SOUTHEAST ASIAN CONFERENCE Food Sovereignty and Climate Change
On the 13th November 2017 siding the ASEAN People Forum (APF) in Diliman, Philippine, Asia Pacific Network for Food Sovereignty with the collaborative effort of International Movement of Catholic Students Asia Pacific held a regional conference on the Impact of the ASEAN Economic Integration on Agriculture, Food Security, Food Sovereignty and Climate Change. People from different walks of life has participated in the conference, introducing themselves as farmers, fisherfolks, women, student and minority community youth groups. The opening remarks were given by Dean Rene Ofreneo, President Integrated Rural Development Foundation.
The formal conference was started by the key message from “ASEAN Economic integration and agriculture on the “Impacts and measures to promote and protect smallholder agriculture in the region”. He discussed briefly about the Neo-liberal policy in regards to ASEAN Police, Investment, trade and people. More over given the statistics Dr Rene discuss about the flow of the services, Investment capital and labor. Moreover, he highlighted the issue of over population, scarcity of food and climate change using facts and figures from his research.
Ms. Jelan Paclarin discussed about the issues faced by the farmers. As the community at Regional Steering committee chair and representor of farmers at ACF/APF. she brought out some highlights from the budgets, of how there is no relaxation for the farmers in the form of subsidy, providing seeds and fertilizers ect. Moreover, she stated that it is more on making profits rather than feed our people. In the end she addresses the issue by suggesting that” it is very important that the private departments come together and work for the farmers, that is the only way where I think the farmers can overcome this challenge”.
The ASEAN free trade Agreement fully integrating the region to the Neo-liberal economic order was discussed by Megawati Indonesia for global Justice. Using facts and figures she discussed in detail that ASEAN is a magnet for the global market. It’s a big market which attracts the attention of foreign investors. She also highlighted the issue of migration of skillful workers to abroad. Moreover, she highlighted how the workers are being exploited by contractual jobs provided by the multinational companies. While answering the questions she said: that these are all foreign investors coming to the ASEAN looking for cheap labor” adding inequality and social injustice in society.
Mr. Ravi Tissera Asia Pacific Coordinator for International Movement of Catholic Students drawn the attention towards “the ASEAN climate change” He elaborated saying: that ASEAN in along with the coastal area and we are naturally prone to disasters. At the same time ASEAN is rich in natural resource though, but because of mining and deforesting there is a fast rise in sea level. Therefore, we are facing more droughts, excessive rainfalls and other climate related issues.
The panel discussion was headed by Parid Riwanuddin, Soy Sophorn, Mr. Bong Incong, Mr. Romeo Oyandoyan from KIARA, Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community, president, United Broilers Association (UBRA) and PCAF (tbc). Briefed about the fisher folks, farmers livestock and rice sector respectively. They mainly focused on the consumption of food. We ASEAN’s having alternative food but we just use four kinds of crops. They added that a great emission of methane gas is affecting green house because of the rice production, but if we use organic farming we can control this emission i.e. up to 50%. Similarly, Mr. Bong elaborated that if we reduce the consumption of meat it will have great impact on our climate and health as well.
The Second Panel discussion was headed by: Mr. Adrian Pereira, NSI, Malaysia, Trinidad Domingo, NMFS Philippines, Tanseem Pahoh MSFT Thailand, Prof Mendoza Philippines. They discussed about small scale food producers, Rural women Irrigation, Rural Youth and Academe respectively. He also mentioned about the exchange farming programs where farmers can exchange their skills and techniques. Mr. Adrian highlighted the farming that there are some farmers in organic farming but they don’t want to share the skill with other farmers. Mr. Adrian also brought the unhygienic condition of the migrant workers working in the farms and not taking good safety measures after using pesticides in the farms. After that Ms. Taseen Pahoh come up with some Pattani issues. She discussed about the globalization policies effecting this group in Thailand for the personal interests of the investors. Similarly, Mr. Ted Mendoza discussed about the reduction of electricity bills using organic production of rice. He counted other benefit of organic farming as well. While stating the example of south Korea he suggested that we should work like them, where the farmer get the profit up to 60% and it makes them more empowered therefore the continue with their profession.
