سامراجی ہتھکنڈے اور موجودہ معاشی بحران: مزدور تحریک کے امکانات

پریس ریلیز؛ 22 فروری 2022

دنیا بھر میں یکم مئی، 1886 میں شکاگو کے مزدوروں کی جدوجہد کی یاد میں مزدوروں کے عالمی دن کے طور پر منایا جاتا ہے۔ پاکستان کسان مزدور تحریک (پی کے ایم ٹی) اور روٹس فار ایکوٹی نے ماہ رمضان کے پیش نظر اس سال یکم مئی کا جلسہ 22 مئی، 2022 کو حطار انڈسٹریل اسٹیٹ ہری پور میں منعقد کیا۔ جس میں بڑی تعداد میں مزدور کسان رہنماؤں اور کسان دوست ساتھیوں نے شرکت کی۔

پاکستان میں جاری معاشی بحران کا سبب کورونا وبا نہیں بلکہ سرمایہ دارانہ نظام ہے جو کہ بحرانوں میں بھی اپنے منافع کے حصول کو اولیت دیتا ہے، کا منہ بولتا ثبوت ہے۔ شدید معاشی اور سماجی مسائل میں پسے ہوئے مزدور طبقہ کو عالمی مالیاتی اداروں خصوصاً آئی ایم ایف کے رحم و کرم پر چھوڑ دیا گیا ہے۔ اس طبقے کے لیے صحت، تعلیم اور بہتر روزگار کا حصول پہلے ہی جان جوکھوں کا کام تھا مگر بڑھتی ہوئی مہنگائی جس میں کھانے پینے کی ضروری اشیاء چینی، آٹا، چینی، دودھ، مرغی، سبزی، گوشت، آلو، ٹماٹر، تیل سمیت دیگر اشیاء کی قیمتوں میں ہوشروبا اضافہ کے ساتھ ساتھ پیٹرول، ڈیزل، بجلی اور گیس کی قیمتوں میں مسلسل اضافے سے پسے ہوئے طبقات کا زندہ رہنا مشکل ہوگیا ہے۔ بڑھتی ہوئی مہنگائی کا اندازہ اس بات سے دیکھا جاسکتا ہے کہ اپریل 2022 میں گزشتہ 11 سالوں میں سب سے زیادہ مہنگائی 13.37 فیصد نوٹ کی گئی۔ جبکہ بے روزگاری میں مالی سال 2019-2020 میں بے روزگاری کے شکار 5.80 ملین افراد سے بڑھ کر مالی سال 2020-2021 میں 6.65 ملین افراد ہوگئے۔
بڑھتی ہوئی بے روزگاری اور مہنگائی کے خاتمہ کے لیے حکومت کی طرف سے کوئی اقدام تو کجا حکومت آئی ایم ایف کے ساتھ کیے گئے ملک دشمن اور عوام دشمن معاہدہ کے تحت مزید معاشی پستی کی جانب گامزن ہے۔ روپے کی قدر میں تیزی سے کمی ملکی قرضوں میں مزید اضافہ کرتی جارہی ہے۔ حکومت کی ترجیح عوامی مسائل کے حل کے بجائے آئی ایم ایف کی ایماء پر اسٹیٹ بینک کو حکومتی تحویل سے آزاد کرنے کے قانون کا اجراء جیسی ملک و عوام دشمن پالیسیوں کے ذریعہ پاکستان میں نوآبادیاتی شکنجے کو مزید مستحکم کرنا ہے۔ آزاد تجارتی پالیسی کے تحت سرکاری شعبہ میں چلنے والی صنعتوں اور اداروں کو نجی شعبے میں دے دیا گیا جس سے بڑی تعداد میں مزدوروں کی بے روزگاری میں اضافہ اور سرکاری سہولیات میں کمی کا سامنا کرنا پڑرہا ہے۔ Continue reading

Govt asked to protect rights of small, landless farmers

Bureau Report | March 30, 2022

PESHAWAR: Representatives of farmers, agriculture workers and non-governmental organisations said here on Tuesday that the government was allowing free market forces to take over land, livestock, food production and processes as well as markets instead of promoting small and landless farmers.

They vowed to fight all forms of feudal encroachments and grabbing of agricultural land by big corporations and to strive for food security.

Addressing a press conference at Peshawar Press Club, representatives of Pakistan Kisan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) and peasant movements demanded of the federal government to provide substantial economic relief through social protection initiatives to all the marginalised people, especially women.

The presser was organised in connection with the Day of the Landless. It was addressed by representatives from across the country, including PKMT general secretary Tariq Mehmood, Dr Azra Saeed of Roots for Equity, Zahoor Joya from Multan, Ali Nawaz from Ghotki, Nabi Jan from Peshawar and others.

“Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, instead of promoting and implementing policies that would promote sustainable food system, the United Nations supported mega business platforms and corporations to promote industrial-chemical methods of agricultural production,” he said.

Mr Mehmood said that corporate farming systems, including those being used in the dairy and livestock sector, were responsible for eviction of small and landless farmers from their communities. A key example, he claimed, was the authority’s taking away control of the fresh milk sector from small producers and giving it to huge corporations.

