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8-Misc: Pledge of Bangladesh farmers, fishers and weavers to defend biodiversity



----------------------------- GENET-news -----------------------------

TITLE:  Pledge of the Farmers, Fishers and Weavers at the
        Biodiversity Festival, 2000
SOURCE: UBINIG, Bangladesh, by Farida Akther
DATE:   March 4, 2000

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Pledge of the Farmers, Fishers and Weavers at the Biodiversity 
Festival, 2000
Held during 11 to 14 February, 2000 / 29 Magh to 2 Falgun, 1406
Badarkhali, Bangladesh

Over 55 thousand farmers, fishers and weavers from different parts of 
Bangladesh have pledged to preserve the biodiversity and genetic 
resources, particularly local and indigenous seeds in a 
Pranbaichitraya Mela (Biodiversity Festival) held in Badarkhali, a 
remote coastal area in the southern part of Bangladesh. The Mela was 
organised by the local communities with Nayakrishi Andolon (New 
Agricultural Movement), the peasant's eco-agriculture movement for 
happy life. The Nayakrishi Andolon, a national level movement of the 
peasants, grew strongly in the area since the devastating cyclone and 
oceanic surge of 1991. It has developed as a challenge to demonstrate 
that if appropriately designed and planned the relief and 
rehabilitation activities can be transform into successful community 
programs to ensure ecology, livelihood, food security and biological 
resources. Women, men and children have joined the festival of Magh-
Falgun to celebrate life, diversity, and creativity of Bangladeshi 
people during the shining moon in the sky during Purnima (full moon) 
time. The unprecedented participation of local communities made the 
mela a huge success with total participation of more than 100,000 
people from all walks of life during the four days from 11 to 14 
February, 2000. According to the local people this is the first time 
an event of such magnitute and theme has ever taken place in the 
history of Badarkhali, where more than 60 percent of the participants 
were women. Being a coastal zone and an interface between terrestrial 
and oceanic eco-systems, the Mela quickly turned into the celebration 
of Earth, Water and Moon and the cosmic interconnectedness of living 
and nonliving beings.

The farmers, weavers, fishers, cultural activists and others in a 
joint statement declared that we will PRESERVE biodiversity, and we 
will RESIST against any attempt to DESTROY biodiversity. They have 
expressed their clear position against the use of pesticides, hybrid 
seeds, deep tubewells, commercial shrimp cultivation and destruction 
of mangrove forest, destruction of indigenous knowledge and skills, 
destruction of local industries and community skills such as 
handloom, pottery, blacksmith, bamboo works etc. They have said NO to 
World Trade Organization and a resounding NO to the exploitative 
practices of transnational corporations and the corporate 
"globalization". The pledge was to resist any form of exploitative 
and colonizing relation imposed in the name of "free trade" or any 
alien production system that destroys local livelihood and the 
possibility of a true global order of unity, equality and diversity. 
It was declared that the patenting or any form of intellectual 
property will not be acceptable to the people and Bangladesh with the 
people in the South Asia region will resist such attempt by all means.

All the occupational groups present in the festival found a common 
link among themselves. Their existence and livelihood are threatened 
by the so-called 'development' interventions which in essence means 
destruction of local knowledge, local skills and disintegration of 
rural life. The free trade and commercialization reinforced the 
economic and political power of urban elites and created a new 
consuming class of foreign products and foreign technologies making 
majority more and more poor. The pauperizing impact of structural 
adjustment programme has already created a absurd reality that is 
socially unstable and politically violent. The WTO Agreements, 
particularly  the TRIPS and the Agreement on Agriculture will be 
devastating to already precarious situation of the people at the 
grass roots, specially the farming communities and the rural life.


Contact:
Farida Akther
UBINIG
5/3 Barabo Mahanpur, Ring Road
Shaymoli, Dhaka-1207
Tel: 8111465/8116420
Fax: 8113065
e-mail: ubinig@citechco.net


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