Hunger Perpetuates Profit for TNCs!

Press Release:

World Hunger Day, October 16, 2019

The United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) is celebrating the World Food Day on October 16, 2019 as “Healthy Diets for a Zero Hunger World.” It is unfortunate that it seems to have slipped FAO’s notice that the very people who produce food for the whole world are facing hunger and are very far from ‘healthy diets; and so more appropriately have marked this day as the “ World Hunger Day” to protest their grim, hunger-drivenreality. This is a dark fact faced by millions of households around the world especially in the third world countries, particularly in the rural areas. It is in this context that the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) and its members since 2012, has marked October 16 as the World Hunger Day. Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) and Roots for Equity joined hand with APC in marking World Hunger Day and organized a Peasant Assembly and staged a demonstration in Khairpur, Sindh on October, 16, 2019.According to the FAO 2019 the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World more than 820 million people in the world are still hungry today. And even worse, more than 2 billion people do not have access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food. It need not be said that in every continent women suffer more than men from food insecurity. Nearly half a billion hungry people live in Asia, of which a majority are in South Asian countries; it is in South Asia that prevalence of undernourishment at 15% remains the highest. In Pakistan, the Global Hunger Index 2018 ranks Pakistan at 106 out of 119. According to World Food Program (WFP), 60 percent of the population still faces food insecurity, 15 percent of under-five years of age children suffer from acute malnutrition, which is considered to be the second highest rate in the region. Close to 44 percent of children in the same age group are stunted, 32 percent are underweight.

 

Hunger today is less about the lack of food and more due to the structural issues embedded in the production system. Vast inequalities stem from the fact that concentration of land in the hands of feudal and big landlords remains while a very big majority remains landlessness. According to the World Bank only 2% of the farm household control 45%, while the remaining 98% control only 55% of total agricultural land in Pakistan. At one hand the rural communities, especially the landless farmers are highly dependent on natural resources for their livelihood and on the other hand the neoliberal framework has accelerated the commoditization of nature which include seed, water and other productive resources, with a massive attack on community rights to natural resources, large-scale exploitation and destruction of biodiversity for TNCs unending unhealthy appetite for profits.

Climate crisis -driven by transnational corporations unsustainable fossil fuel-based industrial production and unrelenting exploitation of natural resource- has devastated for rural communities of Pakistan particularly small and landless farmers. The severe heat wave and untimely rains and storm have consistently resulted in massive crop loss and irregular production across the country. Farmers across the country are reporting loss in harvest; for example tomato crop in Khyber Pakhtunkwa, maize in Punjab, rice and cotton in Sindh have all suffered, and farmers are facing a huge financial crisis and with no remedy being discussed by the government. Farmers also report that imported hybrid rice seed by many multinational companies are even not giving production, which has been used to plant nearly 75% area under rice cultivation in Sindh.

Thousands of agricultural labor particularly landless women who are the main sector responsible for harvesting rice and cotton have lost a very important part of meager income as harvest in these two crops has gone down drastically. There is now further migration of rural communities flooding cities living in inhumane conditions; there is no doubt that the further impoverishment of a very vulnerable marginalized sector is at the hands of these mega-seeds corporations.

The immense control over agriculture and food production in the hands of the grotesque transnational agro chemical companies is the most critical major reason for rising hunger not only in Pakistan, but Asia and globally.

As an immediate measure it is imperative that the government must compensate farmers suffering from climate crisis and industrial agricultural practices. At the same time it is of course clear that dismantling monopoly control over food, land and market by capitalist corporations is the only feasible response to overcoming rising hunger and malnutrition in our country and the world over. The response of course has to be upholding food sovereignty, which is based in just and equitable distribution of land. The right to development of people and communities everywhere is based in implement genuine agrarian reform; and promote agro ecological systems as the sustainable and healthier systems of food production based on agro-ecological principles.

PKMT leaders, Ali Nawaz Jalbani, Pathani, Ghulam Jafar, Raja Mujeeb, Hakim Gul, Mohammad Sharif, Ali Gul, Noor Ahmed, Mohammad Azim, Wali Haider, and others were Spoken to the assembly.

Urdu Press Release

Released by: Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) and Roots for Equity

WOMEN CONSTITUENCY STATEMENT ON CIVIL SOCIETY MECHANISM (CSM)

Public Panel

Public Debate: 10 Years After the Committee on Food Security (CFS) Reform

Civil Society Forum 2019, Rome, Italy 12-13 October, 2019

Azra Talat Sayeed

Women Constituency, Civil Society Mechanism (CSM)

The main thrust of the intervention was:

The Committee on World Food Security is facing many problems. These problems include the struggle between powerful countries such as the United States and China. The main economic paradigm used by various political actors is based on neoliberalism and hence policies of deregulation, privatization and trade liberalization are pushed. Huge corporations are being helped through the implementation of these policies to control our resources, labor and markets.

Women are half of the world’s population and immensely impacted though this fight for resources. So the demands that are resonating from the women of the world include control over resources. Land rights remain at the heart of our demands as women are by far the largest segment that is landless in the world. The corporate capture of land is resulting in immense land grab across countries, especially in the continents of the third world. As part of the control over resources land grab is top most; even rich countries, land scarce and food scarce countries are grabbing land. And hence instead of women being given priority in land titles, it is the corporate sector, which is controlling thousands of acres of land across our continents. Result is massive evictions of our people, especially the indigenous people who are being hunted and forced to leave their ancestral lands.

At the same time its not only land that women demand, they also demand access and control over all reproductive resources. It is clear that fisher women, pastoralists and others don’t necessarily need land rights but must have control over production, and the resources needed for production. Its also clear that women demand access and control over markets.

The current fight over resources is having a huge impact on the lives of women and face continuous violence. But this is not only physical violence, which is what is considered most. They also face constant economic violence as they paid less and even after all the work they have done, they have no control over their earnings. Therefore, patriarchy has a huge role in controlling the lives of women. Women are the ones who go hungry; in Pakistan women and children are the biggest segment who are part of the anemic and malnourished. Finally, they also face political violence as they are not part of the political decision-making

Women are at the fore front of demanding agroecology as a form of production to over come many forms of violence in their lives. One is that it allows them to grow wholesome healthy food free from the poisons of industrial chemical food production system. However, it needs to be reiterated that there can be no agroecology without land distribution in favor of women. Agroecology is also the way ahead to fight climate crisis.

Its critical that women’s rights are held paramount. Currently, very weak policies and strategies are used to dilute women’s rights. For us, empowerment of women is not equal to women’s rights; we are empowered and don’t need such platitudes. We demand to be considered equal and our inalienable rights to be recognized, promoted ad implemented.

