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 EDITORIAL 

Veil of secrecy vis-à-vis murder of Mahmuda Mitu

Human life seems to have become the cheapest commodity in this wretched country where extrajudicial killings galore and enforced disappearances of mostly opposition leaders and activists have been taking place frequently over the last seven years or so. Showing inconsiderate disregard for openness and accountability on crucial issues in general and the aforementioned gross violation of mandatory fundamental human rights in particular, the authorities have maintained a veil of secrecy.
Consequently, recurrent border killings come to pass. An 81-page report of 10 Sep, 2013 titled “Trigger Happy: Excessive use of force by Indian troops in Bangladesh”—prepared by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) —- had revealed that about 1,000 people were shot dead by BSF in the last 10 years, posted at India’s West Bengal-Bangladesh borders, said bdchronicle.com. The photos of Felani Khatun’s lifeless corpse, dangling upside down from barbed wire fence on the Indo-Bangla border, traumatised people of conscience in all climes and cultures including some civil society leaders in India.
When two human rights activists, the chief of MASUM, a rights watchdog based in Kolkata, Kiriti Roy, accompanied by retired Justice Moloy Sengupta, were ready in 2013 to visit Bangladesh to talk with Felani’s parents and others to collect evidence and requisite papers required for the public interest litigation in Indian court, for reasons best known to the Bangladesh government, it refused to grant them visa as Dhaka apparently did not or does not want to pursue the matter. Does it not expose the feeble nature of the Government’s foreign policy? There’s a crying need for openness, transparency and accountability. 
Subsequent to the grotesque homicide of the journalist couple Runi and Sagor in their fourth floor apartment in Dhaka in 2012 [which case could not be solved in long 4 years by the DB of Police, the CID, the RAB and other crimes investigating agencies] the grisly butchering of Biswajit in December the same year left lasting traumatic effects on the public psyche.
For years a pall of gloom hung over downtown Dhaka which had never before witnessed a similar grotesque political murder of an apolitical innocent young man in broad daylight by a group of varsity students, reportedly in presence of police officers. People still convulse and shudder at the horrifying slaughter of Biswajit Kumar Das who was screaming and begging for his life to be spared.
Exactly 100 days have elapsed after the ghastly murder, assumedly after violation, of the Comilla Victoria College B.A. honours student Miss Sohagi Jahan Tonu within highly secured zone of the Comilla Cantonment protected by round-the-clock armed patrols who must not allow entry/exit of any outsider. Even the Cantonment Military Police have not succeeded in detecting the assassin/s. 
The latest victim was Mahmuda Khanam Mitu. It needs no elaboration that the grotesque murder of Mahmuda Khanam Mitu, the wife of former Chittagong Police Super Babul Akhter, has shocked all and sundry. On June 5, three assailants stabbed and shot Mitu after she left her O R Nizam Road house on foot to put her son on a school bus. Police said seven to eight persons took part in the murder. Of them, three attacked Mitu and others were backup team members. But there was a lot of dilly-dallying for too long arguing whether Babul is innocent or he may be a suspect; and it seemed the home minister was dithering.
However, without more ado, having been left with two options—-either to face trial for his alleged complicity with his wife Mitu’s murder or resign—-former SP of Chittagong Babul Akter signed his resignation letter when he was kept in police custody for 15 hours, said police and his family sources. Babul was picked up from his father-in-law’s home at Meradia in the capital on 24 June night and was interrogated for 15 hours at the Detective Branch office in Dhaka.
“Nothing so diminishes democracy as secrecy,” said former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who joined the lawsuit in the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals against Bush, Cheney et al for Illegal War in Iraq. Iraqi mother Ms Sundus Saleh filed the complaint on 16 June 2015 against President George W. Bush, former Vice President Richard Cheney, former Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, former National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and former Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz, stating they “broke the law in conspiring and committing the crime of aggression against the people of Iraq.”
While Abraham Lincoln was of the view that people “should know the facts, and the country will be safe,” John F. Kennedy was explicitly articulate in condemning ‘secrecy’ in unequivocal terms, and enunciated: “The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society.”

 
Proper ambiance can reduce capital flight
 
In a developing country like ours capital flight is not conducive as it hinders progress.  Large-scale exodus of financial assets and capital from a nation happens due to events such as political or economic instability, currency devaluation or the imposition of capital controls. Capital flight may be legal, as is the case when foreign investors repatriate capital back to their home country. It is illegal in economies with capital controls that restrict the transfer of assets out of the country. But of course capital flight can cause a severe burden on poorer nations, since the lack of capital impedes economic growth. 
Eminent economists observed that an investment-friendly environment with good governance in place could help reduce illicit financial flows from Bangladesh. They made the observations at an expert consultation meeting on illicit financial flows, organised by the Centre for Policy Dialogue in the capital.
We hope the observations and recommendations of the experts will contribute to the greater understanding of the problems bolstering this important issue. 

Comment

Human life seems to have become the cheapest commodity in this wretched country where extrajudicial killings galore and enforced disappearances of mostly opposition leaders and activists have been taking place frequently over the last seven years or so. Showing inconsiderate disregard for openness and accountability on crucial issues in general and the aforementioned gross violation of mandatory fundamental human rights in particular, the authorities have maintained a veil of secrecy.
Consequently, recurrent border killings come to pass. An 81-page report of 10 Sep, 2013 titled “Trigger Happy: Excessive use of force by Indian troops in Bangladesh”—prepared by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) —- had revealed that about 1,000 people were shot dead by BSF in the last 10 years, posted at India’s West Bengal-Bangladesh borders, said bdchronicle.com. The photos of Felani Khatun’s lifeless corpse, dangling upside down from barbed wire fence on the Indo-Bangla border, traumatised people of conscience in all climes and cultures including some civil society leaders in India.
When two human rights activists, the chief of MASUM, a rights watchdog based in Kolkata, Kiriti Roy, accompanied by retired Justice Moloy Sengupta, were ready in 2013 to visit Bangladesh to talk with Felani’s parents and others to collect evidence and requisite papers required for the public interest litigation in Indian court, for reasons best known to the Bangladesh government, it refused to grant them visa as Dhaka apparently did not or does not want to pursue the matter. Does it not expose the feeble nature of the Government’s foreign policy? There’s a crying need for openness, transparency and accountability. 
Subsequent to the grotesque homicide of the journalist couple Runi and Sagor in their fourth floor apartment in Dhaka in 2012 [which case could not be solved in long 4 years by the DB of Police, the CID, the RAB and other crimes investigating agencies] the grisly butchering of Biswajit in December the same year left lasting traumatic effects on the public psyche.
For years a pall of gloom hung over downtown Dhaka which had never before witnessed a similar grotesque political murder of an apolitical innocent young man in broad daylight by a group of varsity students, reportedly in presence of police officers. People still convulse and shudder at the horrifying slaughter of Biswajit Kumar Das who was screaming and begging for his life to be spared.
Exactly 100 days have elapsed after the ghastly murder, assumedly after violation, of the Comilla Victoria College B.A. honours student Miss Sohagi Jahan Tonu within highly secured zone of the Comilla Cantonment protected by round-the-clock armed patrols who must not allow entry/exit of any outsider. Even the Cantonment Military Police have not succeeded in detecting the assassin/s. 
The latest victim was Mahmuda Khanam Mitu. It needs no elaboration that the grotesque murder of Mahmuda Khanam Mitu, the wife of former Chittagong Police Super Babul Akhter, has shocked all and sundry. On June 5, three assailants stabbed and shot Mitu after she left her O R Nizam Road house on foot to put her son on a school bus. Police said seven to eight persons took part in the murder. Of them, three attacked Mitu and others were backup team members. But there was a lot of dilly-dallying for too long arguing whether Babul is innocent or he may be a suspect; and it seemed the home minister was dithering.
However, without more ado, having been left with two options—-either to face trial for his alleged complicity with his wife Mitu’s murder or resign—-former SP of Chittagong Babul Akter signed his resignation letter when he was kept in police custody for 15 hours, said police and his family sources. Babul was picked up from his father-in-law’s home at Meradia in the capital on 24 June night and was interrogated for 15 hours at the Detective Branch office in Dhaka.
“Nothing so diminishes democracy as secrecy,” said former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who joined the lawsuit in the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals against Bush, Cheney et al for Illegal War in Iraq. Iraqi mother Ms Sundus Saleh filed the complaint on 16 June 2015 against President George W. Bush, former Vice President Richard Cheney, former Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, former National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and former Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz, stating they “broke the law in conspiring and committing the crime of aggression against the people of Iraq.”
While Abraham Lincoln was of the view that people “should know the facts, and the country will be safe,” John F. Kennedy was explicitly articulate in condemning ‘secrecy’ in unequivocal terms, and enunciated: “The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society.”

