Governments in Asia not serious in ending hunger
“As the world celebrates the “World Food Day” yesterday, the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) marks 16 October as World Hunger Day and exposed the real situation that farmers, fisherfolks and other small food producers in Asia are the most food-insecure and hungry people. Worse, landless farmers are increasing and remain impoverish elsewhere in poor countries,” remarked Rahmat Ajiguna, APC secretary general.
As a result of neoliberal policies, landlessness and violation of peasant rights are intensifying. In the Philippines, according to the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Peasant Movement of the Philippines-KMP), 9 out of 10 Filipino farmers remain landless and do not own the lands they till. Landlessness has worsened in the past years as a result of massive land grabbing, land use conversion and Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects promoted by the Aquino government and private investors.
Meanwhile, Nasrin Sultana, APC Coordinating Council member said, “Out of Bangladesh’s more than 160 million inhabitants, close to 4.5 million are completely landless, mostly in rural areas, according to a 2008 Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics survey. In reality however, the number of landless people is higher than government statistics. In 2008, 13% of rural households were landless and this is increasing (it was only 9% in 1983-84).”
“Unfortunately, 60% of the world’s hungry are women and 300 million children go hungry every day. Every 10 seconds, a child dies from hunger while around 9 million people die of hunger and hunger-related diseases every year,” added Sultana, also the President of the National Women Farmers and Workers Association (JKSS)
FAO’s theme for World Food Day is “Social Protection and Agriculture.” It says that, “Social protection systems have become an important tool in the fight against hunger. More than 100 countries implement conditional or unconditional cash transfer programmes that focus on promoting food security and nutrition, health and education, particularly for children.” ILO estimates that 70 percent of the world’s poor still do not have access to adequate social protection.
“In Bangladesh, the conditional cash transfer (CCT) covers secondary education (Bangladesh’s Female Secondary School Assistance Program or FSSAP) while Indonesia covers primary and secondary education (Indonesia’s Jaring Pengamanan Sosial or JPS). In the Philippines, despite spending P245-billion for CCT since 2008, poverty is undeniably increasing. According to Ibon Foundation’s poverty survey, 7 out of 10 respondents considered themselves as poor. This is consistent with the estimate that some 66 million Filipinos are living with a P125 (US $ 2.7) daily income or even less,” remarked Rahmat Ajiguna, APC secretary general based in Indonesia.
“Despite the proliferation of such CCT programs around the world, poverty is ever growing. The CCT in the Philippines, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and other parts of the world is actually a dole-out program that merely exacerbates each country’s debt — after all, the program is partially funded through loans from the World Bank (WB) and Asian Development Bank (ADB),” added Rahmat also the secretary general of the Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria (AGRA).
“Governments in Asia, in partnership with multilateral institutions and corporations are really not serious in ending hunger. They are actually aggressively promoting large-scale foreign and domestic investments in agriculture tied to neo-liberal policies. Governments in Asia are marketing Public Private Partnership (PPP) scheme, where both domestic and foreign investors will be given legal authority to make it easy for them to further intensify land grabbing, to multiply plunder of available resources and step-up corporate takeovers of other vital sections of the economy,” stated Rafael Mariano, KMP national chairperson.
“In the Philippines, the Aquino government’s Clark Green City project that covers 36,000 hectares of productive and abundant agricultural lands will displace some 20,000 Aeta and farmer families in the towns of Capas, Bamban, Angeles City, and Mabalacat. The Central Luzon Link Expressway (CLEX) would convert prime agricultural lands and home lots of about 319.5 hectares in Central Luzon, the country’s rice-granary. The CLEX will affect almost 400 farmers and 10,000 agricultural workers. In Andra Pradesh, India, the government will grab 12,000 hectares of prime agricultural lands in the name of new capital City that will displace at least 100,000 peasants,” added Mariano, also the Chairperson of APC.
“Millions of hectares of land have been grabbed and handed over to either foreign or domestic investors. By altering land laws to favour the interests of investors, national governments have accelerated land grabbing. In Manipur, Northeast India, the Mapithel Dam project if completed will submerge 1,215 hectares of land in Senapati and Ukhrul district. The lands belong to people from Tangkhul and Kuki tribes,” ended Mariano.
The APC organized coordinated actions yesterday in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia and the Philippines stating that “to end hunger, advancing the struggle for genuine agrarian reform and building anti-imperialist movement is necessary.” #
Rafael V. Mariano (Philippines)
APC Chairperson and KMP National Chairperson
Rahmat Ajiguna (Indonesia)
APC Secretary General and AGRA Secretary General
Mobile no.: +62 82110857684