Socialist Agrarian Transformation

Kathmandu: What Nepal lacks seriously at present is the rigorous discussion on the model of development in its path towards socialism as enshrined in the Constitution. In a country where majority of the population depends on farming for their livelihood, there can't be other alternatives than agriculture itself to bring the visible changes in the lives of people. Pramesh Pokharel, a peasant activist, has brought a book entitled Krishi Ko Samajabadi Rupantaran i.e. Socialist Agrarian Transformation as one of the tools to empower the progressive mass timely. It has called upon a valid discussion on the model of agrarian transformation for Nepal. 

In his book, he has clearly mentioned that the transformation of agriculture should be based on the principles of food sovereignty ensuring rights of the peasants and producers. The book highlights that the transformation should incorporate the pillars of ecological and economic justice, peasants’ rights, localized food system and self-sufficiency. Agro-ecology incorporates the principles of seed sovereignty, community wisdom (indigenous knowledge and practices) and science where as it advocates the access and control of producers to productive resources.  

NCP Spokesperson Narayankaji Shrestha Prakash releasing the book Krishi Ko Samajabadi Rupantaran by  Pramesh Pokharel

He starts with the scenario of Nepalese agriculture and peasantry and analyzes the challenges and prospects. Introducing, discussing and presenting almost 40 political and technical burning issues, he criticizes the present policies being growth and profit oriented as advocated by neo-liberal capitalism. Under such circumstances, the liberation and prosperity of small scale peasants who dominates Nepalese agriculture is not possible.

He links the misery and crisis of agriculture with the wrong policies under market economics heavily influenced by the slogan of commercialization and industrialization of agriculture. Issue of land grabbing, climate change, industrial and conventional agriculture, GMOs, WTO, chemical pesticide and fertilizer are introduced and discussed thoroughly to present the impacts on lives of small farmers.

Organic farming, bio-fertilizer, zero budget natural farming, agro-ecology, co-operatives are discussed as the elements of building the bases of socialism in agriculture. He also introduce the National and global peasants movements and their achivements such as recent declaration of the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas.

"Food is life and without food security and rights to food, other rights of human dignity, freedom and justice are far to achieve."
-Pramesh Pokharel

But the right to food especially of the producers who produce more than 70 % of the worlds' food and more than 90% of the total food produced in our country in a sustainable way protecting biodiversity, respecting natural balance and conserving culture is seriously violated as those are the people who go bed without full stomach or even hungry.

Agriculture is Nepal is facing more challenges every day. Therefore, we need to change the discourse. Analysis of present development paradigm especially its impact on agrarian sectors and livelihood of farmers is not only an issue of food security and farmers rights or  debate of capitalism or socialism, but also about humanity and mother earth. This is the gist of the book.

Putting solutions to problems, he explains, farm practices should be based on ecological and economic justice. It shouldn't undermine the nature and the working class in its profit motives. Therefore, agriculture which is eco-friendly and small peasants friendly is the need of the hour.  

Ensure the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas not only transform the agriculture and lives of peasantry but also bring change in rural livelihood. In a mountainous country with limited farm land, localized food system, self sufficiency, seed sovereignty, agro-ecology should be the tactical plan to ensure food sovereignty and moving towards socialism.

Nepal, which is also known for its natural and anthropogenic diversity, it's her heritage. Community wisdom and indigenous knowledge and practices can be big sources of innovation, adaptation and sustainable production. He also points out that as ensured in the constitution scientific land and resource reform to ensure access and control of producers to productive resources should be also important to begin the transformation.

He clearly states that agriculture should be ruled by WTO and market principles. Small farmers should be protected from market competition and food dumping. Similarly he rejects the industrial agriculture which is the favorite word of many leaders. In Nepal, industrial model of agriculture which is already hazardous to environment and exploitative to peasants can't be the option. What we want is Justice and equity against growth. What should be stopped are privatization and grabbing and degradation of productive resources. We need to be brave and say, No to GMO and Chemical farming. 

Mr. Pokharel concludes hill farming, agro-ecology, multi-cropping, crop rotation, and family farming, priority to fruits and cash crops, livestock and herbal production have high prospects in Nepal. These are the ways to achieve self sufficiency that eventually pave way forward for guaranteeing food sovereignty of building socialist economy.