 
Proper ambiance can reduce capital flight
 
In a developing country like ours capital flight is not conducive as it hinders progress.  Large-scale exodus of financial assets and capital from a nation happens due to events such as political or economic instability, currency devaluation or the imposition of capital controls. Capital flight may be legal, as is the case when foreign investors repatriate capital back to their home country. It is illegal in economies with capital controls that restrict the transfer of assets out of the country. But of course capital flight can cause a severe burden on poorer nations, since the lack of capital impedes economic growth. 
Eminent economists observed that an investment-friendly environment with good governance in place could help reduce illicit financial flows from Bangladesh. They made the observations at an expert consultation meeting on illicit financial flows, organised by the Centre for Policy Dialogue in the capital.
We hope the observations and recommendations of the experts will contribute to the greater understanding of the problems bolstering this important issue. 

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(0)



Is capitalism waning its sway in the US?

Barrister Harun ur Rashid
 
The campaigns in the US presidential election this year is the strangest of all its past campaigns. It amused people both inside and outside the US. The level of discussions among the Republicans was not appropriate for the presidential candidates.
Not only the rise of a businessman Donald Trump as a Republican presidential nominee with a combative temperament criticising harshly  almost all sectors of community,  the Democratic contender Senator Bernie Sanders has been very critical  of  the current economic system-capitalism- in the US, supporting with socialism similar to the Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Sweden and Norway). Unbridled capitalism th US has divided community into rich and poor.
 
Concentration of wealth
According to him 90% of America’s national wealth is concentrated to 1% at the top.
The inequality grows because the basic characteristics of capitalism are: (1) private ownership of the means of production, (2) a social class structure of private owners and wage-earners, which is organized to facilitate expanding accumulation of profit by private owners; and (3) the production of commodities for sale.
American society from the colonial period onwards was founded on capitalism and many economists believe that the capitalism has been the very opposite of equalitarianism and denial in socialism. The greatest economic activity in American history was the stealing of the Indians’ land, which constituted the basis of America’s claim to unparalleled economic sufficiency and generosity. Without Indian land, the developments in nearly two centuries of colonial history would have been unthinkable.
Karl Marx wrote primarily about English capitalism as the model of its kind. Marx did not deal centrally with the United States. While Marx identified free labour with capitalism, in the U.S. free, semi-free, and un-free labour was important; capitalism in England evolved out of feudalism but only some of the latter’s remnants could be glimpsed in the U.S.; in England, the agricultural economy first became capitalist while in the U.S. it lagged behind manufacture. The U.S. was the first modern capitalist country to develop from a colonial status, from a slave base, and with an enormous natural-resource endowment. Above all, American capitalists utilized more violence in the class struggle than their confrères in any other capitalist country.
Capitalism is conceived as eternal and unchanging, as part of human nature in the US. Capitalism did not develop, it was created. Since it is eternal, it neither ages nor decays. Criticism of capitalism is blasphemy in the US. 
 
Bernie Sanders’ socialism
The business press of the United States is largely devoted to celebrations of capitalism, certainly not to a critical history of its origin and development.
The U.S. economy is in bad shape since 2008 and people are understandably seeking solutions. Many have raised whether capitalism is working against the American people.
In the summer of 1989, the American magazine the National Interest published an essay with the strikingly bold title “The End of History?”. Its author, the political scientist Francis Fukuyama, announced that the great ideological battles between east and west were over, and that western liberal democracy had triumphed.
With anti-communist protests sweeping across the former Soviet Union, the essay seemed right on the availability of basic necessities of life in the Soviet Union. Fukuyama became an unlikely star of political science, dubbed the “court philosopher of global capitalism” by John Gray. When his book “The End of History” and the “Last Man” appeared three years later, his basic premise was questioned.
The Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders has denounced America’s crooked version of “casino capitalism” that floats the already rich ever higher and flushes the working class. He said that we ought to “look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people.”
He believes in “a society where all people do well. Not just a handful of billionaires.” For ages they’ve worked at producing things for the use of everyone ­ not the profit of a few.  Later, in a speech at Georgetown University, Sanders tried to clarify his identity as a Democratic socialist. He said he’s not the kind of Socialist (with a capital S) who favours state ownership of anything like the means of production.
 
