Women’s Resistances for Rights

Press Release

March 8, 2020

Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) and Roots for Equity in collaboration with International Alliance for Women (IWA), Asia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development (APWLD) and Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PANAP) organized a women’s assembly in village Raees Baksh Lashari, district Tando Muhammad Khan, Sindh to celebrate the International Women’s Day. Women farmers and agriculture workers from various districts had participated in this Assembly.

Dr. Azra Talat Sayeed of Roots for Equity and Chairperson IWA highlighted the continuously negative spin in attaining basic rights in women lives, the escalation in the oppression and exploitation at the national and international levels: all due to the increasing grip of capitalism through neoliberal policies. Profit-seeking capitalist forces have introduced modern technology in food and agriculture sector which pave the way in increasing landlessness, gender discrimination, violence, hunger and poverty in Pakistan and other third world countries.

In Pakistan, women particularly women agricultural workers faces different kind of exploitation under feudalism and capitalism. Agricultural women workers not only face economic and gender discrimination but also face mental and physical violence, illiteracy among others. In the past years sugarcane production has wiped out cotton production, which had still provided an income for women, though it had dire impacts on the environment and women’s health as well as all living things. The need for skilled trained women may be the reason that the generally feudal-minded Sindh Government has passed the Sindh Women Agriculture Workers Bill. There is no doubt that if women ware incorporated in the planned special economic zones, they will face further exploitation and feudalism in a highly feudal society.

While detailing imperialist policies in the Dairy sector PKMT member Pathani and an activist Ms. Ayman Baber highlighted the impacts on women. After corporate capture of seeds, the WTO’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) agreement being implemented through the Pure Food Laws which will lead to control of the corporate sector on livestock, fodder and the output of the diary sector in which a large number of women are engaged, especially in Punjab and Sindh. Corporate capture of these sectors will gain huge profits not only in the lucrative local markets but also through exports. These policies will result in market hegemony erosion of livelihood of millions of peasant and farmers across the country. The impact on women and children will be multi fold, as they will not only loose a rich source of food and nutrition but also the income from milk and livestock. The recent National Nutrition Survey has already well documented the extreme levels of hunger and malnutrition that women and children in the country face: the Pure Food Laws will only result in further aggravating the situation. It was also stated that food fortification policies that are ostensibly an answer to the malnutrition are only a profit-seeking industry for the mega-corporations of North America and Europe. Continue reading

Sustainable Agriculture Orientation

Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) organized Sustainable Agriculture Orientation SAO’s in different villages of a district Ghotki, Khairpur in Sindh, Rajanpur, Multan and Sahiwal in Punjab and Mansehra in KP. The aim of the sessions was to realize the difference between the lives of farmers before and after the adaptation of green revolution and to analyze the importance of sustainable agriculture.

Sustainable agriculture orientation in Sahiwaal (Punjab)

Sustainable agriculture orientation in Khairpur (Sind)

Sustainable agriculture orientation in Rajanpur (Punjab)

Sustainable agriculture orientation in Ghotki (Sindh)

Political Educational Program (Pre PEP)

In the first week of February, Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek  (PKMT) organized the political educational (Pre-PEP) programs in Mansehra (KPK), Rajanpur and Multan (Punjab) and Khairpur (Sindh).

In the educational programs, firstly the class distribution and its origin were discussed. The root cause of the issue and the circumstances which are behind it were also analyzed. The discussion further extended with the realization of the ruling systems of colonization and feudalism and the politics of land.      

Secondly, the oppressive system which effects on the lives of small and landless farmers which are feudalism and capitalism and the role of religious organization and private companies in increasing the difficulties faced by them.

Thirdly, the problems and rights of the most vulnerable class among the community, “women” who faces patriarchal system conferred to find solutions for the injustice they face in daily life.

The most powerful system “capitalism” and the tools of capitalists which are hindering the farmers were also examined. It was realized that how inorganic seed, politics of land, machines, poisonous medicine, market, loan from banks, different laws and material from outside the country is imposed on the farmers.

     

Lastly, the farmers discussed about the companies that now their work went in the hands of companies.

The second part of the pre pep discussed that which is the main oppressive countries (United States – China) and the effects of CPEC.

Preparation of Green Compost at the lands of women Farmers in Punjab and Sindh

Under the base of PKMT Jazba farmers cooperative there are four Agro ecological farms which tend by women. A woman’s presence led farms are entirely new experience and will be a model for rural women empowerment. Farmers are having meetings and preparing green compost for their crops.

 

Preparation of green compost in Multan, Punjab

A woman gathering dead leaves of trees for making compost

Sindh Jazba cooperative farmers having meeting in Shikarpur, Sindh after a visit to farmers while making green compost

Interviews from the farmers of PKMT Farmers Cooperative Jazba

Under PKMT Farmers’ Cooperative Jazba there are 12 agroecological farms in three provinces, Sindh, KPK and Punjab. Each farm is on one acre of land. Six farms are in Sindh, four farms are in KPK and two are in Punjab. Out of these twelve farms, women farmers manage four.

During our visits to the Jazba farms we carried out interviews with different farmers. The farmers provided details on preparation of land and the varieties of traditional seeds they have sown.  They also described green compost preparation that they are carrying out on their land so that will be applied on their land. The farmers were also preparing the natural pesticide, which they will use if needed.

  1. BakhtiarZeb, farmer from Lower Dir said that he has been part of PKMT since 2011. He said that our ancestors did not use chemical pesticides such as DAP and urea but we have used it and face the harmful effect on the crops. Our father had also advised us and stopped us from using chemical inputs as it carries disease. Now as we realize it, we have also gone back to sustainable agriculture.

To prepare natural fertilizer (green compost) we have put rotten vegetables as well as peel from vegetables collected from our home use and animal manure. It will be ready in two months, but will look open the pit again after 10 to 15 days. Bakhtiar said that “I believe in natural traditional farming and have practiced it from a long time.”

He has willingly contributed one acre of his land toward the Jazba cooperative. In his one acre of land he has sown two kinds of traditional seeds, namely, Haripur white wheat (which was obtained from a farmer in Haripur about 9-10 years ago) and Ratti (which is a red colored seed indigenous to Dera Ismail Khan, Punjab). He added that he is also making natural spray for pesticides from urine of cow as an experiment.

  1. The Farmer from district Shikarpur, Ali Gul Solongi, said that he is member of PKMT. He had sowed three varieties of wheat seed in his one acre of land. He had used 25 kg of a traditional seed from Mansehra, Khyber Pakhtunkwa, 25 kg of seed from Rajanpur, Punjab and 15 kg of Galaxy seed form Sindh. The last is not a traditional seed but has been used over and over again for the past four years. It is being sown for the fifth time with in PKMT farms. He has added the third variety as he feels that 25 kg of seed may be less for the acreage on which it is being used.

According to him, he has turned to sustainable way of cultivation so that he can grow healthy seed. He feels that production may be low, but it will be healthy. Secondly, expenses will be reduced and yield pure seed. Ali Gul added that we will be able to eat this grain, save it as well distribute it to other farmers. His message was “Desi beech ugao . . . companeo ko bhagao” (sow traditional seeds and drive out companies).

Upscaling and Strengthening Agro ecology:

Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) has established a Farmers Cooperative and named it Jazba. Jazba has enlisted various farmers to further agro ecology-based farms in seven districts spread over three provinces of Pakistan with the collaboration between various actors, that include mass-based farmers’ organizations, non-government organizations, academia and consumer groups.

Jazba aims to upscale and strengthen agro ecology and to build technical and social alliance between various actors such as farmers movements, trade unions, women’s groups, scientists and consumers to advocate for agro ecology and food sovereignty and to bring out the strength of agroecology as a science, as a movement and as a practice, especially in face of corporate hegemony, which is detrimental to farmers self-sufficiency, health and environment.