2019 ہفتہ وار زرعی خبریں

اکتوبر 10 تا 16 اکتوبر، 2019

زراعت

صدر پاکستان چائنہ جوائنٹ چیمبر آف کامرس اینڈ انڈسٹری زرک خان نے کہا ہے کہ چین پاکستان میں کپڑا، اس کی رنگائی اور کڑھائی کی صنعت کے علاوہ غذائی صنعت (فوڈ پروسیسنگ) میں سرمایہ کاری کرنے کا خواہشمند ہے۔ چین کی مدد سے منڈی میں پاکستانی خوراک اور کپڑے کی مسابقت میں بہتری اور اس کے پیداواری معیار میں اضافہ ہوگا۔ ان کا مزید کہنا تھا کہ غذائی پیداوار میں پنجاب، پاکستان دنیا کے 10 سرفہرست خطوں میں شامل ہے لیکن ٹیکنالوجی کا فقدان اور کاشت کے بعد کے نقصانات کی وجہ سے پنجاب سے غذائی اجناس کی برآمد میں اضافہ نہیں ہورہا۔ چین سے خوراک کی عمل کاری پر مبنی تکنیک (فوڈ پروسیسنگ ٹیکنالوجی) پاکستان منتقل کرنے سے لاگت کم ہونے اور جدید ٹیکنالوجی کے استعمال کی بنا پر برآمدات میں اضافہ ہوگا۔
(بزنس ریکارڈر، 10 اکتوبر، صفحہ15)

وفاقی وزیر برائے قومی غذائی تحفظ و تحقیق صاحبزادہ محبوب سلطان کی زیر صدارت وفاقی زرعی کمیٹی کا اجلاس منعقد کیا گیا۔ اجلاس میں ربیع 2019-20کے لیے 9.2 ملین ہیکٹر رقبے پر 27 ملین ٹن گندم کا پیداواری ہدف مقرر کیا گیا ہے۔ اجلاس میں گندم کے علاوہ ربیع کے موسم کی دیگر فصلوں کا بھی پیداواری ہدف مقرر کیا گیا۔ چنا 1,012,000 ہیکٹر پر 603,000 ٹن، دالیں 18,300 ہیکٹر پر 10,700 ٹن، آلو 196,300 ہیکٹر پر 4,816,000 ٹن، پیاز 155,000 ہیکٹر پر 2,192,000 ٹن اور ٹماٹر کا پیداواری ہدف 45,600 ہیکٹر زمین پر 545,000 ٹن مقرر کیا گیا ہے۔ کمیٹی نے خریف 2019-20 کی گنا، چاول، مکئی، مرچ اور مونگ کی فصلوں کا بھی جائزہ لیا۔ حکام کے مطابق 1,060,000 ہیکٹر رقبے پر 64.77 ملین ٹن گنے کی پیداوار متوقع ہے جو گزشتہ سال کے مقابلے 3.58 فیصد کم ہے۔ چاول کی 3.036,000 ہیکٹر رقبے پر 7.7 ملین ٹن پیداوار کا اندازہ لگایا گیا ہے۔ چاول کے زیر کاشت رقبے اور اس کی پیداوار میں بلترتیب 5.5 فیصد اور 3.6 فیصد اضافہ متوقع ہے۔ چاول کے زیر کاشت رقبے میں اضافے کی وجہ اس کی مقامی منڈی میں زیادہ قیمت اور رعایتی قیمت پر مداخل کی دستیابی ہے۔ اسی طرح 1,386,460 ہیکٹر رقبے پر 6.9 ملین ٹن مکئی کی پیداوار کا اندازہ لگایا گیا ہے۔ مکئی کے زیر کاشت رقبے اور اس کی پیداوار میں بلترتیب 4.95 اور 10.05 فیصد اضافہ ہوا ہے۔ اجلاس میں زرعی مداخل جیسے کھاد، پانی، بیج، کیمیائی اسپرے کی قیمتوں کا بھی جائزہ لیا گیا۔
(بزنس ریکارڈر، 11 اکتوبر، صفحہ1)

محکمہ زراعت پنجاب نے نجی و سرکاری اداروں کے تعاون سے گندم کی کاشت میں مصدقہ بیجوں کے موجودہ استعمال کی شرح 17 سے بڑھاکر 40 سے 50 فیصد تک کرنے کی منصوبہ بندی کی ہے۔ وزیر زراعت پنجاب نعمان احمد لنگریال کا کہنا ہے کہ حکومت کسانوں کے بیج کے مختلف سرکاری اور نجی اداروں کے مصدقہ بیجوں سے تبادلے کی پالیسی اپناسکتی ہے جس سے حکومت کو 750 روپے فی بوری (50 کلو) بیج کی لاگت کا فرق برداشت کرنا پڑے گا۔ اسی طرح کی پالیسی دیگر اہم نقد آور فصلوں جیسے کپاس، چاول، گنا اور روغنی بیجوں کے لیے بھی متعارف کروائی جارہی ہے۔
(بزنس ریکارڈر، 16 اکتوبر، صفحہ16)

چاول

ایوان زراعت سندھ، لاڑکانہ ڈویژن کے صدر سراج اولیا راشدی نے کہا ہے کہ غیر معیاری اور پرانے بیجوں کی وجہ سے چاول کے کاشتکاروں کو پیداوار میں تقریبا 50 فیصد نقصان کا سامنا ہے۔ اس وقت دھان کی قیمت 700 روپے فی من ہے لیکن اس کے باجود تاجر فصل خریدنے سے انکار کررہے ہیں کیونکہ فصل مکمل طور پر خراب ہوچکی ہے اور اس میں چاول کے دانے نہیں ہیں۔ انھوں نے الزام عائد کیا ہے کہ غیر منظور شدہ پچھلے سال کا بچا ہوا بیج کسانوں کو فراہم کیا گیا ہے جو بڑے پیمانے پر نقصان کا سبب بنا ہے۔
(ایکسپریس ٹریبیون، 13 اکتوبر، صفحہ13)

دھان کے کاشتکاروں نے کاریو گھنور، بدین میں چاول ملوں کے خلاف اپنا احتجاج دوبارہ شروع کردیا ہے اور متعلقہ حکام سے مطالبہ کیا ہے کہ ملوں پر دباؤ ڈالا جائے کہ وہ کسانوں کو چاول کی مناسب قیمت ادا کریں۔ احتجاج کرنے والے کسانوں کا کہنا ہے کہ ملیں 1,500 روپے فی من قیمت ادا کرنے سے انکار کرکے کسانوں کو لوٹ رہی ہیں اور انہیں اپنی پیداوار 1,200 روپے فی من فروخت کرنے پر مجبور کررہی ہیں، جبکہ فصل میں موجود نمی کے بہانے تین سے پانچ کلو فی من اضافی چاول وصول کیا جارہا ہے۔ کسانوں نے ضلع بدین میں ملوں کی جانب سے چاول کے کاشتکاروں کے استحصال کے خلاف گولارچی میں پر امن مارچ کا اعلان کیا ہے۔
(ڈان، 14 اکتوبر، صفحہ15)

پھل سبزی

ایوان صنعت و تجارت کوئٹہ نے حکومت سے مطالبہ کیا ہے کہ بلوچستان کی معیشت کو فروغ دینے اور اسے تحفظ دینے کے لیے پھلوں اور سبزیوں خصوصا سیب اور ٹماٹر کی تجارت کے لیے واضح پالیسی مرتب کی جائے۔ ایوان صنعت و تجارت کوئٹہ کے 16 رکنی وفد نے چیرمین سینٹ صادق سنجرانی سے ملاقات کے دوران شکایت کی ہے کہ انہیں اشیاء کی درآمد اور برآمد میں مشکلات کا سامنا ہے۔ چیئرمین سینیٹ نے وفد کو یقین دہانی کروائی ہے کہ تاجروں کے مسائل فیڈرل بورڈ آف ریونیو اور دیگر اداروں کے سامنے اٹھائے جائیں گے۔
(ڈان، 10 اکتوبر، صفحہ10)

