Thai Assembly: Food citizenship network
14-15 September 2018, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
The 5th Mindful Markets Asia Forum was held at Chulalongkorn University, starting by a panel discussion led by Wallapa Van Willenswaard on the best practices and learning experience of 5 communities in Thailand.
The collaborative work of Home-Temple-School, Wat Pho-Riang Community, Bangkok
Mr. Suranat Pangprasert represents the community as a new generation leader. He saw problems in his own community where 80% of the youth easily became involved in drugs and see no value in their own community. The lack of awareness built up garbage in the river, creating several unsafe zones that led to an unhealthy community. To tackle this, Mr. Suranat found the need to raise awareness and increase the skills of youth and adults in the community. He found two women from the community to teach youth to grow sunflower shoots and make salted eggs. He encourages people in the community to grow their own vegetables and build interest in a healthy lifestyle with group exercises, training and sharing of ideas.
Health & Learning Space, Klongjun Stadium, Kolongjun Community, Bangkok
Mr. Korapon Janjiraphat, a 22-year-old leader who received the Outstanding Children and Youth of Bangkok award in 2015 is now the director of youth programs and activities at the Klongjun Stadium. The Klongjun Stadium is designed to improve the lives of the community. There are numerous facilities that promote health through physical activities and creative areas for children and youth. Mr. Jam began to facilitate community learning and sharing through fun filled activities in the open space.
Integrated Media and Art, Rongmeung Community, Bangkok
Ms. Saowarat Pradar represents the Children Development Foundation and the Rong-Meung Smile Project. The project at Rongmeung Community uses media and art as a medium to develop children and youth strength and promote a healthy lifestyle to the community. Children create artwork in the context of what makes a healthy breakfast. They learn from each other and gain a sense of acceptance and accomplishment from the elderly in the community. Thus, the bond between adults and young children increases, growing the community towards a positive light.
Seed of Love, Pang-Sa Community, Chiang Rai
Mr. Supot Leeja said seeds represent love. Lahu Tribe of Pang-Sa Community believes in sharing love through preserving the organic seeds, the tradition which has been passed from generation to generation. Pang-sa is an indigenous community of Northern Thailand. They practice their indigenous way of preserving seeds and traditional way of farming by using their wisdom and knowledge, and not relying on technology. They want all people to be healthy by eating organic and not to harm their health with the toxins in food. They want all farmers and families be self- sufficient first and then sell to others.
Green School and Hospital Rev. Wuttichai Ongnawa presented on green school and hospital. The project has been working to link producers and consumers who care for their health and the Earth. St. Ignatius community in Ratchaburi created an integrated model, which focuses on organic farming production linking farmers and consumer networks in Ratchaburi.
The main activities of the project are organic stations or mobile organic mobile sales outlets to connect producers and consumers, and providing organic vegetables to schools and hospitals for safe and healthy food. Hopefully the project will be a part of a Ratchaburi Development Model that can be implemented in other provinces in Thailand. The key learning point of the panel discussion of these 5 well- being communities of Thailand is the need to preserve natural seed in this crucial period of time. The people have to realize the importance of natural seeds in order to protect our health and the environment. Traditional organic farming has to be encouraged with the farmers all around the world. The idea of exercising together really impressed all the participants, as health should be the first concern of every individual.
Food justice and the Right to Healthy Food
The 2nd day began with the musical and performance- blessing for goodness and happiness; it was led by the Lisu group and joined by Mindful Markets Course participants, and then the welcoming speech of Professor Surat Horachaikul, Director of Indian Studies Centre of Chulalongkorn University. Then Hans van Willenswaard, an advisor for School for Wellbeing and Research, gave an introduction on the Mindful Markets Asia Forum and explained briefly about how it all began. This is the fifth year of the forum and the topic of the year is ‘Food Justice.’ Hans introduced the Keynote Speaker, Dr. Colin Gonsalves, the Senior Advocate at the Supreme Court of India and Founder Director of the Human Rights Law Network.
