Interviews and Experiences of Men PKMT Jazba Farmers’ Cooperative
Ali Gohar: (Ghotki)
I m a farmer and a member of Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT).
Answer: I was not well aware of the benefits of agroecology but after I get connected with PKMT’s farmers, I realize that they were growing pure food and using the traditional seed for it. It has proved to be beneficial for our health. We were given an exposure visit to see the farmers’ fields. I got inspire and decides to practice agroecology.
After that, I planted wheat on three to four wasas (16 Marla). It was a good experience. Chemical additions are like a poison, there is a difference between artificially grown wheat and traditional wheat. Chemically produced wheat will only be fresh if we eat it on time otherwise its taste and texture change. The pure food remains fresh 5 to 6 hours after cooking and it retains its nutrition and taste. If we grow vegetables like okra, it does not turn black and stays fresh. Toxicity causes blackness. It only remains perfect if we stop using pesticides on it.
Question: chemical agriculture has higher yields so why did you move away from it?
Answer: The yield from chemical farming is higher but the cost is higher too. Machinery, seeds, chemicals (poisons), and harvesting costs are high. Artificial agriculture causes diseases. We have to take loans. . Borrowing money for treatment also has high-interest rates. If we harvest 30 maunds (man) of wheat then the total cost will be Rs. 25,000 and it means that we save only Rs.5, 000 for 6 months. You can estimate on your own that what benefit the farmer will get through it.
In traditional farming, there is no expense. The organic wheat is 15 mounds. I am practicing since four years, on the first year it had some cost but since three years it doesn’t have any expense and our land has also become fertile. The grass that grows on the vegetable land is given to the animals. The milk of the animals is also gaining strength. Animal were being fed poisonous food too. Now our animal milk is becoming nutritious as well.
This means that the indigenous sustainable land and sustainable agriculture was always with the farmers. And we have come back to it.
PKMT awareness programs have shown that agro ecology is good for health. Now people in our area like the seeds and ask for seeds from us. Yesterday I met Sardar Asad Ali, who is member of national assembly (MNA) in our area. He is cultivating pure wheat on 20 acre of his land will use all that wheat to be consumed at home. He is also planting vegetables for his house in the traditional way.
Question: Where did you get seeds from?
Answer: We got seed from PKMT platform. Since 2015 I have been planting seed bank in the traditional way. Every year the seed is divided among farmers of Ghotki district. In 2019, I start practicing agroecology on one acre of my land. Its production is 15 mounds per acre the expense was less than half. I have my own seed since the past four years.
Question: Why do you save your seeds?
Answer: The seed is a living thing. We cannot live without it. It slipped from our hands but now we are trying to preserve it again. If seed ends our generation will also end.
A farmer should save his seed. He should know that he is an owner of seed; he has to get rid of companies. Farmers must have access to the local markets. A farmer (tenant/sharecropper) should decide the purchasing value instead of government. Finally the transport charges come, Marketers rate the vehicle after it is delivered to the market. Our cost is 1500 but the government fixed rate of 1300. So there is a loss. This year, cotton seeds were sown three times as there was very little germination. A 10 kg sack sold up to Rs5, 000.
Farmers purchase seed from the companies without any guarantee. One farmer who is a relative of the PKMT provincial coordinator tried to commit suicide. He imbibed poisonous chemicals because he was not able get a good result from the seeds sown. Luckily the doctors saved him. The big land lords of the area who faced the loss lodged an FIR against the company. In response, the deputy commissioner (DC) announced that any company who do not have proper seed or illegal seeds should be reported to them. Some of the farmers get back their money but most of the farmers are now drowning in debt and face a tragic setback. This is the reason why we should preserve the seeds.
Question: What do you think are the benefits of traditional farming?
Answer: The first benefit is to health, we can save our coming generations by saving seeds. Now there is a shortage of wheat seeds. This year it is a big issue, There is also unavailability of cotton seeds. If a farmer had his own seed it would not have been an issue. I have my own vegetable and wheat seeds I am not depending on the market. Farmer should grow and try to save their seeds.
Question:If the government brings seeds from other countries will you use it?
Answer: People will purchase definitely but the price would be high It will not be sustainable. There are no guarantees and the government does not give guarantees.
Question: What benefit you get from agroecology?