He said that digitalisation of the food production system would allow further encroachment of not only agro-chemical corporations, but also financial and IT corporations to control agriculture.

Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2022

https://www.dawn.com/news/1682440/govt-asked-to-protect-rights-of-small-landless-farmers

Peasants, Rise Up against Land Grabs and Fascism!

Press Release | March 29, 2022

Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek along with peasant movements, food sovereignty advocates, and supporters of genuine agrarian reform around the world, mark this year’s Day of the Landless enraged by the renewed push of big corporations, the rich governments representing them, and the governments of poor countries subservient to foreign and private capital of their land grabbing in the name of development and so called climate friendly schemes in the pretext of climate change mitigation and sustainable food systems.

It is shameful that even during the Covid19 pandemic, instead of promoting and implementing policies that would promote sustainable food system, the United Nations directly supported and worked with mega business platforms and corporations to promote industrial-chemical methods of agricultural production that suit the very actors responsible for unsustainable food production directly responsible for the present climate crisis, that has even in the past few months reached alarming heights.

The major infrastructure projects such as the case of Northern Bypass, corporate farming systems including those being used in the dairy and livestock sector are responsible for eviction of small and landless farmers from their communities. Instead of promoting small farmers and landless farmers who practice traditional sustainable methods of agricultural production, our government is allowing free market forces to take over land, livestock, food production and processes as well as markets. A key example is the Pure Food Authority to take away control of the fresh milk sector from small producers and give control to huge corporations such as Nestle and Friesland Campina. Corporations like Pepsi Co are producing potatoes on more than 20,000 acres of land that is resulting in more and more agricultural workers to work on hunger wages. Digitalization of the food production system, an example being of the Pakistan Kissan Card is a dangerous element of trade liberalization that will allow further encroachment of not only agro-chemial corporations but also financial and IT corporations to control our agriculture. Critical food crops such as wheat production is being affected immensely. At the same time, increasing sugarcane production, a key biofuel crop, is also a contributor to drastic loss of livelihood for landless agricultural works pushing landless women to carry out backbreaking work in sugarcane harvesting just to access fodder for their animals.  These profit-seeking corporations are being fully facilitated by our state mechanism much of which is controlled by feudal lords.

The imperialist international financial system, especially the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has imposed grotesque conditionalities based on which the small farmers, the landless, the women and children of the working classes face crippling poverty and hunger. The extremely high cost of agricultural production is leading to pauperization of small farmers, many facing eviction and being forced to sell their already meagre landholding.

Additionally, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to deepen the contradictions between the land and resource grabbers — the monopoly capitalists, finance oligarchs, local compradors, landlords, and bureaucrats — and the farmers, farmworkers, fishers, indigenous people, rural women and youth, and other rural sectors. Covid19 pandemic has led to new levels of global poverty and hunger that primarily impact rural peoples. Aggravating this are the wars and conflicts perpetrated by the competing interests of big global powers. The war in Ukraine that is being driven by the US-Russia rivalry, for instance, is exacerbating the already very dire situation of global hunger and food insecurity. Under the worsening socio-economic conditions of billions worldwide due to structural social inequalities the ruling classes are increasingly resorting fascist and dictatorial measures to maintain their power amid massive social unrests. 

PKMT stands firm in its fight for the rights of small and landless farmers, for the entire working class. We will continue to fight for food sovereignty, strengthen our solidarity with the masses and expose and fight all forms of feudal encroachments and corporate grab, while promoting sustainable food systems based on the people’s rights to land and resources and a healthy planet.

  • Stop land grabs!
  • Stop the fascist attacks and human rights violations against rural peoples!
  • Advance just, equitable, healthy, and sustainable food systems!
  • Genuine agrarian reform now!

Release by: Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT)

DOTL 2022_Urdu Press Release  

Corporate Capture in Dairy and Livestock

Press Release | Women Farmers’ Press Conference on Corporate Capture in Dairy and Livestock

On November 10 2021, women farmers and members of Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) held a press conference at the Sahiwal Press Club to protest against governments crackdown on fresh milk, the proposed ban on the sale of fresh milk along with the impending implementation of the Minimum Pasteurization Law as well as increasing trade liberalization and corporatization of the dairy and livestock sector.

Women farmers said that dairy corporations seeking to capture the dairy sector for their own profits are leading the attack against fresh milk by labelling it unsafe and unhygienic. Majority of the people in our country prefer the taste of fresh, whole milk and it is due to corporations’ failure to increase the popularity of packaged milk that they are resorting to other means, including pushing for stringent processing regulations and enlisting doctors and scientists to back unfounded claims regarding the safety of farmer-produced milk. According to PKMT members, international standards dictated by Codex and WTO form the base of attacks against fresh milk, corporate maligning of fresh milk makes no logical sense since our ancestors have been producing and consuming milk in the traditional way since many millennia without any negative impacts on their health.

