INDIA: Bihar's agroecological farmers host international farmers' delegation

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Earlier this year, when Sumant Kumar and his 4 friends, all young farmers from the Nalanda region in Bihar, made headlines for breaking the world records in rice and potato production without using any chemicals, herbicides or GM seeds, it inspired farmers across the world. Through the global network of peasants' movements called La Via Campesina, farmers in the state of Karnataka in southern India got a call from Brazilian farmers, asking if they could go see this unbelievable feat together.

The Brazilian farmers from the Landless Peoples' Movement (MST) represented one of the largest organic rice production cooperatives in the world, but hadn't come close to the 22.4 tons/ha yield obtained by Kumar, which defeated even the Chinese world record holder and “father of rice,” Y Longping.

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Building a peasant revolution in Africa

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The recent debate around the 2012 National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill in Uganda and the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) it promotes elevated issues related to food access across the country. Although the bill was tabled in Parliament earlier this year, Ugandan peasants and small farmers still have reason to worry that control of their land and its resources could quickly slip further away—especially if they are not tightly organised.

The push for GMOs and corporate control of agriculture is certainly not unique to Uganda, let alone Africa. Patented seeds, land grabs, and dumping of staple food products have been routine over the past few decades—forming the structure of a transnational economic system that favours profit over rural people and their right to a sustainable livelihood.

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ZIMSOFF and the Shashe Agro-Ecology School in Zimbabwe

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While it is now widely acknowledged that a smallholder-based, agro-ecological food production system is the best way to eradicate hunger and to reduce the impact of agriculture on climate change, less attention is given to the role farmers play in sharing the lessons they have learned. Building on a farmer-to-farmer approach, the Zimbabwe Organic Smallholder Farmers Forum (ZIMSOFF) is interested in training community facilitators and trainers, helping them develop a horizontal and participatory learning system.

A member of the Eastern and Southern Africa Smallholder Farmers’ Forum (ESAFF) and of La Via Campesina, ZIMSOFF was founded in 2002 during the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg, South Africa. ZIMSOFF is an organisation of small-scale farmers, in which all the positions of responsibility are held by farmers. Its vision is to improve the livelihoods of small-scale farmers and empower them to defend their rights.

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El Salvador: Reforms to the Law Governing the Control of Pesticides, Fertilisers and Farming Products

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The 5th September marks a milestone in Salvadoran agriculture after the Legislative Assembly implemented reforms to the law governing the control of pesticides, fertilisers and farming products.

With 45 votes – that is to say, a simple majority – the legislators passed the decision to ban the import, sale and use of chemical products and insecticides considered harmful to health. This law should be implemented gradually over two years, resulting in a complete ban of these products which will have to be replaced by more environmentally-friendly ones.

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