Answer: Get pure food, fertility of soil, environment-friendly food, we are healthy, environment is healthy and the soils become fertile. I will continue to apply agroecology methods in my fields.
Question: What are your feelings regarding corona?
Answer: The labor class was hugely affected, but farmers who had land did not have much difficulty, for these farmers accessing markets was the main issue. Even the rate of gourd and wheat were faulty and there were no fixed price. At present, wheat is being sold up to Rs1700/1800 per maund. Cotton seeds were procured from Badin at Rs. 7000/10 kg. The way the government gives companies the power to make their own products and set rates. Instead of the companies, the farmer must have the power to produce what he wants and to determine the price of his produce.
What is your advice to the policy makers?
Whenever a policy is formulated, include farmers at the provincial and federal level. Laws regarding agriculture should be made after consultation with the farmers. We can force the government to do this if we unite. To be united is part of the struggle. There is a need to move against policy makers. You have to come on the road.
Question: How to convince the farmers what needs to be done to attract them to indigenous agriculture?
Answer: Until and unless we take action practically we will not get other farmers to accept this method. We have proof that by working hard we can achieve the desired goals. When other farmers will see our farms they will be more accepting of natural way of agriculture. This kind of agriculture should be carried out on wide range. We have to work hard for it if we want to save our country.
Gul Mohammad (District Tando Mohammad Khan)
Question 1: How did you become attracted towards agroecology?
Answer: In past, I used to do traditional farming, then a few years ago I started using urea, DAP copying other farmers, soon I realize my mistake and again reversed towards traditional farming. Since last 5 years, I have been cultivating traditional Sindhi wheat to eat at home and preserve my own seeds. From 2015 to 2019 I planted three to four varieties of wheat and three varieties of rice were planted on one canal by an indigenous method. Based on this experience, in November 2019, I planted two varieties of wheat on one acre of agroecology farm. The purpose of this work done on our own is that other people can also adopt traditional methods. This will give the farmer his own choice of seeds, we will all be able to eat clean food and it is a process to avoid diseases. It is just the beginning. In the next three years, the production of traditional wheat will increase, as the effect of manure falls on the second crop. As a PKMT member, it is mandatory to do indigenous agriculture, only then can the farmer have food sovereignty.
Question 2: What is the role of animals in traditional farming?
The animal is the farmer’s bank. The manure obtained from it is used as fertilizer in the land. They give us milk. We make lassi, butter and ghee from it. These nutritious foods are obtained from animals. We bring grain to the city and sell it when needed. The damage from artificial farming is compensated by the farmer with the animals. And in traditional agriculture, land animals and seeds play the role of the backbone.
Question 3: How will small and landless farmers in Pakistan benefit from agroecology?
Farmers who have their own land can practice agroecology so that they will become independent. Agroecology will give a benefit. Keep your seed by adopting the old natural method; we can save our race, land, environment together with health and can save others from the poison, debt and indigence. We can work with passion and we have to work hard.
Question No 4: What are the advantages or disadvantages of participating in PKMT Jazba Farmers Cooperative?
I ploughed my land and then added animal manure and ploughed again a week later, saw a clear difference in the fertility of the land, used the seed house. We got good food, the harvest was low but the expenses were almost non-existent, we avoided buying urea, DAP and pesticide from companies. Why not we use the money which we give to the company at home, we have to think about where we are going. The disadvantage is that this year the crop was less because the first year was large-scale cultivation of two varieties, the yield increases with time.
Question 5: Why do you save seeds?
The seed is a breed. It is out of our hands. It has to be revived. I will re-plant many varieties because one variety can die anytime. Other farmers are requested to grow their own seed. I planted a seed bank and an agroecological farm and the people of the surrounded villages saw it and asked for seeds from us and we gave it to them.
Ali Gul Shikarpur
I am a farmer and a member of Pakistan Kisan Mazdoor Tehreek; I have been working on agro-ecologically for some time.
Question No 1: What attracted me to do agroecology?
When we became new members of the PKMT, firstly we heard what our forefathers used to do. We had no experience at that time. After the Sustainable Agriculture Orientation and Political Education Programs, the pictures and documentaries that were shown showed us that the experiences our elders told us were real. When I was told about the global conspiracies and the green revolution, the information attracted me towards agroecology.