A focused message
Winning 22 primaries and caucuses, while speaking to rock-star-caliber audiences numbering in the tens of thousands of young people, Sanders attributes this to politicians not talking about the real issues facing the working people of America, kowtowing to corporate interests instead of helping the poor and middle class get ahead.
Their needs and struggles have been a near single-minded focus of Sanders since his earliest days in politics. Over 40 years, Sanders has built his political career on a very focused message about what he calls a “rigged economy.” According to him, there is something profoundly wrong when the top one-tenth of 1 percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent, and when 99 percent of all new income goes to the top 1 percent.
Indeed, Bernie’s actions in the coming days could decide whether the political revolution continues against capitalism onward, with or without him.
Politics is now a matter of technocratic optimisation, of doing “what works” and “getting the job done”. In 2010, even the veteran politician Shirley Williams praised a government for its pledge to “work together in the national interest”. The younger generation is not, steeped in ideology and partisan commitment and is in favour of, commending a new spirit of “co-operation” with the corporate world over the safe, long-established confrontation.
 
The writers is former Bangladesh Ambassador to the UN, Geneva

Comment

Barrister Harun ur Rashid
 
The campaigns in the US presidential election this year is the strangest of all its past campaigns. It amused people both inside and outside the US. The level of discussions among the Republicans was not appropriate for the presidential candidates.
Not only the rise of a businessman Donald Trump as a Republican presidential nominee with a combative temperament criticising harshly  almost all sectors of community,  the Democratic contender Senator Bernie Sanders has been very critical  of  the current economic system-capitalism- in the US, supporting with socialism similar to the Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Sweden and Norway). Unbridled capitalism th US has divided community into rich and poor.
 
Concentration of wealth
According to him 90% of America’s national wealth is concentrated to 1% at the top.
The inequality grows because the basic characteristics of capitalism are: (1) private ownership of the means of production, (2) a social class structure of private owners and wage-earners, which is organized to facilitate expanding accumulation of profit by private owners; and (3) the production of commodities for sale.
American society from the colonial period onwards was founded on capitalism and many economists believe that the capitalism has been the very opposite of equalitarianism and denial in socialism. The greatest economic activity in American history was the stealing of the Indians’ land, which constituted the basis of America’s claim to unparalleled economic sufficiency and generosity. Without Indian land, the developments in nearly two centuries of colonial history would have been unthinkable.
Karl Marx wrote primarily about English capitalism as the model of its kind. Marx did not deal centrally with the United States. While Marx identified free labour with capitalism, in the U.S. free, semi-free, and un-free labour was important; capitalism in England evolved out of feudalism but only some of the latter’s remnants could be glimpsed in the U.S.; in England, the agricultural economy first became capitalist while in the U.S. it lagged behind manufacture. The U.S. was the first modern capitalist country to develop from a colonial status, from a slave base, and with an enormous natural-resource endowment. Above all, American capitalists utilized more violence in the class struggle than their confrères in any other capitalist country.
Capitalism is conceived as eternal and unchanging, as part of human nature in the US. Capitalism did not develop, it was created. Since it is eternal, it neither ages nor decays. Criticism of capitalism is blasphemy in the US. 
 
Bernie Sanders’ socialism
The business press of the United States is largely devoted to celebrations of capitalism, certainly not to a critical history of its origin and development.
The U.S. economy is in bad shape since 2008 and people are understandably seeking solutions. Many have raised whether capitalism is working against the American people.
In the summer of 1989, the American magazine the National Interest published an essay with the strikingly bold title “The End of History?”. Its author, the political scientist Francis Fukuyama, announced that the great ideological battles between east and west were over, and that western liberal democracy had triumphed.
With anti-communist protests sweeping across the former Soviet Union, the essay seemed right on the availability of basic necessities of life in the Soviet Union. Fukuyama became an unlikely star of political science, dubbed the “court philosopher of global capitalism” by John Gray. When his book “The End of History” and the “Last Man” appeared three years later, his basic premise was questioned.
The Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders has denounced America’s crooked version of “casino capitalism” that floats the already rich ever higher and flushes the working class. He said that we ought to “look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people.”
He believes in “a society where all people do well. Not just a handful of billionaires.” For ages they’ve worked at producing things for the use of everyone ­ not the profit of a few.  Later, in a speech at Georgetown University, Sanders tried to clarify his identity as a Democratic socialist. He said he’s not the kind of Socialist (with a capital S) who favours state ownership of anything like the means of production.
 
