Posts Tagged ‘Landreform’

Haiti: Ernährungssouveränität und Landreform

Montag, Juni 14th, 2010

“‘So That Everyone Can Eat, Produce It Here': Food Sovereignty and Land Reform in Haiti

by Beverly Bell

Doudou Pierre is on the coordinating committee of the National Haitian Network for Food Sovereignty and Food Security (RENHASSA). He is also a member of the International Coordinating Committee for Food Sovereignty, organized by Vía Campesina, the worldwide coalition of small farmer organizations. In addition, he is a member of the National Peasant Movement of the Papay Congress and the Peasant Movement for Acul du Nord. This week he will be heading North to the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit.

In the June 4, 2010, article, ‘Groups Around the U.S. Join Haitian Farmers In Protesting ‘Donation’ of Monsanto Seeds,’ Doudou commented on the damage that Monsanto and other agricultural corporations could wreak on Haitian agriculture. Here, he speaks about how government investment in small farmers and in food sovereignty could impact Haiti’s future.

We’re putting together a national network, RENHASSA, to show what our alternatives are today. The whole peasant sector is coming together to tell everyone about the policies we want. Our mission is to advocate for Haiti to be sovereign with its food and to promote national production.

We’re mobilizing politically for the policies we want. We publish articles and do community radio programs about our positions. We’re also doing media campaigns and having meetings to educate people about growing for local and family consumption as much as possible, instead of buying food from other countries. People are starting to recognize and change their habits to just buy local goods. 

Now, what must be done: the state must exercise its responsibility toward its people. When we talk about reconstructing Haiti, we can’t just talk about houses.  It’s got to be a whole plan. We have to talk about reconstructing land, about total reforestation.

First, we have to decentralize the Republic of Port-au-Prince, which got created during the U.S. occupation of 1915 to 1934. Services now exist only in the capital. People died during the earthquake for an identity card or a copy of a transcript, because they had to come to Port-au-Prince to get them. Services must be in all departments [akin to states]. All the people who are in the countryside have to have the resources to stay there.

Second, and this is the essential element, is the relaunching of agriculture in this country. We were almost self-sufficient until the 1980s. We have to fight and pressure the state, so it prioritizes agriculture. Otherwise, we’ll always have to depend on multinationals and non-governmental organizations for our food. The government has to take responsibility for that.

We’re not in favor just of food security, which is a neoliberal idea. With food security, as long as you eat, it’s good. But, we only produce 43% of our food; 57% is imported.  We need food sovereignty, which means that so that everyone can eat, we produce it here at home. We could produce here at least 80% of what we eat. 

You can’t speak of food sovereignty without speaking of ecological, family agriculture. We need that and indigenous seeds. We need for peasants to have their own land.

We have threats from multinationals, mainly to grow jatropha [whose seeds produce oil which can be used for biofuel]. The Jatropha Foundation is lobbying hard to start growing. Jatropha puts us at risk, because we don’t have enough land to be able to divert some toward biofuel. Haiti is only 27,760 square kilometers. Their plan would have us produce even less food and would force peasants to be expropriated. Plus, they’d be using a lot of water, which could create an ecological disaster. It’s a death plan against the peasants.

We’re mobilizing people against growing biofuel. Last October, when the government was considering giving contracts to grow jatropha, we held a big march and sit-in; we gave a petition to parliament. We said, ‘No, Haiti’s land is for growing food.’ We met with the minister of agriculture and the World Food Program.

We’re also mobilizing against GMO seeds, and we’ve just declared war against Monsanto. This battle has just begun.

Besides food sovereignty, our other main priority is integrated land reform. We can’t talk about food sovereignty, if people don’t have land.  They have to have land to be able to market; that’s the only way we can get away from food aid. Our plan is to take the land from the big landowners and give it to the peasants to work. And the food has to be organic, without any chemical fertilizers which destroy the land.  We don’t use anything [unnatural in our cultivation process].

Now, even if people have a little handkerchief of land, they don’t have the technical support to let them plant.  The state has to give us credit and technical support and help us store and manage water. Préval said he was doing agrarian reform in his first term. We called it agrarian demagoguery. He just gave out a few parcels, divided into very small plots, to his political clientele and political party, even to people who weren’t in Haiti.  And, his government didn’t offer any technical support.

That’s not what we need. The agrarian reform we want is for those who work the land to have the right to that land, with all its infrastructure. 

