The Struggle of Rural Communities for Food System Change!

Press Release

October 16, 2020

Roots for Equity and the Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) in collaboration with  People’s Coalition for Food Security (PCFS), Pesticide Action Network, Asia and  Pacific (PAN AP) and Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) is marking the World Food Day as World Hunger Day on October 16, 2020. A webinar and protest has been organized in this regard in which small and landless peasants including PKMT members participated from different districts.

This event is part of a campaign, launched on the occasion of World Hunger Day, and titled “Rural People are Hungry for Food System Change”. It aims to promote a strategy for highlighting the toxic impacts of industrial chemical agriculture production systems and the acute need for food sovereignty and agro-ecology based food production systems. This year’s global campaign focuses on the plight of rural populations during the pandemic, and their demands for changes in the food and agricultural systems.

Tariq Mehmood, a member of PKMT, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, spoke on the situation of hunger, poverty and unemployment during the Covid19 pandemic, He said that the transnational mega agro-chemical corporations’ domination in the food and agriculture system around the world, their exploitation and destruction of biodiversity and natural habitats is a catalyst for Corona pandemic.

According to a report by the United Nations FAO (The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World), the epidemic could lead another 83 to 132 million people suffering from hunger by 2020, and if the current situation continues by 2030, 841.4 million people in the world will be hungry.

According to a member of PKMT Mohammad Zaman from Sahiwal, it is reported in the Pakistan Economic Survey 2019-20, the corona virus had a severe negative impact on the Pakistani economy and at least another 10 million people are feared to be pushed to living below the poverty line in Pakistan. The number could increase from 50 million presently to 60 million.

In the Global Hunger Index, Pakistan ranks 106th out of 119 countries where consumption of meat, poultry, fish, milk, vegetables and fruits is six to 10 times lower than that of developed countries. The worsening situation of hunger and poverty can be gauged from the statement of Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Poverty and Social Protection, that “almost half of the country’s population will be covered by the Ehsas Program.” The statement indicates that in Pakistan, where almost half of the population is employed in the agricultural sector, the current epidemic of rising hunger, poverty and unemployment has exacerbated the pervasive exploitation and brutality of this rotten food and agriculture system that is based extracting super-profits from the poorest segments of society.

Speaking on the global food and employment crisis, Wali Haider, of Roots for Equity said that rural populations around the world are already aware of these facts and now the food and employment crisis and growing hunger during the Corona virus pandemic has proved that the current system of food and agriculture, which is dominated by the big capitalist countries and their for profit companies, has failed.

This domination of the imperialist powers over the global food and agriculture system has linked the local rural economy, in third world countries like Pakistan, to the global agricultural market. This has resulted in the most important resources like our agricultural produce, our land and water have become a source of surplus profits for multinational corporations.  A clear example of this is the increasing production of sugarcane and other cash crops for the production and export of agro-fuels like ethanol, while the production of the most important food crops such as wheat is declining.

This is one of the reasons for the rise in food prices and the consequent increase in hunger. There is an urgent need to change the system where farmers are forced to depend on seeds, chemicals and toxic inputs of companies. These chemicals also pollute the entire food and agricultural system and destruction of the ecosystems and biodiversity.

In contrast, a sustainable food production system, agro-ecology, provides farmers with a strategy that protects not only their rights but also of other small food producers. Farmers’ right to land under agro ecology guarantees the establishment of collective and individual seed banks and their exchange. It also protects and promotes safe and natural systems of food and agriculture production ensuring food security of the most marginalized and vulnerable communities as well as safe nutritious food and environment for all.

Speaking on the women farmers’ rights Azra Sayeed of Roots for Equity said that the livestock and dairy sector accounts for 56% of the total agricultural production and the majority of farmers involved in milk and meat production are small scale. It consists of cattle breeders, especially women, who make it possible to produce 60 billion liters of milk annually in the country, but these same rural populations are starving themselves as a result of the monopoly of capitalist companies in the food and agriculture sector.

In the name of achieving so called standardization of milk, meat and other foods, corporations are paving a clear path to monopolizing the dairy and meat sector. This will only lead to further exacerbation of hunger and malnutrition in the country. It is important to note that according to the National Nutrition Survey 2018, 53% of children and 44.3% of women in the country are suffering from anemia.