Women farmers also spoke of the recent drive to import foreign cattle for increasing milk productivity. They said that such measures only benefit large cattle farms since small and landless farmers cannot afford to buy and sustain imported cattle due to high cost of industrial animal feed, veterinary costs and infrastructural costs. Additionally, there are high security risks of keeping expensive cattle in villages. The popularization of high-tech processes including artificial insemination techniques and genetic manipulation as well as company-produced products including hybrid fodder seeds and mechanized milking equipment are part of a drive to establish large-scale dairy farms and drive out small and landless farmers from the dairy and livestock sector.

Asserting their position as the key workforce in livestock rearing and maintenance, women farmers also highlighted how land and livestock are complex and deeply interconnected components of rural economies and are crucial to their livelihoods. Women reiterated the demand for just and equitable land distribution, saying that land access is crucial for accessing fodder to sustain livestock. They also said that the sale of milk, milk products and dung cakes ensures regular income that is critical for daily household expenditure.  A ban on fresh milk and corporate takeover of the sector would not only steal their livelihoods but would also be detrimental to their health; access to fresh milk works to offset rural nutritional deficit due to consumption of milk, butter, yoghurt, lassi and ghee.

Women said that the imposition of anti-farmer and pro-corporate standards and policies is threatening their lives, livelihoods and their right to food sovereignty. They made the following demands:

  • Prioritize just, equitable and genuine land reforms that allow land redistribution to landless farmers, including women agriculture workers
  • Ensuring women’s right to own and control land, livestock and all productive resources
  • Reject WTO-enforced international food safety standards and all WTO Agreements, including TRIPs Agreement that has captured farmers’ seed resources and now, is attacking livestock genetic resources
  • Conserve hardy indigenous livestock species that are resilient, well-adapted to local climate and produce high-quality milk (using local varieties of fodder)
  • Government must disallow foreign investments in farming, dairy and livestock sector that are encouraging the formation of large-scale, mechanized corporate entities

Release by: Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek & Roots for Equity

Urdu Press Release; Press Release_Press Conference_Sahiwal

Corporate entities, IFIs and neoliberal policies are directly responsible for the hunger, malnourishment and economic destitution

Press Release | PKMT 14th Annual Conference 2021 | October 15-16, 2021

Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek held its 14th Annual Conference from October 15 -16 at Renewal Centre, Lahore and simultaneously, held panel discussions and demonstrations to mark International Rural Women’s Day and World Hunger Day. During the events, speakers held corporate entities, IFIs and neoliberal policies accountable for creating food systems that are directly responsible for the hunger, malnourishment and economic destitution of more than a billion.

Azra Sayeed, Roots for Equity exposed corporate hijack of the United Nations Food Systems Summit, highlighting the role of the World Economic Forum, and foundations especially, the Gates Foundation and philanthropies who have provided corporate-driven policies depriving farmers of land, livelihood and food by funding technology intense systems in third world countries; the entire UNFSS was termed as nothing but a hallmark of false solutions to hunger e.g. pre-mixed therapeutic food that accrues billions of dollars in profit for corporations. Wali Haider, PKMT General Secretary highlighted the neoliberal policies in food and agriculture introduced in Pakistan amidst the pandemic reflecting much of the neocolonial policies emitting from the UNFSS. These policies are a fresh wave of attacks on small and landless farmers in Pakistan, embedded in the Pakistan Agricultural Transformation Plan, Kisan Card scheme, CPEC’s agricultural policies and livestock development programs. Policy features of digitalization of the agricultural economy, value chain strengthening and cluster-based food production panders to the corporate lobby, facilitates corporate land grab for export-oriented production, benefits landlords and industrialists and captures natural resources e.g. water, agricultural land, forests and rare minerals for company use. Essentially, it is a blueprint of UNFSS’s vision for food systems transformation and completely overrides small farmers’ rights to land and livelihood.

According to Raja Mujeeb, Steering Committee member, PKMT, the Global People’s Summit, a Global-South counter to the UNFSS main objective was to mobilize landless farmers, agricultural workers, indigenous peoples, fisherfolk and rural women across the world to develop a People’s Action Plan and draw up a Declaration for a people-led radical transformation of the current food regimes towards just, equitable, healthy, and sustainable food systems. The GPS is a testimony of the people’s collective resistance against the global corporate food empire and a call for genuine food systems transformation.

As part of the panel on movements and struggles, Asif Khan, PKMT Steering Committee member, presented an overview and analysis of peoples’ struggles and movements across the world, saying that revolutionary politics and direct action is the only way to grant farmers complete rights overall productive resources and complete autonomy and decision making in food and agriculture.

A number of other activities highlighted Rural Women’s Day with a tribute to rural women for the formal and informal, paid and unpaid work in food and agriculture. PKMT also celebrated 10 years of its struggle for seed sovereignty by holding a seed mela with indigenous seeds from all over Pakistan.

In addition, a protest was held as part of the Global Day of Action against IMF and World Bank Annual Meetings. The protest actions called for an immediate TRIPS waiver, debt cancellation and an end to resource plunder and greenwashing practices in the name of development.

