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Importance of the Food Security Charter


As a new wave of food-price rises begins to become evident, in the wake of the climate disorder provoked by capitalist destruction of the biosphere, LALIT is relaunching discussion on the Food Security Charter that we initiated in 2005. This fine charter, prepared in 2005 by the Common Front on Food Security, is reproduced below in both English and Kreol versions. The founder-members of the Common Front were

Mouvement pour l’Autosuffisance Alimentaire
Muvman Liberasyon Fam
General Trade Union Federation
Kishore Mundil (Associate Prof., UoM, Agric. Management)
Fron Travayer Sekter Prive
Mauritius Planters’ Association Co-Operative Society
Amis de Rodrigues
Federation of Pre-School Playgroups
Ledikasyon pu Travayer
Institute for Consumers Protection

The Charter, produced after a number of large discussion meetings, is still an excellent base-document. LALIT deplores that this kind of Charter has not yet become central to generalized thinking in the working class movement. This is, however, a reflection of the weakness of this movement in these times when both unemployment and precarity, on the one hand, and draconian labour laws, on the other, have decimated traditional democratic structures. The main task of a renewed Front will evidently be the popularization of the contents, as a part of mobilization for land reform and food production in both agriculure and fishing. Here is the text of the original Charter:


This Charter was developed in 2005 at the time of the first world-wide food security crisis. It was debated over a series of meetings that LALIT organized with 10 other organizations and a few individual academics who together formed a Common Front on Food Security. The full title of the Charter is: “In times of globalization & food shortages, the Charter of the Common Front on Food Security.”
Given that:

* The world food crisis is characterized by both food shortages and price rises;
* Food ought not ever to be hostage to capitalist profits;
* Speculation and the grip that cartels have on production & distribution aggravate the food crisis;
* There is a danger that some producers or distributors hoard food, and provoke a black market that then further aggravates the crisis;
* An increasing share of food production is being steered into bio-fuels, for reasons of profit;
* GMOs push food production further into the grip of private multinationals like Monsanto & Novartis;
* Many countries that produce rice and wheat are controlling or even halting their food exports altogether, in a bid to reduce price rises and shortages on their own national markets;
* Experts predict that the shortages will persist for a long time to come, and will get worse;
* Geographically speaking, Mauritius is far from the sources of its staples, its milk and many other foodstuffs, in times when freight costs are rising, due to fuel price rises which, in turn, add to the price of food;
* Food security is essential to the very survival of a people;

Given that,
* For the very first time in the history of our country, there is an opportunity for the broad masses of the people to put into question land ownership and use in the Republic of Mauritius,

Given that:
* Almost all good agricultural land in the Island of Mauritius is under cane;
* All Government facilities, until today, benefit cane planters to the detriment of food planters (through whole institutions like the MSIRI, as well as others that ensure loans, seeds, insurance);
* Just like all non-sugar agriculture in the Island of Mauritius, the whole of agriculture in the Island of Rodrigues is neglected by the State, relative to the support it has given and continues to give to cane planters; there is no support for planters who produce food, whether in Mauritius or Rodrigues;
* There is a lack of irrigation in the Islands of Rodrigues and in certain parts of the Island of Mauritius;
* The price of sugar is going to fall, and will be unstable and unpredictable, because the guaranteed market and price is now over;
* The sugar estates are the owners of a huge proportion of good agricultural land, and they are converting much of it into buildings or into IRS with their golf courses;
* The agricultural policies of successive Governments have brought about the wholesale destruction of jobs, in times when unemployment is already around 10% (if properly calculated);
* “Accompanying Measures” assured by the European Union, were designed as compensation to be used for the development of the entire economy, but have been used, till now (under the Multi-Annual Adaptation Strategy) almost entirely in order to develop the cane sector; this means the European money designed to compensate for the lowering of sugar prices, is being blown in perpetuating the cane sector to the detriment of both job creation and food security;

Given that,
* The lagoons in Mauritius & Rodrigues are no longer renewing themselves with enough fish for food needs, but have become poorer and poorer;
* The Republic of Mauritius is a large country, with its 2,000,000 square kilometres of sea;