Dr. Colin introduced how he came about this mission when he realized that people in poverty in India had no food to live by. How can a country be strong if it cannot provide for its own people? Food is the biggest issue in India. While India has 7% growth of GDP, the country with the 2nd biggest population in the world has 70% of its population below poverty line. 750 Billion out of 1,020 Billion are BPL. Every year 50% of the kids and youth are malnourished due to the extreme level of poverty. On the other hand, 30% of the populations have incredible wealth. He quoted, “Rich people are getting richer and poor people are getting poorer.”
Right to Food movement started in the state of Rajasthan in India after witnessing the wastage of 750 million ton of rice that flows into the drain or eaten by rats every day. This amount of grains could have been fed to millions of people for a year. India would have suffered less starvation while having so much of grains going wasted. That was how Dr. Colin and his team proceeded for the ‘Right to Food’ under the Indian constitutional fundamental rights in the Supreme Court of India.
Right to food case became a historic case worldwide. They won the case after 10 years of fighting in the Supreme Court of India. Today, the Indian government is providing free food in all the government schools of India. The scheme launched as ‘mid- day meal’. Women are provided free health supplements in the hospital. Dr. Colin concluded his speech by giving a message to the youth to be prepared for the world that is going to emerge in a more difficult time.
Panel Discussion: Food Citizenship
Moderated by Wallapa van Willlenswaard, founder of the Mindful Markets movement
GRAIN, Indonesia, Kartini Samon explained that GRAIN is a small international non- profit organization that works to support small farmers and social movements in their struggles for community- controlled and biodiversity- based food systems. GRAIN produces several reports each year. They are substantial research documents providing in-depth background information and analysis.
CSA Network, China, Gao Wen, Secretariat of National CSA Network, presented the CSA network in China as an example of a great model of community-supported agriculture. They worked together with farmers, educated them about the system, and slowly spread the concept throughout China. Different places work differently depending on how a group of farmers can support how many families. It works through a subscription basis, whereby consumers have to understand the condition and problems that farmers may face and accept mutually.
International Volunteers of Yamagata (IVY), Cambodia/Japan, Ayumi Matsuura is a Country Director of IVY. Their group supports poverty reduction projects and organic product markets in Svay Rieng and Preah Vihear in Cambodia. IVY helps improve farmers’ community management, strengthening the organic rice market in Preah Vihear, and also continues to help Syay Rieng Agro- products by building a new market centre to help get the vegetables for sale effectively. IVY is trying to empower farmers by helping them receive more information, providing them a chance to study and prepare farmers’ teams in the rural areas.
Rikolto, Indonesia, Nana Suhartana is a Rice Sector Manager of Rikolto in Indonesia. Rikolto helps farmers develop organic rice production and value chains linking with rural and urban consumers. Rikolto is supporting a Food Smart City program to integrate healthy food production and consumer awareness in smart city policies conducted in several cities in Indonesia. They carry out a healthy food campaign with the ‘Healthy food healthy living’ theme.
Each of the speakers presented their project explicitly. We were given insights on different problems regarding the lack of access to healthy food and how they went about solving this challenge in different countries in Asia. All the projects differ but projected the same ideal which is aiming to provide healthy food to the community and to support farmers in their network.
Mindful Market Asia Forum – World Café
The afternoon was, World Café which is a process that involves participants separating into different groups and brainstorming ideas on paper on the next steps and how to proceed in future in order for everyone to share responsibilities in growing the healthy, organic food network for all. To conclude the 5th Mindful Markets Forum, key ideas that were presented are;
- To find better solution for small-scale farmers over large corporations which are controlling food rights with seed patents in many countries around the world.
- To create more awareness on the benefits of organic food for health, community, and environment.
- To establish a direct relationship between farmers and consumers.
- To create a platform and grow better relations between adults and youth.
- To provide every individual, every society and community the basic right to healthy food.
- Fights for farmers’ rights
- The final question that echoes the principle behind Food Citizenship: Who owns the earth?