Raja Mujeeb, a member of PKMT Sindh, referring to the small and landless peasants are most affected by the Covid19 epidemic, said that food producers have been forced to depend on poor quality seeds where the companies have established a monopoly and at the same time land is in the hands of feudal lords and increasing encroachment of capitalist systems of production and marketing.

If the farmers have control over all the productive resources including land and seeds, then our farmers, laborers, fishermen and the rural population can get food even in the face of the current pandemic or any kind of emergency. That is why PKMT believes that food sovereignty and self-sufficiency in food and agriculture based an end to feudalism through just and equitable land distribution among farmers and imperialist food policies is critical for a peaceful democratic sovereign state!

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

Press Release in Urdu (PDF)

Free virus testing for workers demanded

May 02, 2020

PESHAWAR: The rights activists on Friday demanded of the government to start free mass coronavirus testing, especially for workers and farmers, besides ensuring their social protection.

The demand was made during a webinar organised by Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek and NGO Roots for Equity here to mark the Labour Day.

The panelists included labour and peasant leaders and rights activists from different cities, including Dr Azra Talat Sayeed, Tariq Mehmood, Raja Mujeeb, Junaid Awan, Zahoor Joya and Wali Haider.

They said the Covid-19 pandemic had not only exposed the ineffectiveness of the capitalist system to deal with a crisis but also its ‘criminal tendency’ to disregard hunger and impoverishment suffered by the people at the current critical juncture prioritising profits over people.

They added that in the face of the pandemic, deregulation, privatisation and trade liberalisation policies were the structural reasons for the workers facing joblessness, financial instability and lack of health and other forms of social protection.

The panelists said that in the pre-neoliberal era, workers were given job protection, healthcare, education, shelter and other facilities.

They said under privatisation, even the right to permanent job security had been eroded and that was the basic reason for joblessness, poverty and hunger in the country, which had aggravated under the pandemic.

The panelists said during the Covid-19 crisis, factories and businesses had been closed leaving workers with acute economic hardship.

They said according to the provincial planning and development department, if the lockdown continued than 460,000 workers, including daily wagers and street vendors, would be left without a livelihood.

The panelists said in the Hattar Industrial zone, many hundreds of workers had already been laid off.

They claimed that the relief package provided by the federal and provincial governments was inaccessible for a majority of workers due to lack of registration and other handicaps.

The panelists said women faced increased domestic violence under the pandemic as well as economic hardship and hunger.

They said self-sufficiency and self reliance including food-self sufficiency was a critical element for national stability and development and that was only possible when workers had full access and control over resources and production to pave the way for a peaceful prosperous sovereign nation without the shackles of imperialism.

The panelists demanded of the government to guarantee incomes and benefits, cash grants and relief or the working people and nationalise public health system, respect democratic and human rights.

They said sanctions against Iran, Palestine and several other countries should be lifted.

Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2020

10th December: Global Day of Action Against WTO and Corporate Plunder

Press Release

10, December, 2017

Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tahreek and Roots for Equity carried out a protest joining the global protest against World Trade Organization (WTO) by farmer organizations. The protest was held at Ghotki Press Club, Sindh on its 11th Ministerial Conference, to be held 10 -14th December, 2017 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

WTO, an international intergovernmental organization advocated and advanced by world’s richest capitalist countries, which ensures adaptation of extremely anti-people, anti-farmers global trade rules and regulations in global trade. In third world countries, farming communities considers WTO as a public enemy as it ensures market monopoly of transnational corporations of rich capitalist countries.

Provincial Coordinator, PKMT Sindh, Ali Nawaz Jalbani, District Coordinator, Ghotki Ali Gohar, Raja Mujeeb and other PKMT leaders mentioned that various governments of the world are participating in the 11th Ministerial Conference of the WTO, where once  again hegemonic forces have come together to discuss and impose further neoliberal policies for exploitation of the working class and natural resources.

The exploitative policies to weaken the role of government in services like education, health facilities, water, and energy sector are on the agenda as government’s provision of these services takes away the profits of greedy corporations. There are also proposals to cut down third world countries support for their fishery industry, and a diabolical agenda of punishing small scale fisher folks for “illegal, unreported, and unregulated” fishing activities; the aim is to further reduce third world countries already minimal support for their farmers while allowing rich countries to continue their subsidies that allow them to flood developing countries’ markets with cheap agriculture products.