No doubt the collaboration is more of a political response to the threats being faced by society at large, but most importantly the marginalized especially landless and small farmers, women farmers and general public.The collaboration is also helping in linking farmers with consumer markets as well.

A foundation stone of Jazba is to promote safe, nutritious and healthy food for all. The extensive use of chemicals in corporate farming based on use of hybrid and genetically modified seeds, toxic pesticides and chemical fertilizers has severely impacted the health of all living things as well has been a cause for massive destruction of biodiversity.

Of the 12 agro ecological farms, six are in Sindh,two in Punjab and four in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Every farm consists of one acre of land. Four of the 12 agro ecology farm, four are managed by women. Presence of women-led farms is an entirely new experience and will be a model for rural women’s empowerment.

Each farmer has only used natural fertilizers from animal dung and green compost. Six farmers have already initiated making compost on the land; the other five are preparing land but has been postponed due to rains in December 2019 and January 2020. Formal initiation of the 12 farms was initiated with wheat sowing season.An initial training for preparing biological pesticides was given early in the project.

PKMT and its partners will launch a campaign to create greater awareness of agro ecological practices, its economic and social benefits and to motivate other farmers and groups to engage in agroecology.

“Corporate Agriculture: Decent Livelihood, Pure Nutritious Food and Environmental Justice Impossible!” (PKMT) 12th Annual Assembly

Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) held its 12th Annual Conference 28, December, 2019 in Jampur, Rajanpur. The theme of the conference was “Corporate Agriculture: Decent Livelihood, Pure Nutritious Food and Environmental Justice Impossible!”

The Annual conference started with the registration of the members from various districts of the country.

The 12th PKMT General Assembly was kicked off with welcome remarks from the Punjab provincial coordinator Maqsood Ahmed, Rajanpur district coordinator Abdul Ghafaar. A one minute silence was observed in memory of Ghulam Yaseen, PKMT member who had passed away earlier this year.

The program began with a theatre  performance from the PKMT group “PUKKUK”.

Key Notes were delivered by Azra Talat Sayeed, followed by two different sessions focusing on the debacle of corporate agriculture, its impacts on farmers’ livelihood, climate crisis and decreasing access to safe nutritious food. Guest speaker was a trade unionist Mr Junaid Awan, Railway Workers Union.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial coordinator Mr Fayaz Ahmed provided a detailed run down on PKMT’s activities for 2019.

An award giving ceremony was conducted for farmers practicing Sustainable Agriculture. The two farmers who received the PKMT PaidarZarat Award were Mr Bakhtayar Zeb, Lower Dir, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Mr Ali Gohar, Gohar, Sindh. Both were chosen for receiving the award based on a criteria set by the PKMT National Seed Committee.

A session by the name of “Bol K Lab Azad Hain Tere” provided space for issues raised by famers across the country.

A vote of thanks was delivered by the Sindh provincial coordinator followed by the PKMT tarana sung by the members.

PKMT explores commercialization of the milk industry!

Paikistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) plans to explore the impact of extensive commercialization of the milk industry in Pakistan on small and landless farmers, particularly women who are the major livestock care givers, especially for milk production and collection.  In this context, PKMT intends to carry out community-led researches by women farmers a the village level. The idea is to understand women farmers’ role in livestock care, especially fodder provision and milk production. The movement wants to mobilise women to resist the corporate hegemony in the dairy sector at the grassroots.

The need for the research was felt based on the fact that many bilateral trade agencies such as the US AID, Australian Aid, and recently China have focused on the dairy sector in Pakistan. The corporate structure in the diary sector is controlled by a handful of corporations, the biggest being Nestle. The second corporation was local, namely Engro, which last year was bought by Friesland Campina, Netherlands and has acquired 51% shares in Engro. There are many interlinked issues in context to the dairy sector, which include genetics, fodder, milk quality standards linked with market access, control and trade.