Key messages from the conference were on how the neoliberalism creeped into the economic, political social cultural of the country, and how ASEAN been a fundamental neoliberal approach to consolidate the economics of the region and integrated it in the local economy order. It’s a myth that the markets, state, and society are separated entities and the market through the neoliberal framework in its own workings can lead our countries into economic growth and then the economic growth need to development which will trickle down as benefits to our people. In the case of experiences in our countries here is opposite and the benefits they say which we receive is actually the benefits to the cooperation. The impact of ASEAN Economic Integration (AEC) are in facts where the cooperation’s are taking over our land, water forest and seas, it’s the cooperate power which is strengthening and expanding in which the food system is corporatize. With that it’s the farmers and fisherfolk will remain the poorest and who their rights are impacted and undermined and violated and the food system is undermined. We also see increasing rural to urban migration where young people are going out of rural areas abandoning farming because farming is no more profitable and we see aging farmers. Most the farmers are old and we see no sustainability in future of farming without strong support from the national governments the country. In term of economics integrations, we see our agriculture is made towards meeting to demands of the export marker rather than meeting the food need of the people. As we also can see the change in the mindset of our people who do not want to support the local food but more the imported food.
And with this context, the rights people in term of economic, social and political rights especially the rural sectors are violated and we clearly see the importance to resist the ASEAN economic integration project.
Our recommendation we presented here
- We want to resist the neoliberal system in all forms and in all front meaning at the local, national, international level, even in the different context, like in Philippine, we have democracy where participation of civil society who are resisting but however the policies in some sense is still neoliberal needs to privatization, deduction and more increased cooperation in the system even though we have active civil society but the policy reflects their interest. More it’s in authoritarian regime even in our democracies. all works towards the agenda consolidation of international capitalist system.
At national level – building movement to transform the state to build political power of farmers, workers and fisherfolks to transform policy towards policy which protect the interest of these sectors that are marginalized
Fisherfolk to transform policies that protect their interest that protects the rights the sector marginalized.
At the local only resisting oppression for example are companies are grabbing the land, like in the case of Indonesia working the local authorities to defend the land to prevent the grabbing of the land and the costal resources.
International level building solidarity people to people solidarity and define it further. Recent movement in the international civil societies to push for UN resolution to initiated a binding treaty on transnational cooperation activities which regulate the transnational companies where it can criminalize some action of the transnational cooperation especially those pertaining to land grabbing and resource grabbing.
There is growing movement in the light of impact of climate change, social movement and civil society all over global for system change which we can also take advantage or maximize to building our solidarity.
South South solidarity where this one even more in compulsive as in they ask for system change where it not only talk about production but also in consumption pattern and shift from fossil fuel to renewable energy and even some are campaign for zero emission. Actually this a shifting of capitalize system.
- The need of movement building for engaging , reclaiming the policy space public space, as this public space is been dominated by the TNC and their agenda to further consolidate the export orientated and import dependent countries as of our countries and to which they benefit from the stagnation of manufacturing and industries which benefit more from import and export and they actually influence the policies, so there is need to engage and claiming the public policy space which we means able to be strong to reclaim that and there many ways to do it, we need to be our voices increasing heard and we have shift from mere consultation to actual policy making.
Malaysia no policy for farmers, so need different way of reclaiming base on their own circumstances and that why there is need for greater solidarity, like exchange experience of each other.
How do we mainstream all these practices and making it really sustainable and the needs of our communities and people. We have organic farming which shown as very viable, earn income for the income for the farmer while protecting the resource space, water and protecting the health of our farmers and our consumers. There is need for funding as subsid that’s why the state should support the transformation of our food system. And transformation of food system is not only production, it should be towards balancing development that mean our farmers and consumers are both taken into account and the farmers and the fisherfolk earns in the process. They should earn income and not become mere supplier and that where need to build cooperative. Cooperative which are of the self-empowerment type and cooperative that from the traders. Cooperative that generate values and earn income for farmers and linked to SMEs.
SME is an area of which we need to look into where the ASEAN economic integration will open up the free flow of investment which will also target SMEs and it is in own respective countries should protect in favor of the lively hood especially SME in which provide employment for the informal sector -worker who are in the informal economy.
- In context of climate change, the organic farming how to be really scale up in term of change and adaptation of climate change. Lastly others sectors which are really important in this transformation and our resistant are the young people and women movement, especially our young people who are very vocal and big in number and need to organize them. And the women have a special not only as giver of life but are both into production and reproduction and excellent breeders of seeds. We aim a food system that are sustainable, ecological food system that will resist neoliberal system.
The day was a success the organizer of the conference thanked all the participants for their active participation throughout the day, hoping that this day will be fruitful to them in certain ways. For the remembrance, group photo was taken at the end of the day.