PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) and its partners across the globe today launched the 16 Days of Global Action on Agroecology 2020, with the theme “Fight for Food Systems Change!”, as rural peoples confront the challenges of the hunger crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 16 Days of Global Action on Agroecology is an annual campaign from October 1 to 16 aimed at promoting agroecology as an alternative to chemical-based corporate agriculture and as a way towards achieving people’s food sovereignty. Now on its 6th year, the global campaign this year focuses on the plight of rural peoples during the pandemic, and their demands and aspirations for fundamental changes in the food and agricultural system.
“The COVID-19 crisis confirmed what many rural communities around the world already know – that the prevalent food systems dominated by big profit-seeking interests are failing. There is an urgent need for a radical shift on how, for instance, we are producing food. Agroecology provides us a viable way to produce food in a manner that protects the environment and promotes the rights of farmers and other direct food producers,” said PANAP executive director Sarojeni Rengam.
Rengam stressed that agroecological approaches to food production can only be truly sustainable and beneficial if pursued in the context of thoroughgoing agrarian reform and long-term rural development. “Agroecology can only thrive when land and other productive resources needed to produce food are unencumbered by corporate or landlord monopoly control,” Rengam pointed out.
Several activities will be held in various countries in the Asia Pacific region, Latin America, North America, and Africa as part of the 16 Days of Global Action. These include trainings on agroecology; rural youth leadership trainings; a youth and agroecology webinar; seed exhibitions; bike tours; relief mission for migrant farmworkers; indigenous peoples’ harvest festival & knowledge exchange; home gardening workshops; a plantation protest; village-level educational discussions; a rally vs. an anti-farmer bill; a farmers’ forum on food and rights; youth-led traditional paddy and millet cultivation; and a students’ conference, among others.
On October 14, PANAP will hold an online launch of the book “Pandemic of hunger: Asserting people’s rights amid COVID-19.” On October 15, Rural Women’s Day, there will be local rural women’s festivals and an online Rural Women’s Speak-Out hosted by the Asian Rural Women’s Coalition. The campaign will culminate on October 16 with the #Hungry4Change Digital Farmers’ Caravan, a 13 hour-long online live broadcast rally to mark the “World Hunger Day”, together with the People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) and Asian Peasant Coalition (APC).
Initiated by the APC, World Hunger Day is the counterpoint of food sovereignty advocates to the official World Food Day that commemorates the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) every October 16.
A social media campaign using the hashtags #AgroecologyNow, #Hungry4Change and #FoodAndRightsNow will also highlight the demands of rural peoples throughout the 16 Days of Global Action.
Participating organisations include: Bangladesh Research Centre for Indigenous Knowledge or BARCIK; Instituto Politekniko Tomas Katari (Bolivia); Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community or CCFC; Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT), Roots for Equity and Khoj Society for People’s Education (Pakistan); MTKP (Guatemala); Society for Rural Education and Development SRED, Kudumbam, and Andhra Pradesh Vyavsaya Vruthidarula Union or APVVU (India); SERUNI (Indonesia); Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers Forum or ESAFF (Kenya); Tenaganita and ARROW (Malaysia); Women’s Rehabilitation Centre or WOREC (Nepal); Peasant Movement of the Philippines or KMP, Union of Agricultural Workers or UMA, Artist Alliance for Genuine Land Reform and Rural Development or SAKA, MASIPAG, Amihan, Gabriela, and Kadamay-Pandi (Philippines); Vikalpani National Women’s Federation (Sri Lanka); Research Centre for Gender, Family and Environment in Development CGFED (Vietnam); Young Volunteers for the Environment or JVE (Ivory Coast); PAN Africa (Senegal); Zambia Social Forum; Youth for Food Sovereignty; Asian Rural Women’s Coalition; People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty; Asian Peasant Coalition; and PAN North America.