Demands:

  • Implementation of agroecological approaches to agriculture based on food sovereignty principles that center peasants’ right to land and collective rights over all critical productive resources, in order to create just, equitable, healthy and sustainable food systems that ensure safe and nutritious food for all;
  • Recognition of the role that women and rural communities play in conserving plant and animal genetic resources through agricultural practices rooted in traditional knowledge;
  • Boycott all neoliberal corporate-led platforms, policies and action plans such as UNFSS and bilateral and multilateral trade agreements such as the RCEP, CPTPP and others that allow the monopolization of global trade by TNCs;
  • Provide climate justice now by demanding greater accountability and higher compensation for solutions from countries with a higher level of development who have destroyed Earth’s life systems due to extractive and polluting capitalist production model.

Release by: Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT)

Farmers Reject United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS)

Press Release

22 September 2021

Roots for Equity and Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek held the National Food Systems Summit at Renewal Center, Lahore on September 22, 2021. The National Summit was held as national mobilization towards the Global People’s Summit (GPS) for Just, Equitable, Healthy and Sustainable Food Systems. The GPS has been organized through the coordinated efforts of peoples’ movements and farmers’ movements, a unity of more than 21 organizations across the world, and is a Global-South led initiative to counter the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) and its neoliberal corporate agenda being held on September 23, 2021.

We, the people, maintain that UNFSS has been overtaken by the private interests of the corporates and elites. Dr. Azra Talat Sayeed, Executive Director at Roots for Equity, shed light on how the UNFSS platform is using neoliberal policies to reinforce corporate control over food and agriculture through propagating false solutions (e.g. food fortification, genetic modification, industrial meat production systems, monocultural food production) to climate change, hunger and malnutrition. It is clear that corporate-driven approaches are marginalizing, criminalizing and co-opting indigenous knowledge as well as eroding biodiversity through industrializing agriculture. The National Food Systems Summit Pakistan aims to counter the corporate-controlled narrative of UNFSS by amplifying people’s demands for genuine food systems transformation.

Through the panel sessions on land and environmental rights, women’s rights and collective rights over natural, genetic and productive resources, the National Summit highlighted the injustices that prevail in our current corporate-controlled, feudal-controlled food systems. In particular, Asif Khan and Chowdhry Aslam talked about issues of landlessness and corporate capture of genetic and productive resources. Roop Kanwal, a member of PKMT Youth Wing said that a critical issue remains the total control of land by a handful of feudal families in the country and absolute negation of women farmers’ rights, an overwhelming majority of whom are landless. Shaheen Maher said that women agriculture workers receive pittance for their backbreaking labour, especially working on export-driven crops such as cotton and sugarcane. Malik Aman, PKMT member from Manshera posited that environmental degradation by corporate-led systems are a discord to environmental justice.

Furthermore, the National Summit engaged farmers, including women, youth and landless farmers, trade union, academics, civil society and activists from various sectors in a series of workshops. As a contribution to the collective global response of peoples’ movements, participating farmers and activists formulated concrete demands and developed initial action plans for achieving food sovereignty through genuine agrarian reform, sustainable system change and a radical transformation of the world’s food systems.

Tahir Mehdi from Punjab Lok Sujag, Fozia Parveen from LUMS, Neelam Hussain from Simorgh Publications and Tahira Abdullah, a human rights defender, also raised key issues during their interventions in the panel sessions.

Demands:

Genuine agrarian reform and implementation of just, equitable and self-reliant sustainable food production and consumption systems that are based on small and landless farmers, including women farmers, ownership and control over land and other critical productive resources, access to safe and decent livelihood, and sustainable food production and consumption systems;

Women’s control over land and livestock as a key resource for protecting and promoting a healthy balanced life for women, their children and communities;

Recognition of the role that women and rural communities play in conserving plant and animal genetic resources, ensuring the continuity of biodiverse ecosystems and perpetuating agricultural practices rooted in traditional knowledge;

Promoting environmentally safe technologies that are controlled and owned by communities as the ultimate guardians of our environmental resources;

Prevent farmers’ evictions from indigenous land and ensure that no development work acts as a cover for further land grabbing or resource grabbing by corporations;

Ensuring that all farmers and indigenous populations retain their customary rights over commons/public lands, forests, water resources and other ecologies which is crucial sources of their life and livelihood;

An end to the stronghold of monopolistic agrochemical transnational corporations over global food production and distribution systems;

An end to trade liberalization through dismantling of institutions and mechanisms such as the WTO, and other inequitable bilateral and multilateral trade agreements such as the RCEP, CPTPP among other that allow the monopolization of global trade by TNCs;

Accountability of Transnational agribusinesses for the industrial fossil-fuel based industrial production to the imminent climate emergency vis-à-vis unchecked high levels of greenhouse gas emissions;

Immediate, state-led action towards outlawing toxic chemical pesticides and fertilizers and reinstating sustainable agroecological/indigenous farming and livestock practices based on food sovereignty principles;

Ensure a robust public healthcare system that makes quality healthcare accessible to rural populations, including free testing services for Covid-19 as well as immediate provision of free and accessible vaccination;

Establish markets, led by small farmers, particularly women farmers;

Mobilize farmers and other sectors to form unions and associations that build and strengthen the movement against capitalist corporate hegemony of capitalist countries in food and agriculture.

