Greenpeace launches Rice Farmers’ Photo Exhibition to promote sustainable agriculture

Press release - 2006-06-07
Greenpeace launches a photo exhibition today in Beijing to showcase rice farmers’ livelihood and modes of traditional farming in Southwest China’s Yunnan province. These photos are taken by five farmers who have never used a camera before. The fruit of a year long project starting from the eco-agriculture tour, Greenpeace hopes that the exhibition will provoke a national debate on the future of rice farming and promote sustainable agricultural models.

Five rice farmers from four counties of Yunnan Province who took photos for the first time in their lives: (from left to right) Bai Yunxian (Dai Minority), Li Mingfu (Aini Minority), Xiong Guizhi (Pumi Minority), Li Zikang (Hani Minority), and Ma Meiyan (Dai Minority).

“No outsiders could have produced pictures as beautiful as theirs, because the farmers know the land better than anybody else.” comments John Novis, Director of Photography, Greenpeace International.

The launch today also kicks off a series of exhibitions and lectures in Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and the farmers’ hometowns, under the theme of “Land gives me rice, rice gives me life”. Following the Eco-Agriculture Tour[1] in 2004 organized by Greenpeace China, five rice farmers have received the cameras at the end of 2004. Coming from three minorities in Yunnan, they have recorded local festivities and their respective lives centering on rice. Seedling, ploughing and harvesting, seen through the farmer photographers’ eyes, are the subjects of the 101 exhibit photos. A number of eco-farming models such as rice-fish, rice-ducking systems and varietal diversification scheme are also presented

Xiong Guizhi, 41, one of the 3 women photographers, is from Pumi Nationality from Weixi County. “I want to share my life, via my camera, with other people living in big cities.” she said

The photo exhibition is launched at a time when high level decisions are about to be made on the future of rice farming in China. The Biosafety Committee, an advisory body under the Ministry of Agriculture on Genetically Engineered crop commercialization, is to convene June. GE rice commercialization might be on the agenda again, though it has been postponed since 2004 because of mounting concerns over the risks of GE food.

“GE rice is not an answer to rice farming in China”, says Belly Wang, Greenpeace campaigner, “Before the government takes decisions, it should at least take a look at the other existing alternatives that we have shown through the pictures.”


[1] Rice Is Life Tour is a week-long eco-agriculture tour organized by Greenpace China in October 2004. About 50 farmers, journalists (both Chinese and foreign), experts and volunteers participated in the bus tour to visit areas where farmers are using traditional farming methods to grow rice in Yunnan.

VVPR info:

For more information contact:

Belly Wang, Food & Agriculture Campaigner, Greenpeace China, +86 20 84114603 ext 811

Sarah Liang, Media Officer, Greenpeace China, +86 10 65546931 ext 123