The Voluntary Guidelines for the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (or VGGT) is the first global document that addresses policy, legal and organizational frameworks that regulate tenure rights. Adopted by the Committee on World Food Security1 (CFS) last May 2012, the VGGT provide guidance on responsible governance of tenure on land, fisheries and forests as a means to alleviate hunger and poverty, enhance the environment, support national and local development and reform public administration.
Our unsustainable way of life is causing a crisis in our environment at a global scale. Climate change is threatening the future of our planet. The crisis is largely our own doing, and we also have the means to solve it, if we are willing to act on it. Farmers, fishers, and indigenous peoples, who live close to nature for their survival, are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. But they also have a special role to play in addressing climate change. What they need for survival - sustainable and ecological friendly practices - are also what are needed to heal our planet.
This issue paper is about what is known as the “global financial crisis,” which is said to have affected the economies in Europe and North America and caused massive loss of jobs and bankruptcy in these countries. For some of us here in the developing world, the global financial crisis may seem very far from us and therefore, has no effect on us. We may even think that it is something that only concerns economists and the business sector.
WHAT IS MEANT BY AGRIBUSINESS?
Agribusiness as used in this paper refers to very big corporations that produce, process, trade, and market agricultural food products and agricultural inputs. Examples are corporations that produce inputs, such as seeds and fertilizers, and those that produce for supermarkets and retail chains. Transnational agribusiness companies are those that operate in the agriculture sector of many countries, usually with a huge volume of business.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been trying hard to go into free trade agreements (FTAs) with different countries. It believes that this will increase trade and help members sell their export products to more markets in other countries. It also wants to make ASEAN the world's center of agricultural production. But in opening up markets and increasing trade, more imported goods from other countries can also come in.
The issue of climate change was already being discussed in the 1980s as scientists raised alarm over the world's increasing emission of manmade green house gases (GHGs), the main cause of global warming. In 1988, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), began to look into the effects of manmade GHG emissions on climate change. Following the release of the IPCC findings in 1990, the United Nations initiated the process of convening countries with the goal of reducing man-made GHG emissions and helping countries adapt to climate change.
In 2008, Ka Lita, a woman rice farmer in the Philippines, stood in a long line to buy rice that was being sold by the National Food Authority (NFA), the government’s rice trading agency. She had been standing under the hot sun for several hours, but she had no choice but to wait for her turn to buy rice from the NFA. The rice being sold by the government’s rice trading agency was the only rice that she could afford with her money.
All over Asia, small women and men farmers are experiencing extreme and intense weather events brought about by climate change. Almost all of them are caught unprepared by changing climate patterns: rains are heavier, storms and floods occur more often, dry seasons are more intense and last longer. They do not understand why this is happening. All they know is that they have to find a way to adapt to and survive these changes.
“Large scale land investments” and “land grabbing” are the terms most commonly used to describe the rising global trend where foreign and local agribusinesses, mining corporations, governments, and investment houses obtain long term rights over large areas of land. Perhaps the most famous of these is the attempt by the Daewoo Group of South Korea to lease 1.3 million hectares, or more than half of the productive agricultural lands of Madagascar, in Africa.
As opposed to agribusiness or corporate farming, FAO defined family farming as “a means of organizing agricultural, forestry, fisheries, pastoral and aquaculture production which is managed and operated by a family, both female and male. The family and the farm are linked, co-evolve and combine economic, environmental, reproductive, social and cultural functions.