tisdag 18 september 2012

Via Campesina till angrepp mot FAO

Ett hårt angrepp på Jose Graziano da Silva, FAO:s nye chef som kommer från Brasilien, från Via Campesina. De menar att han lyfter fram agribusiness och angriper småbruke
                                                                                                                                                                                                    14 September 2012

Why are the FAO and the EBRD promoting the destruction of peasant and family farming?

La Via Campesina - GRAIN - Friends of the Earth International (FoE) - Coordinadora Latinoamericana de Organizaciones del Campo (CLOC) - Re:Common

We are shocked and offended by an article co-signed by Jose Graziano da Silva, Director General of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and Suma Chakrabarti, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), that was pusblished in the Wall Street Journal on September 6, 2012.1 In the article, they call on governments and social organisations to embrace the private sector as the main engine for global food production.

While referring specifically to Eastern Europe and North Africa, the heads of these two influential international agencies make a clear call for a world wide increase in private sector investment and land grabbing. They say that the private sector is efficient and dynamic and call on companies to "double investment in the land itself". Meanwhile, they dismiss peasants and those few remaining policies that protect them as burdens "holding back" agricultural development that should be eliminated. To do so, they urge governments to facilitate the growth of big agribusiness. Their article was published in the context of a joint FAO and EBRD conference in Istanbul on September 13th, which they describe as the largest and most important gathering of companies and decision-makers in agribusiness.

Graziano da Silva and Chakrabarti make a number of biased claims in the article that obscure the reality when it comes to agriculture and food. They point to Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan as successful examples of agribusiness that have transformed these countries from "the agricultural wastelands of the 1990s" into "leading grain exporters." But at no time do they mention that the official statistics from all three countries show that small farmers and peasants are more productive than big agribusiness.

Peasants and small farmers, especially women, account for over half of Russia's agricultural production but occupy only a quarter of the agricultural lands. In the Ukraine, they produce 55% of the agricultural output on only 16% of the land, while in Kazakhstan, where they occupy half of the land, they account for 73% of agricultural production. The fact is that these countries are fed by their peasants and small farmers. And this is true the world over. Wherever offical data are available, as in the EU, Colombia and Brazil, or in the studies undertaken in Asia, Africa and Latin America, peasant farming is shown to be more efficient than large-scale agribusiness.

Contrary to what is claimed by the Director General of the FAO, those who really have the capacity to feed the world are the world's men and women farmers and peasants. The expansion of agribusiness has only exacerbated poverty, destroyed the potential for dignified rural livelihoods, increased pollution and environmental destruction, and brought back the scourge of slave labor and a series of recent food and climate crises.

For social movements and the peasants and small farmers of the world, it is unacceptable and even incomprehensible for a Director General of the FAO to be promoting the destruction of peasant farming and an increase in land grabbing. It is particularly troubling for this to occur after three years of careful, hard work by La Via Campesina and other organisations in constructing the FAO's voluntary guidelines to protect communities against land grabs and after Graziano da Silva had repeatedly assured farmers' organisations during his campaign for Director General of the FAO that he would promote and validate the importance of peasant agriculture and the critical role small farmers must play in food production.

The language used by Graziano da Silva and Chakrabarti is offensive. Phrases like "fertilize this land with money" or "make life easier for the world's hungry" call into question the FAO's ability to do its job with the necessary rigor and independence from large agribusiness companies and fulfill the UN mandate to eradicate hunger and improve the living conditions of rural people.

We wonder what the FAO means by the "International Year of Family Farming" when its Director General says that the obstacles to improving agricultural production are "relatively high levels of protection, lack of proper irrigation, [and] small and uneconomically sized farms." This vision and the FAO's subservience to the demands and interests of greedy investors undermines all the work at conciliation that has taken place in recent years between farmers' organisations and the FAO. And it raises questions about why the FAO has not developed a proposal for concrete and effective action to promote peasant agriculture and family farming as a fundamental response to a global food crisis that is once again enriching transnational banks and corporations.2 Where, we wonder, will peasant families go if these plans to transform their lands into industrial megafarms are successful?

Beyond the issue of the FAO abandoning its mission, it is also of deep concern that the EBRD is playing such an active role in profitting from and promoting investments in land grabbing and the take over of agriculture by big agribusiness. The EBRD's stance is all the more dangerous now that its area of operation is expanding in North Africa.

What is needed for agriculture and the planet is just the opposite of what Chakrabarti and Graziano da Silva propose. Humanity and those suffering from hunger need the agro-cultures of rural areas, which represent half the world's population and make peasant farming possible, to be protected and promoted-- because peasant farming is more efficient and productive, because it produces at least half of the global food supply and most of the employment in rural areas, and because it can cool the planet.

