Fair trade for poor farmers, Vatican says

Justice requires that rich countries reconsider the subsidies they offer their own farmers and the barriers that they place on the import of agricultural products from poor countries, the Vatican said.

In the position paper released to coincide with a UN conference on agrarian reform and rural development, the Vatican said the conference must give priority to the "longing for justice and the desire for development" of poor people living in rural areas in the developing world.

By helping them, the Vatican said, the world would improve food security, promote environmentally sound farming methods and make real strides toward alleviating poverty since "three-quarters of the world's poor live in rural areas."

While developing countries have to take responsibility for their own agrarian policies, the Vatican said, rich countries cannot ignore the impact their internal policies, particularly farm subsidies and trade barriers, have on the poor.

"Correcting this situation means appealing for a concrete concept of justice capable of being realised in policies, rules, norms and acts of solidarity," the Vatican said.

The increasing concentration of productive farmland in the hands of fewer and fewer people increases poverty, destroys the family life of rural people, often leads to environmental damage and favours the production of a smaller range of food products, the Vatican said.

Resolving "the question of the ownership of the land, an element of fundamental importance in economic and agrarian policies," the Vatican said, not only would promote development in rural areas, but also would "guarantee social justice, political stability and peaceful coexistence."

Land reform projects, however, "cannot be reduced simply to the repartition and assignment of land, but must be inserted in strategies of rural development that also provide the necessary investments in public and social-service infrastructures," the Vatican said in the paper.

Vatican says wealthy nations should reconsider farmers' subsidies (Catholic News Service 9/3/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
FAO International Conference on Afrarian Reform and Rural Development

Pope says Third World farmers need help to beat poverty (CathNews 25/11/05)

Rural world and its values not of secondary importance (Vatican Information Service 9/3/06)
Holy See for rural development and farmers' dignity (AsiaNews.it 9/3/06)
Don't neglect rural peoples, but guarantee real development, Vatican representative urges U.N. (Catholic News Agency 9/3/06)
Culture, Development and Feminine Liberation (Zenit 8/3/06)

10 Mar 2006