Judith Hitchman, March 17th, on behalf of Urgenci International Committee.
Dear Urgenci members and friends,
The Covid19 virus is spreading fast at global level, and affecting all our lives, more in some countries than others.
This pandemic leads us to a certain number of collective reflections not just on our food systems, but also on the global political and economic system.
While the nature of the virus is not serious for many, it does need to be identified and strong precautionary measures taken to protect the more vulnerable. This may seem to have fewer consequences in those countries where universal healthcare and welfare systems exist. In those countries where it does not, it means that many people do not have the means to consult their doctor, which is a factor that will continue to contribute to the spread of the virus. Nor do all people have the means to undergo the necessary hospital care that can ensue. And closing down schools in some countries can also deprive children of the only meal they have in the day…
Furthermore, many people in areas where lock-down measures are being imposed cannot afford to pay for their food or other vital items such as rent. This kind of lock-down most affects self-employed or zero hour contract workers, as well as all forms of precarious work.
We believe that universal healthcare is a fundamental right, as is the right to food and nutrition, and furthermore feel that some form of Universal Basic Income and guaranteed minimum living wage would go a long way to alleviating the current situation, as would statutory sick leave pay.
At the same time, in many countries there have been very severe climate incidents that have also affected our producers: in the French Basque Country, many lost hoop-houses. In parts of the UK there has been severe flooding, just to name a few. In China, we know how over-stretched our CSA farmers have been, with the huge demand for the healthy food they grow at a time of partial lockdown of the country.
One of the key aspects of Community Supported Agriculture is solidarity: solidarity between eaters and producers; solidarity between eaters, and solidarity among all members of a CSA, whatever the cause.
In these trying times more than ever, we need to act in accordance with our values and charters and care for each other like never before. We stand in solidarity with all our members and beyond and hope you and yours stay safe, and that the right to food and healthcare as well as all your other human rights are protected, and that this coronavirus crisis will help us to care for one another and stand together to jointly protect our environment, our land, our seeds and our water as well as our health.
Urgenci already took on the 12th of March the decision to postpone all face-to-face international meetings until we are certain that we will not endanger our participants’ health.