A focused message
Winning 22 primaries and caucuses, while speaking to rock-star-caliber audiences numbering in the tens of thousands of young people, Sanders attributes this to politicians not talking about the real issues facing the working people of America, kowtowing to corporate interests instead of helping the poor and middle class get ahead.
Their needs and struggles have been a near single-minded focus of Sanders since his earliest days in politics. Over 40 years, Sanders has built his political career on a very focused message about what he calls a “rigged economy.” According to him, there is something profoundly wrong when the top one-tenth of 1 percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent, and when 99 percent of all new income goes to the top 1 percent.
Indeed, Bernie’s actions in the coming days could decide whether the political revolution continues against capitalism onward, with or without him.
Politics is now a matter of technocratic optimisation, of doing “what works” and “getting the job done”. In 2010, even the veteran politician Shirley Williams praised a government for its pledge to “work together in the national interest”. The younger generation is not, steeped in ideology and partisan commitment and is in favour of, commending a new spirit of “co-operation” with the corporate world over the safe, long-established confrontation.
 
The writers is former Bangladesh Ambassador to the UN, Geneva

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 VIEW POINT 
W.F.O. CALLS FOR FARMER-CENTRED DEV.
Need for feeding hungry 793 million

Friday Phiri in Livingstone, 

Zambia
 
Over 600 delegates representing at least 570 million farms scattered around the world gathered in Zambia from in May last under the umbrella of the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO) to discuss climate change, land tenure, innovations and capacity building as four pillars on which to build agricultural development.
Among the local delegates was Mary Nyirenda, a farmer from Livingstone, where the assembly was held.
“I have a 35-hectare farm but only use five hectares due to water stress. With one borehole, I am only able to irrigate limited fields. I gave up on rainfall in the 2013/14 season when I lost about five hectares of maize to drought,” Nyirenda told IPS.
Privileged to be part of the 2016 WFO General Assembly, Nyirenda hoped to learn innovative ways to improve productivity and market access for her garden and poultry produce. But did the conference meet her expectations?
“Yes it has, especially on market access. I’ve learnt that working as groups gives us a strong voice and bargaining power. I’ve been struggling on my own but now I understand that two is better than one, and so my task from here is to strengthen our cooperative which is still disjointed in terms of producer partnerships,” said Nyirenda, emphasising the power of farmer organisations – for which WFO exists.
 
Partnerships for Growth
Convened under the theme ‘Partnerships for Growth’, the clarion call by delegates throughout the conference was to change the narrative that, while they are at the centre of a multi-billion-dollar food sector, responsible for feeding the whole world, farmers are the world’s poorest people.
And WFO President Evelyn Nguleka says the situation has to change. “It is true that farmers in almost all corners of the world constitute the majority poor, but the question is why?” asked Nguleka while responding to journalists during the closing WFO General Assembly Press briefing.
She said the meeting established that poor organisation and lack of information were the major reasons for farmers’ lack of progress, noting, “If farmers remain in isolation, they will continue to be poor.”
“It is for this reason that we developed a legal tool on contract farming, which will be mostly useful for smallholders whose knowledge on legal matters is low, and are easily taken advantage of,” said David Velde, president of the National Farmers Union in the U.S. and a board member of WFO.
Velde told IPS that various tools would be required to help smallholders be well equipped to fully benefit from their work, especially in a world with an unstable climate, a sub-theme that found space in all discussions at the conference due to its multifaceted nature.
With technology transfer being one of the key elements of the sustainable development agenda as enshrined in the Paris climate deal, delegates established that both innovation and capacity building for farmers to improve productivity cannot be discussed in a vacuum.
 
Related IPS Articles
“Agriculture is indeed a global sector that needs serious attention. The fact that a world farmers’ organization exists is a sign that food production, food security, climate change are global issues that cannot be looked at in isolation. Farmers need information on best methods and technologies on how best to enhance productivity in a climate conscious manner,” said Zambian President Edgar Lungu in his address to the WFO General Assembly.
 
Need for feeding the hungry 793 million
In the world’s quest to feed the hungry 793 million people by 2030, and and the projected population growth expected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050, more than half in Africa, WFO is alive to the huge task that its members have, which can only be fulfilled through increased productivity.
“WFO is in recognition that the world has two conflicting issues on face value—to feed the world and mitigate climate change. Both require huge resources but we believe that it is possible to tackle both, through increased productivity using latest technology,” said William Rolleston, president of the Federated Farmers of New Zealand.
Rolleston, who is also Vice President of WFO, told IPS that while WFO’s work does not involve funding farmers, it helps its members to innovate and forge partnerships for growth.
It has long been recognised globally that climate change, if not tackled, could be a barrier to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). And this presented, perhaps, the hardest of choices that world leaders had to make—tackling climate change, with huge implications on the world’s productive capacity, which has over the years largely relied on a carbon intensive economy.
By approving the SDGs and the historic climate agreement last year, the world’s socio-economic agenda is set for a complete paradigm shift. However, WFO President Evelyn Nguleka wants farmers to remain the focus of the world’s policies.
“Whatever changes the world decides moving forward, it should not be at the expense of farmers to survive and be profitable,” she stressed.
—IPS

 

Comment

Friday Phiri in Livingstone, 

Zambia
 
Over 600 delegates representing at least 570 million farms scattered around the world gathered in Zambia from in May last under the umbrella of the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO) to discuss climate change, land tenure, innovations and capacity building as four pillars on which to build agricultural development.
Among the local delegates was Mary Nyirenda, a farmer from Livingstone, where the assembly was held.
“I have a 35-hectare farm but only use five hectares due to water stress. With one borehole, I am only able to irrigate limited fields. I gave up on rainfall in the 2013/14 season when I lost about five hectares of maize to drought,” Nyirenda told IPS.
Privileged to be part of the 2016 WFO General Assembly, Nyirenda hoped to learn innovative ways to improve productivity and market access for her garden and poultry produce. But did the conference meet her expectations?
“Yes it has, especially on market access. I’ve learnt that working as groups gives us a strong voice and bargaining power. I’ve been struggling on my own but now I understand that two is better than one, and so my task from here is to strengthen our cooperative which is still disjointed in terms of producer partnerships,” said Nyirenda, emphasising the power of farmer organisations – for which WFO exists.
 
Partnerships for Growth
Convened under the theme ‘Partnerships for Growth’, the clarion call by delegates throughout the conference was to change the narrative that, while they are at the centre of a multi-billion-dollar food sector, responsible for feeding the whole world, farmers are the world’s poorest people.
And WFO President Evelyn Nguleka says the situation has to change. “It is true that farmers in almost all corners of the world constitute the majority poor, but the question is why?” asked Nguleka while responding to journalists during the closing WFO General Assembly Press briefing.
She said the meeting established that poor organisation and lack of information were the major reasons for farmers’ lack of progress, noting, “If farmers remain in isolation, they will continue to be poor.”
“It is for this reason that we developed a legal tool on contract farming, which will be mostly useful for smallholders whose knowledge on legal matters is low, and are easily taken advantage of,” said David Velde, president of the National Farmers Union in the U.S. and a board member of WFO.
Velde told IPS that various tools would be required to help smallholders be well equipped to fully benefit from their work, especially in a world with an unstable climate, a sub-theme that found space in all discussions at the conference due to its multifaceted nature.
With technology transfer being one of the key elements of the sustainable development agenda as enshrined in the Paris climate deal, delegates established that both innovation and capacity building for farmers to improve productivity cannot be discussed in a vacuum.
 
Related IPS Articles
“Agriculture is indeed a global sector that needs serious attention. The fact that a world farmers’ organization exists is a sign that food production, food security, climate change are global issues that cannot be looked at in isolation. Farmers need information on best methods and technologies on how best to enhance productivity in a climate conscious manner,” said Zambian President Edgar Lungu in his address to the WFO General Assembly.
 
Need for feeding the hungry 793 million
In the world’s quest to feed the hungry 793 million people by 2030, and and the projected population growth expected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050, more than half in Africa, WFO is alive to the huge task that its members have, which can only be fulfilled through increased productivity.
“WFO is in recognition that the world has two conflicting issues on face value—to feed the world and mitigate climate change. Both require huge resources but we believe that it is possible to tackle both, through increased productivity using latest technology,” said William Rolleston, president of the Federated Farmers of New Zealand.
Rolleston, who is also Vice President of WFO, told IPS that while WFO’s work does not involve funding farmers, it helps its members to innovate and forge partnerships for growth.
It has long been recognised globally that climate change, if not tackled, could be a barrier to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). And this presented, perhaps, the hardest of choices that world leaders had to make—tackling climate change, with huge implications on the world’s productive capacity, which has over the years largely relied on a carbon intensive economy.
By approving the SDGs and the historic climate agreement last year, the world’s socio-economic agenda is set for a complete paradigm shift. However, WFO President Evelyn Nguleka wants farmers to remain the focus of the world’s policies.
“Whatever changes the world decides moving forward, it should not be at the expense of farmers to survive and be profitable,” she stressed.
—IPS

 


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