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Right to Land and Seed

Food sovereignty in times of climate change (Bangladesh)

Food sovereignty is the main political demand of the landless and peasant movement in Bangladesh in times of climate change and intensifying land conflicts. The concept of food sovereignty is based on the right to grow their own food, with own seeds and in an ecologically sustainable way of farming. The peasant movement fights for a revolutionary land reform and self-determined food production, in order to improve and guarantee the local and national food supply. One strategy to strengthen the demand for food sovereignty is the occupation of land by groups of small farmers. According to the law, landless farmers have a right to land which often isn’t enforced due to corruption and unequal power relations.

The capitalization of the agricultural sector is a threat for the local markets and self-sustained food production. Since the so called “green revolution” in the 1960s, there is a growing influence of international seed- and chemical-companies on the agricultural market in Bangladesh. The dependency on fertilizers, pesticides and modified seeds along with the infrastructural adjustments made by the state of Bangladesh and the World Bank have significantly changed the living conditions of small farmers. Higher production costs as well as lower productivity and fertility of the soil is the reason why many peasants end up in dept.

Around three fourths of those engaged in the farming sector are landless workers. Many would have the right to receive land through the “Kash land”-legislation. But corruption of local politicians and administration are immediate and structural obstacles that prevent landless workers from obtaining land-titles of state-owned or unused land.

Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change in the world. The rise of sea level causes loss of agricultural land. Cyclones and salinization are a threat for the whole farming sector. Nevertheless, the government sticks to the concept of „food security“, relying on transnational agro-companies for food supply on the one hand and on the other on export of agricultural products to markets in Asia and abroad. This results in monocultures and ecological destruction. The vast areas of fish- and shrimp-farming in the southwestern part of the country is only one example.

The documentation team participated in the “South-Asian Caravan for climate justice, food sovereignty and gender” which went through Bangladesh from North to South. Later on it conducted interviews and investigated issues such as the impact of climate change, the economic situation of peasants, the “green revolution”, the difference between “food sovereignty” and “food security”, the processes of land-grabbing and conflicts around land and the strategies, resistance and alternatives created by the landless movement in Bangladesh. The documentary includes voices of peasants, landless workers, activists of various South Asian grassroot movements, NGOs, politicians and scientists of the field.

Right to land and seed - Food sovereignty in times of climate change
Bangl. / Germany 2014, HD, 84 min.
A film by Jürgen Kraus and Heiko Thiele
Camera & editing: Heiko Thiele
Production: Zwischenzeit e.V.

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