We, peasants’ movements and civil society organizations from Mozambique, Brazil and Japan, met in Tokyo, Japan, between the 20th and the 22nd of November 2018 for the 4th Triangular Peoples’ Conference against ProSAVANA.
In the days leading up to the conference, we visited the farms of Japanese peasants, whom with we exchanged valuable experiences on peasant agriculture and strengthened solidarity bonds built over the last few years.
With Japanese civil society, and amongst a wider audience, we exposed the agribusiness capital agenda of eliminating peasant agriculture in our territories, exemplified by programs such as ProSAVANA in Mozambique or MATOPIBA in Brazil, which are promoted by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), in alliance with the financial capital and governments of these countries. Both ProSAVANA and MATOPIBA are agrarian programs designed for the large-scale production of commodities for the sake of capital. Nevertheless, documents of both programs contain distorted claims regarding its rural development and granting food security intentions.
Our conference also allowed us to share cases of resistance to this type of imposed agricultural programs and to showcase concrete experiences of agroecology in Mozambique, Brazil and Japan.
By the end of these days of meetings and deliberations – and after meeting with the representatives of JICA, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), the Japanese Ministry of Finance and the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) – we reiterate our rejection of ProSAVANA in Mozambique and of MATOPIBA in Brazil. We demand from the government of Japan and JICA their urgent withdrawal from these programs.
Almost 40 years after its inception, JICA continues praising Brazil’s PRODECER agricultural program. Although in its recent statements they mention the need to avoid replicating PRODECER in Mozambique, JICA continues to use the disastrous experience of Brazil as a case of agricultural success, even though it has caused the extermination, expulsion and subordination of several indigenous and sertanejo peoples who lived there and whose knowledge has constituted over the centuries the agrobiodiversity of the Cerrados. The agriculture promoted by JICA in Brazil is made of extensive monocultures – mainly of transgenic soybeans, causes the reduction of biodiversity and the depletion of soil and water, contaminating the waters with pesticides – some of which are even banned in Japan. In fact, Japan needs to import large quantities of soybeans (corn and wheat) to meet the food needs of its dense population.
Brazilian Cerrado’s most recent front, MATOPIBA, is currently the object of serious conflicts due to the persistence of its vision. Once again, JICA and the Japanese government prefer to ignore public criticism and socio-environmental disasters stemming from decades of predatory occupation by joining the program.
During the last United Nations General Assembly in November (2018), Japan did not vote in favour of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas. By choosing to abstain, Japan sent us a clear message. It would be illogical to believe that the most important Japanese State cooperation agency intends to support the Mozambican peasants if this country regards peasantry as not worthy of rights.
ProSAVANA and MATOPIBA represent a clear attack on the peasant class. As a result of the way these processes have been conducted so far, peasants in the regions of implementation are being denied the right to decide on their own food systems. They continue to be treated as passive objects and to see denied their key role and accumulated knowledge and values linked to peasant agriculture, as well as the importance of their cooperation and solidarity with each other. Imposing agricultural practices and options that are foreign to its conception, not only jeopardizes the food sovereignty of peoples, but also hampers the social, cultural, economic and environmental organization of peasants in these regions.
We call on Japanese civil society and general public to stand in solidarity with the peoples of Mozambique and Brazil, especially the people of the Nacala Corridor in Mozambique and of the Brazilian Cerrado, rejecting the use of Japanese people’s public resources to finance cooperation programs – such as ProSAVANA and MATOPIBA – that violate the human rights of peoples and devastate the environment of foreign lands.
While reiterating our unconditional rejection of ProSAVANA and MATOPIBA, we demand:
That the Governments of Mozambique and Brazil, together with peasant and civil society organizations, draw up genuine, locally-conceived national peasant agriculture plans, with each country’s food sovereignty in mind;
That all programs and investments that promote a predatory occupation of territories, compromise the integrity of peoples and systematically violate the human rights of peoples are stopped;
That the Japanese International Cooperation Agency abandons ProSAVANA and MATOPIBA;
That the Government of Japan, through its Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Finance, responsibly examine the complaints and denunciations made by peasants and civil society;
That the State of Japan hold Japanese companies responsible for human rights violations committed in Mozambique and Brazil;
That the Government of Mozambique disclose all information regarding ongoing programs and investments in the Nacala corridor, as it is bound do in the case of ProSAVANA, following a decision of the Mozambican court in favour of the Mozambican Bar Association.
We, the peasants and civil society organizations of the Triangular People’s Conference, declare that we will continue to articulate ourselves as the No to ProSAVANA Campaign and that our actions of resistance will carry on, while at the same time we will also continue to practice peasant agriculture in accordance with our customs and our culture, taking care of the land, the water, native seeds and biodiversity as a whole, hence respecting the knowledge of our ancestors and passing it on to future generations, as a guarantee of the food sovereignty of our peoples.
No to ProSAVANA!
Yes to peasant agriculture and Food Sovereignty!
Tokyo, 22nd of November 2018