Given that,
* The broad masses have no access to land for planting or animal husbandry;
* There is already a rich knowledge of food production, fishing, and a high degree of commitment to the soil and the sea, in the masses of people in the whole country, and in particular in Rodrigues,
* Given that we are still living under patriarchy, women who are responsible for feeding the family are often not given the means to be able to carry out this responsibility,

Our demands:
1 That the Government, with food security in mind, undertakes a general review of all land use and all land ownership and control;

2 That the Government, in particular, undertakes a study of the four “clusters” (Medine, FUEL, Bel Vue ek SUDS), with a view, inter alia, to encouraging diversification and food security;

3 To kick off, Government must introduce laws so that all land is at once re-organized so that, for 4 months of each year, food crops can be grown interline, in all of the 100,000 arpents that sugar estates and in all the 90,000 arpents that small planters, now have under cane; any land owner who does not plant food crops on his land, must lease it to a planter who will do so; this concerns crops like potatoes, tomatoes, beans, onions, sweet potatoes, arwi-violets, wheat, maize, etc; This way cane will be affected less in the early stages of converting to food security;

4 Government must force sugar estates to give labourers and artisans made redundant an arpent of land on lease so that, grouped together in co-operatives, they can grow food crops;

5 Government must ensure that everyone who want to plant food crops, in towns and in villages, or living in high-rise flats, or without any land, gets access to allotments; that Government help people plant in greenhouses and on a hydroponic basis;

6 Government must introduce measures, and if necessary subsidies, for planters producing food and for animal raisers:

* Provide seeds.
* Provide irrigation at a reasonable price, build dams, specially in Rodrigues.
* Provide pre-crop loans
* Organize insurance, as in a Welfare Fund
* Guarantee a market and a good price through the Marketing Board and Meat Authority, which will stabilize all food products, milk, fish, eggs, meat; organize storage for planters, animal raisers and fishers;
* Create agro-industries, which will preserve and transform the food produced (canning, making oil, etc.)
* Re-launch the Palmar animal rearing farm, as well as the production of animal feed, and seedlings.
* Ensure marketing for agricultural produce, whether in Mauritius or abroad.

7 Government must ensure the traditional knowledge gets transmitted to the new generation, and that scientific knowledge is brought in to join hands with the traditional knowledge in Moris, Rodrig, Agalega, and Chagos, so that agriculture, animal rearing and fishing develop well.

8 Government must prevent the middle-men (milk, fish and vegetables merchants) extorting too big a share of “plus-value”; this means producers need access to co-operative credit and marketing;

9 Government must provide the money necessary for building boats that can go to the outer islands and banks, so that fishermen can get there to fish.

10 Marine resources must be controlled, pirating prevented, and the fish stocks kept up.
11 Food prices need to be fixed for producers and for people who buy the food; where necessary, the Government must create a “stabilizing fund”.
12 Government must speak out at international forums against the WTO when it blocks food production in the Third World countries, notably when the EU & USA subsidize their agriculture;
13 Government must assure a “GMO-FREE” Republic; a good side-effect of this is that it attracts “bio”-friendly tourists to the country.
14 Government must use all the above means to ensure security for the following 5 food categories:

* Staples: a variety of these: rice, maize, manioc, potato, wheat, arwi, arrow root, sweet potatoes, bread fruit (Today there is a heavy shortage of locally produced staples.)
* Milk. (Today we fall very short.)
* Eggs, chicken, meat. (Most meat is imported.)
* Fish. (Mauritius can easily be self-sufficient – Government must organize investment.)
* Vegetables, fruit, tomatoes, spices. (Some degree of self reliance; preservation needs to be developed.)

