One-million signature campaign for the Week of Rice Action (23/3/2007)

1.One-million signature campaign for WORA
2.Mittabagilu Farmers to Reject Genetically Modified Seeds

EXTRACT: The Nayakrishi farmers - men and women and children - chanted slogans after every speech creating a vibrant atmosphere: 'Preserve local seeds!'; 'NO to corporate agriculture!', 'Farmers of the world - unite!'; 'No GMO!!'; 'We will give our blood but not our seeds!' (item 3)

NOTE: You can now go to the WORA webpage and sign on to show your support via www.panap.net. Just click on 'Week of Rice Action'.
1.1-million signature campaign for WORA

Dear Friends

The People's Statement on Saving the Rice of Asia is an important feature of the Week of Rice Action (WORA) in making a concerted stand in writing on the threats to Asia's rice heritage.

We are pleased to announce that you can now go to the WORA webpage and sign on to show your support for the cause. The webpage can be accessed from PAN AP's website at www.panap.net. Click on 'Week of Rice Action' and it will take you to the sign-on page.

The Statement calls upon all those responsible for agriculture and food policies at national, regional and international levels to take immediate action to safeguard the rice heritage of Asia and makes a decisive stand on rice issues namely GE rice, IRRI and the grabbbing of rice lands. Our aim is to get 1 million signatures or more.

This 'People's Statement on Saving the Rice of Asia' could apply to every staple food in the world. By supporting this Statement, we contribute to resisting the global control of agriculture by transnational corporations.

Every concerned citizen of the world is called upon to support this Statement by signing on today.

Thank you for your support and solidarity.

Best Regards
Anne Haslam
For Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific (PAN AP)

'It is in Rice that we reclaim our rights and the rights of our future generations to our culture, our livelihood, and freedom from hunger.'
2.Mangalore: Mittabagilu Farmers to Reject Genetically Modified Seeds
The Hindu, March 23 2007

Farmers of Mittabagilu in Belthangady taluk of Dakshina Kannada district have decided not to use genetically modified seeds for the next khariff crop. It is the first village in the State to make such decision.

President of Guruvainakere-based NGO Nagarika Seva Trust told press-persons here on Thursday that Mittabagilu was one of the few villages in the country that had sustained cultivation and protection of over 52 traditional varieties of paddy.


The 'Week of rice action' campaign would begin in village on Tuesday and the farmers would jointly give a call to reject genetically modified seeds of multinational companies, he said.

As a part of the campaign a one-day seminar would be held on Tuesday, he said, adding that NGOs working in the area of paddy protection in Tamil Nadu and Kerala would participate in it. Organic farming expert from Tamil Nadu Nammalvar would be the main resource person, Mr. Nayak said.

Economist B.M. Kumaraswamy said that the agreement on agriculture of the WTO had allowed multinational companies to patent most of the paddy varieties. The entire paddy production in the country would be in the domain of MNCs soon, he said.

16 March 2007 - Dhaka - The Week of Rice Action (WORA) 2007 was officially inaugurated amidst much colour, joyous celebration and excitement in the humble village of Nallapara in the district of Tangail in Bangladesh on 13 March. Three thousand farmers from several districts in the country converged in the village, 100 km from Dhaka, to participate in the launch.

The event was organized by Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP) with UBINIG and Nayakrishi Andolon. Holding dhan (paddy) seeds in one hand, Farida Akhter and Farhad Mazhar from UBINIG, and Clare Westwood and Usha S. from PAN AP, joined and raised hands with the villagers to launch WORA Asia.

ìRice is Life to three billion Asians. Bangladesh is seen as the ideal location to launch WORA as the famous Nayakrishi farmers are a model and inspiration to all farming communities in Asia in preserving the five pillars of rice wisdom and fiercely resisting the introduction of Golden Rice in their fields,' said Clare Westwood, Campaign Coordinator for PAN AP, the main organizer of WORA. Golden Rice is a genetically engineered rice promoted by its creators, Syngenta and IRRI (the International Rice Research Institute), in Bangladesh and India.

Usha S. from Kerala, India shared how rice was under threat from agri-business corporations all over Asia and why there was an urgent need to save Asiaís rice.

Children and youth from Tangail and indigenous communities performed cultural rice dances while men and women sang traditional songs. The women of the village proudly showed off their collection of 227 rice seeds from their village which they had saved and prepared various types of rice food.

It was a worthy launch for WORA - amidst the grassroots of Bangladesh; the very rice farming communities struggling bravely to save their traditional rice seeds and rice wisdom from the onslaughts of corporate agriculture.

Tangail is one of 18 districts in Bangladesh committed to Nayakrishi Andolan (New Agriculture Movement). Nayakrishi farmers practice the five pillars of rice wisdom as their way of life - rice culture, community wisdom, biodiversity-based ecological agriculture, safe food and food sovereignty. There is no use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or hybrid rice.

Farida Akhter, the Executive Director of UBINIG, the anchor organization for WORA in Bangladesh, said, 'Bangladesh had 15,000 rice varieties 40 years ago. Due to the Green Revolution and hybrid rice, most of these have been lost. Nayakrisni farmers have managed to retrieve 2,000 varieties. Each variety has a special nutritional and cultural value and ensures the well-being and food sovereignty of local communities. Rice sustains all life in the community including livestock and poultry.'

Farhad Mazhar, founder of Nayakrishi Andolon, said, 'Those who are practising ecological agriculture are preserving the local varieties and safeguarding them.'

Rabeya Begum, a woman farmer who is one of the key seed conservationists in the movement, called upon all farmers around the world to 'Keep seeds in your hand! If farmers are strong, then no one can take seeds from us.'

The Nayakrishi farmers - men and women and children - chanted slogans after every speech creating a vibrant atmosphere: 'Preserve local seeds!'; 'NO to corporate agriculture!', 'Farmers of the world - unite!'; 'No GMO!!'; 'We will give our blood but not our seeds!'

A special highlight of the launch proper was the official launching of the 1-million signature campaign for WORA. The oldest lady in the village, 81-year old Alladi Begum, was the first to put her signature to the 'People's Statement on Saving the Rice of Asia' to start the ball rolling. So far, at least 10,000 signatures have been collected.

The Nallapara celebration is the official launch for WORA 2007 as 13 countries in Asia march collectively towards the week itself - 29 March to 4 April 2007 - with various activities to celebrate and protect rice culture. An unprecedented mobilization involving millions from China, Korea, Japan, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal, WORA is Asia's concerted bid to save the rice of Asia.

The launch in Bangladesh is actually a three-day affair. After the launch proper in Tangail, there was a workshop at Nayakrishi Tangail Learning Space in the afternoon where NGO and government officials spoke on various elements of preserving traditional local rice varieties and the threats to rice. This was held in conjunction with an exhibition of paddy seeds, photographs, posters and a video presentation in the afternoon.

A press conference was held on 14 April followed by a cultural celebration on the 15th, both in Dhaka.

Contact at PAN AP
Ms Anne Haslam, PAN AP @ Wora 2007 @ panap.net
Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific P.O Box 1170, 10850 Penang, Malaysia.
Tel: 604-6570271 or 6046560381

Pic Captions:

WORA is launched by PAN AP, UBINIG and the Nayakrishni farmers of Bangladesh
The children, women and men of Bangladesh joining in the launch of WORA.
81-year old Alladi Begum takes the lead to sign the 1-million signature statement in Bangladesh.
Seed exhibition and the serving of red rice at the WORA Workshop and Exhibition in the Nayakrishni ëLearning Spaceí, Tangail.

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