The field staff of Roots for Equity met a farmer named Jumni in the village known as old Lashari of district Tando Muhammad Khan. She is also a member of Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT). At that time she was plucking grass out of the ground. She said that she is picking grass to feed buffaloes and goats as they are very useful for them. Buffaloes give milk which women use to make lassi, ghee, and butter from it. They sell and eat chicken eggs and meat too and sell big animals in time of need or at any celebration or important event. Animal dung is burnt as fuel and it is also used in the field as fertilizer.
Regarding vegetable cultivation, she said that we grow our own vegetables, eggplant, okra, guar, beans, chilies, etc, but this year lesser vegetables were grown due to early heavy rains and the corona disease. The eggplant is ready to harvest. Naturally grown vegetables are also used in the village such as lemons, radishes, spinach, lentils etc. These vegetables are nutritious and do not cause any diseases. These vegetables are often sown by most of the people in the village.
Highlighting the problems of women farmers, she said that women face many difficulties during farming and labor. They get tired on the way to the field. It sweats like water coming out of the body. The whole body becomes stiff like a stone due to hard work. The wages for cotton masonry are Rs. 400 per maund. That is Rs 10 per kg. In addition, the average wage is Rs.1, 200 per acre of any ordinary labor which continues for three to four days. Wages are calculated according to the amount of work, such as half a day, a day or two.
She said that there was lock down due to corona virus and markets were closed. We didn’t get any seeds. We got little amounts of seed with difficulty from here and there. Feeding animals was not difficult because there was grass in the surrounding area. We faced a lot of problems regarding availability of food, sometimes there were no vegetables and sometimes we ran out of flour. If this happens we usually get some from our neighbors and return what we had taken when we purchase it. Flour was scarce in the market; shopkeepers were giving only to their acquaintances.
The police was not allowing shops to reopen. There was a problem in mobility, I could not get even a ride to another village and bus fare was doubled. If someone is sick, it was difficult to get them to the hospital. But even in the hospitals doctors and/or medicines were not available. Prices had gone up; everything was expensive. This aggravated the problem of food. The ones who used to eat two times are now eating only once a day. Earlier it was corona virus, now it is heavy rainfall, the roads are closed and it is difficult to travel.
From the last two years, our tap water is bitter and we are getting sick for which no government action has been taken so far.
The field staff of Roots for Equity spoke to various farmers in the village of Old Lashari Tando Muhammad Khan. A farmer named Pathani, who is also a member of PKMT, described the problems faced by women farmers and said, “I am a farmer. I work hard in the fields; sometimes I weed grass and sometimes sow the cotton. I work from sowing vegetables to harvesting, and then when I come back home in the evening I bring fodder along with me for the livestock at home. Women farmers have a lot of problems; they pick cotton all day and get Rs. 400 per maund (40kg), and at the same take care of the household tasks and the children in the evening. Women can get Rs. 400 to Rs. 500 for ordinary work done in field
Women in rural areas work all day in the fields on wages; they work in the fields on daily basis and work all day long. If a woman’s wage is kept at Rs.250, then a man earn Rs.500 of the same work, Women work more than men but men are paid more. Women are considered inferior. Women do not even raise their voice in front of men because if they do so they will not get work next time. If someone asks about increasing the wages, the landlords threatens them saying they could be replaced by machines.
There is no land in the name of women. A woman works all day in the field from sowing crops to watering and from watering to harvesting. She plants vegetables and takes good care of it. Even after doing all the work there is no land in the name of women and when the crop is sold, the men keep all the profit.
I don’t have my land. There is no land in the name of any woman in the village. It belongs to my father and brother. They cultivate crops with their own free will on it. We tell them to plant traditional crops. They don’t agree and angry with us for suggesting such changes. We help in their work but the decisions are in their hands
No action has been taken since corona begins; people have been living in their homes with fear of getting infected. Women could not go to the market. There was no transport. The available transport had a very high rent. If we visit the hospital, there were no doctors in the hospital; lady doctor could not come (due to the lockdown) and medicines were not available.
Due to the closure of the market, it also became very difficult to access food items. Farmers who were trying to sell vegetables had great difficulty in getting to the market, and then there were no buyers, also. Farmers have suffered immensely. Due to this disease, farmers, laborers, women, men, children, old and young are all troubled.
After the Corona Virus, we had to face further problems. This time there has been a lot of damage due to heavy rainfall; in particular, the cotton crop has been heavily damaged due to rains.