Farmers deserting farming: Intl peasants movement

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New Delhi, Mar 31 (UNI) A group of farmers from across the world today alleged that peasants were deserting their principal occupation for other jobs due to poor monetary gains following the ''imposition'' of neoliberal regime.

The farmers, who had gathered in the National Capital, as part of the International Peasants' Movement -- La Via Campesina -- alleged that while industries and multi-national organisations were making huge profits by controlling water land and power resources, the farmers were getting very little for their effort to feed the world.

Record world food prices hit consumers, and contrary to what can be expected, they do not benefit all producers. Stock breeders are in a crisis due to the rise in feed prices, cereal producers are facing sharp rises in fertiliser's prices and landless farmers and agricultural workers cannot afford to buy food. Farmers sell their produce at an extremely low price compared to what consumers pay.

The Spanish coordination of farmers and stock breeders (COAG) calculated that consumers in Spain pay up to 600 per cent more than what the food producer gets for his/her production.

Consumers around the world have seen the prices of staple food dramatically increasing over the past months, creating extreme hardship especially for the poorest communities. Over a year, wheat has doubled in price, maize is nearly 50 per cent higher than a year ago. However, there is no crisis of production. Statistics show that cereals' production has never been as high as in 2007, they said.

Prices are increasing because part of production is now diverted into agrofuels, global food reserves are at their lowest in 25 years due to the de-regulation of markets by the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and extreme weather has effected crops in some exporting countries such as Australia. But prices also increase because financial companies speculate over people's food as they anticipate that agriculture prices will keep rising in the near future. Food production, processing and distribution falls increasingly under the grip of transnational companies monopolising the markets.

The first to benefit from higher agricultural prices are the agro-industry and large retailers because they increase food prices much more than they should. Will food prices decrease when agricultural prices go down again? Large companies are able to stock large quantities of food and release them when the markets prices are high.

According to Henry Saragih, general coordinator of Via Campesina and leader of the Indonesian Peasant's Union, ''farmers need land to produce food for their own community and for their country. The time has come to implement genuine agrarian reforms to allow family farmers to feed the world.'' UNI NAB MSJ KN1724

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