The democratic farmers’ conference rejected genetically modified organisms (GMO) and refused the announced privatization of the Malian Company of Textile Development (CMDT).
The farmers, who came from several regions of Mali, spoke at the fourth Forum of the People on June 7, 2005, saying with firm voices that they would not accept the privatization of the CMDT scheduled by the government of Mali for 2008. According to the anti-globalists gathered in Fana, this privatization, imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, will have very serious consequences on the economy of the country, and on Malian farmers in particular. Among the numerous consequences of this privatization, the peasants denounced the disappearance of the guaranteed price for producers. “The price of cotton from now on will be fixed by the multinational corporations, who will be offered our factories at lower cost,” says Mr. Kefa Diarra, of the cotton and food producers’ division of the Fana trade union.
The CMDT gives three million Malians a living. Farmed for more than a thousand years, cotton was introduced to Mali by trans-Saharan trade. Its farming was then limited to a few small family plots. “Introduced to Mali in what is now the rural district of Fana, the cotton culture was marginal at the beginning.”
“It’s been nearly thirty years since it became the engine of the country’s economy,” added Mr. Sidiki Diabaté of the Thomas Sankara Club. He suggested that the privatization of the CMDT, the reduction of agricultural and nonagricultural employment, and the closing of shipping companies and garages will increase unemployment in the country. “Because it is a genuine instrument of development, the CMDT must remain in the heart of Mali.” Ms. Korotoumou Koné, coming from Sikasso, impressed on her audience the relevance of her examples. “This industry brought only happiness to the farmers. But since Malians decided to put the industry in a powerless position, the farmers’ misfortunes started. They plundered the CMDT with the complicity of the authorities, who named them and stood behind them against great opposition, in spite of their faults,” she said. Ensuring the cotton producers of its solidarity, Mody Sissoko of the Niono trade union Sexagon wished for a “union of the farmers’ forces” to make the privatization of the CMDT fail.
For his part, Mr. Bakary Blé Doumbia sharply criticized the policy of introducing GMO into the agriculture of a country where the farmers only need material equipment to win the struggle for self-sufficiency. Revolted by the determination of the authorities to introduce GMO in Mali, the farmer from Bougouni invited the authorities to use their own fields to try out GMO, and to dare nourish their families with the harvest.