Question No. 2: What was the reason for withdrawal from chemical agriculture?
For the first two years, we experimented on one Marla of land and after that, I am doing agro-ecological farming on one acre. The cost of artificial agriculture is high and harmful to health. We have to work hard on their own, gradually crop yields will increase.
Question 3: How your days went in Covid 19?
In the beginning, when the lockdown started, I was very nervous. I was unaware of this news happening. As we are farmers, at the same time, the wheat harvesting season started and we got busy. I spend my days not as before. I had trouble buying other food items, on the other hand, inflation hit. The work which was supposed to be done this week was done two weeks later. Work slowed and become late up to 5 to 6 months.
Question 4 Why is traditional farming important and what are the benefits?
Answer: We experimented with individual seed banks, which showed that agroecology costs less and can get rid of diseases, traditional agriculture does not get attacked by pests. You can grow it on your own. There is no need for it. In 2017, I had 5-6 kg of traditional seed. It was good quality. I thought, what should I do to clean it and I left it underestimated. Two months later, the fertilized wheat was found to be infested with pests, while the traditional seed was the same, means it did not get effected by the disease.
In 2018, we ate some seeds from the Seed Bank. In 10 days, the food ends. From this, we learned that naturally grown food is beneficial for human health and we believe that it will also eradicate diseases If we continuously practice agroecology, for 2 to 3 years than our income will increase. This is the first year of large-scale agroecology, hopefully, next year the income will increase.
Question 5: How did COVID 19 and lockdown affect work priorities and perspectives? Is food security and food sovereignty affected by this crisis?
Answer: The market is under the control of capitalists and feudal lords. The farmer understands the importance of saving food but He cannot cultivate it on his own. The landlord bears the expenses of a plough, fertilizer, seeds, water etc. But he owes so much that even if he pays his share, his debt does not end.
We used to cultivate wheat before covid19. Corona started from March 23. Wheat was harvested in April at a price of Rs. 1350 per maund. But now after reaching the market it is being sold at a much higher price. And when the wheat will be sown, the rate of wheat seed is likely to go up to Rs 3,000. So they purchase from us at a low price and sell at a high price. COVID 19 has delayed our work. people’s jobs are gone. Those People who used to go from Shikarpur to Quetta to work were unable to go and have been at home for the past five months.
Question 6: What kind of advice you think is important for policymakers?
Answer: The capitalists and the feudal lords are the ones who make the policies. These powers are not the friends of the farmers and workers but the enemies. We need to protest against them and launch a full-fledged movement and we must unite. Ask the government to make farmers part of decision making. Fair tax policy should be made. If farmers are involved in decision making, then the farmer will benefit.
Interviews and Experiences of Women PKMT Jazba Farmers’ Cooperative
Rehana Kausar: (Ghotki)
I am a farmer and a member of Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT). I am practicing organic agriculture since last year on one acre of my land.
Question 1: What made you start practicing agroecology?
Answer: After the success of PKMT seed bank for sustainable agriculture and seed sovereignty I decided to work on growing ‘pure’ food on one acre of my land so that we can get organically grown safe and pure food to eat. It is because whenever we talk about having healthy contamination-free food. I thought we should not wait for a miracle instead should work for it. PKMT had provided us the opportunity to practice agroecology, I used to hear PKMT awareness programs and become drawn towards agroecology. The PKMT’s ideology is to protect the rights of farmers, promote pure food, and environmental friendly farming and food sovereignty. In 2017 I visited the food mela in Karachi which was organized by PKMT where different kinds of organic foods were present. We visited the fields of PKMT members’ farms too. Thus I become very compelled to practice it.
Question 2: What was the reason behind avoiding chemical agriculture?
Answer: There are many reasons behind avoiding chemical agriculture,
- The first reason was impure food. We use pesticides and chemicals for production. Apparently, there is higher production but if we estimate the expenses than we have more loss.
- Chemical-based agriculture is not only polluting our food but our land too, the whole environment is impacted and there is major degradation. The poisonous fertilizers and pesticides spread diseases. If we talk about clean environment then natural way of agriculture is safe.
