Hello readers! The second edition of La Via Campesina South Asia’s newsletter is coming out at a time when WHO has warned the world that fights against the COVID 19 is heading in the wrong direction. The International body has acknowledged that the pandemic is here to stay for long. It has expressed concerns that the mixed messages being sent out by countries are indeed derailing the efforts to control the virus.
During April and May members of La Via Campesina in South Asia, and around the world had highlighted how a pandemic of this nature disproportionately affects the migrant workers, small-scale food producers, women, and the elderly everywhere. Our members in India, Srilanka, Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh have issued repeated warnings to their governments about the urgent need to support the rural economy, which is now at the brink of collapse as unemployment rates are shooting through the roof.
Over the years, different government policies that neglected the rural agrarian realities have led to agriculture becoming input-dependent, costly, and unviable for many of the rural families. Our movements here have, for long, been warning that an economic development model that functioned with the logic of a competitive global free market can seriously endanger a country’s food sovereignty.
Over the last two decades, peasant organizations and allied activists have been calling for a rural agrarian policy that is rooted in sustainable local systems of food production. They have also demanded local and renewable forms of energy generation, and land redistribution and land use that respects the principles of agroecology and the fundamental needs of local communities. Instead, governments decided to vouch for a free market economy that turned cities into the main engines of the global economy. They chose to neglect the rural areas and left millions, if not billions, of rural families around the world to fend for themselves. Today, the pandemic has exposed the limitations of that city-centric capitalist model of economic development. It has reminded us that an economy built on people’s solidarity is what we need in times like this. There is still time to mend our ways. In the coming months, our movements in South Asia will put all our energies to ensure that we rebuild a society that is just and equal, and not go back to business as usual.
Rajegowda, Anuka and Pramesh
ICC members from La Via Campesina South Asia