ہفتہ وار زرعی خبریں 2020

فروری, 6 تا 12 فروری، 2020

زمین

سپریم کورٹ نے سندھ حکومت کو حکم دیا ہے کہ وہ صوبے میں زیر قبضہ تمام زمین واگزار کروائے اور فوری طور پر جنگلات کی زمین کی تمام غیر قانونی الاٹمنٹ کی منسوخی کو یقینی بنائے ۔ درخواست گزار قاضی اطہر نے 2012 میں جنگلات کی زمین کی حیثیت تبدیل کرکے اسے بورڈ آف ریونیو کے سپرد کرنے پر سوال اٹھایا ہے ۔ درخواست گزار نے 2015 میں وزیر اعلی سندھ کی جانب سے فوج کے شہدا میں ملکیت کی بنیاد پر زمین تقسیم کرنے کے لیے 9,552 ایکڑ زمین کی تقسیم کا بھی حوالہ دیا ہے جس کے لیے وزیر اعلی سندھ نے چیف سیکرٹری اور محکمہ جنگلات سے شکارپور میں جنگلات کی اس زمین کی حیثیت تبدیل کرنے کی سمری طلب کی تھی تاکہ اسے منظوری دی جاسکے ۔ اس کے علاوہ کراچی میں کاٹھور کی ہزاروں ایکڑ محفوظ جنگلات کی زمین بحریہ ٹاوَن کو منتقل کردی گئی ۔ درخواست گزار نے عدالت سے جنگلات کی اس منظم تباہی کی تحقیقات کے لیے عدالتی کمیشن بنانے اور مستقل بنیادوں پر محکمہ موسمی تبدیلی کے ماتحت قومی جنگلات کمیشن بنانے کی اپیل کی ہے ۔

(ڈان، 6 فروری، صفحہ3)

زراعت

محکمہ زراعت کے پی نے ضلع ڈیرہ اسماعیل خان کے متاثرہ علاقوں میں ٹڈی دل کے خاتمے کے لیے ڈرون کے ذریعے چھڑکاوَ شروع کردیا ہے ۔ محکمہ کے ترجمان کے مطابق روایتی چھڑکاوَ کے مقابلے ڈرون ٹیکنالوجی سے درختوں کے اوپر بھی ہر جگہ رسائی ممکن ہے ۔ یہ اقدام ڈیرہ اسماعیل خان میں کھڑی فصلوں پر ٹڈی دل حملے کے بعد کیا گیا ۔

(ڈان، 7 فروری، صفحہ7)

گندم

سینیٹ کی قائمہ کمیٹی برائے قومی غذائی تحفظ و تحقیق کو آگاہ کیا گیا ہے کہ پنجاب میں گندم کی کوئی کمی نہیں اور 2;46;1 ملین ٹن کا ذخیرہ گندم کی کٹائی تک کے لیے کافی ہے جو 15 اپریل سے شروع ہوگی ۔ کمیٹی کو جمع کروائی گئی رپورٹ میں پنجاب حکومت نے کہا ہے کہ پیداوار میں کمی اور گزشتہ سال مارچ کے آخر اور اپریل کے آغاز میں موسمی اثرات کے باوجود پنجاب نے کسانوں سے 3;46;3 ملین ٹن گندم خریدی تھی اور 1;46;5 ملین ٹن گندم کا ذخیرہ پہلے سے موجود تھا ۔ رپورٹ میں مزید کہا گیا ہے کہ مقامی اور عالمی منڈی میں گندم کی موجودہ قیمت کے تناظر میں گندم کی امدادی قیمت پر نظرثانی ہونی چاہیے ۔ سیکریٹری وزارت قومی غذائی تحفظ و تحقیق ہاشم پوپلزئی نے کمیٹی کو آگاہ کیا کہ وزارت اقتصادی رابطہ کمیٹی کے اگلے اجلاس میں گندم کی امدادی قیمت 1,400 روپے فی من تک بڑھانے کی تجویز پیش کررہی ہے ۔ یہ تجویز بھی دی گئی ہے کہ گندم کی خریداری 15 دن پہلے شروع ہو ۔

(ڈان، 7 فروری، صفحہ5)

