The MTCP2 mourns the passing away of Sarath Fernando, founding member of Movement for National Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) in Sri Lanka, last September 7, 2014. He was one of the top leaders of La Via Campesina in South Asia Region and one of the most active leaders in Sri Lanka in the advocacy for agroecology, land to the landless, and agrarian reform. He was an active participant in the first phase of MTCP implementation together with MONLAR.
Below are the condolence messages by LVC members in memory of Sarath Fernando, as well as the last message received by AFA from him.
Condolence messages from members of La Via Campesina in memory of Sarath Fernando:
Sarath Fernando, a founding member of LVC Movement for National Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) in Sri Lanka, passed away last night. He was one of the top leaders of La Via Campesina in South Asia Region. He was leader of Sri Lanka who advocated for agroecology, land to the landless, and agrarian reform. Via Campesina South Asia pays tribute to Sarath Fernando. May his soul rest in peace.
“We have been associated with Sarath from last 15 years. He was a very intelligent, sincere, and cooperative worker. He was full of knowledge regarding the movement – everything, and every issue. He was always keen to discuss the issues and the help people. His behavior and nature was always supportive to the people.” Yudhvir Singh, Bharatiya Kisan Union.
“We are extremely shocked to hear the death news of comrade Sarath Fernando. He was so active in La Via Campesina and PGA in addition to his own organization, MONLAR. He was committed to agrarian reform for decades. However, last couple of years he has been advocating so seriously on the question of zero-budget natural farming which drew attention of many radical activists in the world. Even he disseminated a long article on the natural farming as model of sustainable development goal couple of weeks ago keeping in view the post MDGs development goals. Actually his approach to natural farming agrees with the agro-ecological farming method which is best answer to global climate change. He is no more but his visionary thoughts are with us. We expressed our deep condolence with his family bereaved. We wish his departed soul peace forever.” Badrul Alam, Bangladesh Krishok Federation
“Sarath was the in Chikballapur with us during the regional conference in 2012, he was really active at that time and engaging in all the debates in LVC conference. Later he was in the field with us and visited Krishnappa in Bannur, and he liked the concept of Zero Budget Natural Farming. He used to say that ‘Agroecology is the only solution for the world’s subsistence and sustainability.’ It’s a great memory for me having debates with him about hybrid seeds and seed sovereignty, til midnight. He was strongly believing in the smallest of the small farms, those with 1/10th of an acre. He was a very humorous and friendly person, and he was able to collect the young people.” S Kannaiyan, SICCFM.
“Sarath Fernando was a man who spent his whole life sacrificing for the farmer community and played a wider role in the community as well. Person who stood up for the farmers community and fought against multinational companies through organic farming. It is our duty to see that his ideas are fulfilled. He’s a person who was in the movement for organic farming. The political situation in Sri Lanka, which has created a lot of problems for farmers there, Mr. Sarath has played a positive role for the farmers movement there through organic farming. Accepting his ideas, LVC has given a lot of importance to the role that agroecology plays in food sovereignty. His sad demise is a great loss not only to the people of Sri Lanka but also to the farmers of the world. From the side of Kerala Coconut Farmers Association as well as my personal side, I express deep gratitude to Sarath for the role he has played in our collective upliftment. May his soul rest in peace.” Ravi, Kerala Coconut Farmers Association.
“I met Sarath Fernando for the first time in Sri Lanka, and since then he was a guide to me, in terms of intellect and in terms of his disposition. During the first meeting, there was a controversy meeting, and throughout he remained quiet. In the end, he was able to resolve the controversy and satisfy all parties with just a few minutes of sharing. I was so impressed. He was a kind-hearted, intelligent, and hard working man. He gave life to MONLAR in two ways- from his heart and from his knowledge. He had such a high regard for the movement and other movement leaders, and always remained humble. His loss is unbelievable to us.” Nandini KS, KRRS.
Last message received by the Asian Farmers’ Association (AFA) from Sarath Fernando in reply to the news bulletin entitled “AFA raises concerns about proposed Global Alliance on Climate Smart Agriculture”:
Thank you very much for sending this to me. It is very useful information. We MONLAR have been doing ecological agriculture for the last 20 years or so and we have covered many areas. The results are very effective. Now the Govt. of Sri Lanka has begun to pay attention to it. They have agreed to implement this form of agriculture in all parts of the country. We do not know how sincere they are and how much desire they have to over come the obstacles created to this by agribusiness companies. We are planning to initiate an Ecological agriculture University in Sri Lanka and your cooperation is very welcome. Dr. Vandana Shiva has agreed to help and there are over 20 University professors and lecturers willing to Join in. Please share information with us and also your experiences. Please share all your information with MONLAR since I am now retired. Present Moderator is Chintaka Rajapakse