} Lalith Abeysinghe: February 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

“Formation of a Broad Peasants Movement ThroughProject Intervention

“Formation of a Broad Peasants Movement Through Project Intervention”

The Introduction

It is now widely accepted; the present status of the world, with regard to the wellbeing of the majority of the world poor, small farmers in particular, is not in an acceptable manner. The affairs with regard to the usage of natural resources and the management of them are too not in a sound position. The ever growing poverty among the majority of the world population, alarmingly rising rate of malnutrition, lack or absence of basic facilities for the majority of the world population, fast diminishing of the livelihoods of the poor people, un sustainable agricultural practices and the threat on the entire environment are some of the main worries that many people are now concern with.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDG) which declared ten years ago, and to be ‘achieved’ by 2015, in another five years time, shows the gravity of this acute problems and possible disaster the whole world is supposed to face with. The MDGs speaks volumes, with regard to the present situation of the world. It is ironic to note that the vast majority of the world populations lack even the basic facilities in the so called ‘digital’ ‘development’ era.

As a result, many compelled to come up with a fairer system to deal with the whole world in general and to deal with the ‘poor’ in particular. Many have taken ‘alternative’ initiatives to deal with the present situation.

These initiatives compelled to base their vision, approaches and modalities, in a different perspective to the present approaches, as the present approaches have proved beyond any doubt that they are not capable of handling this disastrous situation.

This unfavorable situation made some of the persons/groups/ organizations to think and act in a different way to deal with this disastrous situation. They see this from a different perspective, denying the profit oriented approach and set the perspectives from the people and nature. It is also encouraging to note, some of these people/groups/organizations are from the so called ‘developed’ ‘first world countries’ , who think that the current system is leading the whole world to a disaster and have come forward to work in solidarity with the people in the ‘developing’, ‘third world countries’.

It has now become clear, that the world needs a novel perspective, vision, action and organizational set up, different to the present profit oriented and aggressive system.

The Approaches and the Realities

Though it needs a different approach, one has to see the opportunities and the realities, harsh and unpleasant though, in the present world context.

The first reality is that, today in the current world context, there can not be any action that could interpret as ‘local’ action. Every thing today has become global, though they happen even in a ‘local context’. They are inter-connected, inter-dependent and thus suggests close interactions beyond ‘local’ domain.

It is also has proved beyond any doubts that the very people who suffer and victimized by the current system should take the leadership and form their own organizations and develop them in to mass movements with wide networks all over the world to get ‘relief’ and to counter the current aggressive anti human system. All these elements are needed as they have to work against an artificially manipulated and established world system and ideology. Hence the ‘local’ movements of the ‘poor’ need to link with all the other such movements all over the world in solidarity. Then only this becomes a powerful force, which could have the capability of intervening in the policy making in a decisive manner.

Therefore, any initiatives take with the people at the grassroots from a people’s perspective should have links with the other ‘people’ in other parts of the world and should have wide vision and an approach, if they are really interested in a change at ‘local’ and ‘global’ levels.

Building up a Powerful and Sustainable Peasants Movement

There are many sectors that suffer from the present aggressive system. The peasants, which includes the ‘small’, ‘traditional’, ‘subsistence’ ‘tenant ‘framers and ‘agricultural labors’ are one of the most important sectors which suffer heavily and also outcaste from the present system. The ‘number’ of such farmers easily pass the billon, and the vast majority of them are from the so called ‘third world countries’. The women, the ‘fourth world’ of the world, suffer the most from this agony and, the children naturally suffer as a result.

Hence, the formation of a broad peasants movement has become a felt need today, first to ensure their survival and then to ’rescue’ the whole world from starvation, famine and a possible disaster.

In the same time there is also a strong public opinion emerging against the current profit oriented system from the First World Countries too. They represent a different vision which goes against the present day profit and market oriented system. They have organized the people concerned in a way even to influence their respective governments and the leading World Summits, in which all the powerful leaders meet to ‘decide’ the strategies for the future. The ‘decisions’ are normally base on the profit and market theories.

One should understand that these organizations which have emerged basically to oppose the current system are also come up with the alternatives. The Peasants movements’ even in a very local context should build up the relationships with such organizations and networks, which are their natural allies.

