Movement for National Land and Agricultural Reform
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Origin Movement for National Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) was formed as a network of farmer organizations, NGOs and people’s organizations in other sectors at the beginning of 1990, in response to the serious socio-political and economic crisis that emerged in Sri Lanka at the end of 1980s. Efforts made in integrating Sri Lanka’s economy into the globalization process resulted in an unprecedented increase in rural poverty, breakdown in rural small farmer agriculture, malnutrition among children, high rate of anemia, among mothers, low birth weight babies, large increase in income disparities, loss of livelihoods.

Political unrest and suppression resulted in Sri Lanka becoming the country with highest number of political killings. These contributed to the intensification of the internal war. MONLAR initiated a process of dialogue among people, island wide, with the objective of developing a people’s response by working out an alternative sustainable development approach.

   
History & Organization Setup Six years of island wide educational work, campaigns on economic and agricultural policies, dialogue with government on policy changes, work on concrete issues, such as World Bank’s policy recommendations have led to the formation of district and lower level peasants organizations in several districts. A people’s Memorandum with alternative development proposals was submitted to government with 150,000 signatures in January 1995. Practical alternatives based on people’s plans have been introduced. Links have been made with movements and campaigns internationally towards a vision of sustainable development. MONLAR is a national network of a over 100 organizations.
   
Memberships I. Small and land less farmers in agricultural districts. District level organizations formed in nearly all agricultural districts.

II. NGOs and other peoples organizations associated with MONLAR undertaking sustainable development approaches and joint activity for policy changes at macro and micro levels.

III. Intellectuals, youth and students, political parties and groups, clergy religious leaderships and trade unions.

IV. Women and mothers in rural areas in collaboration with Movement of Mothers to Combat Malnutrition (MMCM) and other rural women’s organizations on issues of poverty, malnutrition and food security and developing women’s initiative and leadership.

Educational work on development issues with other sectors and groups who matter in development policy decisions at national, provincial and district levels.

   
Vision and Approach MONLAR from its early beginnings have had the vision that an "alternative to destructive economic Globalisation was possible". Initially it was with the understanding that the situation in Sri Lanka and among most poor people of the world demanded such an alternative, if the poor and the natural environment were to survive. Thus, any minor adjustments or efforts to make the present processes of inhuman economic globalization a little more humane was not satisfactory. The experiences of the past years and the emergence of movements against Globalisation world wide and the experiences such as Seattle, World Social Forums of Porto Allegre and also the more recent experience of the Asian Social Forum has convinced us that "Another World is Possible". The pessimistic position that "there is no other alternative" was being increasingly rejected. This was also the experience in Sri Lanka and the analysis of the present context shows that repeated attempts made by the powers in the country to adjust into the processes of liberalization is making the situation worse for the poor and for the country as a whole.

This also brings new challenges. The challenges of working out the key element of an alternative development strategy, alternative strategies of eradication of poverty, building of a wide vision among the people "A Better World is Possible", developing viable and acceptable alternatives to the so called "PRSP" processes pushed by the powers. All these make it necessary that MONLAR should shift way from being a typical "NGO" with a limited sphere of influence. Rather it should now begin to acquire its intended task of being a "catalyst" for a much wider movement preparing to play the creative role expected of a broad national movement.

MONLAR believes that the historical and the present role of women in sustaining livelihoods and their capacity to develop such alternatives should be recognized and strengthened.

The approach adopted by MONLAR is to build national awareness in collaboration with organizations working among all other sectors of society affected/victimized by the present model. Its effort is to bring about policy changes at macro/national level, while developing people's own strength, awareness and capacity to protect their livelihoods, environment, food security, fighting against poverty and disparities.

MONLAR sees the importance of building a vision and broad alliances among people within the country and internationally to pool their resources, knowledge, experiences and strength of organized action.

   
Mission The process of empowerment of people includes creating maximum possible awareness of these threatening processes and of building faith in an alternative sustainable future through enhancing knowledge, sharing of experiences and organised action. This process should be one of enhancing people's own creative potential and initiative.