Release by: Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek & Roots for Equity

Growing wheat in the hills of Pakistan

July 1, 2021

Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) is an alliance of small and landless farmers in Pakistan. Formed in 2008, PKMT is active in 16 districts across three provinces of Pakistan: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh. PKMT offers a collective voice to small farmers advocating for seed and food sovereignty, and equitable land distribution in Pakistan.

According to the World Food Program, Pakistan is one of the main producers of wheat on the planet; the country exports more than one million tons of the grain every year. Yet, despite massive food production, national nutrition surveys estimate that around a third of Pakistan’s population suffers from food insecurity.

To curb food insecurity and increase public health and nutrition,  PKMT has taken the lead in collecting and regenerating traditional seeds. Its members maintain community seed banks, ensuring that locally adapted wheat, rice, corn and nutritious vegetable seed varieties that have been neglected since the Green Revolution are saved and exchanged among farmers. At the policy level, the organization has denounced Pakistan Amended Seed Act 2015, asking for seed laws that promote the rights of small farmers rather than agro-chemical corporations. PKMT filed a petition in Lahore High Court against this anti-farmer seed amended act.

With the Agroecology Fund’s support, PKMT is scaling up agroecology through its Jazba Farmers’ Cooperative, a network of farmers collaborating with researchers and students at the Nawaz Sharif Agriculture University, leading peer-to-peer educational programs on agroecological farming, and practicing agroecology on 18 cooperative farms in Shikarpur, Ghotki, Multan, Haripur and Dir.  Since 2020, the cooperative has been producing and marketing locally milled organic wheat flour.

However, as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, farmers faced several production, transport, storage and marketing difficulties; these hardships were exacerbated by water scarcity, untimely rains, a locust outbreak, and a lack of availability of organic manure. Bakhtiyar Zeb, a wheat farmer and member of the Cooperative from Dir,  in the foothills of the Himalayas, shares his story with the Agroecology Fund.

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself? 

I, Bakhtiyar Zeb, have my own land and my family and I work on the land ourselves producing for our needs and some for the market. My father used to practice traditional agriculture, kept his own seeds, used oxen for ploughing and never used chemical fertilizers and pesticides. There was little or no expenditure related to agricultural production. The food we ate was nutritious. Life was simple, and did not have many of the material attractions that are part of our lives now.

When I started working on the land, I adopted modern agriculture practices and started using hybrid seeds, chemical fertilizer, and pesticide among others to get higher production. But gradually, I realized that this form of production was extremely costly and I could not save much. We were not able to get a good price for our produce in the market. Apart from this, the food produced was not nutritious anymore, and we found we were spending more money on medicines and going to the doctor. I also realized that we had become dependent on external inputs even for seeds; we were left at the mercy of corporations.  Even though I have my own agricultural land, I cannot decide for myself.  Then I decided to go back to my father’s practice. For the past 10 years I have been practicing traditional agriculture and agroecology; there may be less production but certainly less expenditure, as well. Above all, I am not dependent on any external input produced by corporations. I use my own seeds, my own cow dung as fertilizer. I am much more  satisfied now: at least I have nutritious chemical-free food for my family.

My land is on top of a hill and it’s difficult terrain. My sons and I have gradually increased our cultivable land through terrace farming; we have done this using our own hands. It’s not possible to get machinery in this area. We have a number of cows and goats. My wife, and other women in the family collect all the animal dung and add it to our water tank (constructed by the government, this tank collects rainwater) and it mixes with the water used for land irrigation. It is tough labor as going up and down the hills with not very good walkways is very hard. My sons, once they come back from school, help me in the fields. So it is very hard labor for my entire family but there are many benefits.

What drove you to finally move from conventional agriculture to agroecology? 

In 2010, I had sown hybrid maize on one acre. On another acre of land, I cultivated my own traditional maize seeds. I put the same amount of effort on both patches but the hybrid crop had a pest attack and the traditional crop was healthy with no pest attack. I also noticed that the hybrid seed needed more water than traditional seeds. The traditional maize was ready for harvest 10 days earlier than the hybrid maize. I sold the hybrid maize in the market because my family found traditional maize good for their own consumption. It is also good for our health as there is no chemical or pesticide used. If we care about our health and our family, we should not practice chemical agriculture.

Why is agroecology the right decision for you and your family? 

Most importantly, it provides nutritious food for my family. Apart from that, it is a low-cost agricultural production method. It is beneficial since most of the time we don’t have cash to buy inputs. This traditional form of agriculture does not need much cash as most of the inputs are our own.

How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected your work?

Days and weeks have been very difficult as my daughter and I were infected with COVID-19. It was a very painful experience. I had a terrible cough, fever, and body ache. My sleep was badly impacted and I could hardly sleep for 13 days. I was unable to taste food. Self-isolation was not easy and I only realized this when I had to go through it myself: I wanted to be able to see the skies and my land, my crops! Even when I recovered I was very weak, and could not walk or even sit. Both my parents are diabetic and suffer from high blood pressure; to keep them safe we sent them to another brother’s place. Even after coming out of quarantine I still have a bad cough.

Has this crisis changed your views on food security and food sovereignty?

