Our demands to the Government of Telangana from the Telangana Food Sovereignty Summit-2015
1) Land, Forests and Local Governance
i) We demand that the government uphold the spirit of Scheduled V of the Indian Constitution and take executive measures to implement the Land Transfer Regulation Act, review all land alienation cases, and immediately restore land to adivasis, that is currently in illegal possession by non-adivasis. Several High-Level Committees such as the Justice Gilani and Koneru Ranga Rao Committees noted that the absence of land and forest rights is a fundamental reason for high hunger and malnutrition in adivasi areas.
ii) We call upon the Telangana government to complete the process of recognition of community and individual forests rights of adivasis and other traditional forest dwelling communities according to The Scheduled Tribe and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA, 2006). We demand that the Government direct the Forest Department to stop intimidating adivasis living in areas declared as Sanctuaries and National Parks. Without the completion of recognition of habitat, community, and individual rights and without taking the consent of the Gram sabha as per FRA, 2006, no resettlement or rehabilitation can be initiated. Community Forest Rights have to be accorded exclusively to the Gram Sabha, and not to any other institutions’ (eg Joint Forest Committee).
iii) We demand that the government recognize the self-rule of Adivasis living in Schedule V areas of Telangana. Towards this end, it must amend the current Andhra Pradesh Panchayat Raj (Amendment Act), 1998, and the Andhra Pradesh Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Rules, 2011 which has empowered Mandal Parishads instead of Gram Sabhas. This is not in compliance with the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (Act No.40 of 1996) enacted by the Government of India. The Telangana government must take this opportunity to amend the PESA Act to bring it in consonance with the Central Act, so as to empower Gram sabhas for self-rule, as per Adivasi traditions and customs. This is a pre-requisite to achieving food sovereignty.
iv) We demand a halt to all plantations being raised on private land titles, individual titles obtained under FRA, and in forests, which is threatening the local biodiversity of forests and forest foods, resilient adivasi food farming cultures, and food security. Governance of resources (land, forests, water, air, diversity, seeds, knowledge) should be in the hands of the Gram sabha.
v) We demand that the Government of Telangana implement its promise to distribute lands to the landless especially to landless Dalit families.
vi) We call for prompt implementation of GO 421, to compensate farming families where a family member (either woman or man) has committed suicide.
2) Protecting Common Property Resources including Village Grazing Lands and Village Tanks
i) Telangana was known for its village common property resources both land (gautan, poromboke, shikam bhumi, charai zameen, community threshing grounds, etc) and water bodies, that traditionally supported a wide spectrum of vital livelihood needs: fodder grasses, fodder and fruit trees, wild uncultivated vegetables and tubers, fuelwood, fibre, medicinal plants, fishing, drinking water for animals, washing clothes, irrigation etc. These commons have virtually disappeared, resulting in huge loss of livestock populations. We condemn all efforts of the government to stop grazing based livestock livelihoods and reject efforts to promote stall-feeding of animals. Diverse local indigenous livestock provide valuable manure and urine, which are a pre-requisite for agro-ecological food farming.
We demand that the government commit to declaring atleast 10% of all village lands as common grazing lands and for other common uses as described above, and stop the diversion of common lands for real estates, urbanization, industries etc. We urge the government to stringently implement the directives of the Supreme Court of India (Case No. 1132 /2011 @ SLP(C) No.3109/2011 to restore encroached commons to the Gram Panchayats.
ii) Whilst welcoming the governments Kakatiya Mission to restore Village tanks, we strongly oppose the outsourcing of the tank restoration to companies and contractors. This completely sidelines the immense wealth of people’s knowledge of tank management and restoration. We demand that the village community through the Gram Panchayat and under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarentee Scheme (MGNREGS) execute the restoration of village tanks. This shall generate livelihood for the community during the summer months, when large numbers of the community migrate to the cities as construction labour.
iii) It is critical that the water of these tanks be used locally by the communities, and not be carried away to feed industries, cities, or the water grid program.
iv) We demand that all the lands surrounding village tanks be conserved with diverse local fodder, fruit trees such as Acacia nilotica (Tumma chettu), which are to be protected for use by shepherds and other livestock rearing communities.
v) We demand a halt to all projects: dams, mines, real estates, SEZs, industries, which displace people from their villages, lands and livelihoods, in violation of constitutional rights and laws that safeguard peoples right to life, forests , environment and biodiversity.