مرغبانی

پاکستان میں فی کس سالانہ 88 انڈوں کے استعمال کے ساتھ ملکی مرغبانی کی صنعت سالانہ 17,500 ملین انڈوں کی پیداوار کرتی ہے۔ ترقی یافتہ ممالک میں فی کس انڈوں کا استعمال 300 انڈے سالانہ ہے۔ پاکستان پولٹری ایسوسی ایشن کے شمالی علاقے کے نومنتخب صدر چوہدری محمد فرغان کا کہنا ہے کہ حالیہ غذائی سروے کے نتائج کے مطابق پاکستان ان ممالک میں شامل ہے جہاں (44 فیصد) بچے غذائی کمی کی وجہ سے نشونما میں کمی (اسٹنٹڈ) کا شکار ہیں۔ یہ انتہائی تشویشناک صورتحال ہے۔ انڈوں کے استعمال میں اضافہ اس صورتحال پر قابو پانے میں مددگار ہوسکتا ہے۔ ان کا مزید کہنا تھا کہ گوشت کی کل کھپت میں مرغبانی شعبہ کا حصہ 40 فیصد ہے اور اس شعبہ سے 1.5 ملین افراد کا روزگار وابستہ ہے۔
(بزنس ریکارڈر، 12 اکتوبر، صفحہ13)

وزیر اعظم عمران خان کے ویژن کے تحت عوام کی مدد کے لیے مرغیوں اور انڈوں کے زریعے نچلی سطح پر روزگار کے مواقع پیدا کرنے کے لیے محکمہ مال مویشی راولپنڈی نے ”وزیر اعظم کا مرغی پال پروگرام“ کا آغاز کردیا ہے۔ محکمے نے 250 خاندانوں میں پانچ مرغیاں اور ایک مرغا تقسیم کیا ہے۔ تاہم صحت مند گوشت کے حصول کے لیے ادارہ 16 اکتوبر کو عوام میں 12 مرغوں پر مشتمل جھنڈ (سیٹ) تقسیم کرے گا۔ حکومت ان نامیاتی مرغیوں پر 30 فیصد زرتلافی فراہم کررہی ہے۔ پانچ مرغیوں اور ایک مرغے کی قیمت خریدار سے 1,050 روپے وصول کی جارہی ہے۔ حکام کے مطابق تمام مرغیاں دیسی نسل کی ہیں اور یہ مرغیاں 45 دنوں میں انڈے دینا شروع کریں گی۔ ایک مرغی سال میں 250 انڈے دے گی۔
(دی ایکسپریس ٹریبیون، 15 اکتوبر، صفحہ10)

غربت

ایشیائی ترقیاتی بینک نے بینظیر انکم سپورٹ پروگرام کو ادارہ جاتی سطح پر مزید مستحکم کرنے میں مدد کے لیے پاکستان کو 200 ملین ڈالر اضافی قرض کی فراہمی کے معاہدے پر دستخط کیے ہیں۔ بینک کی مالی امداد کا یہ منصوبہ اکتوبر 2013 میں منظور ہوا تھا جس کے ذریعے 855,000 سے زائد مستحق عورتوں کا بے نظیر انکم سپورٹ پروگرام میں اندراج ممکن ہوا۔ یہ اضافی قرض اس منصوبہ کے لئے بینک کی مسلسل مدد کو یقینی بنائے گا اور اس کے ساتھ ساتھ بی آئی ایس پی کو مستحکم کرنے کے اقدامات اور ان پر عملدرآمد کے لیے مددگار ہوگا۔
(ڈان، 12 اکتوبر، صفحہ5)

نکتہ نظر

سرفہرست خبر پاکستان کو دنیا میں بڑے پیمانے پر خوراک پیدا کرنے والے ممالک میں شمار قرار دے رہی ہے اور اگلی ہی خبر اس کی تائید کرتی ہے کہ جس میں زرعی پیداواری ا ہدف کے اعداوشمار صاف بتاتے ہیں کہ ملک میں خوراک کی پیداوار کم از کم اہم غذائی اجناس کی حد تک تو ضرورت سے کہیں زیادہ ہی ہے۔ایسے میں حکومت پنجاب کی یہ کوششیں کہ کسان گندم کا اپنا بیج چھوڑ کر مخصوص بیج منڈی سے خرید کر کاشت کرنا شروع کردیں تاکہ پیداوار میں اضافہ ہو، ہرگز اس لیے نہیں ہیں کہ اس سے ملک میں موجود بھوک اور غربت ختم ہوجائے بلکہ اس لیے کہ کپاس، چاول، روغنی بیج کی فصلوں کے ہائبرڈ اور جینیاتی بیجوں کی طرح کمپنیوں کا گندم کا بیج بھی منڈی میں فروخت ہو اور کسان بیان کردہ ان نقد آور فصلوں کی طرح گندم کے بیج کے لیے کمپنیوں کا محتاج ہو کر رہ جائے۔ ان بیجوں کو فروغ دینے کا بنیادی مقصد نیولبرل پالیسیوں کے تحت بیج کمپنیوں کے منافع اور کاروبار کے لیے صنعتی زراعت کو فروغ دینا ہے۔ اس کی ایک تازہ مثال سندھ میں بڑے پیمانے پر کاشت کیے گئے ہائبرڈ چاول کی ہے جس کی بدولت کسان شدید ترین نقصان سے دوچار ہوچکے ہیں۔ جس ملک کے تقریباً آدھے بچے بھوک سے متاثر ہوکر غذائی کمی کا شکار ہوں، جہاں بیج، کھاد اور زرعی زہر بنانے والی کمپنیاں اربوں روپے منافع میں چلتی ہوں اور انہیں ٹیکسوں میں چھوٹ جیسی سرکاری مراعات حاصل ہو اس ملک میں پانچ مرغیاں دے کر غربت بیروزگاری ختم کرنے کے یہ ڈھکوسلے زیادہ دن نہیں چل سکتے اور وہ دن قریب ہے کہ جب مظلوم کسان مزدور عوام کے ہاتھ ہونگے اور ظالموں کے چاک گریبان

