BATU, Indonesia. Photo by Jes Aznar

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Today is World Foodless Day!

Millions of People observe October 16 as World Foodless Day

A Global Day of Simultaneous Actions that resist forces maintaining the Financial and Food Crises

Today, 16 October, 2008, millions of farmers, agricultural workers, fisherfolks, pastoralists and herders, indigenous peoples, women, migrants, consumers, youth and urban poor are in unison in resisting neoliberal policies that created and maintain the food security crisis and the financial meltdown.

The financial crisis and food crisis make the basic right to food elusive. They both share the same recipe deriving from failures of free market fundamentals that feed on each other.

“The continued implementation of liberalisation, deregulation and privatisation policies only support the giant agribusiness corporations who are definitely going to scramble to accumulate more profits.” says Danilo Ramos, secretary general of Asian Peasants Coalition (APC). He adds, “The twofold and intertwined crises in the world’s food and financial systems are doomed to be a never-ending cycle until free market trade fundamentals are destroyed, genuine solutions to stabilise food and financial markets are implemented and people are the basis for steering the change.”

“Small food producers or peasant farmers have inherent knowledge and experiences to address the food crisis but we are treated as mere recipients of policies that do not benefit us.” says Fathima Burnad of Society for Rural Education and Development (SRED) of India. She adds, “We commit World Foodless Day as a day to send a strong message for genuine interventions that include us in addressing the root causes of the crises.”

“The immediate effects of the crises which include spiraling food prices gave a crushing blow to the working class including women, peasants, agricultural workers and landless farmers. World Food Day is a mockery and is much better named World Foodless Day.” says Azra Sayeed of Roots for Equity in Pakistan. She adds, “We observe World Foodless Day to assert our food sovereignty and women’s participation, to demand control over our natural resources including land, seed, and water and to reject trade liberalization which has forced millions of farmers to poverty.”

According to Chennaiah Poguri of Andhra Pradesh Vyavasaya Vruthidarula Union (APVVU) in India, “Our strength is made visible in the number of people who are joining us in the struggle against the crises. We are expecting 25,000 individuals from Andhra Pradesh alone and we are estimating about 574,000 people observing World Foodless Day around the country as we are able to organise with other groups.“

Erpan Faryadi of Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria (AGRA) of Indonesia said,“We are mobilising 4,000 people in protest rallies where we will highlight the problems and agricultural conflicts that are affecting the peasants in Indonesia as well as call for implementation of a genuine agrarian reform. We resist International Financial Institutions for creating global issues that trickle down and make us suffer.

“For migrants, the plunder that neoliberal agenda in agriculture impacts them two-fold - migrant workers come from countries where rural people are displaced by massive land concentration, extreme feudal exploitation, and land redevelopment; globalization policies in food production make it difficult to cope with increasing prices of basic commodities that leave compatriots in the home countries hungry.” says Hong Kong based Ramon Bultron of Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants. He adds, “Now with the current global financial meltdown, more people will surely go hungry or be forced to eke out a living by being modern day slaves. We migrants support the grassroots peasants and advocates for food sovereignty.”

Ninety one national and international NGOs and People’s Organisations from 23 countries have called on the United Nations (UN) Task Force on Global Food Security Crisis and Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary general and Task Force head, to draw comprehensive measures to resolve the global food security crisis. In the letter, handed over to the UN on 14 October 2008 as the FAO Committee on World Food Security met in Rome to discuss the global food crisis, the organisations expressed their concerns on the Comprehensive Framework of Action (CFA) that was drawn. The CFA has prescribed the same policies that created the crisis and are seen to strengthen power structures, approaches and practices. In the same letter, the organisations stipulated people’s recommendations in addressing the food crisis to the UN Task Force. Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP) continue to enjoin organisations in this signature campaign.

World Foodless Day is a day of global action on the crises that beleaguer the people. The objectives are as follows: create public awareness and media attention on the root causes of the food crisis; provide policy recommendations and organize meetings with government officials, opinion makers and leaders; organise activities to raise our voices against neoliberal policies and their impact; and highlight people’s recommendations to respond to the world food crisis.

It is organized by (PAN AP) and People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty together with 22 NGOs and People’s Organisations from 16 countries. For more details, please visit