It is critical to mention that at the WTO’s 10th Ministerial Conference, Pakistan bowing down to US pressure, had opposed the Indian government’s proposal for third world countries to maintain public stockholding of food grains.  This is shameful in the context of Pakistan, where its populations, especially rural populations, women and children face extreme forms of hunger, and malnutrition. At this point, it is also important to mention the deaths in Thar, which have been reported for the past many years. Another critical agenda at the 11th Ministerial Conference is to enforce monopoly power of high technology companies, enabling them to access public data systems, by-pass customer privacy and protection which will be used to sell to other parties for profit, evading tax payments, and further take away self-employment or other means of livelihood, forcing them to accept even further reduced wages with zero protection and benefits. Pakistan supports these recommendations by implementing E-commerce trade proposals, which helps the hegemony of high tech companies in sectors such as information, retail, technology and media. The seven top corporations in these sectors are US-based and include Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook.

In countries like Pakistan farmers are facing loss of livelihood, evictions, poverty and hunger; more than two decades of the WTO regulations in agriculture has evoked these diabolical conditions. It is based on WTO’s atrocious coercion the Government of Pakistan has implemented the Plant Breeders Rights Act, and Seed Act 2015. Due to these laws the farmers are unable to save traditional seeds and forcing them to be dependent on agro-chemical transnational corporations. These companies are given a free hand to exploit small and landless farmers pushing them further in the abyss of impoverishment and misery.

Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek and Roots for Equity reject WTO, holding it responsible for the destruction of small farmers around the world. PKMT demands, that our government should seek a democratic process, which would enable farmers to adopt self-reliant policies, and exit from these agreements made with WTO. The need of the hour is to show complete resistance against WTO, propelled by plundering corporations, supported by their capitalist countries. No doubt the struggle is to end imperialism!

Released by: Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek and Roots For Equity.


Press Release

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World Report 2017 jointly released by FAO and other intergovernmental agencies have highlighted some shocking information: people suffering from hunger and malnourishment have risen from 777 million in 2015 to 815 million in 2016, of which a vast majority (520 million) live in Asia. Globally, it has also been made evident that conflict and climate change has a vastly negative impact on food security especially for rural communities, and is also a major reason for migration. This is the context of FAO ‘celebrating’ the World Food Day under the theme of “Change the future of migration. Invest in food security and rural development.” In short, millions of people from third world countries are fleeing their homes due to various factors including conflict, hunger, poverty, and a variety of climate change impacts such as floods, droughts, among others. Pakistan, in 2017 continues to be ranked as one of the least peaceful countries: among peaceful countries it ranks 152 of 166 counties.

To mark the ever-rising number of hungry in a country which has surplus wheat rotting in state warehouses, millions of Pakistanis are being displaced by state-sponsored militarism and hence losing land, livelihood, livestock – all that are essential for maintaining food and nutrition. Statistics shout the facts: Pakistan ranks 77 in109 countries for food security indicators; of every tenth person, six suffer from food insecurity; almost 44% children suffer from malnutrition where as 50% of women suffer from anemia.

These diabolical figures are a result of extreme oppression and inequity in the country; the most critical being inequitable land distribution. Forty-five percent of land is held by only 11% of big landlords. Millions of small and landless farmers are forced to produce under the exploitative, oppressive conditions of semi-feudalism, and now mounting hegemony of powerful agro-chemical corporations under the capitalist framework of neoliberalism have been allowed to renew colonization of our lands and resources. The multiple impacts of land and resource hegemony, conflict, climate change and destruction of our agricultural lands by intense use of dangerous chemical fertilizers has left the rural communities and urban poor suffering from the vast indignities of hunger and poverty. The concentration of power by the agri-business giants under the auspicious of World Trade Organisation (WTO) and its trade liberalization agreements, especially TRIPs is one of the major structural causes of rising world hunger.

Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) and Roots for Equity held a press conference and a protest at the Islamabad Press Conference, October 16, 2017 to register their protest against the ongoing heinous human rights violations being inflicted through concentrated wealth and control over resources especially land by the feudal and corporate elite in the country. PKMT leaders Altaf Hussain, Tariq Mehmood Pathani, and Azra Talat Sayeed spoke at the occasion.