Since I am a member of Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT), I understand the importance of food security and food sovereignty.  But certainly, the idea of food sovereignty got sharp attention during the COVID-19 period. The self-sufficient communities who have control on their food production are in a better condition as far as food is concerned. It is expected that there will be huge food shortages in the coming months and years. We decided that we will not sell our wheat crop in the market and will save for the expected days of food shortage. PKMT is also planning to store as much as they can store so that it can be distributed to needy PKMT members, if needed. There is already a shortage of wheat flour in the market, and spikes in wheat prices, even just 1.5 months after the wheat harvest. The government has decided to import wheat to resolve the issue.

What kind of responses are important now, from communities and from policy makers?

Pakistan is an independent country but it is considered to be ruled by feudals and capitalists.  They are 2% of the total population of the country, but they rule and run the country.  The same people make policies for their own interests, with no safeguards for the marginalized people. The people need to stand up and raise their voice. Only organizing and mobilizing peasant labor can bring some kind of relief in our lives. In terms of practical strategies, as mentioned above PKMT members have decided they will store their food crops for communities in need during this crisis. There has also been a call to grow our own vegetables as much as possible. Since I started practicing agroecology, I have grown vegetables in small pots within the boundaries of my home. I will keep doing this.

“Building a Healthy Planet: Promoting Safe and Nutritious Food for All.”

Press Release; July 1, 2021

On July 1, 2021, Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) and Roots for Equity held a webinar to launch their joint campaign titled “Building a Healthy Planet: Promoting Safe and Nutritious Food for All.”

Mr. Tariq Mehmood provided an overview of the campaign with its objective of sensitizing small producers, consumers and society in general regarding the human and environmental cost of corporate-controlled and chemical-intensive industrial agricultural production and promoting the use of agroecology and food sovereignty as an antidote to corporate agriculture.

Dr. Azra Talat Sayeed from Roots for Equity highlighted the need for an alliance of progressive voices and platforms in urban and rural areas that can struggle for access to safe and nutritious food for all, especially in the face of a global crisis the Covid-19 pandemic. She highlighted the urgent need for solidarity amongst small producers, industrial workers, consumers, academics, women, youth and other actors in the struggle for food sovereignty. According to her, that was the most needful act as a way forward in the face of multiple social, economic and political factors that are impacting food production and consumption. She highlighted the numerous crises including food and economic crisis, environmental, health and climate among others. Dr Sayeed identified the role of corporate agriculture along with other imperialist institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and other institutions that should be held accountable for the destruction of the environment and sharply rising global inequities, including rising hunger.

Shaheen Mahar, a PKMT member from Ghotki, highlighted women farmers’ immense, unparalleled labour and demanded immediate redressal for the injustices they face, especially their lack of access to food, let alone safe and nutritious food. In the face of Covid-19, women are facing acute hunger as well as lack of decent livelihood. She stressed the need for not only women’s right to land but implementation of land ownership for women farmers. She pointed out that the ongoing trade liberalization and corporatization of the dairy sector along with government-led crackdowns on the sale of raw milk are a direct threat to rural women’s livelihoods and their right to food sovereignty. Shaheen also elaborated on the gendered impact of chemical pesticide usage; since women agriculture workers are extensively involved in pesticide application, they face numerous health risks due to direct exposure to toxic pesticides.

Asif Khan, a farmer from Haripur and PKMT Steering Committee member stressed the need for self-reliance in food and agriculture production. He emphasized that unchecked industrial development, capitalist first-world countries and fossil-fuel driven corporate agriculture are responsible for environmental destruction, climate crisis and are a source of a high percentage of past and present emissions. Yet, it is small and landless farmers in third world countries, along with other marginalized groups, who disproportionately bear the brunt of climate change. Asif critiqued the inequitable nature of the world food system; despite having tenuous access and ownership rights to land and other productive resources, small farmers toil ceaselessly to produce most of the world’s food. He stressed the need for an alternate just and equitable food system as the basis for healthy, nutritious food production.

Mr. Zahoor Joya presented an outline of the scheduled activities for the campaign starting from today and continuing until October 16, 2021, culminating in programs to mark 15th and 16th October as the International Day for Rural Women, and World Food Day which PKMT and Roots for Equity mark as World Hunger Day.

Demands:

  • An end to poisonous agricultural inputs and an end to monopolistic control of TNCs in the food and agriculture sector;
  • Provision of food and agriculture laws that promote agroecological food production as a safe, viable & sustainable alternative to corporate agriculture;
  • Mobilization of peasant movements to fight for their right to self-reliance and self-determination in food production & distribution;
  • Promotion of healthy and nutritious cultural foods like local fruits and vegetables, milk, desi ghee, butter and lassi as opposed to mass-produced, processed foods devoid of nutrition
  • Repeal of detrimental neoliberal food and agriculture policies that impede farmers’ right to decent livelihood
  • Prioritize just, equitable and genuine land reforms that allow land redistribution to landless farmers (including women agriculture workers) along with control over all productive resources;
  • Farmers’ access to and control over reliable markets for agricultural and non-agricultural products
  • Small and landless farmers’ access to government credit schemes, government subsidies and social security benefits.