Considering the facts and the realities which contain favorable and also unfavorable conditions, it is still possible to work out strategies by exploiting the pluses and avoiding the minuses.

The following is one of the strategies that could be used to form a broad Peasant Movement.

This could be named as “Formation of Peasants Movement through Project Intervention”

For this approach, the realities states below should be existed.

The presence of a considerable number of peasants, who are not benefiting from the present system.

  • Most of the farmers in the country adopt the chemical (fertilizer & pesticides) and mechanical oriented ‘modern’ farming system.
  • Most of the farmers are ‘trapped’ in to Multi National Companies (MNCs) propagandas and programs.
  • The presence of an organization with a different vision to those who promote chemical, mechanical and profit oriented farming systems and the readiness to form Peasants Movement entrusting the leadership and the ownership to the Peasants themselves.
  • Capability and the willingness of a ‘local organization’ to scarifies its time, resources , knowledge and contacts at least for three years to assist the Peasants to form the Peasants Movement.
  • Readiness of some organizations in the ‘first world country/ countries’ to work in partnership with the ‘local organizations’

    The Approach

    This will basically be a ‘two pronged’ approach, with ‘Project’ and ‘Movement’ approaches. The first should be complimentary and supplementary to the second. The approaches, activities, interventions and the mission of the first should not be harmful to the second in any way. If a situation comes with a conflict between the two, which seems damage the formation of the second, the first should scarifies any thing of it, for the benefit of the second.

    There will be 5 phases, through which, the formation of the ‘Movement’ should take place with utmost care and with integrity. The ‘going through’ of the each phase should not be done in a ‘mere mechanical’ way, just for the sake of ‘advancing’. It should be achieved through ensuring with the qualities and in ‘real’ expected outcomes in each phase.

    In the first phase the ‘project’ will take a big portion and at the and, in the fifth phase it will take a very slim portion or diminish completely.

    The five phases and the details in each phase are as follow.

    1. Project Intervention phase
    2. Project phasing out phase
    3. Consolidating Community Organizations (VP&CS) phase
    4. Autonomous and Networking phase
    5. Leading, lobbying and policy interventions phase.

    Though there is a special thrust in each phase to be achieved, from the very beginning, if required, all the other elements in later phases too could be accommodated. For example, even in the first phase, if possible the ‘policy interventions’ could be done. The planed and the allocated time frame for each phase determine according to the context in each place. It is better to have an idea in the middle of the first phase, as how long the whole process would take. This has to done in consultation with the community.

    The First Phase- The Project Intervention Phase

    The Local Context

    *People & the farmers do not have a special knowledge of the danger of chemical oriented farming and consuming them.
    *Most of the farmers engage in chemical oriented farming.
    *The knowledge and the practices of -the ‘traditional’ way of farming are diminishing from the villages.

    The Project Intervention

    *Awareness programs on the ill-effects of the chemical farming on health/eco system/sustainability and on the cost.
    *Awareness programs on the current situation of the world/poor
    *Train few farmers on ‘eco farming’
    *Establish number of home gardens and few demonstration plots.
    *Identify the farmers who have the know-how of the traditional farming.
    *Collect the information and use them in the farming

    The Movement Intervention

    *Discussing the ‘idea’ of formation of VP&CS* ( Village Peasants and Consumer Society)

    Resources with the Movement


    The Second Phase – Project Phasing Out Phase

    The Local Context

    *Presence of a group of peasants who are aware of the problems of chemical farming
    *Availability of number of peasants who engage in ‘eco farming’ with some specialized knowledge
    *Availability of number of ‘eco home gardens’ and few medium size demonstration
    *Availability of consumers who are aware of the danger of consuming chemically grown products

    The Project Intervention

    *Train a set of ‘Trainers of Training’
    *Establish VP&CSs (with 8 points)**
    *Start a savings & credit program with the VP&CSs
    *Offering a Seed Capital to the VP&CS as a ratio to the savings
    *Link the Government departments/ officers to the ‘eco farming’ process.
    *Awareness and training programs for the Govt. officers
    *Awareness programs on “related” wider issues for the community

    The Movement Intervention

    *Establishment of VP&CSs
    *Start savings programs in small groups
    *Prepare a list of Persons who have special knowledge of Eco Farming / traditional ways / “kem” etc.