پاکستان فلور ملز ایسوسی ایشن (پی ایف ایم اے) نے گندم کے ترسیل نظام میں خامیوں کو ملک میں آٹے کی قیمت میں حالیہ اضافے کی وجہ قرار دیا ہے ۔ چیئرمین پی ایف ایم اے عاصم رضا نے سینیٹ کی قائمہ کمیٹی برائے قومی غذائی تحفظ و تحقیق میں ایسے طریقہ کار پر زور دیا ہے جس میں آٹا ملیں براہ راست پاکستان ایگری کلچرل اسٹوریج اینڈ سروسس کارپوریشن (پاسکو) سے گندم خرید سکیں ۔ مستقبل میں اس بحران سے بچاوَ کے لیے یہ ضروری ہے کہ آبادی کی مجموعی طلب کا 50 فیصد گندم ہر وقت ذخیرے میں موجود ہو ۔

(دی ایکسپریس ٹریبیون، 7 فروری، صفحہ3)

آٹا

مسابقتی کمیشن نے پاکستان فلور ملز ایسوسی ایشن (پی ایف ایم اے) کے لاہور میں واقع دفاتر پر چھاپہ مار کر دفتری دستاویزات ضبط کرلی ہیں ۔ کمیشن کو شبہ ہے کہ پی ایف ایم اے نے آٹے کی پیداوار محدود کرنے اور اس کی قیمت مقرر کرنے جیسے غیرمسابقتی اقدامات کیے ہیں ۔ سات رکنی عملے نے ڈائریکٹر جنرل اکرام الحق کی سربراہی میں ان اطلاعات پر تفتیش کی کہ پی ایف ایم اے احکامات کی خلاف ورزی کررہی ہے جو اسے قیمت اور آٹے کی ترسیل سے متعلق ایسے فیصلے کرنے سے روکتا ہے جس سے منڈی میں مسابقت کی حوصلہ شکنی ہو ۔ مسابقتی کمیشن نے اپنے 13 دسمبر 2019 کے حکم نامے میں غیرمسابقتی سرگرمیوں کی وجہ سے پی ایف ایم اے پر 75 ملین روپے جرمانہ عائد کیا تھا ۔

(ڈان، 12 فروری، صفحہ2)

چینی

مسابقتی کمیشن (کمپیٹیشن کمیشن آف پاکستان) پاکستان فلور ملز ایسوسی ایشن پر 75 ملےن روپے جرمانہ عائد کرنے کے بعد چینی کے شعبے کے اعداد وشمار کا تجزیہ کررہا ہے کہ آیا شوگر ملیں چینی کی قیمت کے حوالے سے گٹھ جوڑ (کارٹلائزیشن) میں ملوث ہیں یا نہیں ۔ خوردہ منڈی میں چینی کی قیمت 10 روپے اضافے کے بعد 80 روپے فی کلو گرام ہوچکی ہے ۔ کمیشن نے ماضی میں بھی اس طرح کی کارروائی کی تھی اور پاکستان شوگر ملز ایسوسی ایشن (پی ایس ایم اے) کے دفتر پر چھاپہ مارا اور تفتیش کی گئی تھی ۔ تفتیش کے بعد کمیشن نے پی ایس ایم اے کو کارٹلائزیشن میں ملوث قرار دیا تھا اور قوانین کی خلاف ورزی پر زیادہ سے زیادہ جرمانے عائد کیا تھا ۔ تاہم اس سارے عمل کو سندھ ہائی کورٹ نے کالعدم قرار دے دیا جہاں پی ایس ایم اے نے مسابقتی کمیشن کی تفتیش کے خلاف درخواست دائر کی تھی ۔

(بزنس ریکارڈر، 10 فروری، صفحہ1)

کابینہ کی اقتصادی رابطہ کمیٹی نے چینی درآمد کرنے کی تجویز مسترد کرتے ہوئے اس کی برآمد پر فوری طور پر پابندی عائد کر دی ہے ۔ مشیر خزانہ ڈاکٹر عبدالحفیظ شیخ کی سربراہی میں ہونے والے اجلاس میں صوبوں کو ہدایت کی گئی ہے کہ وہ منافع خوروں اور ذخیرہ اندوزوں کے خلاف انتظامی اقدامات کرکے منڈی میں چینی کی ترسیل یقینی بنائیں ۔ وفاقی وزارت صنعت و پیداوار کے مطابق اس وقت تقریبا 1;46;72 ملین ٹن چینی کا ذخیرہ ملوں کے پاس موجود ہے اور گنے کی کرشنگ اب بھی جاری ہے ۔ ملک کی ماہانہ چینی کی کھپت 450,000 سے 480,000 ٹن ہے ۔

