Press Statement By Peasant Farmers on “Day of Peasant Struggle”

PFAG office New121Below is the full text of the Press statement read by Madam Victoria Adongo, Programme Coordinator of Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana on behalf of the National President, on the commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of the International Day of Peasant Struggle. The event under the theme ”The Future of Agriculture in Ghana” which took place at the premises of the National Secretariat on the 27th April 2016, witnessed farmers,  CSOs and the media being educated on the Plant Breeders Bill and the GMOs. It also provided opportunity for the farmers to share their experiences and challenges they encounter in their quest to ensure food security for the nation.

PRESS STATEMENT ON THE COMMEMORATION OF THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY  OF THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEASANTS’ STRUGGLE IN SOLIDARITY WITH PEASANT FARMERS  –  PRESENTED BY VICTORIA ADONGO ON BEHALF OF MR. ABDUL RAHMAN MOHAMMED – NATIONAL PRESIDENT.

Colleague farmers, members of the Media , friends and sympathizers of the peasant struggles in Ghana Ladies and Gentlemen. Good afternoon and you are all welcome to the offices of the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana

It is a pleasure to welcome all of you to the 20th commemoration of the international day in solidarity with peasant farmers in Ghana and every part of the world  and I wish to apologize on the behalf of the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana for our inability to join other peasant farmers from across the world who held several activities in their respective areas to observe the day. which took place on the 17th April 2016.

Colleague peasant farmers; The  Telangana Peasant Struggle which started in India between 1947- saw over 10, 000 peasants detained and brutalized. 20 years ago in El Dorados dos Carajas in Northern Brazil some 19 peasant men and women were murdered for defending their land against corporate interest, by government security forces. Since then on 17th April every year peasants and rural folks all over the world hold several activities to observe this day as one of the darkest days in the struggle of small and landless farmers over right to seed, land and water.

In Ghana as we celebrate  this day we reflect on our own challenges and struggles with which we identify with the peasants of India and Brazil and others all over the world.

Colleague farmers,  ladies and gentlemen of the media, between January and  March 2016,  we have received information from across the country which indicates that hundreds of peasant farmers have fallen victims to the brutalities of the menace of the Fulani herdsmen with some of them murdered in Agogo, Kwahu,Afram Plains and parts of Northern Ghana . The farmers were killed when they tried to prevent the destruction of their farm produce by cattle herded within their farms. Women peasant farmers have been maimed and raped in the process.   This age old problem goes on unresolved because policy makers have failed to put in place appropriate policy that would lead to proper ranching and designated grazing lands for cattle. .

Agricultural   lands are being grabbed and handed over to agribusinesses for bio fuel production and for the G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition whilst huge swathes of land on which peasants farm are being sold to corporate institutions, for mining  and for estate development to  the benefit of a few individuals whilst the small holder farmers who form the back bone of our economy and ensure availability of food on the market are left landless.  Inadequate and lack of support for farmers to access credit has led to exploitation and defrauding of farmers by some unscrupulous micro-finance institutions such as DKM as a result of which some farmers have committed suicide. Yet so far little effort has been made by the Bank of Ghana to retrieve those monies for the farmers and rural people.

Dear friends from the media; today our own elected leaders  to whom we have entrusted our nations and who are expected to protect our people and farmers from the devastation and brutal exploitation of foreign multinational corporations  have signed agreements such as the UPOV and the draft Plant Breeders Bill which will deny small holder farmers the right to save   and exchanging their own seed and jeopardizing our food sovereignty by allowing foreign multinational corporate take-over of our seed industry.

Colleague peasant farmers, this day is not only about bringing to light the concerns of peasant farmers; it is also about working to ensure the sustainability of our society as a whole. The question of access and control of seed is about life; If you take seed out of the equation of agriculture, there is no food and if there is no food, there is no life. The question of land is central to the concept of Food Sovereignty. According to the United Nations, the  main cause of hunger and malnutrition is the lack of access to land. The fact that an increasing number of peasants who provide 70% of our food are being driven away from their lands , not only represents a danger to local food systems, but to global ones as well. The recent decline in agricultural performance in Ghana can be linked to continued undermining of peasant farmers and recognizing the need to rather prioritizing farm lands for mining, estate development, bio-fuel by corporate institutions and other commercial activities.

Colleague peasant farmers, we use this occasion to reiterate our demands for our  right to land, right to  our seed and food systems and our right to choose whether we want Genetically Modified foods  or not. Twenty years ago, peasants paid for these rights with their lives and we honour them and reassert our demands.

We  call  on all Ghanaians to join our struggle in defence of Food Sovereignty for our country  and against the destruction of our planet, fight for our dignity and resist any form of neo-colonialism in the name of free trade.

We call on government to find a quick solution to   the issues of the   herdsmen by  providing them with grazing lands so our women can freely visit their farms without fear of rape.

We call on Parliament to as a matter of urgency,  halt the passage of the Plant Breeders Bill and ensure further consultation with farmers to hear their concerns about the bill. That bill is a danger to farmers and will lead to abject poverty and misery when it becomes law.

We call on our chiefs to stop giving out peasant farm lands to corporations and mining  companies  Peasant farmers should be protected and supported as key investors in their sector, including helping them to access fair credit. Governments and financial institutions need to reconsider their focus on support to large-scale farming against majority of about 90% small peasant farmers.

There should be mechanisms to stop land grabbing for commercial activities. Improving land tenure arrangements should go hand-in-hand with land reform prioritizing the needs of small-scale farmers and farming communities.

On this day, the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana salutes all   peasants, small holder farmers, indigenous peoples, herders and fisher folk, rural women and men  all over the world engaged in the  struggle for their rights to seed, land access to water and a fair market out of the grip  of  predatory forces that seek to  exploit resources that must be held collectively by the society.

Long live peasant farmers; Long live Ghana

Thank you

ABDUL RAHMAN MOHAMMED – NATIONAL PRESIDENT