Written by Ms Anne Beatrice – IMCS Asia Pacific Lay Chaplain, Directress of North South Initiative Malaysia
On the 25 to 27 February 2017,Asia Pacific Networks on Food Sovereignty (APNFS) conducted a regional workshop on TNC Investment in Agriculture: Trends and Impacts in Caloocan City, Philippines. IMCS AP coordinator Ravi Tissera and Chaplin Ms Anne Beatrice attended this workshop.
In current time, where the agro chemical companies controls the food system, they begin to produce seeds that need their chemicals and genetically engineered crops that tolerate pesticides ensuring continues sales and profit for them. 95% of the seeds and fertiliser are controlled by only 10 companies and with this control over land, water and coastal area resources are taken by them which led to increasingly control over food production and entire food supply chain.
Dr Rene Ofreneo presented key note on the trends in Agriculture Investment and Impacts where he addressed on Neo liberal “food security”.
The key points which came out from panel discussion on TNC Investment and Resource Grabbing: Impacts, Remedies and Actions were Gender Impact Assessment, land grabbing and land usage for industrial crop leads lesser food production which effects the whole food chain. This push out small holder from own farming and leads them to work in contract farming and low wages. These also threatens local industries and local food crop.
Following this, the APNFS members shared their initiatives to curb the corporate control of food and agriculture by doing some direct action such as Global campaign against Monsanto, https://www.organicconsumers.org/campaigns/millions-against-monsanto/international-monsanto-tribunal
On the 11 th of December 2016, Adrian Pereira, the former IMCS AP coordinator(2007-2009) had an opportunity to share his experience of working in the field of Human Rights with Bangladesh Catholic Students Movement (BCSM).BCSM is the Bangladeshi affiliate of IMCS AP(please add full form) The programme took place at The Catholic Bishops' Conference Of Bangladesh and was organized by the BCSM president, William Nokrek and his committee. Adrian , who hails from Malaysia currently runs a social justice consortium called the North South Initiative(NSI) which is based in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. Adrian came to Bangladesh to be part of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) civil society initiatives as invited by his partners, Migrant Forum in Asia(MFA).
During the his sharing with the students , various human rights related topics emerged such as Islamophobia, racism ,poverty, fundamentalism, migration, gender justice, minority issues, the Rohingyas, Bangladeshi liberation history and Pakistan- Bangladesh relationship. As Catholics in Bangladesh are minority, Adrian challenged the Catholic students to break out of their victim and minority complex as it hindered their growth and full potential. Even though they are minority(0.3%) in a country of almost 160 million, Bangladeshi Catholics have a lot of privileges to enjoy such as better private education in missionary schools, opportunities to study abroad with scholarships, and affiliation to movements like Pax Romana and Caritas. And at the same time, it was vital for Bangladeshi Catholics to think twice before leaving the country as migrant workers to avoid brain drain and to ensure that there is a continuous leadership to guide the future generations of BCSM leaders. Adrian also said that to give space for women leaders to progress in Bangladesh, the men must vacate their leadership to ensure women have a boost.
Adrian thanked the BCSM leaders , especial their president, Mr William for the opportunity to raise challenging topics related to human rights. He hopes that BCSM will continue the discussions on human rights and even organize more human rights training for the local Bangladeshi students. During his stay, Adrian also got the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with the past presidents and secretaries of BCSM, the Caritas Bangladesh leadership, Action for Catholic Professionals, Future Watch Movement, the Dhaka BCSM Chaplain, the Catholic Youth Commission and others. Adrian wishes that the Catholic Church of Bangladesh continue to be a beacon of hope and justice, not just to Catholics, but to other citizens in Bangladesh.And for this to happen, the Catholic Church in Bangladesh must network and build solidarity with many other progressive groups in Bangladesh and globally. Adrian can be contacted at email@example.com.