La Via Campesina Southern and Eastern Africa (LVC SEAf) members and allies from African, Asian and European countries met in Cape Town, South Africa, from 18-21 April to discuss the draft UN Declaration on the Rights of the Peasants and other people working in the rural areas, and make recommendations.
The member organisations gave their input towards the declaration of peasants’ and rural peoples’ rights, with a particular look at land, seeds, agricultural practice, gender, biological diversity, agricultural workers and migrants.
During discussion, groups highlighted influences of corporations and the private sector. A case presented from Burkina Faso on GMO cotton highlighted the imposition of fertilisers and other chemicals for GMO cotton and its effects on other food crops such as maize. The fertilisers and chemicals impacted the health of those who came into contact with it and also negatively affected crop yields.
African seed systems are increasingly the target of transnational companies. Most small scale farmer-saved seeds are often replaced by commercial and GMO seeds. These are often not adapted to local climates and are failing under unfavourable climate changes.
In agrarian struggles, access to land, water and other natural resources are common struggles. And those who defend such struggles are often victimised and criminalised.
Mining companies want to exploit land that peasants are producing on. This often means the relocation and resettlement of peasants. States have obligations including those to protect the peasants and their communities against abuses of private actors. However, this has not always been the case.
Rights of peasant women and other women working in rural areas need to be improved. The same applies to the youth who face various challenges in the countryside causing economic displacements.
This article was published and first appeared on https://viacampesina.org/en/, on 28 April 2017.