The Pakistan Pure Food Laws (PFL) has been revised over the years and PFL 2011 is the basis for the existing trade-related food quality and safety legislative framework.It covers more than 400 items and includes milk and milk products. Pakistan is a member of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and harmonizes standards based on international requirements. The national standardization body is the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA), which is responsible for coordinating a number of international institutions regulating trade. These include the WTO, ISO, and Codex Alimentarius. As part of the PFL, the province of Punjab has created the Punjab Food Authority (PFA), whose basic purpose is to layout standards for food articles and regulates their manufacturing, storage, distribution, sale and imports. In the past few years the PFA has been very stringent about testing open (loose) milk. In May 2019, it has prohibited sale of loose milk (which is currently under challenge in courts) and would like to pass legislation for selling only pasteurized milk in first Lahore city, and later the whole of Punjab.

Currently, the dairy sector in Pakistan has three kinds of producers; small farmers, medium-sized farmers and producers and large-scale producers. However, the backbone of the dairy sector is formed by the small farmers who collectively own about 50% of all milk-producing animals.

Farmers protest eviction

Bureau Report November 20, 2019

PESHAWAR: A group of farmers belonging to various rural localities of the provincial capital have expressed serious concern over their forced eviction from the area for the construction of Peshawar Northern Bypass and demanded of the government to compensate them.

Addressing a protest demonstration outside Peshawar Press Club on Monday, farmers’ representatives Nabi Jan, Ismail Khan, Sikandar Khan and others said they were tilling the land for the last 80 years which was their only source of livelihood, saying the government was taking possession of the land for construction of Peshawar Northern Bypass without paying its price or providing alternate agriculture land to the people.

The demonstrators said the government was not only snatching their livelihood but also depriving them of their houses and was reluctant to compensate them.

The farmers said that they had approached the relevant provincial government officials but no one bothered to listen to their grievances. They said the land was shamilat (community land) which had been converted into cultivatable land by their elders about 80 years ago and their forced eviction was sheer injustice.

The farmers’ leaders demanded of the government to stop harassing the people, withdraw cases against them and provide alternative land for agriculture and housing and ensure payment of compensation.

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2019

https://www.dawn.com/news/1517811/farmers-protest-eviction

کسان مزدور تحریک کا کسانوں کو زمینوں سبے دخل کرنے کیخلاف مظاہرہ

نومبر 20، 2019
پشاور (لیڈی رپورٹر) پاکستان کسان مزدور تحریک نے ہریانہ بالا پشاور میں کسانوں کو زمینوں سے زبردستی بے دخل کرنے کے خلاف پشاور پریس کلب کے سامنے احتجاجی مظاہرہ کیا اور اعلیٰ حکام سے مطالبہ کیا کہ سڑک کے تعمیر سے متاثر ہ کسانوں کو متبادل زمین اور گھروں کے تعمیر کیلئے رقوم براہ راست کسانوں کو دینے سمیت کھیتی باڑی کیلئے زرعی زمین دی جائے بصورت دیگر اپنا احتجاجی تحریک چلائنگے۔مظاہرین نے ہاتھوں میں پلے کارڈز اور بینرز اٹھا رکھے تھے جس پر حکومت مخالف نعرے درج تھے۔مطاہرے کی قیادت لعل جان،رحمان، سردار آصف اور دیگر ساتھیوں نے کی۔ اس موقع پر مظاہرین کا کہنا تھا کہ نادرز بائی پاس کی تعمیر سے ہریانہ بالا متعدد دیہات اس سے متاثر ہوئے ہے جنمیں گاوں گڑھی بجار،چولی بالا،چولی پایان، مترا، گڑھی ولی محمد،اور دیگر دیہات شامل ہے ۔

Hunger Perpetuates Profit for TNCs!

Press Release:

World Hunger Day, October 16, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Urdu Press Release

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