserve Board (AFSRB) and the ASEAN Secretariat last June 4-5, 21013 in Jakarta, Indonesia.

ADB, through the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, provided the support to the forum, which had the theme “Rice Self-Sufficiency and Trade.”
Other participants to the forum were around 70 officials, as well as representatives from AFSRB, state trading enterprises, academe, bilateral and multilateral organizations, civil society, and the private sector.

AFA affirmed the position of various ASEAN member states, particularly the rice importing countries (Indonesia and Philippines), on the importance of pursuing rice self-sufficiency while keeping rice trade only as a fall back option to bridge the unmet gap in rice production.

AFA stressed that self-sufficiency can be enhanced through agricultural investments that improve productivity and competitiveness through significant support to sustainable farming practices that increase productivity while maintaining biodiversity.

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June 11th, 2013

AFA participates in Agricord’s 11th general assembly


AFA’s Chairperson Uon Sophal, together with FNN Executive Director Pan Sopheap, attended the 11th general assembly of Agricord held last May 30-31, 2013 in Helsinki, Finland. AgriCord is the network of “agri-agencies”, non-governmental organisations for development cooperation with structural links to the farmers’ and rural members’ organisations in their home countries. It provides support to farmers’ organisations in developing countries, covering both capacity building and concrete operations.

The general assembly discussed statutory matters and accepted FFD (Finnish agri-agency for Food and Forestry Development) as a new member of AgriCord, bringing the total number of member agri-agencies to ten, which are backed by farmers organizations in Europe (Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden), in Canada (Quebec), in Asia (seven countries) and in Africa (Senegal).

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June 7th, 2013

FAO participates in the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

The following is an article related to the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF). AFA  is collaborating with the World Rural Forum (WRF) for the IYFF campaign in Asia. For more information, visit the IYFF website.

The International Year of Family Farming and the Voluntary Guidelines on the Governance of Tenure an opportunity for indigenous peoples’ engagement

A side event at the 12th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York brought together a panel of FAO experts, indigenous peoples leaders from Asia and Latin America and the Government of Philippines. The panellists presented the critical linkages between the Voluntary Guidelines on tenure, and how inclusive tenure of land, fisheries and forests is at the core of family farming. Quoting Victoria Tauli-Corpuz from the Asian Indigenous Caucus” Indigenous peoples have been doing family farming for millennia, for generations. Indeed whether through communal or family management of the natural resources, family farming is the predominant form of agriculture for sustainable food production practiced by indigenous peoples”.

The event increased awareness on the importance of the Voluntary Guidelines and its significance for indigenous peoples. Andrea Carmen from the International Indian Treaty Council, explained how indigenous peoples actively participated during the formulation. “Indigenous peoples demands and aspirations were incorporated into the voluntary guidelines, reflecting the importance of guaranteeing tenure rights for indigenous peoples, the tenants of traditional knowledge and cultural practices; in harmony with nature and the rights to Free Prior and Informed Consent in accordance with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Read the full article

June 7th, 2013

Invest in smallholder farmers

The following is a guest blog by AFA Secretary General Esther Penunia for the World Economic Forum’s, which is holding the  New Vision for Agriculture initiative in Myanmar this week.

The economy of the Philippines grew 7.8% in the first quarter of this year, outperforming China and the rest of Asia. The media announced the news proudly and happily because this is the third quarter in a row that the country’s GDP exceeded 7%.

However, for those of us working in the agriculture sector, an important aspect of this news is that agriculture contributed only 0.4% of the 7.8% growth, compared to 35% contributed by industry and services. Agriculture accounts for almost a third of the labour force, and it is from the agricultural/rural sector that most of our poor emanate. Thus, it doesn’t look like that the country’s growth has been inclusive.

This situation is being experienced in many developing countries in South and East Asia. While many Asian countries are exhibiting growth rates, still more than 60% of the world’s hungriest and poorest are in Asia (687 million), particularly in South Asia, and 70% of them rely on agriculture for a living.

Read the full article


May 26th, 2013

AFA co-organizes Responsible Agricultural Investment (RAI) consultation


IMG_5374_Groupphoto bAFA, as member of the Civil Society Mechanism-Southeast Asia Working group (CSM-SEA WG), co-organized the Southeast Asia CSM Sub-regional Consultation: Development of Principles for Agricultural Investment, Voluntary Guidelines on Land, and other Priority Issues of CFS last May 23-25, 2013 in Jakarta, Indonesia. The consultation is one of the first of the regional CFS RAI multi-stakeholder consultation. The consultation shall also  revisit other areas for priority action such as the follow through of the Voluntary Guidelines on Land at the national level, and discussions on CFS, Biofuels, and the Global Strategic Framework. The workshop was organized to:

1. Create a deeper understanding of the issues confronted in the sub-region on agricultural investments among CSOs and social movements in preparation for the 2013 rounds of consultation on the rai principles;
2. Identify strategies to effectively influence the implementation of the CFS sanctioned Voluntary Guidelines on the Governance of Land Tenure and other Natural Resources;
3. Discuss other issues identified as priority agenda by CFS for 2013 to include Climate Change and Biofuels, among others;
4. Strengthen the SEA Sub-regional CSM through clearer understanding of the CSM, its value added to on-going sub-regional CSO efforts on common agenda on food security and nutrition, and by strengthening the SEA CSM coordination structure and processes

