The Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) and the People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) jointly organized an exchange program on land occupation campaigns in Surat Thani province, Thailand on 24 to 25 October 2018. The exchange program was hosted by the Southern Peasants Federation of Thailand (SPFT), a member of APC.
Farmer to farmer exchange visits are part of APC’s main activities among its members and networks with the objective of strengthening its organization. It promotes people’s food sovereignty and the power of people and communities to assert and realize the right to food and to produce food through the sharing of practices and experiences on land struggles.
The first exchange visit of APC members to SPFT’s communities was held in October 2017 in partnership with the Asia Monitor Resource Center (AMRC) in the framework of APC’s campaign to stop landgrabbing by oil palm plantations in Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
The SPFT is an organization of poor and landless rural peoples and landless workers in Thailand. It led the land occupation campaigns of Santi Patthana, Nam Dang, Kao Mai, Klongsai Patthana, and Permsap villages in 2008. The communities occupied the land from an oil palm plantation after the expiration of the company’s concession. They have used the land productively since, planting organic food for their consumption and for the operations of their cooperative, which significantly improved their livelihood.
There were 45 participants from 11 countries: Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, India,Indonesia, Thailand, Pakistan, Philippines, Guatemala, South Africa, and Luxembourg. The group visited Klongsai Patthana, where the delegation stayed, and Permsap villages.
The objectives of the exchange program were:
- To build solidarity among the participants through their collective learning of each other’s land struggles;
- To hear about the experience of SPFT’s land occupation campaigns and how they built new communities; and
- To raise awareness on how communities can carry out their local struggles and economic work as an ongoing program.
The two-day program included the sharing from SPFT, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Philippines) and Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria (AGRA, Indonesia) on the lessons and challenges in carrying out their respective land struggles; a visit around the villages of Klongsai Patthana and Permsap; and a recap of the lessons learned from the past two days. Noreen Maagma from PCFS and Cheatlom Ang from Ponlok Khmer, a member organization of PCFS, facilitated the program.
 KMP (Peasant Movement of the Philippines) is a democratic and militant movement of landless peasants, small farmers, farmworkers, rural youth, and peasant women. It has effective leadership over a total of 2 million rural people with 67 provincial chapters and 16 regional chapters nationwide. KMP carries out painstaking organizing and education work among the peasantry as important requisites to building a strong peasant movement.
 AGRA (Alliance of Agrarian Reform Movement is a national organization in Indonesia that brings together poor peasants, small fisherfolk, agricultural workers and Indigenous Peoples. AGRA was established in 2004 to struggle for genuine agrarian reform.