- There is a very big difference between chemically grown food and pure food. Pure food provides nutrition, there is freshness to it and freedom from disease all these factors are different. As the world is moving towards pure food we should also focus on it. It is the necessity of time, when the importance of pure food and traditional seed will rise than the demand will also increase. Other people are just planning and we at PKMT are already practicing it. We want to set an example in agroecology and want to increase confidence in people. The use of chemicals leads to diseases and extra expenses. If the farmers continue, they will face a lot of difficulties in practicing it. It is uncontrollable.
For example Mili Bug, a pest that has attacked BT cotton, there was no way of getting rid of it. Chemicals are used but it still persists. Nowadays doctors also suggest foods that are free from chemicals.
Question 3: Can you share your experience during the days of pandemic COVID 19?
Answer: It was very hard to stay at home from morning to evening. Not going anywhere. In those days the load of domestic work also increased. Children were at home as educational institutions were closed and visiting relatives or going to wedding ceremonies became difficult too. There was a fear that we will be affected by the coronavirus. In the beginning, we faced a lot of difficulty if we kept vegetables for two or more days they would rotten. It was difficult to purchase vegetables and other commodities, most of the shops were closed, and all outside work was postponed. Children become bored at home they wanted to go to school but schools were closed, due to which their education, as well as time, was wasted.
Question 4: Why traditional farming is important? Did your income increase due to traditional agriculture?
Answer: Traditional agriculture is environment friendly. We get pure food from it. We talk about it in different programs of PKMT but people need proof. It is a practical theory, its importance and usefulness is very essential. It is a practice, which has come after centuries of practice learned by farmers and passed on. The new way of agriculture called green revolution was introduced in 1960s has ruined our generations and it impact on our land and food has been disastrous. This year I had started my agroecological farm but have no income. As it is the first year, the land is coming out from the poisonous circle and addiction of chemicals. The fertility of the land is increasing. Next year the income will be possible. The experimental action is continuing. The people of our village and from other villages are observing it and feel that this practice is right. They appreciate that a women is taking care of a farm. The production will increase with time. We will get pure food we have to work hard for it. Farmer grows based on her own will and if she had resources like land, seed and fodder, the expenses are decreased.
Question 5: How food security and food sovereignty was get affected due to the COVID crisis and what were your work priorities during lockdown?
Answer: Our struggle is to give political awareness to the farmers through debate and discussion and to save traditional seeds. The daily routine got affected by the lockdown but the cultivation or tillage does not stop. For the sowing of the summer crops, the farmers need seeds but they were not able to access them. Any of them were unable to do so. Some farmers who purchased the seed from the market found that, only 50 percent of the seeds grow. Other farmers had sown seeds three times. In district Ghotki Tehsil Methelo, one of the farmers tried to commit suicide too.
The labor class that works on daily wages was more affected. Local transport was also lacking. People were unable to move from one city to another. The wages of women farmers become zero. The people who had their own food survived better. And the people who depend on other sources faced difficulties, for women who prepare goods at home and sell in the market were not able to do so as markets were closed. The sweet meat made of condensed milk refuse (KHOE KA PERA) which women make at homes also could not be sold. The income from these is used for purchasing goods for domestic needs and this also did not occur; now they have no money to continue their work.
Question 6: Did the farmers want to buy seeds from market?
Answer: Farmers have no choice as there were only two varieties in the market namely S32 and 114 wheat and they used the seed present in the market. It‘s original price was Rs 1000 to 1200 but was sold at 4000 rupees. The farmers purchase it due to fear of unavailability. Some farmers raised their voices, the news came in the media but then there was no more news. After sowing that seeds two to three times when farmers did not get any crop they cultivated grass (fodder) on their lands.
Question 7: What is your advice to the policy makers?
Answer: In recent days, people have become affected. There should be such a policy that reaches effected people as soon as possible; they need immediate aid in case of emergency. Ehsas program is an emergency relief but it leave behind many affected people. The people get money when they were sitting at home. Now to start life again we need an immediate policy. The government is only emphasizing the need for more productivity but there is no policy for safe and nutritious food. It could be a policy which can make the farmers independent especially with respect to seed sovereignty.
Question 8: What should be the response of the farmers?
Answer: The farmers and labor should be united, come on roads or go to courts for their rights, Farmers should struggle, take a stand and build solidarity in and out of the country. The companies have captured all the markets. The farmers must save the traditional seeds, make proper seed bank and save the food. In the days of lockdown the farmers realize that how important is to have your own seed and if they have their own seed they will not become dependent on market. Our lives can move on without extra expenditures for instance we are living without using aero planes. The most important thing is health. We must give attention to it and solve our problems through organic agriculture. We can bring farmers towards such practices that lead to the production of pure and environment friendly food.
Nazia Bibi: (Haripur)
I am a farmer and a member of Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT). I am practicing organic agriculture since one year.
Question1: What made you start practicing agroecology?
Answer: I become known to an ideology of sustainable agriculture five to six years ago through the frame work of PKMT. We came to know that how imperialism and its organizations took hold of our food and livelihood. At that time I decide to be a part of the struggle against it particularly. It was essential to set an example for other farmers. I was attracted toward agroecology after understanding the external conspiracies of the corporations.
Question 2: What was the reason behind withdrawing from the chemical agriculture?
Answer: In the program of PKMT ‘Sustainable Agriculture Orientations’ we compare organic with chemical agriculture and by comparing the traditional with the modern one we realize that chemical- based agriculture is more expensive and traditional seeds are going from our hands. The chemical based agriculture is a cause of climate change. Agriculture sector is in the hands of corporate. Stomach diseases, heart diseases, spray allergies, cough, sugar and blood pressure all are spreading and unemployment is increasing. Farmers are being turned into labor. The people relocate towards cities and the urban areas are increasing day by day.
Question 3: What have you learn from corona virus?
Answer: I stayed at home as the lockdown was strict. The disease was on its peak. Media was also warning us. The laborers were terminated from factories. Now the circumstances are normal. The life moves towards routine but schools are closed till now. We were totally separated and can’t do any work. There were rumors all around about false tests of corona virus so the people did not have the test carried out. Whoever gets sick was being tested in the hospital. The test cost Rs.8, 000 – 10,000. The works postpone due to corona are not done till yet. I just understand that we must have our own seed and other necessities at home. The farmers who had their own wheat did not have any trouble.
Question 4: Why agriculture is important?
Answer: The most important thing is you have your own land and seed. If we stop practicing traditional way of preserving seeds then our seeds could be lost. Agriculture not only gives us food, it also gives food sovereignty, pure food, our living style, culture and livelihood is basically agriculture in itself. It is way to protest against feudal lords and capitalists.
Question 5: Did the income of the household increases with natural way of agriculture?
Answer: There is no increase in the earnings as only one crop is cultivated till yet. This is the first year. The income will increase gradually. In organic way of agriculture there is less harvest but it is very delicious. Its taste is very different. If we eat flour for 15 to 20 days we could be known to its nutrition. In natural way of farming there is energy as well as nutrition both.
Question 6: How the ideology and food sovereignty is changing due to corona crisis?
Answer: In the days of corona, we realized that the people who had their own land also had food and they did not face big problems. They had flour and other food items preserved in their homes. We also had food at homes; it was not an issue for us. If our neighbors ask for flour we give it to them. But it is clear that in case we purchase flour from the market it could be difficult for us to give it to others. The crisis was low in the village level. We realized that the methods of our ancestors were right. They were natural; they eat pure natural and clean food. They make temporary homes and lead a very simple life. In media it was instructed to use healthy and pure food, it means that sustainable, traditional agriculture is important.
The PKMT Haripur members realized that whatever we talk in normal days about sustainable agriculture is true. The labors in the villages who work in factories faced a lot of issues. The factories in Hattar do not allow the labors to enter and close the doors, the farmers keep on working in the fields but the factory labor is at home. In factories where eight labors were workings have been bought down d now to four workers.
Question7: What would you advice to policy makers?
Answer: I think that we should not have any hope from policy makers. In the days of corona, the government officials earn billions of rupees. Our whole livelihood is in their hands. They make decisions; we have to follow the policies they made for us. A sack of 20 kg of flour is available in Rs. 1,100 to Rs. 1,200 which is expensive.
Question 8: What reaction a farmer should have in these circumstances?
Answer: We have to give political awareness to public; the common people should know what the political awareness is. The people who make policies will do nothing for us. The public should have decision making in their hands. We need political awareness. We give our fate in the hands of people who can’t support us and were even helpless during corona.
Question 9: what is the solution?
Answer: The political, social and economic decision should be in hands of public. We have to struggle for it. This system is wrong we must change it. Change is important, if we want to come out of crisis. The lives of farmers and laborers were difficult previously due to exploitation due to oppression and now corona virus also added to it. The real crisis is imperialism, feudalism and capitalism.
Farhat Shaheen (Haripur)
I am a farmer and a member of Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT). Some farmers in our village set up seed banks and after visiting their farms and the trail farm of Roots for Equity I become interested in growing pure food for myself and my children. I started practicing agroecology on one acre of my land, which is now known in the whole village as Farhat Shaheen’s farm today.
Question 1: What attracted you to agroecology or traditional farming?
Answer: Modern agriculture spreads diseases, cancer, heart disease, allergies, asthma, and eye diseases. Keeping chemicals (poisons) in the house spreads diseases. The utensils used for pesticides also spread the disease. Keeping in view the issues regarding health, I start growing healthy and environmental friendly food on one acre of my land. In our area, the fertility of land depends on rain. This year it had a lot of rain that’s why our crops are better than other areas. Traditionally grown crop had much better growth than chemical crops. In chemically grown crops, the yield per acre decreased due to disease. In past, we had to purchase seeds every year. It is a step towards seed sovereignty. We were attracted to it through experience. Neighbouring farmers are also impressed. The farmers were amazed at the production and nature of our wheat, now we have grown maize on it. For agroecology we need seeds, land should be our own, our food should be accessible. If we estimate the cost of artificial ways of agriculture and than compare it with agroecology it becomes clear that there is a lot of cost in artificial agriculture.
Question 2: What was the reason for withdrawal from chemical agriculture?
Answer: The production declines because of modern agriculture. The lands are becoming barren. The cost of chemical fertilizer and pesticides are increasing all the time. Due to climate change, chemical crops do not tolerate extreme heat or heavy rainfall. For chemical farming, seeds have to be bought from the market every time. Its production is further reduced. We have heard that the Seed Act has been passed and if you buy seed from someone you must have a receipt for it. The only dealer can purchase seeds from the company and can sell it to others. There is a loss of both health and money Farmers have been deprived of the right to keep and sell seeds. This time in Haripur, the rains reduced wheat production by 50 per cent, while the engagement of farmers to modern agriculture also reduced their production. We have experimented and moved away from chemical farming, so we ask other farmers too to use indigenous seeds to increase their production. It will allow us to save our seeds.
Question 3: What help is needed from the government to do real farming?
Answer: A canal system should be constructed to irrigate the fields. Interest-free loan, petrol, diesel subsidy should be given. Farmers must have access to the local market. Equal land distribution for farmers (both male and female), Experimental tours should be conducted to the farmers at the provincial level. The government should inform the administration about hinders of modern agriculture and the advantages of sustainable agriculture, the importance of sustainable agriculture should be increased in newspapers and social media.
Question 4: How agroecology could be useful for reducing hunger?
Answer: Pakistan is an agriculture country. We need food for our people. It is impossible to have food without agriculture. On the other hand, the modified artificial food is injurious for human health; we can survive from many diseases only through pure food which is possible if we practice agroecology. Due to modern way of agriculture our land is being captured by different companies. Sugarcane is grown on a large scale. The investment on oil through sugar and maize is done by the industries instead the food crops are grown less. The agriculture countries must avoid growing such things which are spreading hunger and poverty.
Question 5: What is your experience?
Answer: This year we planted wheat crop and used animal manure as fertilizer. I am using it on other crops too. Original farming has a positive impact on our health and the environment. Many sacks of fertilizer have to be put on artificial crops every time. Our expenses increase and the farmer goes into debt.
Question 6: What do you think about corona crisis?
Answer: Corona caused a lot of problems, especially unemployment, economic issues and closing of educational institutes. Transportation was closed. Public access was denied. Corona was being given attention and the other diseases were forgotten.
The district government made the policy in which the record keeper (Patwari) was given all control. He purchased wheat at the rate of Rs 2,000 or Rs 1,550 per mound and will give it to the government. Those who have not yet bought wheat for themselves are buying at Rs. 2,000 or Rs 2,200 per maund from the market, now. It is very difficult to get wheat. It is not edible. Due to rains, wheat grain is much smaller in size. Flour is blackish in color.