In order to facilitate the process of people actively participating in the process of building sustainable (economically viable, socially just, environmentally friendly and culturally acceptable) alternatives MONLAR attempts to gather knowledge and experiences of the local practitioners as well as those outside the country and disseminate them to promote dialogue and practical application. Such experiences and dialogue is used in the process of formulating policies to be advocated at national level. Reviving traditional knowledge in sustainable approaches and combining them with modern scientific knowledge to meet the present needs and challenges is promoted.

In Sri Lanka the pains and destruction is felt most strongly among the rural agricultural sector, which forms more than half the population in the country. While they also have the highest potential to contribute positively towards such a process of change.

   
Aims and Objectives MONLAR aims at contributing towards the above process of change by helping both village level communities as well as those in other sectors and at other levels of society through information, education, analysis and organised action. While developing an overall long-term vision covering all the relevant aspects. People are assisted, trained and encouraged to undertake practical alternatives in sustainable livelihoods (mainly in agriculture).
   
Focus The main focus of MONLAR activities in trying to strengthen civil society responses to "development processes" is to work with the rural poor, through the people's organisations and NGOs working at grass roots level. Education, awareness building and training includes wider awareness about processes and trends at macro level, namely the government policies and programmes and the wider global processes and also the emerging alternatives at national and international levels. This is done to enable the people and organisations to develop meaningful, effective responses.

MONLAR concentrates its efforts largely with people and issues related to land and agriculture while making efforts to collaborate with other networks in other sectors.

   
Strategy and Approach The strategy adopted comprises of a two approach. One of awareness, education and organised action for change of policies, vision and strategies from local to national levels in collaboration with action at global level and the other of promoting people's practical alternatives at household, village regional and wider levels. These approaches are decided on the basis of their potential contribution to strengthening each other.


For this purpose MONLAR tries to reach the rural poor communities, as well as those at other levels, particularly those who matter in the process of decision making at political/official levels and at the level of civil society. MONLAR is aware of the fact that life situation of the poor at grass roots level are affected directly by the plans and processes imposed by those at the top in the country and at international level. Thus any effective changes can be brought about not only by acting at the local level but also by working on the processes at higher level with broad awareness and collaboration. Therefore such awareness among people at grass roots level and also at other levels is an essential aspect of empowerment.

Keeping constant track of the current events, monitoring policy developments and issues of urgent current and future importance is an essential aspect of the work. This involves policy studies, information communication, and studies for alternative planning and training at grass roots level and also promoting dialogue at national and international level.

   
Nature of the Organisation MONLAR is an organisation with a membership of about 70 organisations that agree with its vision, objectives, policies, and strategy and contribute to its programme and actions in varying degrees.
   
Activities envisaged i. An important priority would be to workout a strategy of making small farmer agriculture economically viable, environmentally friendly, and socially just and culturally acceptable. It aims at overcoming hunger malnutrition and poverty.

ii. Introduction of Integrated Pest Management, organic fertilizer, soil and water resource conservation methods in the major paddy farming areas in Polonnaruwa, Kurunegala, Anuradhapura and Hambantota districts and sustainable agriculture in other districts. District Agriculture Profile studies, training, education and communication work of the movement will give priority to the above tasks. This is in response to the present proposals of displacing small settler farmers to expand land market in rural sector. This will endanger the agricultural livelihoods of over 1.2 million settler farmer families.

iii. Concrete efforts to involve associated NGOs in MONLAR network, local government bodies and government Agricultural Department in the above task will be under taken.

iv. Awareness building on the priorities of the "World Food Summit" in November 1996 and efforts to bring home the experiences and policy changes promoted at global level towards food security.

v. On going activities of MONLAR in studies, training, information and communication and on sustainable agriculture promotion will aim at promoting concrete alternatives.

vi. Campaigns on policy changes at local, regional/provincial and national levels.

   
Back ground and activities of MONLAR 1. Initiated by several farmer organisations and Peasant Information Centre (PIC) at the beginning of 1990.

2. Presented Memorandum to the "Presidential Task Force on Land Distribution and Utilisation" in 1990. Presented Memorandums to the "Presidential Commission on Youth" in 1990.

3. Participated in alternative global meeting in Brazil on "land, Ecology and Human Rights" during the UN Summit for Environment and Development (Earth Summit)-1992 ".

