''Land and Freedom'', Pokret za slobodu, 2011.
We dedicate this book to peasants throughout the world whose centuries of suffering and hard work, although unrecognized and devalued, actually laid the foundation for progress and in time of crises provided the only solid support.
The book contains essays written by various authors, all of whom share respect towards peasant work and a concern for the state of agriculture in Serbia. Unfortunately one book is not enough to discus all the reasons, global and national, that lead to the degradation of agriculture, but we think that this book provides enough basic information to assist in the creation of an independent peasant movement which would take the destiny of villages in its own hands and protect agricultural land from the control of interest groups who have found in agriculture an opportunity to increase their wealth while pushing aside agriculture as a life-sustaining activity.
Agriculture today is in a very bad state. Peasants’ work is still misused in order to preserve social peace in the cities which determine politics for village. In order to provide city dwellers impoverished in the process of transition and privatization with cheap food, peasants were forced to sell food below the cost of its production. The resulting situation hurts both peasants and customers because it is the large number of middlemen who increase the price of food. In addition, the agrarian budget is only a small percent of the spending budget. This situation makes it nearly impossible for peasants to continue working in agriculture because they can`t even earn as much as they invest in production, especially in a period when many mechanization resources need to be renewed.
Privatization and the growth of unemployment has erased the contribution made by peasants to the industrialization of the country. Careerists that have proclaimed themselves as experts for repairing the destroyed economy have found solutions in selling state and social companies to owners only interested in financial misuse, obvious abuses to which the state has not responded.
At a time when the market dominates life and dictates the course of all aspects of society, food production in villages becomes important for the preservation of freedom because peasants primarily produce for their families, and only sells any excess produce in the market. In times of repression and injustice, peasants’ resistance is often manifested by pulling items from the market. Organizing of peasant movements, independent from political parties and the state, is significant primarily because of preserving the freedom of whole nation, as a fight for justice.
As shown in examples from tobacco and the GMO industry, impoverished peasants easily become victims of corporations which destroy lives on a large scale in order to profit. Corporations first illegally sell genetically modified seeds to peasants and then send their ''experts'' to lobby for changes to the law so genetically modified production will become legal in Serbia. Instead of paying for the tobacco they buy from peasants, tobacco companies organize them to protest in front of Serbian government and demand that state continues to subsidize tobacco production.
Local tycoons are allowed to cheaply privatize agricultural companies and buy large estates of land that they then re-sell for huge amounts of money to buyers from abroad, who have often completely exploited land in their own countries through excessive production oriented toward market and profit. Uncultivated land is not a tragedy but an opportunity for the production of organic food that needs land and soil that has not been destroyed through use of agrochemicals. But politicians do not see land as resource that is nationally important and needs to be saved. This kind of policy degrades agriculture to the degree that more and more peasants are leaving the land.
This book is dedicated to all the forgotten people that spend their days pressed between the fickle sky and a state gone mad. Many those that deserve gratitude are no longer with us and we are deeply aware of how much we tarnish their memory if we allow Serbia to become a country whose inhabitants starve because of dependency on irresponsible speculators. We hope that this book will encourage the belief that every last peasant can better decide about his life than the irresponsible persons that are currently in government.
We would like to thank all the participants in the ''Agricultural reform in Serbia'' conference that took place on June 26th, 2010 at the Dom Omladine in Belgrade. We especially thank to Dr Miladin Ševarlić, professor of the Faculty of the Agriculture, Tamara Vukov, Boris Kanzlaiter, Irina Cerić and Vladan Jeremić for helping us prepare and publish this book.
Pokret za slobodu
Veliko Krčmare, Decembar 2010.
Book in Serbian language is available here: http://pokret.net/zemljaisloboda.pdf
Agricultural Reform in Serbia
By Siniša Jelovac
On June 26th, 2010, Pokret za slobodu held a conference entitled ''Agricultural reform in Serbia'' in Belgrade. The goals of the conference included developing an analysis of the actual state of Serbian agriculture and measures that could renew it, improving production and processing, reversing and banishing the monopoly on trade, and improving the association, organizing and social position of agricultural workers.
Workers and Peasants are not the Cause of Destabilization: Interview with professor Miladin Ševarlić
By Milenko Srećković
In preparation for the conference ’’Agricultural Reform in Serbia’’, Pokret za slobodu interviewed professor Miladin Ševarlić from the Faculty of Agriculture (University of Belgrade) in Belgrade.
- Professor, in Serbia, the position of agricultural workers is worsening with every passing year. What is the general state of awareness of the importance agriculture for this society?
This is an unfortunate characteristic of all countries, especially today in the era of globalization and trade liberalization. In Serbia, the position of workers has worsened because of two decades of economic sanctions and the dismantling of the state and a former market with over 22 million consumers.
The Serbian Village under Transition: The Future in the Past
By Branislav Gulan
Serbia is a very rural country. Around two thirds of its territory is rural, in which approximately half of the population lives. For the last half a century, the Serbian village has been struggling and dealing with the question of how to develop itself further. Although there are several routes open for the development of the village, that development is still not happening. Villages are disappearing while inhabitants are getting older. Regions are developed unequally. In other words, the policy of marginalizing rural areas in Serbia has been happening for years.
Survive or Collapse?!
By Miroslav Grubanov
Right now there are 200 agricultural associations, but they are divided and not adequately networked. They do not form a serious strength or counterpower that could fight for the just distribution of profit on the market. Peasants have been deceived and tricked so often that they no longer trust anybody. The government plays on this mistrust and division, manipulating traditional Serbian debates and disunity to maintain this state of disarray.
Organic Agriculture – Preserving Nature and Health
By Miroslav Tubić
Today agriculture cab be divided into two systems of production:
- Conventional (traditional)
Organic agriculture is a synonym for multifunctional agriculture. It requires a great deal of knowledge, the use of emotional intelligence, and multidisciplinary logistics. Based on its unique principals, organic agriculture is producing a new understanding of nature, and allowing humanity to adjust its philosophy to the laws of nature.
By Sunčana Pešak
Alongside numerous problems that currently exist in agriculture production in Serbia and throughout the world, there is much that could be done to improve the quality of life and nature. Permaculture has emerged as an open and affirmative approach to dealing with global crises.
Statements of professor Miladin Ševarlić regarding agriculture, cooperatives and the village
Twenty centuries ago, the village was the source of life. Today, it is the only shelter where everyday life adjusts to nature.
Demographic changes in interurban sites in Serbia (without data for Kosovo and Metohija) demonstrate three important processes: deagrarization, depopulation, and senilization. Deagrarization is evident in the steady decrease in agricultural inhabitants – 70% of inhabitants were engaged in agriculture in 1948, compared to 18% in central Serbia and 13.7% in Vojvodina in 1991. Depopulation of interurban places is evident in the decrease in the number of rural inhabitants, from 4.734.698 in 1948 to 3.272.105 inhabitants in 2002, a decrease of 30.9%.
Land and Freedom: Popular struggles for agrarian and agriculture reform
By Milenko Srećković
Over the course of history, there are many examples of self-organized popular struggles and peasant movements for agrarian reform. Peasants around the world have often had to deal with enormous and often brutal repression, but have also been able to organize and defend themselves from violence and struggle for freedom, equal distribution of land, and better economic conditions. In this article, we’ll look at several examples of peasant mobilizations for agrarian reform, radical distribution of land to underprivileged groups, and other popular interests.