Putting democracy at the heart of food production in Sri Lanka

21 September 2016 - 4:00pm

In Sri Lanka, War on Want’s partner, The Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR), is supporting farmers to rebuild their lives and livelihoods, following decades of war and conflict.

Small-scale farming is the main source of livelihood for Sri Lankans. There are more than 3.2 million small farms and home gardens in Sri Lanka, accounting for more than 80% of all agricultural land.

Yet, since the end of the bloody and bitter civil war, the government has seized much land under the guise of economic development and security.

Access to land is vital, and it is why War on Want’s partner, MONLAR, is campaigning for agricultural and land policies that put small-scale farmers first. MONLAR is also promoting sustainable, safe farming practices, such as the use of organic fertilisers, while at the same time raising awareness about the severe detrimental health impacts of some chemical pesticides.

Many farmers have only ever used chemical fertilisers and pesticides. These are harmful to health, damage the environment and deplete the soil.

MONLAR is introducing farmers to new techniques, such as mixed-cropping (planting two or more plants simultaneously in the same field), composting and seed cultivation – all of which are sustainable, inexpensive and promote self-reliance.

This work has helped farmers and their families access a variety of nutritious foods. Any surplus produce is then sold at local markets and provides households with much needed money for education and health care.

War on Want, in partnership with farmers’ movements such as MONLAR, has long called for a food system based on sustainable small-scale farming methods, not corporate control.

Across the world a handful of multinational corporations dominate the food production market at the expense of small-scale farmers and communities. Appropriating land from local communities to produce food on an industrial scale, these multinational corporations profit hugely from promoting damaging agricultural practices through harmful pesticide use and genetically engineered seeds.

It’s time farmers had ownership and control over the land they work. Democracy should be at the heart of food production. This is why War on Want supports the international call for food sovereignty.

Find out more: waronwant.org/food-sovereignty

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