PKMT calls out to all peoples organizations to increase the struggle for food sovereignty as the way forward to end the joint crippling impacts of semi-feudal and neoliberal policies being employed to plunder the land and productive resources of our people. PKMT demands a food and agriculture policy based on food sovereignty framework with equitable distribution of land, ensuring women’s farmers right to land. There cannot be just and lasting peace, sustainable development and prosperity without a people-led development agenda.

Released by: Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT)

Urdu Press Release

Press Release World Foodless Day 2017 urdu


Dawn, November 25th, 2016

Amin Ahmed

ISLAMABAD: The development of new plant varieties and the rights of their breeders have been protected for the first time in Pakistan with the adoption of the ‘Plant Breeders’ Right Bill’ by the Senate on Wednesday.

The new law will encourage plant breeders and seed organisations of both public and private sectors to invest in research and plant breeding; development of superior varieties of field, vegetable and ornamental crops; and facilitate access to protected foreign varieties and new technologies.

With the adoption of the bill by both houses of parliament, it will become Plant Breeders’ Rights Act of 2016 after president’s assent, which is largely a formality.

Establishment of a viable seed industry is essential to the food security in Pakistan to ensure the availability of high-quality seeds and planting material to the farmers. It is necessary to make provisions for developing the breeding of new plant varieties, protecting the rights of their breeders and providing exemptions to them.

To comply with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement, the government has already introduced several laws in the field of intellectual property, incl­uding patents, trademarks, copyright and industrial des­igns. Under the agreement, Pakistan is also required to provide intellectual property rights to the breeders of new plant varieties.

The new act will facilitate access to protected foreign varieties and new technologies; creating healthy competition for variety development among public and private sector organisations; facilitate in generating revenues for research institutes and financial incentives for plant breeders; and effectively control menace of counterfeiting in the seed sector for betterment of farmer community and food security in the country.

Under the act, the federal government will establish the ‘Plant Breeders’ Rights Registry’ under the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to facilitate protection of new plant varieties and issue certificates.

A plant variety protection advisory committee will also be established with members from the public and private sectors to advise the ministry of the registry on scientific and technical issues.

Plants Breeders Right Bill: Farmer Shackling Law

Press Release


During the press conference PKMT national coordinator Raja Mujeeb, provincial coordinator sindh Ali Nawaz Jalbani, national core group member Hakim Gul and district coordinator ghotki Ali Gohar speaking to the media.

August 12, 2016

The Standing Committee on National Food Security and Research (NFS&R) on August 9, 2016 approved the ‘Plant Breeders Bill 2016’ which had earlier in the year already been approved by the Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Division; the draft bill will be now be presented before the National Assembly for approval.

Implementation of the Plant Breeders Rights Bill, like the Amended Seed Act, 2015 is dictated by the World Trade Organization (WTO) under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual property rights (TRIPS) Agreement.  The TRIPs agreement makes it mandatory for the government to provide intellectual property rights (IPRs) on new varieties of plants and seeds. In essence, the Plant Breeders Right’s Act provides monopolistic control to IPR holders of the new varieties of plants or seed prohibiting their use and sale to all others without permission.

The Plant Breeders Act’s is delivered through an ‘effective’ sui generis system or through patents or a combination of both and thus provides mechanisms for plant variety owner to seek IPRs over their plant varieties in each country where they want commercial use of the variety.

The Plant Breeder Right Act basically takes away a centuries old right of farmers to saving and exchanging seed. With gigantic seed corporations such as Monsanto and Syngenta holding intellectual property rights over seeds, the country will on one hand, face serious food insecurity and on the other, loose its sovereignty allowing transnational corporations to dictate food and agricultural production in the country. The royalties paid for IPRs will result in massive seed prices, and farmers already reeling under the steeply rising production costs will face further impoverishment. There is no doubt that the approval of this Bill is equivalent to pushing farmers out of the agricultural sector, reducing them to the status of beggars, a life of misery and humiliation.

Genetically modified seeds (GMOs) are based on genetic engineering (GE) of living organisms including seed and animals and is against evolution of life in nature; the commodification of nature, environmental pollution and further destruction of biodiversity through GMOs is a threat to the entire humanity and goes far beyond ethical dictates of society. It is due to the above reasons and potential health risks associated to GMOs that many countries across the globe have banned GM seed and crops.