اکتوبر 3 تا 9 اکتوبر، 2019

زراعت

ترقی پسند کسانوں اور ان کی نمائندہ تنظیموں نے زہریلے زرعی اسپرے کے فصلوں پر استعمال پر گہری تشویش کا اظہار کرتے ہوئے سندھ اور پنجاب میں حالیہ واقعات کی تحقیق کا مطالبہ کیا ہے جس میں کسان مزدور اس طرح کے اسپرے کے دوران جانبحق اور بیہوش ہوگئے تھے۔ اس سلسلے میں مقامی ہوٹل میں ہونے والے ایک ورکشاپ میں ایوان زراعت سندھ کے نائب صدر نبی بخش سہتو نے کمپنیوں کے نمائندوں پر زور دیا کہ وہ اپنے فروخت کنندہ (ڈیلرز) کو کہیں کے وہ کسانوں کو آگاہ کریں کہ وہ چاول، گندم، سبزیوں اور پھلوں پر انہتائی مہلک زہر تھائی میٹ (Thimet) استعمال نہ کریں۔ تھائی میٹ گنا اور کپاس کی فصل کے لیے موزوں ہے۔ ان کا مزید کہنا تھا کہ چین نے یہ زرعی دوا تیار کی ہے لیکن کچھ ماحولیاتی خطرات کی وجہ سے چین میں تھائی میٹ کے استعمال پر پابندی لگادی۔ تاہم امریکہ میں یہ استعمال ہوتی ہے جہاں جدید مشینی تکنیک استعمال ہوتی ہے اور کسان کو زرعی زہر کو چھونے کی ضرورت بھی نہیں پڑتی۔ انھوں نے مزید کہا کہ لودھراں میں چار کسانوں کی اموات اور بھٹورو، سجاول، ٹھٹھہ اور ٹنڈو محمد خان میں زہریلے اسپرے سے کسانوں کے بیہوش ہونے کے واقعات پر انہوں نے ڈائریکٹر جنرل محکمہ زراعت، حیدرآباد کو خط لکھا ہے۔
(ڈان، 4 اکتوبر، صفحہ17)

کاشتکاروں کی تنظیم فارمر بیورو آف پاکستان نے حکومت پر زور دیا ہے کہ زرعی شعبے کو خراب موسم سے محفوظ رکھنے کے لیے ملک میں زرعی اور موسمی ہنگامی حالت نافذ کی جائے۔ موسمی تبدیلیوں، گرمی کی لہر اور زرعی شعبہ میں جدید ٹیکنالوجی کے فقدان کی وجہ سے کپاس، چاول اور مکئی کی فصلیں تقریباً برباد ہوچکی ہیں۔ تنظیم کے بانی رکن ڈاکٹر ظفر حیات اوردیگر کا کہنا ہے کہ ”ہمیں چاول اور مکئی کی پیداوار میں 40 فیصد نقصان کا سامنا ہوسکتا ہے جبکہ کپاس کی پیداوار میں بھی یہی صورتحال ہوسکتی ہے“۔ انہوں نے نشاندہی کی ہے کہ مکئی کی فصل جنوبی پنجاب کے لیے موزوں نہیں ہے لیکن کپاس کی بہتر پیداوار نہ ہونے کی وجہ سے یہاں کے کسان مکئی اور چاول کی کاشت کی طرف توجہ دے رہے ہیں۔ انہوں نے مزید کہا کہ اربوں روپے کے زرعی زہر درآمد اور فروخت ہورہے ہیں لیکن وہ فصلوں کو لگنے والے بیماریوں اور کیڑے مکوڑوں کے خلاف مدافعت نہیں رکھتے بجائے اس کے یہ زہر انسانوں میں بیماریوں اور پانی میں آلودگی کی وجہ بن رہے ہیں۔
(دی ایکسپریس ٹریبیون، 4 اکتوبر، صفحہ20)

زرعی شعبہ کے شراکتداروں کی مشاورت سے نیشنل ڈیفنس یونیورسٹی کی پاکستان کے زرعی شعبہ پر تیار کردہ رپورٹ کے مطابق مشینی زراعت کے فروغ کے لیے سرمائے کی کمی، جدید زرعی تکنیکوں کا ناقص علم، زرعی قرضوں کی باضابطہ عدم فراہمی اور کٹائی کے بعد بازار کاری (مارکیٹنگ) کا فقدان ایک عام کسان کی ناکامی کی اہم وجوہات ہیں۔ رپورٹ میں 20 اہم فصلوں کی امدادی قیمت، زرعی ملکی پیداوار کے دو فیصد کے برابرزرعی تحقیقی بجٹ، زرعی مداخل پر سے تمام محصولات کا خاتمہ، مقامی کسان آبادیوں کو پڑوسی ممالک سے مسابقت کے لیے ایک جیسے مواقع فراہم کرنے جیسی سفارشات کی گئی ہیں۔ رپورٹ میں بے قابو بیج کے کاروبار پر تنقید کرتے ہوئے کہا گیا ہے کہ 850 نجی بیج کے تقسیم کار (ڈسٹری بیوٹرز) کی کوئی اخلاقیات نہیں ہے اور وہ صرف منافع کے لیے اس شعبہ میں جوڑ توڑ کررہے ہیں۔ منڈی میں مختلف ناموں سے ملاوٹ شدہ بیجوں کی بھرمار ہے جو بیج کی آلودگی کا سبب ہے۔ رپورٹ میں نجی سرکاری شراکت داری میں فصلوں کی ہائبرڈ اور جینیاتی اقسام متعارف کروانے اور مقامی اقسام کے تحفظ کی تجویز دی گئی ہے۔
(ڈان، 5 اکتوبر، صفحہ10)

گندم

وزیر اعظم عمران خان کی جانب سے آٹے اور روٹی کی بڑھتی ہوئی قیمتوں پر تشویش کے اظہار کے بعد کابینہ کی اقتصادی رابطہ کمیٹی نے 350,000 ٹن گندم منڈی میں جاری کرنے کا حکم دیا ہے۔ مشیر خزانہ عبدالحفیظ شیخ کی زیر صدارت ہونے والے اجلاس میں وزارت قومی غذائی تحفظ و تحقیق کی جانب سے پیش کی گئی تجویز کو منظور کرتے ہوئے کمیٹی نے 150,000 ٹن گندم پاکستان ایگریکلچرل اسٹوریج اینڈ سروسز کارپوریشن (پاسکو) کے ذخائر سے خیبر پختونخواہ حکومت کو فراہم کرنے کی منظوری دی ہے۔ اجلاس میں سندھ حکومت کو ہدایت کی گئی ہے کہ وہ 100,000 ٹن گندم منڈی میں جاری کرے جس کے بعد وفاقی حکومت بھی مزید 100,000 ٹن گندم اپنے ذخائر سے منڈی میں جاری کرے گی۔ گزشتہ دو ہفتوں میں آٹے اور روٹی کی قیمت میں 10 فیصد سے زیادہ اضافہ ہوا تھا اور کچھ ارکان اسمبلی نے یہ مسئلہ پارلیمنٹ اور اس کی کمیٹیوں میں اٹھایا تھا۔
(ڈان، 3 اکتوبر، صفحہ10)

چاول

ایوان زراعت سندھ کی جانب سے منعقد کردہ کنونشن میں کسان تنظیموں نے سندھ حکومت سے دھان کی قیمت 1,500 روپے فی من مقرر کرنے اور چاول ملوں کو اس مقرر کردہ قیمت پر فصل خریدنے کی ہدایت جاری کرنے کا مطالبہ کیا ہے۔ اس موقع پر صدر ایوان زراعت سندھ قبول محمد کاتھیان کا کہنا تھا کہ چاول ملیں کسانوں کو 1,150 روپے فی من قیمت کی پیش کش کررہی ہیں جبکہ گزشتہ برس کسانوں کو فی من 1,300 روپے قیمت ملی تھی۔ ڈالر کی قیمت میں اضافہ کو مد نظر رکھتے ہوئے حکومت کو دھان کی قیمت 1,500 روپے فی من مقرر کرنی چاہیے۔
(ڈان، 7 اکتوبر، صفحہ15)

