News from CAFOD

70,000 parishioners from one third of all Catholic parishes in England and Wales have signed a letter from Salina, a small-scale farmer from Bangladesh, to the World Bank. 

Salina wrote a letter to the World Bank calling for the protection of the fundamental rights of small farmers like herself to use their own varieties of seeds – a right that increasingly under threat as big seed companies have come to dominate the global seed market. “Seeds are at the heart of everything that farmers like myself do,” the letter says. “Without control over our seeds, our work as a farmer is not possible.”

Over 60 parishes across the Archdiocese of Birmingham took part in signing Salina’s letter, along with Archbishop Bernard Longley and Bishop David Evans.

CAFOD's Fix the Food System campaign is urging the UK government and the World Bank to protect the right of farmers around the world to save, use, exchange and sell their own seeds. In some countries, new seed laws have been insisted on by the World Bank in exchange for financial support, yet these laws have harmed those most in need.

762 parishes in England and Wales signed the letter with CAFOD in support of Salina this summer, with 18 diocesan bishops signing too. Upon hearing this news, Salina said, “I am very happy to know about 70,000 signatures along with mine.”

The letter was delivered to World Bank staff in London and at the annual World Bank meetings in Marrakech, Morocco on the same day. In Morocco, Farida Akhter, who works with Salina’s community in Bangladesh, presented the letter to the Bank’s Global Director for Agriculture and Food. In London 40 CAFOD campaigners took the letters to the World Bank UK offices, and a small group met with a senior Bank representative inside the building. 

“It was a very cordial meeting and we explained how much support our campaign has received across the country from ordinary parishioners,” said Father Rob Esdaile, who handed the letter to World Bank staff. His own parish, St Dunstan's in Woking, was one of the 762 parishes who supported the campaign.

CAFOD’s Campaigns Engagement Manager, Andrea Speranza, said: “We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who signed Salina’s letter. Her message to the World Bank has been heard loud and clear: unfair rules putting pressure on small farmers to buy commercial seeds aren’t acceptable. This is just the beginning of a long campaign but it is a very good start.”

CAFOD: Fix the Food System

Archbishop Bernard signs the letter

Bishop David signs the letter

CAFOD campaigners with the letter in London