We can end the Food Crisis

Press Release

Via Campesina on world food day

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We can end the food crisis!

(Maputo, October 15, 2008) We can only end the food crisis through the principles of food sovereignty and agroecology. This is the focus of the Vía Campesina in Maputo, as its 5th Congress gets underway with a Youth Assembly for rural youth from all over the world.

There are many young people who want to start out in agriculture using agroecological farming methods, based on autonomous principles of sustainable production and local marketing of produce. Current policies, however, make this difficult, and favour industrial production methods.

Today, the 16th of October, 2008, the FAO World Food Day, the Via Campesina offers a message of hope in the face of the world food crisis.

The crisis is a direct result of the industrial and export-based agricultural model, at the expense of millions of rural workers and the population as a whole, in every region of the world. But the crisis can be overcome if we abandon this model, which drives out rural workers, destroys biodiversity and the environment, and results in hunger and poverty in the world. The food crisis is the most dramatic link in the chain of crises generated by the neo-liberal economic system – the climate crisis, the energy crisis, the financial crisis, the biodiversity crisis, etc.. It is time for a change of direction, starting with agriculture itself.

The alternative is food sovereignty, which allows peoples to develop their own agricultural and food policies, which favour local and sustainable rural production, and equitable distribution of healthy food to support their own people.

The Vía Campesina reiterates this message in the midst of discussions taking place during its 5th Conference in Maputo (Mozambique), attended by over 600 representatives of small farmer and rural worker organizationss from all over the world.

60% of all food consumed in Mozambique is imported, and the scourge of hunger and malnutrition is everyhere in this country. Mozambique, like every country in the world, needs food sovereignty and support for its sustainable peasant production sector – using environmentally-friendly means – to feed its own population and put an end to hunger.

Today on World Food Day, the Via Campeina Youth Assembly stresses the urgent need of new generations of farmers to have to access to farm land and means of production. It has become clear that many young people want to farm, using the principles of agroecology, yet are still unable to do so. The Via Campesina urges governments to improve access to land, credit and support for these young people, because the future of agriculture and food production depends on them. In other words, the food crisis cannot be solved if young people are not given a wide-ranging role in agriculture based on food sovereignty and agroecological models.

For more information: Isabelle Delforge (e-mail: idelforge@viacampesina.org, +258 829628439) www.viacampesina.org

Hunger in Indian States "alarming"

BBC online: Oct. 14, 2008..

Hunger in India states ‘alarming’

India has some of the highest rates of child malnutrition in the world

Twelve Indian states have “alarming” levels of hunger while the
situation is “extremely alarming” in the state of Madhya Pradesh, says
a new report.

Madhya Pradesh’s nutrition problems, it says, are comparable to the
African countries of Ethiopia and Chad.

India has more people suffering hunger – a figure above 200 million –
than any other country in the world, it says.

The report, released as part of the 2008 Global Hunger Index, ranks
India at 66 out 88 countries.

‘Scored worse’

The hunger index has been released by the International Food Policy
Research Institute (IFPRI) along with Welthungerhlife and the
University of California.

It measures hunger on three indicators which include child
malnutrition, rates of child mortality and the number of people who
are calorie deficient.

Table of full results

The problem of hunger is measured in five categories – low, moderate,
serious, alarming or extremely alarming.

The survey says that not one of the 17 states in India that were
studied were in the low or moderate hunger category.

“Despite years of robust economic growth, India scored worse than
nearly 25 sub-Saharan African countries and all of South Asia, except
Bangladesh,” the report says.

The best performing state was Punjab, which has a ‘serious’ hunger
problem and does less well than developing countries such as Gabon,
Vietnam and Honduras.

About 60% children in Madhya Pradesh state are malnourished

“When Indian states are compared to countries in the Global Hunger
Index, [the central Indian state of] Madhya Pradesh ranks between
Ethiopia and Chad,” it says.

India is long known to have some of the highest rates of child
malnutrition and mortality in under-fives in the world.

According to the Indian government statistics two years ago, around
60% of more than 10 million children in the state were malnourished.

Nutrition experts say the abysmal record is due to an inadequate
access to food, poor feeding practices and poor childcare practices in
India.

And now the rise in the global food prices has reduced the food-buying
capacity of many poor families, making their situation worse.

In the past year food prices have increased significantly, but
people’s incomes haven’t kept pace, forcing many families further into
hunger, experts say.

The report says “improving child nutrition is of utmost urgency in
most Indian states”.

“All states also need to improve strategies to facilitate inclusive
economic growth, ensure food sufficiency and reduce child mortality,”
it adds.

Farmers” suicides prompts Cabinet into announcing over 16,000 crore rehabilitation package

October 8th, 2008 – 10:36 pm ICT by ANI –

New Delhi, Oct.8 (ANI): The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a rehabilitation package for 31 identified districts in the State of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra involving total amount of Rs.16978.69 crores, consisting of Rs.10579.43 crores as subsidy/grants and Rs.6399.26 crores as loan.
Finance Minister P.Chidambaram told reporters after the cabinet meeting that the rehabilitation package aims at establishing a sustainable and viable farming and livelihood support system through debt relief to farmers, complete institutional credit coverage, crop-centric approach to agriculture, assured irrigation facilities, effective watershed management, better extension and farming support services and subsidiary income opportunities through horticulture, livestock, dairying, fisheries and other subsidiary activities.
For alleviating the hardship faced by the debt stressed families of farmers, ex-gratia assistance from Prime Ministers National relief Fund @ Rs.50.00 lakh per district has also been provided. The package covers the following :
a) Complete credit cover through institutional credit sources;
b) Debt relief to farmers by restructuring overdue loans and interest waiver;
c) Provision of assured irrigation facilities; d) Watershed management;
e) Seed replacement programme:
f) Diversification of activities into horticulture, livestock, dairying and fisheries etc. for generation of additional employment and income opportunities; and
g) Extension support services.
Feedback received from State Governments and other implementing agencies indicates that implementation of the rehabilitation package has resulted in substantial improvement in the ground level conditions and mitigation of farmers distress. However, they have suggested some amendments to the existing interventions for giving a sharper edge and increase the pace of implementation of the interventions brought about through the rehabilitation package.

The suggestions were examined and the Union Cabinet today gave its approval to the following modifications in the rehabilitation package:
(i) Extension of the period for implementation of the non-credit component of the package by two more years i.e. up to 30th September 2011.
(ii) In-principle approval for provision of need based additional financial support to the concerned Ministries/Departments of the Government of India for implementation of the programmes/ interventions included in the package.
(iii) Increase in per farmer area limit under Seed Replacement Programme from 1 ha. To 2 ha.
(iv) Adoption of Cafeteria Approach for participatory Watershed Development Programmes, where State Governments with prior permission of the Ministry of Agriculture have the flexibility to adopt either the models circulated by NABARD or Sujala Model of Watershed Development Programme being implemented in Karnataka under Word Bank assistance or the models in accordance with the common guidelines for Watershed Development Projects approved by NRAA subject to the condition that financial assistance will be as per the approved norms of Watershed Development Fund (WDF).
(v) Inclusion of Women Farmers Empowerment Programme under extension services.
(vi) Construction of an Empowered Committee headed by Secretary, Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries and consisting of representatives from Department of Agriculture & Cooperation, Planning Commission and Ministry of Finance as members for taking decision regarding medication or inclusion of new components under subsidiary income activities subject to the total financial implication remaining within the existing approved outlay for the concerned State.
The improvements in the package would give it a sharper edge and further improve the effectiveness. (ANI)

Govt modifies rehab package for suicide-prone districts

CABINET DECIDES

BS Reporter / New Delhi October 09, 2008, 1:25 IST

The government today modified the rehabilitation package for the farmers in suicide prone districts of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra.

The government had earlier announced a rehabilitation package on September 29, 2006 for 31 identified districts in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra, involving a total amount of Rs 16,978 crore.

After the feedback from implementing agencies, the Union Cabinet today decided to extend the period for implementation of the non-credit component of the package by two more years or up to September 30, 2011.

It has also given in-principle approval for provision of need-based additional financial support to the concerned ministries and departments of the Government of India for implementation of the programmes.

The rehabilitation package aims at establishing a sustainable and viable farming and livelihood support system through debt relief to farmers, complete institutional credit coverage, crop-centric approach to agriculture and assured irrigation facilities.

Other modifications in the scheme include increase in per farmer area limit under the Seed Replacement Programme from 1 hectare to 2 hectares, adoption of ‘Cafeteria Approach’ for participatory Watershed Development Programmes, and inclusion of ‘Women Farmers’ Empowerment Programme’ under extension services.

The Union Cabinet today also approved new legislation that seeks to set up a National Judicial Council (NJC) to conduct inquiries into allegations of incapacity or misbehaviour by judges of the High Court and Supreme Court. “The provisions of the new Bill would bring in transparency in the functioning of the judiciary and would also enhance its prestige,’’ an official handout said.

The proposed Bill would incorporate recommendations of the parliamentary standing committee that had looked into an earlier Bill — Judges (Inquiry) Bill, 2006.