سندھ آباد گار بورڈنے صوبے میں غیرتصدیق شدہ ہائبرڈ بیج، کرم کش زرعی زہر کی فروخت پر غم و غصہ کا اظہار کیا ہے جو بغیر اناج کی فصل کی صورت کسانوں کے لیے بھاری نقصان کا باعث بن رہا ہے۔ زرائع ابلاغ سے بات کرتے ہوئے سندھ آبادگار بورڈ لاڑکانہ ڈویژن کے صدر عرفان خان جتوئی نے محکمہ زراعت سندھ کو اس صورتحال کا ذمہ دار قرار دیا ہے جو منڈی میں (بیج میں) ملاوٹ اور چاول کی مختلف ہائبرڈ اقسام کی نگرانی میں ناکام ہوگیا ہے۔ ان کا مزید کہنا تھا کہ پاکستان نے تقریباً 10,077 ٹن ہائبرڈ بیج درآمد کیا تھا۔ زیادہ تر چین سے درآمد کیا گیا یہ بیج 1,200,000 سے 1,400,000 ایکڑ زمین کاشت کرنے کے لیے کافی ہے۔ انہوں سوال اٹھایا کہ جب چاول کے ہائبرڈ بیج پر پنجاب میں پابندی ہے تو کس نے اسے سندھ میں فروخت کرنے کی اجازت دی؟
(ڈان، 9 اکتوبر، صفحہ17)

کپاس

پاکستان کاٹن جنرز ایسوسی ایشن کے اعدادو شمار کے مطابق یکم اکتوبر تک کپاس کی پیداوار میں گزشتہ سال کے مقابلے 27.04 فیصد کمی ہوئی ہے۔ کپاس کی پیداوار میں کمی سے ناصرف مجموعی قومی پیداوار میں بڑھوتری متاثر ہوگی بلکہ بھاری مقدار میں کپاس کی درآمد کے نتیجے میں زرمبادلہ کے ذخائر پر بھی دباؤ پڑے گا۔ پاکستان امریکی کپاس کا بڑا درآمد کنندہ ملک بھی بن گیا ہے۔ امریکی محکمہ زراعت نے انکشاف کیا ہے کہ پاکستان اب تک 62,900 کپاس کی گانٹھیں درآمد کرچکا ہے۔ گزشتہ سال کے مقابلے پنجاب میں کپاس کی پیداوار میں 35.87 فیصد اور سندھ میں 19.7 فیصد کمی ہوئی ہے۔ کپاس کی پیداوار میں کمی نے دیہی معیشت کو بھی بری طرح متاثر کیا ہے جہاں کپاس کی چنائی اب بھی ہاتھ سے ہوتی ہے اور مزدور عورتوں کی بڑی تعداد اس سے وابستہ ہے۔
(ڈان، 4 اکتوبر، صفحہ10)

آل پاکستان ٹیکسٹائل ملز ایسوسی ایشن (اپٹما) نے حکومت پر کپاس کی درآمد پر عائد 11 فیصد محصولات ختم کرنے پر زور دیا ہے۔ پریس کانفرنس کرتے ہوئے چیئرمین اپٹما ڈاکٹر امان اللہ قاسم کا کہنا تھا کہ اگر حکومت نے کپاس کی درآمد پر عائد محصولات واپس نہ لیے تو کپڑے کی صنعت ڈوب جائے گی۔ یہ واضح ہے کہ کپاس کی پیداوار کم ہوگی اور طلب پوری کرنے کے لیے کپاس درآمد کرنی پڑے گی۔ ماضی میں کپڑے کی صنعت بھارت سے فاصلہ کم ہونے کی وجہ سے مناسب قیمت پر کپاس درآمد کرتی تھی۔ اب کپاس برازیل اور امریکہ جیسے ممالک سے درآمد ہوگی جو درآمدی لاگت میں اضافے اور صنعت پر اضافی بوجھ کا باعث ہوگی۔
(ڈان، اکتوبر 9، صفحہ10) Continue reading

PCFS Statement – To AIIB: Stopbankrolling landgrabs

The Peoples Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) demands the members of the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) to stop funding projects especially of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that result to landgrabbing and rural peoples’ displacement. On the occasion of the AIIB’s annual meeting this July 12-13 in Luxembourg, we stand with the rural peoples on their call for greater accountability and transparency, as well as justice for the violations of the people’s rights.

While AIIB asserted that it is a multilateral bank for the longest time, recent pronouncements show that it is ultimately a financing institution of the BRI with over 7,000 China-funded projects that focus on transportation, maritime navigation, energy, and trade spanning more than 60 countries in the Global South.

As a multilateral lender, AIIB has been consistently behind most of the BRI projects – as a co-funder or as a key lender. This will surely accelerate as AIIB President Jin Liqun declared to focus more on the bank’s own portfolio and sees the bank as a “twin engine” with BRI.[i] More than 60 out of the 87 member countries of the AIIB are part of the BRI. As it is, AIIB is currently bankrolling China’s expansionist lending strategy that ultimately impacts the most vulnerable in the Global South – the rural peoples.

Last month in Hong Kong, PCFS together with the Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN) conducted a forum on China’s BRI and its impact on the rural peoples.  Discussions and accounts of the participants from Asia, Africa, and Latin America regions paint a dismal picture of the BRI projects’ impacts to rural peoples and the right to food sovereignty. Numerous cases of rights violations such as displacement, landgrabbing, harassment, corrosion of traditions, and aggravation of fragility in regions have been reported.

A threat to the right to land. Without adequate environmental and social assessment in the regions and countries, AIIB has been co-funding multiple BRI projects that are opaque and inaccessible to the public. As mentioned above, these include megadams, large roads, ports, and energy plants that often result in landgrabbing and displacement.

Today, China is the fastest growing landgrabber in the world. With over 5.6 million concluded deals and 12.7 million in the past decade alone,[ii] the BRI is fast becoming one of the key drivers of rural peoples ruin in the Global South.

In Cambodia alone, around 370,000 hectares under 42 ELCs have been granted to Chinese companies, including the 36,000-hectare sugarcane plantation of Guangdong Hengfu Sugar Group Co., Ltd. in the province of Preah Vihear. Thousands of farmers and Indigenous Kuy peoples are being displaced to produce sugar for export.

In the Philippines, the China government funded New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project in Quezon worth USD 374 million. It was pitched to be funded by the AIIB, and is set to displace thousands of farmers and Indigenous Peoples while tens of thousands more affected.

A threat to the right to food. Securing China’s position in the global agricultural trade is at the heart of the numerous BRI projects in agriculture. In a span of 14 years, China has invested USD 98 billion in agriculture[iii] – 75% of which were in the last five years.[iv] According to a study by GRAIN , China has “gone on massive shopping sprees, buying up operations in global production chains like pork in the US and soybeans in Brazil, and gaining greater control over the global seed industry by taking on majority ownership of the Swiss-based seed giant Syngenta.”[v]

These agricultural land deals include large agro-industrial parks in Mozambique, Uganda, Zambia, Kazakhstan, and Laos. The pressure of Chinese imports in Brazil’s soybeans is one of the key drivers of the catalyzed destruction of the Amazon forest and the ejection of farmers and Indigenous Peoples in the region.

