Voices from the field

Voices from the field 1

Climate change and small-scale fishers 

Fatima Majeed, Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, Ibrahim Haidery, Karachi, Pakistan 

Climate change has had a profound effect on our lives as small-scale fishermen and fisherwomen. It has disrupted the fishing season, increased the sea level, and reduced the availability of fish. The number of small-scale fishers had decreased as fishing as a livelihood can no longer sustain them. Especially women were forced to take up jobs in small factories in order to earn some money to feed themselves and their families.  

Among small-scale fishers’ families in Pakistan, most of the household chores are borne by women, such as looking after household expenses, children’s education, health, as well as family’s happiness and sorrow. Small-scale fishers do not consume the fish they catch; it is their source of income. When there is little or no catch, their condition is worse than that of daily labourers. Most small-scale fishers and their families do not have access to three regular meals a day. Most of the food on their table is all that fishers could bring home that same day.  

Through its advocacy campaigns, Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, a member of the World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP) and the Global Network for the Right to Food and Nutrition, has been advocating for a sustainable fisheries policy to be formulated at the provincial level to mitigate the effects of climate change. It also demands the abolition of several coal power plants and dams in Pakistan, and called for environmentally friendly renewable energy generation that responds to the needs of communities and people.  

Voices from the field 2

He Kai kei aku ringa – Food provided by my own hands  

Moko Morris, Te Waka Kai Ora Aotearoa, tribal affiliations to Te Ātiawa and Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Aotearoa, New Zealand. 

Inspired by La Via Campesina, Te Waka Kai Ora Aotearoa (National Māori Organics Authority of Aotearoa)developed an Indigenous verification system for food that is grown and produced according to traditional Māori values. Hua Parakore– the name of this verification system – literally means “a pure product” or “kai atua ”- food from the gods. Hua Parakore speaks of our deep connection to nature and of our way of taking care of our territories, ecosystems and biodiversity. We hope that soon, as one drives around our country, one can readily notice Marae (meeting houses) farms, schools, early childhood centres with our signs proclaiming our commitment to growing food with Indigenous values that tells our story and empowers food sovereignty.  

A new Bill that has been laid before the Parliament suggests one single national standard for organic products. The objective of this bill is to boost the organic sector but it disregards our well known and respected system.

There are no provisions in the Bill to uphold the spirit of Te Tiriti o Waitangi (Treaty of Waitangi), which was signed between the British Crown and the Māori people in 1840 and which obliges the government of New Zealand to respect and protect the rights of the Māori people. This includes the protection of the rights to our taonga, (treasures) which includes our territories, as well as Ngā Hua Māori (Nature’s products) and Kai Atua

The present Bill therefore furthers the colonising agenda and negates our rights. Instead of acknowledging, protecting and promoting the Indigenous food systems in Aotearoa/New Zealand that have fed our people for centuries while respecting nature, the government pushes for an organic food sector that is guided by commercial interests and will create a mono-cultural landscape. We remain committed to our right to food and our self-determination. 

Voices from the field 3

Legal recognition of customary tenure systems in Mali 

Massa Koné, Malian Convergence against Land Grabbing 

Mali’s land law, the Code Domanial et Foncier, recognizes in principle the customary land rights of communities, but these provisions are not implemented in practice. The land titles that Malian and international investors acquire from state services through abuse of power, corruption, violence, etc., override the customary land rights of the communities that have lived on these lands for many years. Thanks to years of grassroots mobilization and advocacy, the Malian government approved a new law on agricultural land (LFA) in 2017, followed by two implementation decrees in 2018. While the legal frameworks inherited from the colonial era allocated all land to the state, the LFA recognizes that there is agricultural land that belongs to the communities, which is a historical achievement.  

The tenure security and management of community lands is now in the hands of the communities via so-called Village Land Commissions that are set up after debates and validation in village assemblies. At least seven persons are appointed as members of these commissions, including women, young people and representatives of the various agricultural activities present in the village. The land is therefore no longer in the hands of a few men, i.e. village chiefs, land chiefs or lineage chiefs, who had sole responsibility for it. In addition, so-called Local Land and Natural Resource Management Agreements, which are the basis of the rules to be respected, are collectively transcribed and deposited with the administrative and legal authorities. The land commissions have three main functions: (1) to manage all issues related to land; (2) to prevent and manage conflicts; and (3) to draw up a land ownership certificate that will be legalized by authorities and offers the same level of legal protection as a land title. 

The LFA thus creates space for communities to self-manage their resources, based on collective rights and according to rules defined by each community. This protects rural populations against land grabbing and land speculation, and opens up spaces for developing peasant agroecology territories. However, the struggle is not over. Social movements, peasant organizations and some CSOs are currently supporting the implementation of the law, notably by accompanying the creation of the Village land commissions in a process that puts communities centre stage. In addition, the Code Domanial et Foncier is currently being revised and ongoing mobilization is needed to ensure that it is in line with the LFA, at a time when several actors want to reverse the gains of the LFA.