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

بڑھتی ہوئی صنعتی زراعت اور زرعی زمینوں پر قبضہ: کسانوں کا لائحہ عمل

پریس ریلز

پاکستان کسان مزدور تحریک (پی کے ایم ٹی) ضلع شکارپور کا دوسرا ضلعی اجلاس بعنوان”صنعتی زراعت اور زرعی زمینوں پر قبضہ“ مورخہ20جون2021کومنعقدکیا گیا۔ جس میں ضلع بھرکے چھوٹے اور بے زمین کسان مزدوروں کی جانب سے شرکت کی گئی۔ اجلاس کی شروعات پی کے ایم ٹی کے ترانے سے کی گئی۔

0پی کے ایم ٹی کے رکن علی گل نے سرمایہ دارانہ زراعت کے کسانوں اور مزدوروں پر اثرات کے موضوع پر بتایا کہ ”پاکستان ایک زرعی ملک ہے جس کی 70 فیصد آبادی بلواسطہ یا بلا واسطہ زراعت سے وابستہ ہے۔ ہماری دیگرکئی اور ضروریات بھی کسی نا کسی طور اس شعبے سے ہی منسلک ہیں “۔ کسان ملک بھر میں کئی طرح کی فصلیں کاشت کرتے ہیں جس کی وجہ سے آج ہم دنیا کے صف اول کے ان دس ممالک میں شامل ہیں جہاں گندم، چاول، کپاس، گنا، مکئی، سبزیاں، گوشت، اور دودھ کی پیداواربھر پور طور سے ہو رہی ہے۔ لیکن پیداوار پر زیادہ تر اختیار مٹھی بھر سرمایہ داروں اور جاگیرداروں کے ہاتھ میں ہے۔ بیج سے لے کر کھاد اور دیگر زرعی مداخل کسان منڈی سے حاصل کرنے لگے اورساتھ ہی زمین کی تیاری، فصل کی کٹائی میں تھریشرکا بھی استعمال شروع ہوا جوکہ تمام تر ایندھن سے چلتی ہیں۔ جس کے نتیجے میں کسان اپنے دیسی اور روایتی بیج سے محروم ہوئے اور بے روز گاری میں بھی اضافے کاسبب بنا۔ ان تمام عوامل کی اہم وجہ صنعتی زراعت ہے جس کے نتیجہ میں ہماری روایتی کھیتی باڑی مصنوعی زراعت میں تبدیل ہوچکی ہے۔ صنعتی زراعت کی شروعات 1960 کی دہائی میں زرعی پالیسی یاسبز انقلاب کے نام سے ہوئی۔ہمارے کسانوں کو زیادہ پیداوار کی لالچ اور سبز خواب دکھائے گئے۔ غیر ملکی بیج اور کھاد بنانے والی کمپنیوں نے زیادہ پیداوار دینے والے بیج، کھاد، زہریلی ادویات اور جدید مشینیں متعارف کروائیں۔ جس پر مکمل اختیار سرمایہ داروں کے پاس تھا۔کسان اپنے دیسی اور روایتی بیج سے محروم ہوئے بلکہ بے روز گاری میں بھی اضافہ ہوا۔ غیر معیاری بیج کے آنے سے کسان نہ صرف بیج سے محروم ہوا بلکہ اس پر استعمال ہونے والے زہریلی اودیات اور کیمیائی کھاد کی وجہ سے کسان بیماریوں میں جکڑے گئے اور ماحول کی تباہی الگ سے ہوئی۔ فصلوں کی کٹائی کا زیادہ تر کام کسان عورتیں ہی سرانجام دیتی ہیں، لہذا ان کی ایک بڑی تعداد کو ان مشکلات کاسامنا ہے۔

ایک طرف ملک کی اکثریتی زرعی زمین چند خاندانوں کے قبضے میں ہے جبکہ دوسری جانب کسان منڈی کے محتاج ہو چکے ہیں۔ آج کے دور میں بڑھتی ہوئی مہنگائی اور عوام دشمن پالیسیوں کی وجہ سے کسان و مزدور بھوک، افلاس اور فاقوں کا شکار ہیں۔ یہ طبقہ گرمی، سردی، دھوپ کی پرواہ کیے بغیر ہمارے لیے کھانا اگاتے ہیں لیکن ان کے اپنے گھروں میں دو وقت کی روٹی بھی مشکل سے پوری ہوپاتی ہے۔ان تمام مسائل کا حل بے زمین کسانوں میں زمین کا مساویانہ بٹوارہ، بیج پر کسانوں کے مالکانہ حقوق کو تسلیم کرنا اور زرعی مداحل کو کسانوں کے اختیار میں دے کرہی کیا جا سکتا ہے۔