    *And consolidating/ strengthening the interventions in the first phase.

    Resources with the Movement

    *Some people / farmers who engage in Eco Farming
    *Some gardens that could use to demonstrate Eco Farming

    The Third Phase - Consolidating Community Organizations (VP&CS) phase

    The Local Context

    *Presence of a sizable group of Eco peasants and consumers
    *Gaining some benefits from ‘eco farming’
    *Availability of a group of people who can give training and advice on ‘eco farming’
    *Availability of increased number of ‘good’ ‘eco home gardens’
    *Availability of some supportive Govt. Officers
    *People have information/ knowledge on “related” wider issues apart from ‘eco farming’
    *Availability of VP&CS with some concerned members

    The Project Intervention

    *Introduce the successful Eco farmers/ organization to the VP&CS which are out side the project area
    *Provide new information on methods, process and activities of other Eco Farmers/ organizations
    *Create Networks of VP&CSs

    The Movement Intervention

  • *Consolidate the functions o0f the VP&CS
    *Establish few demonstration/ resource gardens with key farmers
    *Launch a Credit Program on Savings & Seed Capital for the members
    *Start collecting a Fund for the VP&CS
    *Establish a Eco Product Sales/ Exchange center
    *Carry out awareness programs for the public on chemical agriculture and its ill effects on Health/ environment

    *And consolidating/ strengthening the interventions in the second phase

    Resources with the Movement

    *This is more or less same as the local context plus the accumulative ‘stocks’ from the earlier phases

    The Fourth Phase - Autonomous and Networking phase

    The Local Context

    *Presence of an organized VP&CS
    *The members benefiting from the VP&CS
    *Availability of increased number of eco HGs and farm lands
    *Availability of ‘eco’ seeds, plants, knowledge.
    *Established network and engage in ‘marketing’, sharing eco products, materials (seeds/ plants/ knowledge/ experience etc)
    *Availability of a ‘Fund’ for the affairs of the VP&CS
    *Networking with other like minded organizations
    *Involve in lobby & advocacy with the network members

    The Project Intervention

    *Respond to the “non financial/ material” requests from VP&CSs
    *Some Training/ exposures on Lobby/ advocacy
  • The Movement Intervention

    *Consolidate involvements in Networks.
    *Engage in common action/ lobby with Network Members
    *Offer/ engage in providing resources/ seeds/ plants/ advice to the other villages.

    *And consolidating/ strengthening the interventions in the third phase

    Resources with the Movement
  • *This is more or less same as the local context plus the accumulative ‘stocks’ from the earlier phases

    The Fifth Phase - Leading, & policy interventions phase

    The Local Context

    *Availability of the a strong VP&CS
    *A strong marketing & sharing network
    *Availability of a strong network for lobbying/ advocacy
    *Strong ties with the national/ regional and international farmer/ consumer networks
    *Availability of sufficient generated funds
    *Satisfied members in the VP&CSs

    The Project Intervention
    *Provide information on ‘related’ wider issues
    *Facilitate regional/ international corporations/ Networking

    The Movement Intervention
    *Establish ‘Eco Farmer Cooperative’ with the network members / other VP&CSs
    *Preparing charter on the Agricultural Practices for the ‘Area’
    *Engage in interventions with the policy makers
    *Establishing Regional & International connections/ Networking

    *And consolidating/ strengthening the interventions in the fourth phase

    Resources with the Movement

    *This is more or less same as the local context plus the accumulative ‘stocks’ from the earlier phases.

    Eight Points of a Village Peasants and Consumers Society (VP&CS)

    1. A membership name list
    2. The Membership Fee Record Book
    3. An active office bearers ( President/ Secretary/ Treasurer/ Vice President/ Asst 4. Secretary and committee members)
    4. A Minutes Book for the ‘General Meetings’ with the attendance list attached
    5. A Minutes Book for the Committee Meetings with the attendance list attached
    6. A simple Constitution
    7. A Bank account in the name of the Office Bearers
    8. A Rubber Seal, Letter Heads, Receipt Book and relevant stationeries.

    Lalith Abeysinghe
    30 January 2010.