Interview with Ahmed Sourani, PARC-Gaza
September 13, 2006
Interview with Ahmed Sourani, PARC-Gaza
Interview with Ahmed Sourani, PARC-Gaza
September 13, 2006
In New Orleans, today, farmers, fishers, shrimpers and chefs will join the community in a Thanksgiving dinner at the Crescent City Farmers Market. They will give thanks and "celebrate surviving, reinventing and rediscovering the power of community." On our recent trip to the South, Azalia and I had the privilege to experience the power and strength of the Crescent City Farmers Market. We witnessed the endurance of the producers to continue with a long tradition of going to the market, and the customers' relief that they continue to be there.
Corrina and I just returned from a whirlwind three-state tour of the South. Our trip began in Alabama, took us to Mississippi and ended in New Orleans, Louisiana. The landscape was beautiful, the heat and humidity bordering on oppressive, the vowels pronounced long and slowly, the people welcoming and the food delicious.
I tracked my food labels for 4 days. I had originally planned on doing five days, but it was a very time consuming process. Fortunately, for me it was somewhat easy because I repeated many dishes and ate the same thing for breakfast all week. But it took me a good two hours on the internet doing research on the foods that I ate.
A few years ago I was driving around lost on the Olympic Peninsula. I was in a hurry, trying to make my way to Hurricane Ridge overlook in the Olympic Mountains in time to see the sunset. When I figured out where I'd gone wrong, I made a u-turn and I almost didn't stop at the little farm stand that caught my eyes both times I drove by it, but I decided that maybe the forces of serendipity had sent me on that detour just so that I could try the local fruit.
I bought a few peaches--individually nestled in extra-large egg carton type material--and a pint of cherries, and chatted with the folks on the other side of the table for a few moments, about the growing season (it seemed late for peaches to me), about the other crops they grow, what a lovely day it was, that kind of thing.
Day One–Total Spent: $6.26
Bag of generic oats--$1.99
I am used to cooking the instant oats that come in a package. My plan was to buy a big bag of oats and eat oatmeal for breakfast and dinner. I was very inept at making oatmeal on the stovetop. In addition, I was already at the $2.00 mark so I decided not to buy sugar or butter to add to the oatmeal. This was disgusting and I was unable to eat my oatmeal for breakfast let alone dinner. My plan was to eat oatmeal for breakfast all week. I quickly gave up on this plan completely.
Our curriculum "Land and Hunger: Making the Rights Connection" is complete and up on our website. All of the exercises have been tested at least once. One of the exercises that we're most excited about is called "What You Can Do." This is the exercise that lets us know whether or not the workshop compels participants to act. This movement from education to action is a crucial element in our effort to raise consciousness and build social movements.
Many things have changed in the Gaza Strip since Hamas won the elections in January 2006 according to the public will. The E.U. and U.S.
"Farm to Cafeteria" is a wonderful idea being promoted by a large number of organizations representing family farmers, farm workers, children's and youth advocates, environmental, health and hunger activists, organic consumers, faith-based groups and others, including Grassroots International, the National Family Farm Coalition, the Rural Coalition, the Organic Consumers Association and the Community Food Security Coalition.
This week, Grassroots is participating in a series of events that we helped the National Family Farm Coalition organize in Washington, D.C..
I was in D.C. on Monday for an exciting public forum (you can see a PDF of the program here), hosted by the NFFC and featuring speakers from many other members of the Via Capesina, including Pedro Christoffoli, a representative of Grassroots' partner, the MST.
Leaders of the movement of family farmers and farm workers from all over the United States met with leaders of farmer and peasant movements from Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Mali to talk about the right of people everywhere to have enough food, to be able to choose how and where that food is produced and to have a dignified livelihood.
Everyday more than 800 million people go hungry. Many of the hungry are family farmers or landless farm workers in the Global South. In the U.S., family farmers are struggling to stay in business and fighting for a cleaner environment and for a food system that will protect rural livelihoods and provide consumers with safe, delicious, local food. To face these daunting challenges, family farmers from around the world are organizing themselves into a global movement for social justice.
In Washington D.C., Grassroots and the National Family Farm Coalition organized a public forum for farmers movements, academics and activists from around the nation and around the world to share theirglobal vision for food and farming.