پی کے ایم ٹی کے رہنما حاکم گل کا کہنا تھا کہ” شکارپور تاریخی طور پر تجارت کے حوالے سے مشہور رہا ہے۔ ضلع کی کل آبادی تقریباََ 12لاکھ سے زیادہ ہے۔ گزشتہ کچھ سالوں سے نہ صرف شہر بلکہ دریائی علاقوں تک ہاؤسنگ اسکیموں کے نام سے زرعی زمینوں پر قبضہ کیا جارہا ہے۔کسانوں کو اپنی زرعی زمینیں جبراََبیچنے پر مجبور کیا جارہا ہے۔ اور اس کام میں سرکاری افسران، بڑے جاگیردار اور سرمایہ دارملوث ہیں“۔ زرعی زمینوں پر اگر پیٹرول پمپ، ہاؤسنگ سوسائٹی، ہوٹل بنا دیئے جائیں گے تو آنے والے وقت میں کسان اناج کہاں اگائیں گے؟
شکارپور میں ڈاکووں اور پولیس کے آئے دن مقابلے جاری ہیں۔ کیا واقعتا ڈاکو ہیں یا اصل معاملہ شکارپور میں جنگلات کی زمین پر قبضہ کرنا ہے؟ پولیس سرچ آپریشن کے نام پر تگانی جنگل میں گاؤں کے گاؤں خالی کروارہی ہے۔ درختوں کو کاٹا جارہا ہے اور آگ لگائی جارہی ہے تاکہ ڈاکوں کو پکڑنے میں آسانی ہو۔ حکومت کو اس معاملے پر سنجیدگی کا مظاہرہ کرتے ہوئے حقیقت کو منظر عام پر لانا چاہئیے۔

پی کے ایم ٹی کے رکن شوکت علی نے بتایا کہ ”پاکستان دودھ پیدا کرنے میں دنیا میں پانچویں نمبر پر ہے۔ اوردودھ ہماری خوراک کا ایک اہم جزو ہے۔جبکہ ضلع شکارپور میں چارہ کم ملنے کی وجہ سے دودھ کی پیداوار میں مسلسل کمی ہورہی ہے۔ دوسری جانب دودھ کے شعبے میں کمپنیوں کا کردار ہے جو ٹی وی اور اخبارات میں اشتہارات کے ذریعے سے یہ باور کرنے میں جتے ہوئے ہیں کہ کھلا دودھ انسانی صحت کے لیے مضر ہے۔ جانوروں کے لیے چارہ اگانے میں کسان عورتیں پیش پیش ہیں لیکن اصلمنافع دودھ کی کمپنیاں حاصل کر رہی ہیں۔
پاکستان کسان مزدور تحریک مطالبہ کرتی ہے کہ

۔ خوراک اور زراعت کے شعبے میں کمپنیوں کے قبضے سے نجات کے ساتھ زرعی قوانین پر پابندی لاگو کی جائے جو کہ چھوٹے اور بے زمین کسانوں کو نقصان پہنچا رہی ہیں۔
۔ کسانوں کے آبائی زمین سے بے دخلی پر مکمل پابندی عائدکی جائے۔ ترقیاتی کاموں کے بہانے زمین اور وسائل پر سرمایہ کاروں اور سرمایہ داروں کے قبضے کو فروغ دینا بند کیا جائے۔ ساتھ ہی ساتھ، مقامی اور قبائلی لوگوں کے جنگلات، شاملات اور دیگر قدرتی وسائل پر مقامی حقوق کو لازم کیا جائے۔
۔ منصفانہ زمینی بٹوارے کو یقنی بنایا جائے تاکہ بے زمین کسانوں اور زرعی مزدور عورتوں کو زمین اور خوراک کی خودمختاری یقینی ہو۔
۔ ڈیری اور لائیو سٹاک کے شعبے میں مقامی اور غیر ملکی نجی سرمایہ کاری کو ختم کریں اور ان پالیسیوں پر عمل درآمد کریں جو چھوٹے لائیوسٹاک اور دودھ پیدا کرنے والوں کے حق میں ہوں۔

جاری کردہ: پاکستان کسان مزدور تحریک؛

English Press Release

MILKING US DRY: PAKISTAN’S DAIRY SECTOR IN CRISIS (#PEASANTSRISEUP) 

For more than a decade, corporates have been advancing their control over Pakistan’s livestock and dairy sector which as of 2016 data, contributes to approximately 56% of the country’s agriculture sector GDP.
Trade agencies like the AUSAID and USAID have pledged their guidance and support for various dairy development programs, breed improvement programs and livestock management programs. While multinational companies like Nestle and Engro hold the monopoly in packaged milk products and have been campaigning against fresh milk, its biggest competitor is based in the informal retail market. While 93% of the consumers still buy fresh/raw milk, the Punjab Food Authority will strictly be implementing the Milk Pasteurization Law by 2022. Under this law, the sale of raw milk will be a criminal offence. But this concern to provide consumers with pure unadulterated or tested milk seems to be geared towards benefiting dairy corporations at the expense of the informal milk sector largely in the hands of small and landless farmers (as producers) and a very wide network of milk vendors spread across the country both in rural and urban areas.
These multinationals have also been employing the rhetoric of Creating Shared Value (CSV) by training farmers, carrying out capacity building at the household and community level and claims to empower rural women, while also introducing expensive, high-tech equipment in the sector and attracting sizeable foreign and local investments. By doing so, these corporations are effectively ousting small producers out of the highly competitive market.

This episode is co-presented by PAN Asia Pacific – PANAP, Roots For Equity and Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT)