10/22/2009, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Fishing and small-scale farming to fight hunger and poverty

by Melani Manel Perera
The secretary general of the World Forum of Fisher People attended FAO meeting on the environment, development and food security. In order to fight hunger and preserve the environment multinationals must be held at bay in favour of environmentally-friendly farming.
Negombo (AsiaNews) – For Herman Kumara (pictured), secretary general of the World Forum of Fisher People (WFFP), the invasion of multinationals must be stopped through support for small-scale farming and fishing. This way we can counter climate change and meet the challenges of the ongoing food crisis. AsiaNews met Mr Kumara after he attended the meeting of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) held in Rome on 12 and 13 October on the topic of ‘How to Feed the World in 2050’.

FAO asked the WFFP secretary to participate in the meeting as an expert on fisheries along with other scholars and specialists and provide information and suggestions in preparation of next month’s FAO summit on food security.

Kumara has doubts about what the meeting actually accomplished, but has even greater doubts when it comes to what the international community has done so far on the matter.

What impression did you get from the FAO meeting?

I saw signs that things are not going in the right direction. Past support for sustainable farming and fishing was pushed to the sidelines. For example, a report by 400 experts from various countries, titled International Assessment on Agricultural Knowledge, Science, Technology and Development points out a number of important issues linked to the negative repercussions of today’s world food crisis. The report’s focus stresses the role of small-scale farming, fishing, stock raising and sheep herding in feeding the world by 2050. But no one at the meeting referred to the issues the report raised and this despite civil society participants consistently highlighting them.

How is Sri Lanka affected by the issue of food security?

According to FAO, more than a billion people are hungry in the world today. South Asia is the region with highest number, 560 million. Sri Lanka is going through the crisis as well. Its fishers and farmers are threatened by this global process, the so-called ‘Green and Blue Revolution’, which has created the current situation of global food insecurity.

People need sustainable development. A radical change is needed in how we think about production. This is what we stressed at the FAO meeting

What is the situation in Sri Lanka?

Small-scale farmers and fishers say we need sustainable farming, milk production, fishing companies, but our government is taking the side of large fertiliser producers and chemical companies.  Multinationals will dictate plans, not small producers. This is bad because such practices will accelerate climate change. 

What actions is the WFFP taking to cope with this situation?  

We are encouraging sustainable fishing and corresponding policies to meet the food crisis in our country. We help small-scale fishing and support better water management as well as fair fishery practices.  The problem is that the government has not really listened to us and is not that interested in hearing what people like us have to say.

How crucial are environmental protection and climate change?

Actually, preservation of the natural environment, natural resources, biodiversity and climate are a prerequisite for achieving food sovereignty and meeting everyone’s right to adequate food, now and in the future. It is crucial that production, distribution and consumption practices do not deplete and contaminate our lands, water, air, resources and environments.

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