4 Engaged in island wide education and study process on agricultural policies and impact of economic policies of 1977. Over 500 such meetings and seminars were held covering 18 Districts between 1990 and 1994.

5. Initiated the Movement of Mothers to Combat Malnutrition in 1993.

6. Conducted a campaign, named "People's Memorandum", on economic and agricultural policies, with other organisations. Submitted petition with 150,000 signatures containing 28 proposals on agriculture and economy.

7. Invited by the President of PA Government in January 1995 for a discussion on agricultural policies with the Committee appointed to formulate a Policy Framework for Agriculture. At this discussion it was stated that 95% of the proposals made by MONLAR were acceptable to the Government.

8. Made submissions to the planning process of Samurdhi Movement invited by the minister of Samurdhi Mr. S. B. Dissanayake in 1995.

9. Invited by the President for discussions and paddy marketing in Aug. 1995. Nominated a group of 150 farmers' representatives to assist in paddy purchases by the government and proposed a plan of action.

10. Supported "Sadu Jana Ravaya" Programme on Peace from 1995.

11. Made submissions to World Bank and Government of Sri Lanka in Aug. 1995 and March 199E on the "Non Plantation Sector Policy Alternatives Report" of the World Bank.

12. Had direct discussions with the World Bank experts Mr. Robert Hunt and Douglas Lister who wrote the Report on the above proposals in May 1996.

13. Organised National Seminar on Food Security in Nov. 1996 prior to the World Food summit in 1996 with participation of prominent scientists and scholars.

14. Represented Sri. Lanka at Food Security Regional Meetings organised by FAO and NGOs in India (for South Asia), in Bangkok (for Asia) and Canada (FAO- 50th Anniversary) and in Rome. Global Summit on Food Security and participated at the World Food Summit in Rome as an observer.

15. Appointed member of the Global Forum and Food Security for Asia.

16. Presented proposals on Combating malnutrition to all political parties in 1994.

17. Wrote to President of World Bank Mr. James Wolfensohn following his speech "The other Crisis" on the situation of World Crisis following the Asian Crisis in October 1998.

18. Received response from World Bank admitting that World Bank had not consulted the people sufficiently and that planning with wider civil society participation was needed.

19. Wrote to President of Sri Lanka suggesting a wide dialogue on the development strategies was necessary in Sri Lanka.

20. Participated in the First International Conference of the "People's Global Action against GATT, WTO and "Free Trade" held in Feb. 1998 prior to the WTO Ministerial Meeting in Geneva.

21. Invited Government, World Bank and private sector for open Dialogue on economic proposals of World Bank, business community in October 1998.

22. Met the World Bank experts who were invited by the government to work on creating a "free land marker in Sri Lanka and discussed the adverse consequences of large numbers of rural small farmer families losing their land.

23. Met World Bank expert Mr. Mateen Thobani who was invited to advise the government on creating "Tradable Water Rights" (water market) in Sri Lanka.

24. Presented a paper on the Contribution of Farmers Movement in Sri Lanka towards Agricultural Policy Formulation at a Meeting of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP).

25. Initiated" Sri Lanka 2000 Coalition, and engaged in the petition campaign for debt cancellation of poor countries and for participatory processes of development planning. This campaign was conducted in Sri Lanka since May 1999 until the end of the year and nearly 300,000 signatures were collected and submitted at a public gathering on 151h Dec. 1999.

26. At the Second International Conference of PGA held in Bangalore 1999, MONLAR was elected the convener of PGA for South Asia for one year.

27. Participated in the international meeting convened by the Council of Europe on the theme "Globalisation without Poverty" Presented Sri Lanka experiences of 22 years of trade liberalisation and globalisation and its consequences on the poor.

28. Attended International Forum of Family Farmers held on 27 to 29 Nov. in Seattle, USA, parallel to the WTO Ministerial Meeting from Nov.30 to Dec. 3. This enabled us to study and join in the events in Seattle.

29. Through the Movement of Mothers to Combat Malnutrition a National Campaign for Reduction of Prices of Milk powders and for strengthening domestic milk production was initiated in mid 2001, when the prices increased making it impossible for over 2 million low income families to feed their children.


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