Voices from the field

Voices from the field 1

Dominion farm’s land grab in Nigeria

Farmers in Nigeria’s Taraba State are being forced off lands that they have farmed for generations to make way for U.S. company Dominion Farms to establish a 30,000 ha rice plantation. The project is backed by the Nigerian government and the G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa.

The lands being given to Dominion Farms are part of a public irrigation scheme that thousands of families depend on for their food needs and livelihoods. The local people were not consulted about the deal with Dominion Farms and, although the company has already started to occupy the lands, they are still completely in the dark about any plans for compensation or resettlement. Local people oppose the Dominion Farms project. They want their lands back so that they can continue to produce food for their families and the people of Nigeria (…). Quotes from local farmers speaking during meetings with ERA and CEED at Gassol community:

“We were happy when we heard of the coming of the Dominion Farms not knowing it was for the selfish interest of some few members of the State, Federal Government and the foreigner in charge of the Dominion Farms. Our land is very rich and good. (..)But since Dominion Farms people arrived with their machine and some of their working equipment we were asked to stop our farm work and even leave our lands as the land is completely given to the Dominion Farms project. (…)” – Mallam Danladi K Jallo

“We are speaking in one voice against Dominion Farms because we are opposing their activities. We have fish ponds that we inherited from our forefathers on that land, but Dominion Farm has said that they will sand fill all of them to give them more space to plant their crops. When they commenced work on the land they came with security personnel whom Dominion Farms mandated to evict all farmers who were working on their lands.”– Alhaji Mairiga Musa

“We do not subscribe to a foreign agricultural and farming system that we do not have knowledge. They came here to farm. The only story we hear is that our land is taken away and will be given out. We were not involved at any level. For the sake of the future and our children, we are requesting governmental authorities to ask Dominion Farms to stay away from our land” – Rebecca Sule (Mama Tina)

Environmental Rights Action (ERA), Friends of the Earth Nigeria, Center for Environmental Education and Development (CEED), full article and report here.

Voices from the field 2

Taking care of our traditional territories

Ninawá Inu Pareira Nunes – indigenous leader from the HuniKui people from the state of Acre from the North (Amazonas region) of Brazil

“God” created everything that exists and gave life. On our planet Earth, many human, animal and vegetal lives exist, with a lot of specificities and diverse interrelated relationships, however, God created something common between the living beings, the Territory and the Traditions.

We “Indigenous” peoples have a lot of customs, beliefs and traditions that are directly related to the forest, air, water, land and sun, in a single cosmological, spiritual relationship that is very profound and respectful. For us, the land has a meaning of spiritual sustainability through our customs that express our identity, which is vital and essential for the physical, spiritual and cultural reproduction of our future generations.

Since immemorial times, we, “Indigenous” Peoples, exercise fundamental and strategic roles in the protection of Mother Earth, in containing deforestation, conservation of forests and biodiversity, and other wealth of our territories that sustain our and other communities, who depend on these for livelihood, independent of our financial, academic and technological conditions. All this is possible because of our ancestral knowledge.

Nowadays technology is forcing changes in our tradition in order to guarantee a perverse and destructive development model. But for my HUNI KIU People, this is a big mistake by governments. We have real evidence that it is possible to live without destructive technology, it is possible to care for the environment of each living being in relation to its specificities, creating concrete sustainabilities, and we believe that other traditional communities believe this too.
Traditional territory for us, Huni Ku, is a 100% guarantee of our lives, through food security in traditional ways – with food coming from the rivers, lakes and streams, game from the forests, potatoes and other healthy vegetables, all of which differ from the technological ways of production where 70% of the food and feed contains agrotoxins. By way of our traditional rituals, it is possible to cure without scientific/technological intervention, differently from laboratory drugs, that say they will cure illnesses, but cause problems in other parts of our bodies. We have experienced this, generation after generation.

So we need to maintain our traditional territories as the milieu of our material and spiritual relations with the land and with our mother, because they produce everything to sustain us, in harmony with the forest and animals, maintaining the environmental equilibrium, like the air that is being breathed in the whole world. It is possible to live in a better world, without destroying Nature and our traditions. An indigenous person without territory has no tradition.