Agriculture Long March 2011

On the eve of 40th Anniversary of Independence of Bangladesh, Campaign for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods (CSRL) is going to organize an Agriculture Long March from 27 to 29 March 2011 demanding Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Programme (CARP) towards for Food Security, Employment and Economic Growth. The Long March will start on 27 March, Sunday morning from 4 corners of the country namely Satkhira (Khulna), Teknaf (Chittagong), Sunamganj (Sylhet) and Panchagarh (Rangpur). The Long March will close with a declaration on closign program at Central Shahid Minar (Language Monument) on 29 March 2011, Tuesday afternoon.
Around 2,000 youths started their journey with national and local demands and meet with more than 100 thousand farmers, agro-labours, civil society, policy leaders and mass people. The participants of the Long March will organize 30 human projection, demonstration, gathering, public meeting, human chain, bicycle rally etc on the way to Dhaka. They will express their solidarity with the marginal farmers and agro-labours by joining with them. At least 5,000 people will join the closing program including 30 Members of Parliament, Farmers’ Organisation’s Leaders, Civil Society Leaders, Celebrities and Development Activists.
Background
2011 is the 40 years of the independent of Bangladesh, a highly populated country with 164 million people. 63% of total population of Bangladesh live in rural areas. Agriculture is the key of livelihoods and culture of this lion part of the people. More than 48.1% of the national labour force is involved in agriculture. Women folk contribute 58% of agricultural labour force while 72% of women get no payments. Agriculture contributes 21.77 percent of GDP of Bangladesh while Industry and Service contributes 29.73 and 49.67 percent. Since agriculture is largest employment sector of the country, logically national growth depends on it. But, among 19.2 million of them, 88% is small and marginal, 10% medium and only 1.2% large farmer. These farmers grow 81.8% cereal food for the country while 14.3% of them are absolutely landless.
Almost 42% people of Bangladesh live under poverty level while 39.8% have no food security. Most of this population are landless small and marginal farmer. Poverty is nothing but a result of inadequate policy and its implementation process. Due to vicious cycle of poverty, the rural farmers are unable to invest in agriculture and as a result Bangladesh faces shortage in meeting national food needs.
Bangladesh has more than 25 national policies related with agriculture and its sub-sectors. There are no coordination among the policies and line ministries. Sometimes, these policies conflict with each-another and driven by the International Financial Institutions. The present Government (Bangladesh Awami League led Grand Alliance) has taken some effective initiative to promote small and marginal farmers towards increased food production; these are not taken with long term vision.
In order to achieve an improved economic growth for the country, the higher share to national wealth must be ensured for the rural poor by making agriculture a viable and profitable livelihood option. However, agriculture comprising of farming, livestock, poultry, fisheries and forestry along with small and marginal farmers of Bangladesh are facing multidimensional challenges:
          (a) Absence of producer’s organizations
          (b) Poor access to agricultural services and high price of agricultural inputs
          (c) Inadequate investment in agriculture
          (d) Inadequate extension service
          (e) Limited access of the poor to common productive resources e.g. canal, rivers, ponds and forests
          (f) Lack of access in market and fair price
          (g) Destruction of ecology and biodiversity by human elements including climate change
          (h) Lack of using science and technology in agriculture
          (i) Problems in recognition, access and rights of women in agriculture and
          (j) Lack of coherence in agricultural policies and limited implementation of the polices.
Agriculture is the interaction of human and nature. Changes in policies and material world undoubtedly have impact on agriculture. As part of global financial regime, the national economic structure that protects corporate interest against the local interest for food security, workforce development and economic growth is the main reason for the existing problems in agriculture. Support from the Government is the key in this regard; coherent and logical steps to ensure jobs, food and development initiatives for the people must be the main purpose of the nation.
Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Programme (CARP)
With the goal of ensuring sustainable development through the reduction of poverty and vulnerability for the rural population, Campaign for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods (CSRL) proposed Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Programme (CARP) which is the first policy framework to address agriculture in Bangladesh context based on a comprehensive assessment of agricultural policies, issues and practices. CARP was devised by the Campaign for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods (CSRL), an alliance of nearly 200 organizations spanning 30 agro-ecological zones within Bangladesh. CARP has been developed through engaging small and marginalized farmers, political parties and their affiliates active in the agriculture sector, agriculturalists, CSO and NGO representatives and researchers in different consultations and taking up a total of 4000 working hours between us.