(ڈان، 11 فروری، صفحہ10)

گوشت

ٹریڈ ڈیولپمنٹ اتھارٹی آف پاکستان (ٹی ڈی اے پی) نے ایک بیان میں کہا ہے کہ ملائیشیا کے محکمہ ویٹنری سروسز اور ڈپارٹمنٹ آف اسلامک ڈیولپمنٹ ملائیشیا نے آگاہ کیا ہے کہ انہوں نے دو پاکستانی کمپنیوں زینتھ ایسوسی ایٹس اور لینیئر پاک جیلٹن لمیٹیڈ، لاہور کو گوشت اور اس کی مصنوعات ملائیشیا برآمد کرنے کی منظوری دے دی ہے ۔ ٹی ڈی اے پی نے ملائیشیا کے ان اداروں کو 13 تا 28 جولائی، 2019 کو گوشت کی عمل کاری (پروسیسنگ) کے مراکز کا معائنہ کرنے کی دعوت دی تھی ۔ ملائیشیا کے چار رکنی وفد نے کراچی کے تین اور لاہور کے چار مراکز کا دورہ کیا تھا اور وزارت قومی غذائی تحفظ و تحقیق اور دیگر اداروں کے حکام سے ملاقاتیں بھی کی تھیں ۔

(بزنس ریکارڈر، 8 فروری، صفحہ3)

مال مویشی

بلوچستان حکومت 100 ملین روپے کی لاگت سے ضلع مشاخیل اور واشک میں اونٹوں پر تحقیق کا مرکز اور دودھ کی عمل کاری (پروسیسنگ) کا مرکز قائم کرنے کی منصوبہ بندی کررہی ہے ۔ ڈائریکٹر محکمہ مال مویشی ڈاکٹر غلام حسین جعفر کے مطابق بلوچستان میں اونٹوں کی افزائش کے وسیع مواقع موجود ہیں ۔ ضلع خاران، واشک، لسبیلہ، دوکی، مشاخیل، ژوب اور شیرانی میں تقریبا 700,000 اونٹ ہیں ۔ صوبائی حکومت اونٹوں کی افزائش اور دودھ کی پیداوار میں اضافے کے لیے نجی شعبہ کے ساتھ تعاون بڑھائے گی ۔

(دی ایکسپریس ٹریبیون، 9 فروری، صفحہ7)

دو روزہ مال مویشی نمائش ’’سندھ لائیو اسٹاک ایکسپو 2020‘‘ آٹھ فروری کو شروع ہوگئی ہے جہاں مقررین نے خوراک کی ضروریات پوری کرنے اور دیہی علاقوں میں غربت کے خاتمے کے لیے مال مویشی اور ماہی گیری شعبہ میں سرمایہ کاری پر زور دیا ہے ۔ اس نمائش میں بڑے پیمانے پر مویشیوں بشمول گائے، بھینس، بکری، گھوڑے، اونٹ اور پرندوں کی تمام معروف نسلوں کی نمائش کی گئی ۔ مال مویشی اور ماہی گیری شعبہ سے جڑے مالیاتی اداروں ، کمپنیوں ، اشیاء تیار کرنے والی صنعتوں نے بھی اپنے اسٹال قائم کیے ۔ وزیر مال مویشی سندھ عبدالباری پتافی نے سرمایہ کاروں کو مال مویشی شعبہ میں سرمایہ کاری کی دعوت دیتے ہوئے کہا کہ ’’ہمارے دودھ دینے والے مویشیوں کی معروف نسلیں ہیں ، جن سے زیادہ منافع کمانے کے لیے ویلیو ایڈیشن اور منڈی سے مطابقت پیدا کرنے کی ضرورت ہے‘‘ ۔

(دی نیوز، 9 فروری، صفحہ18)

