All posts by Dania Putri

Statement of 3rd Myanmar Opium Farmers Forum

On 11 and 12 September 2015 opium farmers and representatives of opium farming communities from Kayah State, Shan State, Kachin State and Chin State, came together in Upper Myanmar to discuss the drug policies affecting their lives. Following from the discussions the farmers issued a statement with recommendations to policy makers nationally and internationally.

Statement of 3rd Myanmar Opium Farmers’ Forum – English (pdf)

Statement of 3rd Myanmar Opium Farmers’ Forum – Espanol (pdf)

We, opium farmers and representatives of opium farming communities from Kayah State, Shan State, Kachin State and Chin State, came together in Upper Myanmar to discuss the drug policies affecting our lives and to make the following recommendations:

We grow opium in order to ensure food security for our family and to provide our basic needs, and to have access to health and education. We grow opium because of poverty and because we live in isolated and mountainous and high elevated areas, where it is difficult to grow other crops, infrastructure is weak and we face difficulties to transport crops, and where we have difficulty to access markets. We also have little access to land to grow other crops. The large majority of opium farmers are not rich and grow it for their survival. Therefore, they should not be treated as criminals.

Opium has many positive values for us. As there are few health facilities in our areas, we use opium as a traditional medicine for diarrhea, coughing, and as a painkiller and to keep us save from poisonous insects. For some of us, we believe it protects us from evil and if offered to spirits it will bring good luck. We also use it to treat sick animals.

Many of us live in areas with armed conflict. We have to pay opium tax to many armed groups. Some local representatives of government agencies, the police and the Myanmar army also come to our village, especially during harvest time, and demand money from us, and threaten that if we do not pay they will destroy our crop. Some armed groups ban opium cultivation and carry out eradication. In some places the government also carries out eradication.

While we have many problems to feed our family, we are also facing the risk of eradication. We feel there should be no eradication of our poppy fields, until we have access to alternative sources of income. Some of us mainly rely on opium cultivation for our livelihoods.

At the moment, very few of us have benefitted from development projects. Only very few alternative development programmes are in our areas. These programmes should be designed with our involvement, and should be suitable for our local environment and climate. The efficiency of the few programmes that are operating could be much improved.

In our areas there are also many problems related to drugs use, especially ATS and heroin. This is causing problems in our families and our society. We feel threatened by these problems. But until now there are very few services and programmes available to address these problems. We hope these programmes can be improved.

In conclusion, we do not want to be regarded as criminals. We demand to be involved in decision making processes about drug policies and development programmes that are affecting our lives.

Cannabis in the Caribbean

A Presentation by Junior “Spirit” Cottle

Cannabis represents livelihood for rural families. It is the means by which they can feed, clothe and provide shelter for their children.

Patrick Junior Leon Cottle, co-founder of the St.Vincent and the Grenadines Cannabis Revivial Committee (SVGCRC), adresses in this video the group attending the 13th Informal Drug Policy Dialogue, organised by TNI, WOLA and Intercambios-Puerto Rico in San Juan (Puerto Rico) between 23 and 25 of April.

Since he was unable to attend the Dialogue, he spoke with this video-message on the issue of cannabis cultivation in the region, and the importance to take into account the farmers perspective in the debate about cannabis regulation.

See original article by Alonzo Stephen

Valencia Declaration on UN Guiding Principles of Alternative Development

The Observatory of Crops Declared Illicit (OCDI) in Valencia (Spain)

Valencia Declaration – English (pdf)

Declaracion Valencia – Espanol (pdf)

The expert meeting held in Valencia was organized to discuss the UN Guiding Principles for Alternative Development,  soon to be at the core of the International Conference on Alternative Development in Lima, Peru, on November 15-16, 2012.

The result of these discussions was the following Valencia Declaration on Alternative Development.

Valencia Declaration 2012

The people present* in Valencia (Spain), on 9th and 10th November, convened by OCDI (Observatory of Crops Declared Illicit) concerned about the process of discussion and possible outcome on the Guiding Principles for Alternative Development, to be approved at the ICAD II (International Conference on Alternative Development), celebrated in Lima on the 15 th and 16 th of November, have agreed to make the following statement:

Having accessed the draft Ministerial Declaration on Alternative Development we observe a prominence accorded to international drugs conventions and drug control agencies above the struggle against poverty, the Millennium Development Goals and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Human related to illicit crops.

We note that the draft Ministerial Declaration presents generalities, repetitions, inconsistencies and an Andean bias, in contrast to the contributions of the workshop Thailand ICAD 2011, where experts and officials from different geographical areas, as reflected in the document E/cn.7/2012/8 of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, made progress in the debate in a concrete and consistent manner.

After reviewing the draft of the Lima Declaration, we want to emphasize that:

• Alternative Development is raised mainly in a framework of crop reduction, ignoring the broader social, economic and cultural context.

• The definition of the role of the state has its emphasis clearly on control and enforcement. However, we believe that the emphasis should be placed unconditionally on the role of the state as the promoters of human development while safeguarding fundamental rights of communities affected by problems of illicit crops.

• We appreciate that the draft recognizes the fundamental importance of a proper sequencing in implementing alternative development programs, understanding this as recognition that crop reduction is a consequence of development.

• We consider it essential for the state to assume an appropriate role in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, generated in the framework of crop reducing policies, recognizing that often the intervention of bodies and state security forces is inadequate and counterproductive.

• We demand an explicit recognition of the right to the traditional use of plants declared illegal.

• We demand a guarantee of the right to access and use of land by small farmers.

• We recommend that you capitalize the experiences and lessons learned and good practice in the 30 years of Alternative Development.We demand that international cooperation does not condition the participation in development programs to eradication.

• T he legitimacy of the state, the efforts of international agencies and organizations that support the environment and rural economies, are violated when eradication programs and alternative development programs are applied simultaneously.

• The draft declaration aims at developing a unique model of agribusiness (which, among other modalities, promotes monocultures) within the framework of the World Trade Organization and free trade agreements, which excludes access to factors of production to ensure sustainability of small scale peasant economies.

• We note with concern that no mention is made to the mitigation and adaptation to climate change, and no due recognition of the importance of territorial ordering processes in included. Alternative Development policies should emphasize the accountability of the State and the private sector for environmental and social issues, and not just blame farmers involved in the cultivation of illicit crops.

*From Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe, some of which also participated in Thailand ICAD, 2011

Valencia, November 10, 2013
Observatory of Crops Declared Illicit (OCDI)