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Food security and sustainability take center stage at PAN AP congress

In support of SRD’s focus on sustainable agriculture and advocacy, SDR’s Director Vu Thi Bich Hop and Vice Director Nguyen Thi Hoa attended the PAN AP Congress from September 2 to 4, in Penang, Malaysia. Having the theme “Empowering Communities, Protecting the Environment and Building Sustainable Livelihoods”, the Congress attracted 84 delegates from 23 countries.  The congress focused mainly on empowering small producers, and promoting environmentally conscious agriculture. With so many representatives from other nations in attendance, SRD staff got the chance to network and share expertise on these topics. 

The congress included Sarojeni V. Rengam, the Executive Director of PAN AP. In her presentation, she said “We are facing high food prices and their volatility, loss of food self-sufficiency, loss of food culture and food contaminated with pesticides, GMOs and other pollutants. The root causes are neo-liberal policies including a new Free Trade Agreement, Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement and corporate monopoly control. These spearhead the unprecedented push for profits and control of resources and people.”

congress2013 group photo

Participants of the 3rd annual PAN AP Congress

As part of a panel discussion, Dr. Meriel Watts (a senior scientist with PAN AP who represented PAN Aotearoa) spoke of the poisoning of the world ecosystem. He touched on the pollution of rivers, land and air by highly hazardous pesticides such as neonicotinoids. As a consequence to small farmers, bees, bats and other beneficial organisms are disappearing as biodiversity loss is increasing. The livelihoods of millions of people in the Asia Pacific who depend on a diverse farming system where pollinators and other such species play an important role are at risk.

Throughout the three day event, the delegates shared the impacts and responses to these kinds of challenges, and developed plans to address these issues. Various resolutions were adopted, such as a progressive ban on highly hazardous pesticides, and support for peasants who uprooted the genetically engineered golden rice in field trials and demand for their government to stop these field trials.

The Congress concluded with their strong commitment to work collectively to support grassroots movements and groups of marginalised peoples to help reclaim their rights to food sovereignty, gender justice and ecological agriculture. The Congress also endorsed the consolidated strategies and called for collaboration between people’s organisations and Civil Society Organisations to strengthen the movements of small food producers as a means of empowering communities, protecting the environment and creating sustainable livelihoods. As a leading Vietnamese NGO in supporting poor rural communities to adapt to the changing environment and sustainably manage their own livelihoods, SRD fully supported the strategies developed at the Congress, and is commited to their holistic approach to development.


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