Lahore – Over 25 leading farmers’ organization and support NGOs from four provinces in Pakistan – Sindh, Punjab, Islamabad and the Northwest Frontier Province – gathered in Lahore on June 12 and 13 to converge in the National Consultation on Aid Effectiveness and Food Sovereignty, with the aim of formally establishing a nationwide network of CSOs working for Food Sovereignty in the country.
The event was organized by the Roots for Equity in cooperation with the People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) and the Country Outreach Team (CORT) of the Reality of Aid network. The Roots for Equity is a non-government organization which was formed with a clear agenda of being part of the anti-globalization movement in general, and supporting and strengthening Pakistani peasant movements to create a force against market economy forces in the agriculture sector. The consultation aims to present the impact of the current food and agricultural problems in Pakistan; impart the imperatives of Agrarian Reform and Food Sovereignty as a platform for different urban and rural sectoral organizations in policy advocacy and campaign against hunger, poverty and landlessness; and form a network of CSOs that will advance such advocacies.
Delegates actively participated in the consultation by sharing their experiences on the impacts of ODA-supported projects, land-grabbing, corporate agriculture, climate change and natural disasters. They also criticized the ineffective response of the Pakistan government specifically in helping the smallholder farmers on the perceived worsening poverty, hunger and landlessness in the rural areas of the land.
Antonio Tujan Jr., PCFS co-chair and director of IBON International discussed in his keynote speech the importance of engaging Aid Effectiveness issues especially in Agriculture and Rural Development. He also discussed the current global agrarian problems and how to address them within the food sovereignty framework. In his speech, Tujan defined food sovereignty as the right of peoples, communities and countries to determine their own production systems related to agricultural labor, fishing, food and land and associated policies which are ecologically, socially, economically and culturally appropriate to their unique circumstances.
Before the event was concluded, an interim steering council was formed composed of representatives from the four provinces of Pakistan and shall draft a program of action for the newly established network based on the workshop results.