خوراک

ڈائریکٹر جنرل سندھ فوڈ اتھارٹی امجد علی لغاری نے کورنگی اےسوسی اےشن آف ٹرےڈ اےنڈ انڈسٹری کے اجلاس کے دوران کہا ہے کہ کھلے خوردنی تےل کی فروخت کو غےر قانونی قرار دے دیا گیا ہے اور اس کے خلاف جلد سخت کارروائی کی جائے گی ۔ انہوں نے مزید کہا کہ دادو، حیدرآباد، لاڑکانہ اور اندرون سندھ کے دیگر علاقوں سے کراچی ترسیل کیا جانے والا غیر معیاری دودھ ضبط کیا گیا ہے ۔ اس موقع پر کورنگی اےسوسی اےشن آف ٹرےڈ اےنڈ انڈسٹری کے صدر شیخ عمر ریحان کا کہنا تھا کہ ’’ہزاروں ٹن کھلا تیل بازاروں اور خوردہ فروش دکانوں پر دستیاب ہے جو عوامی صحت کے لیے انتہائی مضر ہے ۔ کھلے غیر معیاری خوردنی تیل کی فروخت کے خلاف سخت کارروائی ہونی چاہیے‘‘ ۔

(بزنس رےکارڈر، 7 فروری، صفحہ2) Continue reading

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. 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. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

MONSANTO WEED KILLER ROUNDUP WAS ‘SUBSTANTIAL FACTOR’ IN CAUSING MAN’S CANCER, JURY SAYS

By Mihir Zaveri

March 19, 2019

A federal jury found Tuesday that Monsanto’s popular weed killer Roundup was a “substantial factor” in causing a California man’s cancer, dealing a significant blow to the company as it aggressively defends its products against thousands of similar claims.

The six-member jury delivered the unanimous verdict in the United States District Court in San Francisco, months after a groundskeeper who said Roundup caused his cancer was awarded about $80 million in a separate case in California.

Tuesday’s verdict concluded the first of two phases in the federal case about the possible health risks of Roundup and whether Monsanto misled the man, Edwin Hardeman, about those risks.

Mr. Hardeman used Roundup to control weeds and poison oak on his property for 26 years. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2015.

The second phase of the case, which begins Wednesday, will focus on whether Monsanto, which was acquired by Bayer AG last year, should be held liable for partly causing Mr. Hardeman’s cancer, said his lawyer, Jennifer Moore. Ms. Moore said lawyers would seek to prove that Monsanto manipulated public opinion and science to play down Roundup’s health risks.

Lawyers will argue that Monsanto knew or should have known that Roundup causes cancer, Ms. Moore said in an interview Tuesday. Mr. Hardeman’s team will ask that the jury have the company pay his medical bills and an undetermined amount of damages, she added.

“We feel confident based on the evidence that a jury, when presented with all of the evidence, will see that Monsanto has committed 40 years of corporate malfeasance,” Ms. Moore said.

Bayer said in a statement Tuesday that it was disappointed in the jury’s verdict and that “the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto’s conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman’s cancer.”

“We have great sympathy for Mr. Hardeman and his family, but an extensive body of science supports the conclusion that Roundup was not the cause of his cancer,” Bayer said in the statement. “Bayer stands behind these products and will vigorously defend them.”

In December 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a draft human health risk assessment that said glyphosate was most likely not carcinogenic to humans.

Central to the criticism of Roundup, however, is a decision by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2015 to declare glyphosate a probable carcinogen.

That spurred Mr. Hardeman to file a lawsuit in February 2016, and prompted California to declare glyphosate a chemical that is known to cause cancer.

In August, a California jury found that Monsanto had failed to warn a school groundskeeper of the cancer risks posed by Roundup, which he used as part of his job as a pest control manager. Monsanto was ordered to pay $289 million in damages.

In October, a judge reduced that total to about $80 million, saying the jury’s award was too high. Monsanto is appealing that verdict, a spokesman said.

Mr. Hardeman’s case was the first federal case to go to trial, Ms. Moore said. She said the legal team presented expert testimony and research that Roundup causes mutations in human cells and that human populations that are exposed to Roundup are more likely to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Documents unsealed in 2017 in Mr. Hardeman’s case suggested that Monsanto had ghostwritten research that was later attributed to academics. The documents indicated that a senior official at the E.P.A. had worked to quash a federal review of glyphosate.

The documents also revealed that there was some disagreement within the E.P.A. over its own risk assessment.