The UAWC held a preparatory meeting to discuss Palestine’s accordance in the Via Campesina
Ramallah- The UAWC held a preparatory meeting with the Palestinian organizations working the agricultural field (Palestinian Hydrology Group for Water and Environmental Resources Development (PHG),MA’AN Development Centre, Land Research Center , Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ), Economic and Social Development Center of Palestine) to discuss the role of the agricultural sector in the Via Campesina. The UAWC recently became a representative of Palestine in the Via Campesina aiming to build a strong peasants movement locally and in the Arab world, in addition to working with other agricultural organizations to establish the foundation that will lead Palestine to Food sovereignty.
The UAWC’s general director Khalid Al- Hidmi opened the meeting emphasizing that the accordance of Palestine in the Via Campesinais a national accomplishment given that the movementholds in it about 200 million farmers around the worldin addition to 183 agricultural organizations in 88 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas.
Al- Hidmi also added that the Via Campesinasupports agricultural sustainability as a way to reinforce social justice and dignity. Moreover, theVia Campesina opposes corporate driven agriculture and transnational companies that are destroying people and nature. Its main goal is to spread the concept of food sovereignty and to confront the destructive neoliberal process , highlighting this concept prioritizes local food production and consumption.
The UAWC worked intensely on several national and international campaigns in addition to several visits to the offices of the Via Campesina in different countries since 2004 to gain the full membership status in the Via Campesina. Al- Hidmi stressed on the role of the UAWC and the other agricultural organizations in forming a Palestinian peasants movement in addition to similar movements in the Arab world especially in Egypt, Lebanon and Morocco. To complete this step a plan, a general framework and an internal system is needed. Al-hidmi ended his speech noting that members inthe Via Campesina from Brazil, Spain andthe Indonesian Peasant Union (SPI) are going to join the UAWC in its olive harvest campaign that is held annually.
The director of the Operations and Development Department in the UAWC Fouad Abu Seif added that the UAWC has worked since 2007 on forming a committee opposing genetically modified creatures, this committee later on became a planning committee for food sovereignty in corporation with other Palestinian organizations. The main outcome of the committee is a document of food sovereignty from the Palestinian point of view.
Abu Seif also emphasized of the role of the membership of Palestine in the Via Campesina to support the Palestinian peasants, activate the role of the food sovereignty committee and enlarge the circle of the local organizations to put a full plan to build the movement locally and nationally.
It is important to form a committee to put a viable action plan on the local and national level, said the General Director of (PHG) Abed Al- Rahman Al- Tamimi. It is essential to benefit from the models available in the Indonesian Peasant Union (SPI), he added.
The general director of MA’AN Development Centre Sami Khader stressed on the local level to create large peasant movements, in addition to putting an internal system on the institutional level and explaining the benefits of the peasants from Palestine’s membership in the Via Campesina.
In the same context, the director of Grassroots, Policies & Advocacy Department SamahDarwish noted the importance of framing the agricultural committees and activating their role in addition to widening their base through the UAWC’s partner organizations. Darwish also added that it is critical to develop strong partnerships with the organizations working in the agricultural sector especially the food sovereignty committee in order to build a Palestinian peasants movement that supports the rights of the peasants on all levels; locally and nationally.
The representative of (ARIJ) Raed Abed Rabboh, the representative ofthe Land Research Center Mohammad Hasasneh and the representative of the Economic and Social Development Center of Palestine Akram Al-Taher, all agreed on the great effect that will result from the membership of Palestine in the Via Campesina and stressed on the importance of putting effort to create a successful Palestinian and Arab peasants movement through a clear plan and vision, internal system and framed agricultural committees.
Finally , the general director of the UAWC in Gaza Mohammad Al- Bakri declared that relations are being built with other agricultural organizations to build a local and national peasants movement, pointing that the UAWC is preparing to hold a meeting with other agricultural committees to discuss the subject.