On May 13, 2013, AFA also conducted its own internal learning session on RAI to prepare its farmer leaders as they engage in RAI consultation processes. AFA leaders noted that small-scale farmers should actively promote its vision of a sustainable and inclusive agricultural investment which recognizes the needs and contribution as well as fair benefits of small-scale farmers from any responsible agricultural investment. The primacy of access and control over productive resources (land, water, seeds, energy) by small-scale farmers was articulated by farmer leaders as key to any responsible agricultural investment. In addition, AFA farmer leaders articulated that the participation of small-scale farmers in developing the responsible agricultural investment (RAI) is not only due to the fact that its the small-scale farmers who are negatively affected by agricultural investments but more importantly because small-scale farmers are major investors in agriculture in the absence of needed appropriate support from both public and private sector.

May 12th, 2013

AFA holds workshop on increasing farmers’ market power

artwork for afa event may 2013 kit labelIn order to provide a venue for sharing, learning and planning common actions on how best to enhance smallholder farmers’ market power, the Asian Farmers’ Association (AFA) organized the “Regional Learning Session on Sustainable and Inclusive Marketing Arrangements towards increasing Farmers’ Market Power” on May 9-11, 2013 at The Sulo Riviera Hotel in Dilliman, Quezon City, Philippines.

The event was hosted by the Confederation of Small Farmers’ and Fishers’ Organizations (PAKISAMA), an AFA member in the Philippines and was supported by the Collectif Stratégies Alimentaires (CSA) in Belgium and Agriterra in the Netherlands.

Around forty delegates coming from AFA’s member organizations as well as other farmer organizations, agri-agencies, non-government organizations and government agencies participated.

There were case presentations on small farmers marketing arrangements, inclusive business models, workshops to capture key lessons, as well as a field visit to some local agricultural cooperatives.

Click here for the program

April 30th, 2013

AFA attends seminar on climate services for farmers

In order to adapt effectively and help mitigate climate change, farmers need climate information and services.

The WMO and WFO organized a seminar on climate services in Niigata Japan last April 14.

AFA attended the meeting through its KM Officer in order to learn more about climate services and its relevance to farmers.

During the seminar, AFA was able to share some of its initiatives on climate adaptation and the climate information and services that its members need.

Robert Carlson of WFO welcomed everyone to the seminar and highlighted the importance of climate services for farmers. He emphasized the farming is not public service but is a business that farmers engage in for their families and their livelihoods.

Robert Stefanski presented WMO’s agrometeorological services and the importance of climate forecasting for farmers.

WMO produced a draft publication called Climate Easy in order to disseminate information on climate change impact on agriculture and the different adaptation and mitigation efforts that can be undertaken by farmers.

During the workshop, an exercise on agricultural decision making using a computerized system of risk assessment and climate forecasting was done.

It helped participants appreciate the importance of good quality climate information, which always affects farm level decisions.

Peter Prins of LTO Netherlands presented their climate project in Cambodia and Uganda, which underscore the importance of making climate information accessible and useful to farmers.

Sok Sotha of CFAP and a representative from Uganda shared the results of their projects.

The feedback gathered from participants will be used to further improve WMO’s climate information and services for farmers.

April 25th, 2013

New set of PAKISAMA leaders meet for orientation seminar-workshop

Image 14AFA gives international situationer

Tagaytay City, Philippines, April 13, 2013 – Fourteen farmers, five of them women, all members of the National Council (NC) of PAKISAMA (National Confederation of Farmers Organizations), AFA member in the Philippines, together with its national secretariat and regional coordinators, started today a four day orientation workshop in Tagaytay City, aimed to level-off on basic tenets of the organization, roles and functions of each governing and management structure, and to set directions of the organization for the next three years.

The first day of the orientation was spent on getting to know each other better, clarifying expectations between and among different levels of organization(e.g. secretariat, officers, council members) through a team-building exercise (e.g. secretariat, officers, council members), reviewing the core principes of authentic humanism and active non-violence, and levelling off on international and national situation of farmers, agriculture and sustainable development general. AFA Secretary General Esther Penunia gave inputs on the engagement of AFA in international policy advocacy work and Pakisama’s current involvement in it, especially in advocacy for land rights, sustainable agriculture and farmers’ market power, particularly in GAFSP, MTCP and in the celebration of the International Year of Family Farming in 2014.

Image 15The new set of NC leaders were elected during its 8th national congress, held last Feb 20-22, 2013 in Quezon City. Like in previous Congresses, the NC leaders were elected by each island region (Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao), each region having five slots, with one slot given to a woman and another slot to a fisher. But unlike in previous Congresses, the President , Vice President and the committee heads are now elected from among the NC members. Elected for a three year term were Benedicto “Benny” Aquillo as Chairperson and Ireneo “Rene” Cerilla as President.

