War on Want supporting farmers in the global food crisis

6 May 2008 - 3:11pm
News

War on Want supports MONLAR's work with local farmers to develop sustainable farming techniques and regain control of production systems.

Dr. Weerakoon told us:

"Food prices are going up globally, and we have felt this trend in Sri Lanka too, especially for rice - our staple food. Prices for coconuts, vegetables, pulses, milk, fish and cereals are also increasing. This has created serious problems over food for both the rural and urban poor who live on less than $2 per day.

"In Sri Lanka the majority of farmers are small holders with less than one acre of land. Rice farmers in the country, who produce for the local and national markets, benefited to some extent from food price increases. But it was the middlemen, millers and wholesale and retail traders who really benefited. Consumers are the most affected by the rising prices, and the government has had to impose price controls on rice."

What does food justice mean to small farmers in Sri Lanka?

"In the past, farmers cultivated a wide variety of crops for their own use, using local resources. They sold the excess to local markets and assured both household and local food security in this way. They could also control the production factors, especially land and water resources, seeds and biodiversity.

"But now Sri Lankan farmers have become completely dependent on external resources to grow food. In order to combat shortages, the government adopted 'green revolution' technologies, which required fertilizers, chemicals and hybrid seed varieties, which all had to be bought outside the community. In order to afford these additional things, farmers had to produce cash crops rather than to secure their food requirements. And when prices for these inputs rise, as is happening now, farmers have an even more difficult time affording them.

"Increasing fuel prices also have a significant impact on food price increase, making land preparation, harvesting, threshing, transportation and milling more expensive. Another emerging issue MONLAR has observed is the cultivation of commercial crops like maize, papaya and banana in paddy lands and growing only one crop, such as maize, on land formerly used for mixed crop cultivation. Maize is mainly grown for animal feed, and this creates serious negative impacts on local food production and threatens food security.

"Due to these changes in Sri Lanka 169,000 farming families have lost their land, and rely on agricultural wage labour which is available only during cultivation seasons."

What is MONLAR doing to support farmers?

"MONLAR has developed alternative strategies and policies in conjunction with local NGOs and academics, to be presented to policy makers in Sri Lanka. "MONLAR is also working with farmers to undertake crop cultivation using locally available resources (such as local seeds and green manure). This would minimise production costs and regenerate soil fertility and moisture on a sustainable basis. "MONLAR is also working with community groups to establish food sovereignty on the local level by coordinating the sharing of food produced by farmers, and selling surpluses at local fares."

What can people in the UK do to help?

"MONLAR's work needs substantial financial support to create awareness at individual, community and government level. It is by raising awareness at these levels that pressure can be applied for change and improvements made for Sri Lanka's farmers."


In 2006 War on Want issued an appeal to support MONLAR's work with small farmers in Sri Lanka. The generous donations of our supporters have helped MONLAR continue to support these farmers during this difficult period. Thank you for your support - you help us to make a difference.

]]>

Putting farmers in control

There is alternative to our global food system of free markets supplemented by aid

Latest news

National action for trade democracy

23 November 2017 - 2:30pm

Join a two day mobilisation to build the campaign for trade democracy, organised by Global Justice Now and War on Want.

Thanks to the hard work of activists on the ground, and the brazenness of the government, trade democracy is climbing up the political agenda. Over 100 MPs have signed an EDM calling for increased parliamentary scrutiny over trade deals. The SNP are calling for Scotland to have its own trade policy. People don’t want chlorinated chicken flooding UK supermarkets. Now is the time to strengthen the campaign for trade democracy.

Read more

Watch videos of "Paradises of the Earth" Web Documentary - Tunisia

23 November 2017 - 8:15am

First Episode - Gabes: Watch now!

This episode follows an international solidarity caravan to the first stop of the trip: the mediterranean oasis of Gabes in southern #Tunisia, where the installation of a chemical phosphate factory on its shores caused an ecocide deeply impacting fishing, agriculture, water resources and people's livelihoods.

Read more

Join the conversation

RT @unitetheunion: #SportsDirectShame back in action | With the proposed £11m back pay for Ashley's brother, what about the outstanding bac… 12 hours 55 min ago
The people of Jemna are fighting for their right to work on their ancestral land. See their struggle in Paradises o… https://t.co/NKPCwqm7fT 13 hours 14 min ago
RT @novaramedia: TODAY 1PM #NovaraFM Climate and Capital after COP23 with @piercepenniless @chilledasad100 and @zoozanne. You can listen l… 16 hours 36 min ago