In Sri Lanka, the BRI Colombo Financial District, which AIIB funds some of the periphery projects,[vi] has dramatically reduced fishers’ access to their waters and decimated their fish catch. Beach erosion from offshore sand extraction for the reclamation project is displacing whole villages of fisherfolk.

The large-scale acquisition of farmlands and establishment of agro-industrial parks in Kazakhstan is a threat to the regional food sovereignty. Central Asia largely relies on the said area for grain and grain production. With China buying and controlling the agricultural production and supply chain in the region, rural hunger and malnutrition will not be abated.

A threat to biodiversity. According to World Wildlife Fund Hong Kong, China’s BRI will affect hundreds of already threatened animal species. This includes endangered tigers, giant pandas, saiga antelope, and much of the biologically richest real estate on the planet – some 1,800 important bird areas, key biodiversity areas, global biodiversity hotspots and global 200 eco-region.

The push of China’s BRI, with the full backing of the AIIB, will continue to adversely impact the rural peoples of the Global South. We call on the members of the AIIB to investigate and pursue the impacts of the projects funded by the multilateral bank. We call on the members and networks of the PCFS to actively engage their governments on AIIB funded project and demand for transparency and accountability. Finally, we reiterate our call that decisions and plans on infrastructure should be founded on the right of rural communities to decide their needs and development priorities. ###

[i] https://www.chinadailyhk.com/articles/18/35/125/1557557982955.html

[ii] Landmatrix (as calculated April 2019)

[iii] https://www.aei.org/china-global-investment-tracker/

[iv] Ibid

[v] https://www.grain.org/en/article/6133-the-belt-and-road-initiative-chinese-agribusiness-going-global

[vi] https://www.aiib.org/en/news-events/news/2019/20190404_002.html

WHY WE MUST OPPOSE GENETICALLY MODIFIED SEEDS?

A Brief prepared by Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek and Roots for Equity

Seed was born free. It has multiple functions: it is the reservoir of genetic resources, it is the basic unit for our food, it holds life in its core, essential for maintain human and all life on this planet.  Commodification of seed is commodification of life!

Following are some points elaborated to highlight why Sojhla for Social Change, Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT), Roots for Equity and other people’s and civil society organizations have been opposing in general the Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Act (TRIPs) and specifically the Pakistan Seed (Amended) Act 2015, and the Plant Breeders Rights Act 2016.

Farmers Collective Rights over Seed and Patenting of Life Forms

Seed, a genetic resource is a gift of nature and belongs to no one person or corporation but is owned collectively. But there is no doubt, that it was farmers who over many millennia experimented, re-generated, sorted, propagated and saved seeds. It was the collective knowledge of farmers and rural communities that allowed hundred of varieties of grains, vegetables, fruits, and flowers to be domesticated for human civilization. Farmers saved seed from one generation to the next, a process that went on for millions of years. There were thousands of varieties that were developed by farmers, but even though we farmers came out with new varieties we respected and followed the rules of nature, and shared the genetic resources openly with all. We, who have our history based in the Indus Valley Civilization, were the first to domesticate seed and through our knowledge and experience pass the best of genetic resources to our generations. Therefore, we farmers believe that first seed is free; it is a carrier of life and being a living thing it cannot be shackled, it cannot be owned by individuals or companies. If at all, it is the collective property of farmers; we have been its custodians, its guardians. We have respected our position of custodians and hence shared it fully and openly with all those who wish to use it as food, as a source of health, as a source medicine and of life.

Risks to Biodiversity:

It needs to be pointed out that with the advent of Green Revolution in the 1960s, seed has been forced out of our care and custody and turned into a commodity. With corporate control over seeds, with promotion of hybrid varieties and now genetically modified seeds we have lost much of the indigenous varieties in just 50 years; genetic diversity which was saved through hundreds of millennia were lost in less than half a century!

If we allow genetically modified seeds to take over our food and agriculture this will further the process of destroying biodiversity. Hybrid varieties and genetically modified seeds are based on monoculture and uniformity; they belie the intricate interwoven complexity of all forms of biodiversity with each other. Seed has been turned into a machine whose worth is weighed by productivity. But seed’s function is not only productivity: its function is in promoting various forms of life, of which human intelligence has as yet not grasped enough to turn it into a only an addition, subtraction formula. Plant life is very complex, it’s a food chain as well as shelter for millions of other life forms from birds to reptiles, to insects and millions and millions of microorganisms.  Uniformity in plant life negates diversity of life, and is fast leading to various forms of ecological disasters.

It needs to be added, that high yielding varieties are at least not an irreversible biological change in the plant, and over time genetic material can be retrieved from these seeds. But GM seeds are formed through a biological process that is irreversible. The GM seed can carry out reproduction with natural seeds; this means vast, irreversible contamination of our genetic resources. Once GM seeds have spread in nature, it’s like having a child with genetic abnormalities – one cannot take away the defect and it will keep on producing itself, contaminating and polluting natural varieties in the environment.

Corporate Control over Food and Agriculture

Agro-chemical corporations and seed corporations have worked hard to create a legal policy framework based on which seed can be called their property. This is because seed has an amazing characteristic – even only a single seed can generate hundreds of replicas and hence it is impossible to create control over seed – this is only possible through a legal system that allows these mega-corporations to control and own life. With control over seed by profit-driven corporations, a nation loses the ability to control its food production. The corporations can choose the price at which a seed would be sold. They can easily refrain from marketing seeds in any particular country; in these times of conflict and war – seed control is only one more added dependency. Today farmers cannot decide what they would like to grow; they have to depend on what seed the corporations provide in the market and have little choice but to grow that. Please note that today, nearly all vegetables in Pakistan are grown from corporate controlled seeds and each one of them is heavily doused with toxic pesticides. This is the food that all citizens are forced to consume –rich or poor.

It is important to note that a majority of seed is now in the hands of only four big corporations: Bayer, BASF, ChemChina and Corteva; in a handful of years, these four corporations have monopolized the seed sector. These four seed corporations control 60% percent of seed sales, globally. Just ten years ago, in 2009 there were at least 100 seed companies. Only in the last 2-3 years, there have been huge mergers such as Bayer purchasing Monsanto to be the largest seed company today. In 2017, DuPont had merged with Dow to form the US Corporation DowDupont; this year the company has separated its agricultural wing and named it Corteva agriscience. Continue reading

Feeding our “Swarming Millions”

Azra Talat Sayeed

The question of “feeding the stomach of our swarming millions’ keeps getting raised over and over again. It seems that there is no other way to reach this objective without accepting genetically modified seeds. But such a myopic viewpoint can only be termed nonsensical. Hunger can easily be assuqged without GMO crops, if only our government would not allow wheat to rot in godams, and instead give it to the people facing acute hunger and malnutrition. With surplus wheat production in the country, the constant harping on the hunger of the people seems a bit silly. GM seeds have been used in cotton which is not a food crop, but has ultimately resulted in further impoverishment of our masses, especially rural women. The cotton harvest has been destroyed systematically. From cotton to maize seems the next corporate driven agenda. We know very well, that GM maize is not meant as food but for ethanol.