The last Congress also celebrated Pakisama’s 26th year, where it gave plaques of appreciation to organizations and individuals who have supported it from its founding years. AFA received one for its contribution to PAKISAMA’s international work.

April 22nd, 2013

GAFSP CSO Asia alternate representative speech at the WB Annual Spring Meetings

(The following is a speech delivered by GAFSP CSO Asia alternate representative Raul Socrates Banzuela during a session on Global Agriculture Food Security Program held at Rm c1-100 World Bank Complex, Main Building, Washington DC last April 19. The session was one of the 60 sessions being held, mostly initiated by CSOs, on the occasion of the Bank’s Annual Spring Meetings. AFA is the support organization for the GAFSP CSO Asia representative.)

Good afternoon friends and colleagues. I take this session as an opportunity to dialogue with our northern CSO counterparts and to our friends in IFC and WB Coordination Unit.

I am Soc Banzuela, national coordinator of PAKISAMA, a national confederation of peasant organizations in the Philippines.  We are a member of Asian Farmers Association (AFA), an Asian Confederation of 12 national farmers federations in ten countries in three regions of Asia, providing Secretariat services to the Asian CSO representative to  the GAFSP Steering Committee, Dr. Saing Yang Koma.  I sit as his Alternate and have attended four Steering Committee meetings, with two other CSO representatives one representing African farmers, ROPPA, and the other the Northern NGOs, Action Aid.  I have conducted two missions in Bangladesh, three missions in Nepal, two missions in Mongolia, and one mission in Cambodia over the past two and a half years. Most of the projects funded by GAFSP in 14 countries, six of them are in Asia and the other eight are in Africa,  are still in the start up stage and Bangladesh, one of the early grantees has just recruited and deployed its 700 project personnel to help enhance the production and income of some 350,000 farmers located in two regions.  Thus, we cannot show you much yet in terms of outcomes.

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April 18th, 2013

AFA, AA-B, KKM co-organize first dialogue on GAFSP-Bangladesh public and private sector window projects

Image 9

Dhaka, Bangladesh – The Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), a multi-lateral funding mechanism, approved funding for the government’s Integrated Agriculture and Food Security Project (IAPP) last June 2010 for an amount of $50M through its public sector window, aimed to increase agriculture production through technology generation, adoption and water management. The IAPP began implementation in early 2012.

In March 2012, the GAFSP likewise approved a loan to Natore Agro, a subsidiary of PRAN, a big agro-processing company in Bangladesh, for an amount of $5M, through its private sector window, managed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank group. The loan was part of the total $15M loan to the said company, provided by IFC to “expand production capacity, create 1,800 rural jobs and integrate small farmers into retail supply chains.”

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April 15th, 2013

Madrid high level consultation participants want to end hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition by 2025

[High-Level Consultation on Hunger, Food Security and Nutrition in the Post-2015 Development Agenda. April 4, 2013. Madrid, Spain. (C) IISD.]

“When I was born, four out of five Koreans lived in rural areas, but very few of them actually owned the land they farmed. Most were very poor, and many experienced hunger. The war years, of course, were especially dire. The United Nations helped come to the rescue, not just militarily but with sacks of grain and other forms of sustenance. When small farmers finally gained access to land and inputs, they were able to move beyond subsistence and contribute to the country’s progress. Today, the Republic of Korea is ranked 12th on the Human Development Index. There is a message for the world in Korea’s achievement: Hunger and malnutrition can be eliminated. With the right policies and investments, we can make dramatic progress in one generation – not in some distant future but in our own lifetimes.”

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April 11th, 2013

Overdue reforms to food aid a welcome change in new Presidential budget

(While this is a news about USA, AFA shares the hopes of its partner NGO , IATP, regarding the positive impact that the new US food aid policy can bring to the farmers in developing countries in Asia.)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Obama administration’s fiscal year 2014 budget, released today, includes long-overdue changes to the way the U.S. distributes its food aid around the world. These changes will make aid more efficient—up to doubling the bang for each dollar spent—and they will help build local capacity in developing countries, creating markets for local farmers who in turn will help their countries cope with an increasingly volatile international food supply.

For nearly 60 years, U.S. food aid has relied on buying food from American farmers through U.S. corporations to send abroad on U.S.-owned ships. President Obama proposes shifting food aid to programs that also support local and regional procurement of food aid.

“For too long, we’ve been sold the idea that U.S. farmers must feed the world. Instead, to build real food security, we need farmers everywhere, whether in Kansas or Kenya, to be able to feed their own communities and nations. Strengthening that capacity through our food security and trade policies should be the priority,” says Karen Hansen-Kuhn of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP). “Food aid is the last safety net when all else fails, so it is imperative that funding levels don’t fall, but making it faster, more flexible, more efficient and building a tool to build local markets is a common-sense solution.”

Read more

March 18th, 2013

News Summary: Activists call on Cambodian government to address rising land insecurity

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.

IRIN/Phnom Penh, “Land rights have key role in Cambodia”, Gulf Times, March 16, 2013