Some members of the Standing Committee on NFS&R have shown strong reservations against the bill. According to them, the while the Bio Safety Committee under the Ministry of Climate Change has been given the responsibility for issuing certification on GMOs but lacks expertise on this matter. Pakistan has not undertaken any research and analysis on GE crops and their impacts, which is absolutely against international law on this issue.

Based on the above, Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek, an alliance of small and landless farmers and Roots for Equity strongly reject the Plant Breeders Rights Bill demanding first, a complete elimination of the role of foreign seed companies in agricultural production and second, any further decision making in this context to be based on inclusion and decision making role of farmers’ organizations.

Released by Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT)

Urdu Press Release

Plant Breeder Right Act 12 aug 16 copy


ISLAMABAD: The rich countries agreement to immediately eliminate agriculture export subsidies would provide a level-playing field to Pakistani exports, said Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan on Monday.

The WTO has not only agreed on elimination of agricultural export subsidies but also put more restrictions on Pakistan’s competitors, the minister said in a statement issued after attending the 10th WTO Ministerial in Nairobi, Kenya.

He said Nairobi decisions have helped improve prospects for Pakistani farmers and agriculture exports.

In cooperation with numerous allies, the minister said, Pakistan also successfully resisted a move by some large developing countries that could have hurt Pakistan’s agriculture trade through the said countries’ subsidised export of public stocks amassed in the name of food security.

Export subsidies of developed countries such as Australia, Canada, the European Union, Iceland, Israel, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and the United States shall be eliminated immediately.

By contrast, export subsidies’ entitlement of developing countries like Uruguay, Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, Cyprus, Indonesia, Mexico, Panama, South Africa and Turkey, shall be eliminated by 2018.

Mr Dastgir said, “We resisted efforts by some large developing countries to prematurely amend WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture in the name of food security, which would allow them to distort trade in their favour by exporting public food stocks at subsidised prices.”
Pakistan also took the lead in welcoming Afghanistan’s formal accession to WTO, he added.

Published in Dawn, December 22nd, 2015


Press Release

December 15, 2015

Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) and Roots for Equity in collaboration with Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) carried out a protest outside Sukkur Press Club to register public resistance against the against the World Trade Organization (WTO) which is going to hold its 10th Ministerial Meeting December 15-18, 2015 in Nairobi.

The purpose of the WTO was to ensure control on global trade much of which is under the imperialist control of the advanced capitalist countries and their gigantic corporations. WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) and TRIPS (Trade-related- Intellectual Property Rights) agreement are immensely exploitative of farmers across the world, especially small and landless farmers of third world countries. Agrochemical and biotechnology corporations especially the US corporations have been able to impose control over the rich genetic resources of the third world with the TRIPS agreement thereby paving the way for multinational companies to earn billions of dollars by patenting and trading hybrid and genetic seed, globally. On the other hand, farmers have not only lost their indigenous seeds but at the same time have become dependent on the inputs of agro-chemical corporations pushing them in a vicious cycle of high cost production, indebtedness, and loss of livelihood. Today a vast majority of the rural and urban population face hunger, and are living in acute poverty and misery.


The imperialist neoliberal policies of privatization, deregulation and trade liberalization pushed by the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank have resulted in poisoned lands, food and the destruction of environment which has had not only a tremendous impact on the health of people, especially women and children but also resulting in climatic disasters. No doubt these policies are based on the lust for super profits of the capitalist system.

The 9th Bali Ministerial was a big setback for the anti-globalization movement because it allowed capitalist economies to fast track their exports through a Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). TFA enforces developing countries to implement systems that allow a fast and smooth transport and transaction of goods at the custom check posts of countries. Pakistan has ratified the TFA in October 2015 and has become the 50th country that has ratified this agreement.

What is to be expected from the upcoming tenth WTO Ministerial to be held in Nairobi, Kenya? There is no doubt that further trade liberalization and market access is on the books. There is news that US and its allies are ongoing negotiations for a new agreement in the WTO, the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). According to Wiki leaks, this negotiation is still being kept a secret.  There is no doubt, that this new agreement will only lead to the further oppression and exploitation of small and landless farmers and workers.

Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) rejects the WTO while holding it responsible for the destruction of lives and livelihood of small farmers, especially in the third world. PKMT demands the government that it should cancel its membership at the WTO and ask other governments to join hands in closing such an anti–farmer, anti-people organization. Such an action will break the imperialist stranglehold over Pakistan taking it towards a road of food and national sovereignty.