In Pakistan, we have shifted to sugarcane from cotton: driven by the profit driven market for ethanol. Now, maize follows the same ‘logic’. Do we know that hybrid and GM variety of maize seeds, apart from producing ethanol are also being developed purely to produce fodder that would increase the quantity of animal manure which would then be used for producing bio-diesel? We are turning agriculture into an ‘assembly line production system’ to meet the unquenchable thirst of capitalism on oil? Can we forget the ‘weapons of mass destruction’ in Iraq? Was it WMD or oil? So, it goes on – oil of course remains top priority – but so is ethanol. Do we recall the food crisis of 2008? It was driven by corn production in the US to produce ethanol. Fuel is life blood of capitalism – its industrialised economy cannot run without energy. And capitalism is blood thirsty: history has shown this over and over again. We would be fools to forget what the search for profits has resulted in the short history of capitalism.

Talking about alienating hunger through modern agriculture is really nothing new. I would like to quote a US senator. In 1957, Senator Hubert Humphrey said:

“I have heard . . . that people may become dependent on us for food. I know that was not supposed to be good news. To me, that was good news, because before people can do anything they have got to eat. And if you are looking for a way to get people to lean on you and to be dependent on you, in terms of their cooperation with you, it seems to me that food dependence would be terrific.” (Global Rift, Third World Comes of Age, L. S. Stavrianos, p 443)

And in wake of such an imperialist vision came the Green Revolution. Today Pakistan is totally dependent for its seed on mega agro-chemical corporations, with nearly all of them based in North America and Europe with China recently jumping in. So let us be clear: GM technology is furthering the imperialist agenda of controlling our agriculture sector, ensuring a trade deficit, keeping us drowned in debt. It is not about ‘feeding our swarming populations.”

It is unfortunate that these debates are no longer only about getting our people out of debt and hunger, this is now about saving our world; saving ourselves from global warming. I would remind us that the ‘swarming millions’ right now are suffering from unbearable heat across the nation. Our biodiversity across the globe is on the verge of collapse. Science is no more independent and corporations are coming up with short-term profit seeking destructive technologies.

Humans and all living things on this planet are suffering, which seems such a mild statement for the unbearable misery and impoverishment of the masses across the globe. We really need to read history, and learn and go forward. Colonization may be dead but it seems to have given birth to an unnatural monster: Neo-colonization which is now a grotesque reality. We need to stop saying, believing and fighting for what are colonial and Neo-colonial masters and mistresses dictate. If we really want a peaceful, prosperous world, free from hunger and poverty, there is no other way but to fight for our liberation.

Stop Killing Farmers! Global Day of Action Negros Killings!

Philippines: On March 30, 14 farmers were victims of extrajudicial killings following police and military operations in Negros Oriental. The farmers, who are already suffering through years of neglect, are repeatedly being subjected to these atrocities. We stand alongside the families of the victims, and express our intention to arduously exhaust all platforms for justice and accountability.

To mark the Global Day of Action April 10, members of Roots for Equity, hold up sign calling for an end to peasant killings in the Philippines.

Panelists call for ending role of corporate sector in agriculture

March 30, 2019

PESHAWAR: Speakers at a seminar on Friday demanded an end to the role of international corporate sector in agriculture, opposed the ever-increasing allotment of land to the corporate sector and called for just and equitable distribution of land among small and landless farmers in order to turn Pakistan into a real agricultural country.

The event organised at the Peshawar Press Club to commemorate the International Day of the Landless Farmers was arranged by Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT), and Roots for Equity in collaboration with Asian Peasant Coalition, Pesticide Action Network, Asia Pacific and International Women’s Alliance.

PKMT national coordinator Altaf Hussain, Asian Peasant Coalition’s general secretary Raja Mueeb, PKMT’s coordinator Peshawar Shehzad Baig and KP coordinator Fayyaz Ahmed were the main speakers.

They said the day highlighted the struggle of the landless farmers for genuine land reforms and food sovereignty.

They said farmers were being evicted from lands that had been tilled for generations by their ancestors. They demanded that development projects across the country, including those for special economic zones as well as land lease to investors, should be scrapped.

On the occasion, Altaf Hussain said from 2000 onwards, transnational corporations worldwide had grabbed more than 50 million hectares of land through over 1,500 agreements.

Similarly, Raja Mueeb said more than 200 deals spanning almost 20 million hectares of land were further being negotiated. Most of the land deals were being carried out in countries like Pakistan that are rich in natural resources, he pointed out.

It was pathetic that only eight per cent of these land deals were exclusively for food production, and 60 percent of these, were for export purposes, he said, adding around 70 per cent of these deals were reserved for agro-fuel production, which was only fulfilling the needs of the rich capitalist countries.

Mr Mueeb said in the past few years, China’s One Belt One Road initiative had further accelerated land grab.

Fayyaz Ahmed pointed out that various development projects for energy and infrastructure under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project had resulted in land grab across the country.

He pointed out that 1,000 acres of land had been leased in Haripur for a special economic zone, the Northern Bypass Peshawar; 6,500 acres of land was leased for growing high yield seeds to a foreign corporation in Punjab; and 140 acres of land were leased in Khairpur, Sindh for a special economic zone.

He said farmers and fishermen were losing their livelihoods due to these measures.

Shehzad Baig said small and landless farmers were facing exploitation because of unjust distribution of land, corporate agriculture. He said the government was also planning to build a cement factory in Palai area of Malakand, a greenbelt famous for its farmlands and orange orchards.

Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2019

https://www.dawn.com/news/1472729

March 29 International Day of the Landless

Press Release

March 29,2019

Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) and Roots for Equity in collaboration with Asian Peasant Coalition, Pesticide Action Network, Asia Pacific and International Women’s Alliance commemorated the International Day of the Landless, which was marked by the slogan “We Will Take Back Our Land, Our Future!” Globally, the Day of the Landless highlights the struggle of the landless farmers for genuine land reforms and food sovereignty, where they are being evicted from lands that had been tilled for many generations by their ancestors. It is in this context that the many protests and demonstrations have been planned in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, Mongolia, Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia among others Asian countries.

PKMT carried out press conferences at the Peshawar, Multan Press Clubs and a protest rally in Ghotki against the landlessness of farmers, as well as countrywide happenings of land grabs and in the name of foreign investments and development projects.

According to the PKMT National Coordinator Altaf Hussain stated that from 2000 till now, transnational corporations worldwide have land grabbed more than 50 million hectares of land through 1,591 agreements. Further, 200 more negotiations are in ongoing for acquiring 20 million hectares. No doubt, rich capitalist countries along with their imperialist institutions such as the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO have wrought changes in policies which has allowed the massive push in land grab, drowning the farmers in debt and deprivation, all methods which give transnational corporations control over production and markets.

