Sarath Fernando, a founding member of LVC Movement for National Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) in Sri Lanka, one of the top leaders of La Via Campesina in South Asia Region, and one of the founders of the South Asia Alliance of Poverty Eradication (SAPPE) passed away in September. Throughout his lengthy career, Sarath Fernando advocated for agroecology, land to the landless, agrarian reform and food sovereignty. Below is a recent piece written by Sarath Fernando, entitled “An Appeal to heal the Earth and save humanity.”
An Appeal to heal the Earth and save humanity
We, who have lived all these generations, through the generosity of the earth, promise to be kind to the earth and to people who suffer the pains of destruction of the earth. We promise to stop killing of the earth by exploiting it destructively.
1. Prevent erosion of soil, by building ridges and mulching, using SALT [sloping agricultural land technology system] on sloping land. Stop destroying the microbes and earth worms that work day and night, free of charge, to make the soil fertile, by using chemical fertilizers, weedicides and pesticides and thereby promoting evolution of more resistant pests.
2. Grow more trees that will absorb more sunlight and convert it in to food, fodder, timber and fertilizer and reduce the need for external fossil fuel based fertilizers.
3. We promise to recycle all organic matter to improve soil fertility and increase the diversity of plants and animals, to reduce pest damages and diseases.
4. We promise to help advance regenerative agriculture, improve soil fertility so that hunger, poverty and malnutrition could be overcome, droughts and floods reduced. Resist the use of genetically modified seeds and food. Reduce the use of hybrid seeds and save natural seeds.
5. We promise to discourage land grabbing and give more land to landless people, including the plantation workers who have earned so much to the country and have fed millions of people while they and their children suffered dehumanization, hunger and malnutrition. Recognize them as dignified citizens.
6. We promise to encourage sharing of land in the large plantations in hill country, in Uva Province, in the North and East and in other agricultural areas, with people having less or no land so that they make land regenerative, soil more fertile and, food more nutritious, diverse, water purer and more available in seasons of drought.
7. We appeal to all people to stand by these principles and implement necessary steps and to encourage teaching of these to the youth and next generations.
8.We appeal to the Government to apply these in its plans and programmes, to prevent the poisoning of the earth using chemical inputs, to look after nature as a mother looks after her children so that Nature will look after all life as a mother looks after the children with love and care. 9. Do not destroy nature since none of us know how to mend it.
10. We encourage healing of the earth so that nature will heal humankind and all other life.
Various tributes to Sarath Fernando are available online: