For the past 3 months, communities across Asia have been campaigning for Safe Rice for Life and Livelihood! — the rallying cry of this year's Collective Rice Action, organized by PAN Asia-Pacific's ongoing Save Our Rice Campaign.
This year's grassroots effort focused on raising awareness about the costs of chemically intensive rice farming across the region. Thousands of people concerned about protecting the health of farmers and their land flocked to a range of campaign events in 15 countries.
PAN AP emphasizes that protecting rice in Asia is much more than an economic issue:
Rice means life to us in Asia. It has been the cornerstone of our food systems, our languages, our cultures and our livelihoods for thousands of years.
Here are just a handful of the campaign's many innovative events:
- Sri Lanka & the Philippines: Seminars from farmers, scientists and health professionals on the benefits of organic farming. Sri Lanka also sponsored a youth essay contest.
- Nepal: A people’s tribunal against the harms inflicted by chemically intensive rice production on farmers and the environment.
- Cambodia: A two-day training to help farmers transition to organic rice production.
- India: A farmer/scientist/consumer "caravan" across rice cultivation districts in the northern state of Uttarkhand.
Powerful campaign events also took place in Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam. Sarojeni V. Rengam, Director of PAN Asia-Pacific, summarized the importance of the long-term Save Our Rice campaign:
There is an urgent need to reclaim the rice culture, community wisdom and biodiversity-based ecological agriculture which sustained rice communities for generations before the Green Revolution. This longstanding tradition ensured safe food for — and the food sovereignty of — small rice producers and rice consumers across Asia.