The livelihoods of peasants and indigenous peoples and their food production systems cannot be destroyed to create a new source of mega profits for a tiny group of elites. We need comprehensive and effective agrarian reforms that put lands and territories back into the hands of rural peoples. The commodification and grabbing of lands must be stopped and reversed. We do not need agribusiness; we need more communities and more peasant and indigenous families farming with dignity and respect.

Farmers feed the world

Agribusiness grabs it

1 http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443686004577633080190871456.html.

  a.. September 6, 2012Hungry for Investment
The private sector can drive agricultural development in countries that need it most.
Severe droughts, rising grain prices and food shortages-the latest headlines are an urgent call for action. Concern over food security is often overshadowed by the euro-zone troubles or other crises, but the issue affects far more people, far more immediately: It is about the daily bread of billions of human beings, and it is time to step up our response.

On September 13, the largest and most important gathering of companies and decision-makers in agribusiness from the Caspian and Black seas to the Mediterranean will take place in Istanbul. The attendees will discuss the key role of the private sector in feeding the world. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization will lead the debate, which we hope will become global.

The simple truth is that the world needs more food, and that means more production. There is plenty of room for agricultural growth in the areas in which the EBRD operates-a vast swathe of land stretching from Mongolia in Central Asia to Morocco in North Africa.

The private sector can be the main engine of such growth. Dynamic, efficient private companies have managed to transform countries like Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan from the agricultural wastelands of the 1990s, after the collapse of the collective farming system, into the leading grain exporters of today. These three countries already provide 15% of the world's grain exports, and with appropriate policies they can double their harvests. Their fertile land can return much higher grain yields-up to 75% higher within the next 10 years. Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan alone have the potential to supply half of the world's wheat imports. Some private companies are already showing the way-like Ukraine's Nibulon, which is not far from being able to supply the equivalent of all of Egypt's annual wheat consumption, and provides grain to the U.N. World Food Program.

The host of the conference, Turkey, also has huge potential. It is blessed with arable and fertile land and has tripled its agricultural exports in the past 10 years to more than $15 billion last year. Once it addresses issues that are holding it back-relatively high levels of protection, lack of proper irrigation, small and uneconomically sized farms and limited access to capital for modern production inputs-it can do much more.

As many Western investors already know, agribusiness in transition countries can be tricky-but also profitable. Compared to other industries, agriculture in many countries is more transparent; many major producers plan to attract foreign investors and run their books accordingly.

But the industry's success means more than just profit. In a world of almost seven billion people, transition countries can fight hunger by growing more grain and potentially meat; but they can also fight poverty by helping their own rural population on the path to success in sustainable farming. Some countries in central Asia, where children today are suffering from stunted growth due to undernourishment, could benefit from higher commodity prices globally to feed their own people.

To achieve that, a lot of work is needed.

The private sector needs to double investment in the land itself, and in machinery and seeds. Investment in storage, transport and trading infrastructure are the key not only to ensure that food reaches its intended destination but also to build buffers against adverse shocks and droughts. Some of the infrastructure investment could be done jointly with governments in appropriately structured joint ventures.

International organizations can help to coordinate policy, provide investment, technical assistance and training and support the transfer of technology. The EBRD and FAO are already providing and mobilizing investment in infrastructure and equipment and improving farmers' access to finance thanks to the secured-transactions reform that will allow them to pledge crops and equipment as collateral. The EBRD and FAO also encourage efficient use of resources, which means "more food per drop" of water and fertilizer.

But governments should take action too.

First, they should create a predictable policy framework that fosters private-sector investment by all market participants. Ad hoc trade restrictions in the past have substantially contributed to higher and more volatile prices and have had a prolonged negative effect on investor confidence. There must be market-based pricing and more options to access finance-for instance, using grain itself as collateral through new warehouse or crop receipts. This would require new legislation in most countries.

Second, governments should promote market transparency and better risk management. This includes supporting national and regional commodity exchanges and crop- and weather-insurance markets.

Third, support is needed to develop more resilient crops and facilitate their access to the global market.

Fourth, there should be greater public-private dialogue. There needs to be a pool of shared data on agricultural commodities, and co-ordination of emergency food reserve policies.

The debate on the private sector's role in global food security needs to be heard not only in emerging Europe, Asia and north Africa, but also in the West. It is responsible private investment from around the globe that can fertilize this land with money-once the local business environment is right. Many countries are hungry for such investment-and their investment can help to make life easier for the world's hungry.

Mr. Chakrabarti is president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Mr. da Silva is director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.

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