Based on these empirical findings, CSRL firmly believe that only a comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach like CARP can best explore agricultural potentials for food security, employment generation and economic growth as a whole. With this end in view, a draft CARP developed and launched in the national context. Following points best summarizes the importance of CARP to address agriculture related problems in Bangladesh context:
     a) It is a coordinated and comprehensive policy framework
     b) The consideration of 30 agro-ecological zones has been the foundation of understanding upon which
         CARP has been built
     c) The opinions of all the potential stakeholders, particularly of farmers, have been seriously considered in
         developing CARP
     d) CARP is not biased towards any particular school of thoughts, but rather a combination of all potential
         ideas and thoughts in the national context
     e) The issues of climate change and trade have been at the heart of the CARP development process.
Agriculture Long March
On the eve of 40 years of our independent, to ensure commitment of national policy leaders for adopting and implementation of Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Programme towards a national consensus for incorporating CARP in national budget, Five-Year Plan, Perspective Plan and Vision 2011 PRAN, Humanitywatch, Nagorik Sanghati, Online Knowledge Centre (OKC), Haus, Sangsaptaque, Uttaran,Prantajan and Pallibaul Sangstha is going to organize an Agricultural Long March from each and every corner of Bangladesh to DhakaCentral Shaheed Minar on 27-29 March 2011.
Objectives of the Long March
a) Mobilisation of youth forces of Bangladesh with the demand of adoption and implementing Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Programme (CARP) within national policy framework;
b) Sensitizing district, division and central level policy leaders, political parties, civil society and socio-cultural organisers for comprehensive policy reform towards agricultural development;
c) Initiating formation of youth activists’ groups in all regions of Bangladesh for farmers rights and agricultural reformation.
Programme
1) Youth gathering, demonstration and submission of memorandum with musical instruments to policy leaders in every Starting Point (Noakhali, Panchagarh, Satkhira, Sunamganj and Teknaf)
2) Colourful procession, gathering and submission of memorandum in every Division (Chittagong, Khulna, Rangpur, Sylhet) with active participation of Policy level leaders, agricultural extension services and civil society representatives
3) Gathering and submission of memorandum in Growth centres (Bhairab, Bogra, Comilla, Dinajpur, Faridpur, Gaibandha, Gazipur, Gopalganj, Jessore, Khagrachhari, Manikganj, Narail, Rangamati, Sreemongal, Thakurgaon)
4) Central level gathering, cultural program and Declaration of Youths at central Shaheed Minar, Dhaka
Date: 27, 28 and 29th March 2011 | Sunday-Tuesday
Participation: Open to all
a) Youth to contribute in campaign and advocacy for development of agricultural sector in Bangladesh
b) Political, social and cultural activist
c) Small and marginal farmer, small entrepreneur
Route
1) Satkhira-Khulna-Narail-Jessore-Faridpur-Manikganj-Dhaka
3) Panchagarh-Thakurgaon-Dinajpur-Rangpur-Gaibandha-Bogra-Sirajgonj-Dhaka
4) Teknaf-Cox’s Bazaar-Chittagong-Rangamati-Khagrachhari-Feni-Noakhali-Comilla-Dhaka
5) Sunamganj-Sylhet-Sreemongal-Bhairab-Dhaka
Contact
1) Advocate GSM Alamgir, Executive Director, Uttaran, Gaibandha http://us.mc1113.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=uttarangb@gmail.com
2) Hasan Mehedi, Chief Executive, Humanitywatch, Khulna http://us.mc1113.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=info@humanitybd.org
3) Nurul Alam Masud, Chief Executive, PRAN, Noakhali http://us.mc1113.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=masud@pran-bd.org
4) Prodip Kumar Roy, Online Knowledge Centre, Dhaka http://us.mc1113.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=prodip2006@gmail.com
5) Sharifuzzaman Sharif, General Secretary, Nagorik Sanghati, Dhaka http://us.mc1113.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=citizen.solidarity@gmail.com
6) Salehin Chowdhury Shuvo, Executive Director, Haus, Sunamganj http://us.mc1113.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=salehin_chy@yahoo.com
7) Sawrav Barua, Executive Director, Songshoptaque, Chittagong songshoptaque30@yahoo.com
Online Communication
Facebook: Agricultural Long March
Twitter: csrllongmarch

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