According to the Raja Mujeeb, Secretary General Asian Peasant Coalition, imperialist corporate agriculture is here to plunder our lands, take away our livelihood and poison our lands. No doubt, most of the land deals are being carried out to in countries like Pakistan that are rich in natural resources. It is draconian that only 8% of these land deals are exclusively for food production and 60% of this is for export. Further, most of these land deals, around 70%, are reserved for agro-fuel production – industry bound oil seed production of oil palm, jathropa, corn, wheat, and sugar. This push for agro-fuel is fulfilling the needs of the rich capitalist countries. In the past few years, China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative has further accelerated land grab, and China is now second to the US, in the number of concluded transnational land acquisitions. In Africa alone, land acquired by Chinese companies range from 240,000 to 6 million hectares.

According to the KPK Provincial Coordinator, Fayyaz Ahmad after leasing an additional 1,000 acres of land in Haripur for a special economic zone, and eviction of farmers from their land for building the Northern Bypass, Peshawar, the next target for investors seems to be Palai in Malakand, a green belt famous for its farmlands and orange orchards. The government of KPK is planning to build a cement factory in the area and has imposed Section 4 for acquiring 400 acres of land. The critical importance of this land for the local communities and its fertility can be gauged by government figures which state that Palai has 171,000 fruit trees which are not only a source of livelihood and food security for the local communities but also critical for the environment; all this happening in a country which is in the frontline of vulnerable countries from climate change impacts. Similarly, for the construction of the Swat Expressway precious agricultural land of local farmers has been acquired for pittance, and on top of that farmers are facing delay in payments for the land.

According to PKMT Sindh Provincial Coordinator Ali Nawaz Jalbani, small and landless farmers were facing exploitation and deprivation because of the unjust distribution of land, corporate agriculture, and the imperialist neoliberal policies inflicted on the command of capitalist countries. At the same time, feudalism is not only forcing misery on the landless farmers but the women face further discrimination based on their gender. They are forced to work under scorching heat for harvesting crops such as wheat and cotton; Hindu are forced to bear not only the oppressive feudal mechanisms but also face further discrimination based on religion. According to Mir Babal, a youth PKMT member from Ghotki, various development projects for energy and infrastructure under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor agreement has resulted in land grab in the area for a number of years.

It was pointed out that in Sanghar, a district where the landless facing acute exploitation with a very high percentage of the population suffering from malnutrition, the government under different guises was taking back land that had been distributed to landless farmers in 2004. The much higher percentage of children suffering from malnutrition in this district was proof of the impact of the industrial agricultural production, which takes its toll on impoverished farmer communities. The Sindh government in many districts of the province for the past many decades has been evicting small farmers. On the other hand, farmers have been forcefully evicted from centuries old villages so that big property dealers and investors, who are well known to have acquired land illegally, are given further opportunities for land grabbing.

PKMT Provincial Coordinator Maqsood Ahmed stated that the government of Punjab after leasing 6,500 acres of land for growing high yielding seeds to foreign corporation in Punjab has recently adopted a policy for leasing state land to national and foreign corporations. The Punjab government has provided state forestland to the corporate sector for planting commercial forests. In South Punjab, proposals by investors for developing commercial forests on 99,077 acres of land have been approved. On the other hand, the same Punjab government in district Rajanpur, South Punjab is bent on displacing small farmers from an area called Rakh Azmat Wala, where the farmers have lived for more than a century.

PKMT demands that development project across the country including those for special economic zones as well as land lease to investors should be stopped. In addition, the role of international corporate sector in agriculture should be eliminated, the ever-increasing allotment of land to the corporate sector should be stopped and instead just and equitable distribution of land to small and landless farmers should be carried out immediately.

Released by Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek & Roots for Equity

Peoples’ Voice at UNEA-4

Statement of the Farmers Major Group at the fourth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly

Delivered by Mr. Wali Haider

FARMER MAJOR GROUP STATEMENT AT UNEA-4

Thank you chair.

Honorable excellences, distinguished delegates and colleagues:

I am Wali Haider from Roots for Equity, Pakistan and I’m speaking on behalf of the Farmers Major Group.

The dominant paradigm of unsustainable consumption and production continue to devastate and worsen the situation of the environment and the people along with promotion of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights which force GMOs and commodification of seeds and water. This crisis is further compounded by unabted land grabs by the transnational corporations. This is manifest in the crises in food, climate, environmental degradation, reduced biodiversity, depleted natural resources, and increasing violation of people’s rights and exacerbating inequality.

The industrial model of agricultural production and perverse subsidies in the agricultural sector are destroying the sources of livelihoods of small-scale food producers and their communities, resulting in hunger and forced migration.

To tackle the challenges we are facing in nourishing a growing global population and ensuring food sovereignty require innovations. People-centred and community solutions are innovations and appropriate technologies that protect the environment, promote sustainability, community ownership, social solidarity and mutuality and based on development justice. Innovative solutions that make a difference in people’s lives are often not technological but social innovations, linked with traditional practices and based on indigenous and local knowledge systems. Dimensions of environment, economy and society, the three pillars of sustainable development, are all taken into account in people’s solutions and community innovations towards sustainable consumption and production.

It is proven that in food production, agroecology as a practice based on constant innovation of farmers, a science and a social movement, is known to improve soils, protect health and the environment, improve livelihoods, and increase household income. Agroecology also harnesses traditional and indigenous knowledge systems supported by people’s science and builds community unity.

Therefore, we call for the strengthening and promotion of agro-ecology through appropriate laws, policy and programs as well as the protection of local, indigenous and traditional knowledge in agriculture, and create markets for traditional and heirloom produce. Subsidies, incentives and development aid should be re-targeted away from industrial agriculture, towards agro-ecological solutions and small-scale, local production.

We also call for action to be taken on the following:

  • Policies in national and regional level supporting local and community innovations can be strategic, as such in governance of natural resources and community-based resource development. Participatory and community action researches on the issues surrounding sustainable consumption and production will provide evidence-based solutions and should be supported.
  • Assert and protect public control over natural resources and prioritize cultivation of nutritious food for local consumption.
  • Provide an enabling policy environment for farmers including land to the landless, genuine agrarian reform, access to productive resources including seeds, participation in policy-making and policy coherence at the national and international levels.
  • Advance good governance with increased accountability and transparency, removing all anti-people policies to protect natural resources.
  • Member states should mainstream biodiversity protection and enhancement across sectors and engage indigenous people and ensure the protection of their rights to land, resources, establish accountability mechanism to ensure compliance to human rights, social and environmental safeguards.
  • Call on member states to actively participate in the intergovernmental working group on the elaboration of legally-binding treaty on TNCs and other businesses with respect to human rights.
  • Recognition and promotion of the role of women in providing innovative solutions to environmental problems and SCP.
  • Ensure participation of civil society, grassroots movements and other stakeholders in assessing new and emerging technologies as a
    key component of environmental governance. Due importance should be given to capturing the interpretation of evidences by different actors and enabling broad participation in societal deliberation on technologies.
  • Provide mechanisms for equitable, effective and inclusive participation of civil society based on recognition of existing inequalities and the need to level the playing field.

We also note with concern that the negotiations are tilted more in the favour of big business than ecology and farmers. However, we call on member states to protect the interest of the small and landless farmers. The farmers of the world stand ready to support you so we can work together on these.

Thank you.

Continue reading