South Asia Regional Conference on Food Soverignty, Agarian Reform and Peasant’s Rights orgnised in Katmandu, Nepal on 08-09 July 2008 has concluded demanding sustainable agarian reform to achieving sustained economic revolution in the countries of the region where agriculture is the mainstay of the majority people living in rural areas. Therefore, they urged the governments of the South Asia region to devise policies for scientific agrarian reform to fight against poverty and hunger and assure fundamental rights of all citizens to food, energy, health and education, including other economic, social and cultural rights.
They also demanded for immediate actions to stop and annul the creation of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) by forcing farmers to evict from their lands that they nurtured for centuries, which are the tenets of corporate globalisation. Lamenting intolerable price hike in agricultural inputs including energy, the peasant leaders demanded for subsidies and support prices to cope with the unfavourable impacts of weather conditions in agricultural production as a consequence of climate change phenomena under the aegis of global warming to which the group of G8 countries and the IFIs are largely responsible. The other issues that need to be addressed without further delay are stopping of the increased cases of farmers’ suicidal due to continuously reducing farm production and piling up of increased debt burden, forcing the farmers unable to pay back their loans, rather adding more for maintaining their families’ survival. The increased feminisation of poverty had further added the sufferings of already victimised women farmers; hence poverty needs to be eradicated as the top most priority of the region. The delegates also reaffirmed their commitment to continue the struggles for reinstating people’s sovereign rights on food and make the states accountable to solve the current crises of food and energy in the region.
Speaking as Chief Guest of the concluding ceremony of the conference, the Chairman of Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) Mr. Pushpa Kamal Dahal (aka Prachanda) committed for the implementation of food sovereignty, education, health and employment which are included as the fundamental rights in the interim constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. He further said, however, if they failed to implement these principles into practice, the provision alone in the constitution will remain as another lie, and a mere repetition of inaction of the previous governments.
Similarly, Mr. Jhala Nath Khanal, the General Secretary of Communist Party of Nepal Unified Marxist and Leninist) lauded the roles played by the ordinary people, specifically the peasants that played mammoth role during the People’s Movement –II in Nepal, in asserting the sovereign rights of the people and forcing the autocratic king’s regime to kneel down. He further said, “The issues of right to food and food sovereignty are closely linked with the institutionalisation of scientific agrarian reform for the peasants’ occupational, professional and communal rights, therefore, our party is committed for constitutional protection and promotion of the rights of the peasants”.
This two-day regional conference was organised by All Nepal Peasants’ Federation (ANPFa) – the Regional Thematic Focal Point of Food Sovereignty, Livelihood and Employment Theme of South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE), and participated by over 350 delegates from different countries and organisations in the region.