Question 7: What advice you give to the policymakers?
Answer: Government policies are not right, wheat has been taken from the people and now they are selling back up to Rs. 2,200. The flour that the government is getting is also very expensive. Farmers should keep their food with them.
Our flour crisis came in January-February. At the moment, there is a severe crisis in August. There is only one utility store in this union council. The people should protest vigorously, raise their voices in press conferences, rallies, social media and print media against these bogus policies. At the district, provincial and central levels, the administration should be informed that the workers and farmers are facing these problems.
Aziz Bibi: (Multan)
I am a farmer and a member of Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT). I am practicing organic agriculture since the last four years and trying to promote organic and traditional seeds through seed banks. Now I am practicing agroecology on one acre of my land.
Question 1: What made you start practicing agro ecology?
Answer: We live in riverine areas of Multan. We were using chemical fertilizers for the past 15 to 20 years, our land became barren and expenses increased due to this practice. We have to give back more money than obtained through our harvest as fertilizer, seeds and pesticides had to be obtained on credit. After the flood of 2010, we decreased the use of fertilizers and pesticides. Then in 2014, I joined PKMT and the same year I started working for traditional seed bank and sow some vegetables for domestic use. For the last five years we have been saving seeds. From the time we starting using our traditional methods of farming we have been saving seeds for wheat, vegetables and fodder. I am not using pesticide and I am able to get healthy pure food free from chemical fertilizer. Our food is now free from pesticides even if we get less food it is healthy.
Question 2: Why organic agriculture is important?
Answer: Organic agriculture has fewer expenses. We have to work based on our own effort and labor. It is useful for health. We have animals at home and we use our land to grow their fodder, we are free to use the land as we want. By using animal manure (traditional fertilizer) the soil will becomes fertile. At this time our average production will be enough for us and will be saved from purchasing from outside. PKMT had experimented with seed bank and we were able to get few seeds in the beginning. In the second year the production started increasing and in the third year it increased even more. So the traditional wheat grown on one acre of land is better in color, height and flavor then the chemically grown crops. This year in 2020 the traditional wheat crop was 12 mounds per acre with no expenditure and the inorganic wheat was 15 mounds’ per acre but it was more expensive with respect to the cost of production.
Question 3: What are the problems of agriculture women workers in riverine areas?
Answer: In the past we get more work in the fields. Cotton, peas, arum roots, okra, potatoes and wheat were cultivated. After the 2010 flood, the farmers started cultivating only one crop along with animal fodder as they were afraid of their land being flooded. This has resulted in loss of labor for the women in this area. Mostly small and landless farmers live in the riverine area and mostly they raise animals that are obtained on partial shared. Their livelihood is based on selling milk and some time find work on daily wages.
Question 4: What do you think about the effects of corona?
Answer: We sell milk but no one came to buy it and we suffered loss. We had to stay at home. There was no transport to the city. As we live in the riverine area and for sometimes boats were stopped also. We could not visit the hospital in any case of emergency. One of our relative had an operation and we were unable to ask about his health. The price of different commodities increased. In the city the price of sugar was Rs. 80 per kilo but in villages it was Rs 120 per kilo. So a quarter of sugar was of Rs 30. We were not getting diesel and petrol for the peter (small generator) and we were not able to sow the harvest in time, we had cultivated fodder on one acre of land but it did not get water. The crop was destroyed. Now petrol price is Rs 120 per liter on credit and Rs 110 on cash. Prices have gone sky high.
Question 5: What would you advice to policy makers?
Answer: This government has done nothing for us. There is no electricity in our village and no school, labor has been laid off. They should have considered about the benefits of poor but inflation has increased. They have reduced the prices of what rural people produce and increased prices for the goods they sell. This all is done by policy makers. Our work in the fields was all delayed, our land stood empty, diesel petrol were not available. The food crops we were growing for our self was late as seeding could not be done in time. The policy makers create hardship for us but live in luxury. The farmers should raise their voices, when they have single collective voice then we can find solutions. They should protest, there are no representatives for farmers in assemblies, so how can anyone listen to what we have to say. The entire country should raise and then issues can be resolved.