Jose Bove, who spoke here at Grassroots International about the campaign to protect the European food system and environment from the dangers of genetically modified crops, has been denied entry to the United States as he was en route to speak at a meeting with farmers, labor activists, students and others in Ithaca, New York.
Immigration authorities accused Bove of lying on his entry form about a history of prosecution for "moral crimes." Bove admitted he had been jailed in France for "political crimes," including protests against Monsanto and McDonald's.
In spite of the WTO's announcement of new compromises and "progress" on the agreement on agriculture (which would deepen the damage done to agricultural systems, food sovereignty and rural economies around the world by years of neo-liberal policies), many observers doubt that negotiators will be able to meet the deadlines and goals of the proposed deal.
Grassroots supporter Andy Lin has traveled to Hong Kong with United Students Against Sweatshops and the Worker's Rights Consortium, and has sent us a few photographs of the scene there.
Above and to the left is a shot of a group of Hong Kong Police in full riot gear, waiting for a clash that never happened. Below, a shot of a peaceful group of women marching to the convention center on Thursday, Dec 15.
Many thanks to Andy for sending these photos and to all the people who've traveled to Hong Kong to struggle for a more just world.
Stay tuned for further updates.
Our latest dispatch from Hong Kong: The NFFC's Dena Hoff gives us an inside look at how the WTO tries to keep popular voices as far from the treaty deliberations--and from the press--as they can.
Our latest dispatch from Hong Kong comes from George Naylor, who farms near Churdan, Iowa, is a member of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and is President of the National Family Farm Coalition:
I'm afraid it's lost it's exotic quality. Now almost everything is name brand. At least there's good public transportation, so traffic jams wouldn't be one reason to leave the city for the family farm like I left California 30 years ago.
Shopping for a cell phone the other night, a young salesperson wanted to know why anyone would oppose the WTO. "It does so many good things," he said.
I wish I'd had the time to find out what he saw as a future for a young Hong Kong resident like himself. To what would one advance?
The following post is by Dena Hoff, farmer from Montana, Secretary of the National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC), former chair of the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) and member of the Northern Plains Resource Council. She is part of a delegation of U.S. farmers and farmworkers protesting against the WTO in Hong Kong with the Via Campesina this week. Grassroots Journal is very excited to be hosting these reports from inside the protest.
We are gearing up for our first major Via Campesina rally tomorrow. The largest farmers' delegations are arriving and settling in today, getting oriented and meeting each other, many of us for the first time.
Hong Kong is a giant shopper's paradise. Shopping seems to be a major recreational hobby with streets packed late into the night. Bling everywhere among the Christmas decorations.
Yesterday, the US released its trade position for the upcoming World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Meeting in Hong Kong in December. The US plan calls for deep subsidy cuts for the US and the European Union. Yet, the cuts rest on the promise that developing countries will significantly reduce industrial tariffs--a compromise that the world's least developed countries say threaten their development and livelihood security rights.
The majority of Grassroots International's partners rely on agriculture for income, food security and sustaining healthy communities. The US's trade position is intricately linked to the parameters of the US Farm Bill, the major legislation that ultimately controls US and global agricultural markets. Our partners' livelihoods are affected by a US agricultural policy process that they have no control over. Their greatest hope is through social movements like the Via Campesina, an international movement of small farmers, indigenous communities, community fisher people, agricultural workers and rural women working to stop global agriculture from being regulated through the WTO.
Current U.S. food aid policy makes responding to wide-spread hunger like the current conditions in Niger an opportunity for the U.S. agricultural industry to gain new markets.
A recent study by a Grassroots International Resource Rights Advisor, Kathleen McAfee, and Sophia Murphy of the Institute for Agricultural and Trade Policy (IATP), shows two distinct changes to the way U.S. food aid operates that could focus aid on saving lives rather than boosting sales for the U.S. agricultural industry.
They are: 1) provide cash, not U.S. produced food, to the U.N. World Food Programme and 2) support the World Food Programme'?s effort to buy food from regions adjacent to affected areas by not inundating local markets with U.S. food sales.
PARC is one of the largest NGOs in Palestine concerned with sustainable rural development and social change.