Fron Komen Sekirite Alimanter

Fas-a globalizasyon, fas-a peniri alimanter, e etan done ki:

* Kriz alimanter mondyal li enn kriz karakterize par peniri e ogmantasyon pri manze;
Prodwi alimanter pa ti bizin alamersi profi kapitalist;
* Spekilasyon ek kontrol par kartel lor prodiksyon ek komers manze pu vinn anpir sa kriz alimanter-la;
* Ena enn danze reyel ki serten prodikter ek komersan fer hording, e ki marse nwar agrav sityasyon;
* Enn gran proporsyon prodiksyon alimanter mondyal pe deturne ver prodiksyon biokarbiran akoz profi;
* Ena danze ki atraver propagasyon OGM, prodiksyon alimanter vinn plis su kontrol konpayni prive miltinasyonal kuma Monsanto ek Novartis;
* Plizir pei prodikter diri ek dible pe aret ubyen diminye zot exportasyon pu ki zot anpes peniri ek ogmantasyon pri lor zot prop marse nasyonal;
* Bann exper pe predir ki sa peniri la pu dire lontan, e li pu anpire;
* Kote zeografik, Moris elwayne depi so aprovizyonnman manze debaz ek so surs dile ek lezot prodwi alimanter; e sa dan enn lepok kan ena ogmantasyon san-ses pri transportasyon akoz ogmantasyon pri petrol, e sa depans adisyonel la, li reperkite lor pri manze;
* Sekirite alimanter enn fakter esansyel pu sirvi enn lepep;

E etan done ki,
* Li premye fwa, dan listwar nu pei, ki nu truv nu dan enn moman kot ena lokazyon pu lepep met an-kestyon propriete ek itilizasyon later dan Repiblik Moris,

E, etan done ki:
* Preske tu bon later Lil Moris su plantasyon kann;
* Tu fasilite Guvernmantal ziska ler finn benefisye sirtu planter ki plant kann (institisyon antye kuma MSIRI, plis fezans, semans, lasirans);
* Parey kuma agrikiltir non-disik Lil Moris, lagrikiltir Lil Rodrig an antye finn delese anterm sutyen depi Leta, relativ a sutyen ki planter kann finn gayne e pe kontiyn gayne; setadir ena labsans fasilite pu planter ki plant prodwi alimanter, ki li dan Moris ubyen Rodrig;
* Labsans dilo irigasyon dan Lil Rodrig, ek serten landrwa Lil Moris;
* Pri disik pu tonbe, e pu instab e inprevizib akoz pu nepli ena ni marse garanti ni pri garanti;
* Tablisman proprieter enn gran pursantaz pli bon later agrikol, e buku later agrikol pe konverti an batiman ubyen an IRS ek so teren golf;
* Politik agrikol Guvernman siksesiv finn amenn destriksyon masif lanplwa, dan enn lepok kan somaz deza pe ariv pre 10% (si kalkil li byen);
* “Mezir akonpaynman” depi Linyon Eropyen, li sipoze enn konpansasyon pu devlop lekonomi an zeneral, me li pe servi, ziska ler (dapre Multi-Annual Adaptation Strategy), preske an antye pu devlopman sekter kann; setadir sa larzan Lerop pu konpans rediksyon pri disik, li pe al zis dan perpetye plantasyon kann, o-detriman kreasyon anplwa ek o-detriman sekirite alimanter;

E etan done ki,
* Lagon Moris ek Rodrig nepli dirab pu lapes pu bezwen alimanter pei, setadir lagon pe apovri deplizanpli;
* Repiblik Moris enn gran pei, anpartikilye akoz li kontenir pre 2 milyon kilomet kare lamer;

E etan done ki,
* Lamas dimunn pena akse a later pu plante ubyen fer lelvaz;
* Deza ena, parmi lamas dimunn dan Repiblik Moris an zeneral e anpartikilye dan Rodrig, konesans osi byen ki volonte, pu plante e pu fer lelvaz e pu al lapes,
* Etan done ki nu tuzur dan enn sosyete patriarkal, kot fam responsab byen suvan pu alimantasyon, sanki li ena mwayen pran sa responsabilite-la,

Nu demand:

1. Ki Guvernman bizin re-get itilizasyon, propriete ek kontrol later agrikol, an zeneral dan pei, dan loptik sekirite alimanter;

2. Ki Guvernman bizin reget propriete e kontrol sa 4 klester- la (Medine, FUEL, Bel Vue ek SUDS), avek enn bi, ant ot, pu ankuraz diversifikasyon ek sekirite alimanter;

3. Pu kumanse, Guvernman bizin introdir lalwa pu ki tu antreliyn pu ena prodwi alimanter plante pandan 4 mwa sak lane lor tu sa 100,000 arpan later tablisman su kann, ek sa 90,000 arpan ti-planter su kann; seki pa ule plant so karo limem, li lwe li a kikenn ki ule plante; sa pu konsern plantasyon sirtu pu prodwi kuma pomdeter, pomdamur, zariko, zonyon, batat, arwi-vyolet, dible, may, etc; kumsa, sa pu interfere mwens avek plantasyon kann, dan enn premye tan;

4. Ki Guvernman bizin obliz Tablisman donn tu laburer ek artizan lisansye enn arpan later bay pu zot plant prodwi alimanter, regrupe an koperativ;

5. Ki Guvernman bizin asire ki tu dimunn ki anvi plante, lavil kuma vilaz, sirtu dimunn ki res dan flat NHDC, dan sere, dan depandans ubyen dan site, gayn akse a bann zarden kominoter (“allotment”) pu plante; ki Guvernman bizin organiz fasilite pu dimunn kapav lans plantasyon dan “ser” (greenhouse), ubyen plant idroponik;

6. Ki Guvernman bizin introdir mezir insitativ, ek kot neseser sibsid, pu planter ki prodwir prodwi alimanter ek pu elver, kuma:
a. Asir semans, kote intran
b. Asir dilo irigasyon a enn pri abordab, e konstrir ladig, Rodrig sirtu
c. Asir fezans
d. Asir lasirans, kuma enn Welfare Fund
e. Asir marse ek pri garanti atraver enn bon Marketing Board ki stabiliz pri pu prodwi later, dile, dizef, pwason, lavyann, ek atraver enn bon Meat Authority; asir fasilite stokaz pu planter, elver ek peser;
f. Met dibut agro-indistri, setadir asir kapasite pu prezerv ek transform prodwi alimanter (met dan bwat, fer delwil kwi manze, etc.)
g. Re-lans stasyon Palmar ki prodir zenn zanimo, re-lans prodiksyon manze zanimo, e re-lans prodiksyon ti-pye pu plante
h. Fer marketing pu prodwi agrikol lokal, e dan Moris e deor.

7. Ki Guvernman bizin asire ki konesans tradisyonel kapav transmet a nuvo zenerasyon, e ki konesans syantifik zwenn ansam a sa konesans tradisyonel la, ki li Lil Moris, Lil Rodrig, Lil Agalega, e dan Chagos osi, pu ki lagrikiltir, lelvaz ek lapes devlope byen.

8. Guvernman bizin anpes intermedyer (bayan, arkanter, marsan dile) akapar tu “plis-valer”; setadir prodikter bizin ena akse a kredi ek marketing koperativ;

9. Guvernman bizin donn larzan pu konstrir bato ki kapav al lor Ban, pu ki peser Moris kapav ariv kot Ban, ek amenn pwason.

10. Bizin kontrol larises marinn, anpes piyaz, e asir renuvelman stok pwason.

11. Ki pri prodwi alimanter bizin garanti pu prodikter ek anmemtan fixe pu dimunn ki aste li pu manze; kot neseser, Guvernman bizin met sibsid ubyen kree “stabilizing fund”.

12. Guvernman bizin lev lavwa dan bann instans internasyonal kont blokaz WTO ki rod anpes Guvernman protez lagrikiltir dan pei Tyer Mond; sirtu kan Lerop ek Lamerik sibvansyonn zot lagrikiltir;

13. Guvernman bizin asir enn Repiblik Moris “OGM-FREE”; enn bon sayd-efek sa se li pu atir turis “bio” ver destinasyon Moris.

14. Ki Guvernman bizin asir sekirite alimanter par tu sa mezir lao pu ki pei-la plizumwen oto-sifizan an 5 kategori prodwi alimanter diferan:

a. Manze debaz: enn seri aliman varye: diri, may, manyok, pomdeter, dible, arwi, larorut, patat, friyapen. (Ena peniri.)
b. Dile. (Ena peniri.)
c. Dizef, pul, lavyann. (Moris inport laplipar so lavyann.)
d. Pwason. (Moris kapav fasilman otosifizan – me bizin guvernman organiz investisman.)
e. Legim, fri, pomdamur, zepis. (Moris enan enn degre otosifizans; kapav devlop prezervasyon.)