The cultural reality of Haiti is that peasants each want their own little piece of land to produce their own food. But, there has to be cooperative land. Peasant organizations can create collectives to produce food for export and make money, but for that there has to be integrated land reform with technical support, credit, water, everything. We must have government support.

Right now, the government doesn’t even exist for us. It’s saying to the international community, ‘Here’s our country.  Come take it.’ They’ve given away the whole country, and now we have [U.N. Special Envoy Bill] Clinton, who is a tool of the big multinationals. So, on top of all our other fights, we have to fight to change the state. 

Beverly Bell has worked with Haitian social movements for over 30 years. She is also author of the book Walking on Fire: Haitian Women’s Stories of Survival and Resistance. She coordinates Other Worlds,, which promotes social and economic alternatives. She is also associate fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies.”


Bangladesh: Warum die Zahl der Landlosen steigt

Mittwoch, Juni 9th, 2010

Bangladesh: Landless numbers on the rise

DHAKA, 8 June 2010 (IRIN) – When Roton Mia could no longer make ends meet working for US$2 a day, he sold his land in central Kishoreganj District to feed his wife and two children.

With no choice but to move to a slum in Dhaka, the capital city, Mia and his family are now among millions of Bangladesh’s landless.
“When you need to feed your family and you do not have enough income, selling your land is the only way to survive,” the 35-year-old said. “There are many problems in the slum, like a water crisis, a lack of space – but I have no option to go anywhere.”   
Landless families often end up in the slums of Dhaka, while luckier ones live on government-owned land in rural areas.

Millions of Bangladeshi households have lost their property, either through poverty, natural disasters or land-grabbing by corrupt elites.
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.
“The number of landless people is higher than government statistics, and it is growing at a high rate,” said Shamsul Huda, executive director of the Association for Land Reforms and Development (ALRD), an NGO working for the land rights for poor people.
Natural disasters

According to a report by researcher Tahera Akter, published by the Dhaka-based Unnayan Onneshan think-tank, on average, 39 million people in Bangladesh are displaced by each major flood, with three million more displaced by each cyclone.
“Climate-induced hazards, such as recurring floods, cyclones and river-bank erosion are contributing to increasing landlessness,” added Mohammed Abdul Baten, a research associate at Unnayan Onneshan.
“As an impact of climate change, the productivity of the land is also on the decrease. When farmers cannot earn their living by farming, they sell their land.”
Facing economic hardship, many farmers take out loans from mohajons [loan sharks] and then lose their land when they fall behind on repayments. “Landlessness of the farmers leads to their insufficient purchasing power to buy adequate nutritious food for their families,” states a Unnayan Onneshan report.
Social problems
Land-ownership patterns in developing countries show significant social imbalance, according to a study by Habibur Rahman and Somprawin Manprasert from Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok.
The study found that “rural landscapes in developing countries are characterized by highly inequitable social structures, or what many have called ‘bi-modal agrarian systems’, in which expansive commercial estates control vast tracts of fertile land while large numbers of landless or nearly landless people cultivate little or no land”.
Landlessness can inflame social problems as “[l]and-oriented poverty and rural-to-urban migration without any expansion in the housing and utility services lead to the expansion of slums with all affiliated social problems”.
Land grabbing is another reason for the increase in landlessness. “In rural areas, influential people grab the land of the poor by creating fake documents,” added Huda from ALRD.
The government has struggled to limit how much land individuals can own and wealthy people sometimes bribe state officials to get their hands on plots, while forged ownership documents are sometimes used to pressure families into giving up their land.

Taking back the land

Land Minister Rezaul Karim Hira on 5 February told parliament that 1.3 million hectares of government-owned land had been “grabbed”. The government has taken steps to recover the land, but there is no data on how much has been retrieved, he added.
Huda said the government was not doing enough to reduce the number of landless people.
“Without land reform, you cannot solve land deprivation,” he added. “In fact, according to the Land Law, government-owned cultivable land is supposed to be distributed among landless people. But most of the land is still occupied by influential people.”
But lawmaker and land committee chairman AKM Mozammel Haque told IRIN the government was working on a policy of land reform.
“We have asked the concerned authorities to distribute government-owned land among the landless people,” he said. “We asked the authorities to prepare the necessary papers for land reform. A committee was also formed to check the possibility of land reform.”

(Quelle: IRIN News.)