La Via Campesina South Asia Holds Regional Meeting in Nepal

September 10-15, 2016 in Balthali, Nepal, the South Asian region of La Via Campesina held our regional meeting. All Nepal Peasants Federation was the host of the meeting. Representatives from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and India contributed by sharing our struggles against agribusiness and neoliberalism. We also benefitted from contributions over Skype from comrades from Pakistan.

FIELD VISIT: Farmers from a women-led cooperative farm

In the context of Nepal, the movement for food sovereignty and agrarian reform is particularly relevant. A highly diverse country with many caste and ethnic groups, Nepal is a landlocked country which is in its first decades of democracy. After fighting against monarchy, Nepal’s people are in the process of constructing democracy. However, many acute crises such as high levels of youth out-migration, agricultural land fragmentation, political volatility, natural disasters such as the 2015 Earthquake, and economic disasters such as the Indian “earthquake” (blockade) are still faced by the people. Even so, strides forward for agrarian reform and food sovereignty are being taken. Nepal is one of the handful of countries with food sovereignty in the constitution, and largely speaking, as a hilly country, the ravages of agribusiness have not penetrated very deeply. And as the country with the second most water resources in the world, Nepal is well situated to provide agricultural livelihoods not only for itself but for other South Asian countries as well.

LVC member organizations and ally organizations took the time to share updates from each country, have debates on the urgent actions to take forward on many of our working collectives and themes, and prepare for the 6th Global Conference.

Alongside our permanent international themes of struggle, we added a few themes which are especially relevant in our region. We had two special discussions – one on livestock and dairy, and another on caste discrimination.

FIELD VISIT: Dairy cooperative in Baltali, Nepal

Livestock and dairy cannot be separated from other agricultural issues. Livestock and dairy are the major income assurances besides agricultural production for small and marginal farmers, and inputs from livestock (manure and urine) are key for agroecological production. LVC movements and allies agreed to take several steps regarding livestock and dairy: fight against FTAs related to milk, dairy, and food; support indigenous breeds and lobby government to only support indigenous breeds; fight against dumping; ensure that milk which is made from milk powder is labeled as such; defend grazing rights as community rights.

Working group on Land, Water, and Territories

As far as the working group on caste discrimination, peasant leaders articulated the urgent and integral need to eliminate all forms of cate violence. Peasant movements can be a part of this fight by ensuring that we take up issues of Dalit and adivasi communities, especially Dalit and adivasi women, as peasant issues. We can also ensure Dalit and adivasi leadership at all levels of our movements, and maintain constant evaluation of these issues within our movements. As leader Lal Bahadur from ANPFa shared, “Nothing short of a cultural revolution is required to transform the caste system.”

LVC South Asia resolved to continue our struggle on our common platforms of agroecology and seed sovereignty, rights to natural resources, rights for migrant and waged workers, public policies for food sovereignty, and for pro-people economics.