3) Building Seed and Breed Sovereignty:
i) We demand that the government stop supporting MNCs and Companies to produce and distribute hybrid, high yielding and Genetically Modified seeds to farmers. Instead the government must actively support adivasi and farming communities to produce traditional native seeds of local diverse food crops, and procure these seeds from communities for redistribution to other farmers at subsidized rates.
ii) The government must invest in public and extension education to campaign widely on the urgent need of cultivating and conserving / saving the seeds of diverse local agro-ecologically appropriate food crops.
iii) The government must announce positive support for farmers to enable them to return to diverse rainfed agro-ecological food-farming systems. Minimum Support Price (MSP) for these diverse agro-ecologically appropriate food crops should be announced and the produce locally procured and distributed through the Public Distribution System. Following the recommendations of the National Farmers Commission the MSP announced should be 50% more than the actual cost of cultivation.
iv) Farmers need to be guaranteed free access to different traditional and local varieties of seeds that are currently being held in trust in public gene banks maintained by National and International Agriculture Research Institutes in Telangana : eg the Professor Jayashankar Agriculture University and ICRISAT.
v) Attempts to privatize and patent traditional and native seed varieties under the National seed registration program, need to be halted. Native seeds need to continue to be in the public domain.
vi) We demand that the Telangana government deny permission for GM field trials, and call for a moratorium on GM crops (pulses, cereals, vegetables, fruit).
vii) We demand that the government support community programs to revive and restock diverse and locally adapted indigenous animal breeds of Telangana : Indigenous breeds of cattle, Pandharpuri and Nagpuri Buffaloes, Deccani sheep, Osmanabadi goats, indigenous poultry, pigs and donkeys.
viii) It is imperative to declare the Deccani sheep breed as the primary sheep breed of Telangana, and to enable the re-establishment of the Deccani breed, through procurement and distribution of Deccani Breeding Rams from local Deccani sheep breeders of Telangana.
4) Local Food Markets and Building Food Sovereignty Through the National Food Security Act
i) The Government must operationalise the National Food Security Act (NFSA) and enable the provision of healthy, culturally appropriate food to people. Implementation of the NFSA must be done by supporting local farmers, their diverse food production and local markets for millets, cereals, pulses, oil seeds, vegetables, milk etc., . The NFSA must ensure local decentralized procurement of food cultivated agro-ecologically, and distribute this food locally through the Public Distribution System, through school mid-day meals, anganwadis, and under programs for pregnant and lactating mothers. This will also enable local vendors to procure vegetables directly from local producers rather than industrial market chains.
ii) We demand State regulation of Corporations marketing Milk and Milk Produce, by announcing a Minimum Procurement Price for Milk, below which private dairy companies and corporations will not be permitted to procure milk from producers. This can be executed through Government Cooperatives such as Vijaya Dairy. Further to prevent any one Corporation or Company achieving monopoly control over the milk markets, the government must announce a minimum sales price, below which no private entity will be allowed to sell Milk.
iii) The Government must facilitate support to organizing localized non-centralized milk markets, which shall connect local producers to local consumers.
iv) The Government must extend support to community efforts to revive and market the Gongadi , thereby supporting the traditional crafts and livelihoods of wool spinners and weavers of Telangana. v) We urge the Government to support local community managed cottage food processing units, which are environmentally safe, non-polluting and conducive to the local agro-ecological production and will revive local Telangana Food Cultures.
Adivasi, Dalits, Shepherds, Peasants, Fisherfolk, Artisans, Craftspeople, Artists and Performing Artists are directly connected to the Food Farming Systems of Telangana. The aspirations and visions of these communities should be central to the democratic reconstruction of Telangana, and shape its policies and programs. The Government must respect and implement these visions, for a “golden Telangana” , free of suicides and despair.
Food Sovereignty Alliance, India February 24th 2015
Adivasi Aikya Vedika ,Telangana
Deccani Gorrela Mekala Pempakhadharula Sangham,Telangana
Dalit Mahila Sangam, Medak, Telangana
Chinna Sannakaru Rythu Sangham, Warangal, Telangana