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.

کورونا میں سامراجی ہتھکنڈے اور کسان مزدوروں پر اثرات

26-12-2020:پریس ریلیز

پاکستان کسان مزدور تحریک (پی کے ایم ٹی) نے 26 دسمبر، 2020 کو کورونا وباء کو مدنظر رکھتے ہوئے تیرہواں سالانہ اجلاس آن لائن منعقد کیا جس میں ملک بھر کے مختلف اضلاع سے پی کے ایم ٹی کے چھوٹے اور بے زمین کسان مزدوروں اور دیگر شعبہ جات سے تعلق رکھنے والے ارکان نے شرکت کی۔

ڈاکٹر عذرا طلعت سعید، روٹس فار ایکوٹی نے عالمی اور ملکی سطح پر کورونا کے اثرات پر بات کرتے ہوئے کہا کہ عالمی سرمایہ دارانہ نظام ہی کورونا وباء کا ذمہ دار ہے۔ ابھی ہم ایک وباء سے نہیں لڑپارہے اور دنیا بھر کے سائنسدانوں کی پیشنگوئی ہے کہ اب اس طرح کی کئی وبائیں آئیں گی کیونکہ سرمایہ دارانہ ہوس نے جنگلوں کو ختم کیا ہے اور یہ وبائیں زیادہ تر وہیں پائی جاتی ہیں۔ جنگلات کی کٹائی کے نتیجے میں اب یہ وبائیں انسانی آبادیوں میں جانوروں کے زریعے پھیل رہی ہیں۔

اس بحران نے اب دیگر بحرانوں کو جنم دیا ہے جس میں اقتصادی بحران مزدور کسان کے لیے وباء سے زیادہ سنگین صورتحال پیدا کررہا ہے۔ یہ وہ ہتھکنڈہ ہے جو اجارہ داری کی بنیاد پر سرمایہ داری کو بھاری بھرکم منافع کمانے کے لیے مواقع فراہم کر رہا ہے جبکہ مزدوروں کو اس وباء، بیروزگاری اور بھوک کے اندھے کنویں میں دھکیل دیا گیا ہے۔ اب ہماری سرمایہ داروں کی غلام ریاستیں اس وباء کو روکنے اور عوامی ضروریات پوری کرنے کے لیے درکار مالی، مادی اور انسانی وسائل استعمال کرنے کے لیے اپنا اختیاراستعمال کرنے سے بھی قاصر ہیں۔ عالمی سطح پر امیر سرمایہ دار ممالک اپنی دولت اور ٹیکنالوجی استعمال کرتے ہوئے کورونا کے خلاف ویکسین تیار اور ترسیل کرکے بے تحاشہ منافع کمانے میں کامیاب نظر آرہے ہیں۔ سرمایہ دارانہ نظام دعویٰ کرتا ہے کہ اس نظام میں سب کو یکساں رسائی حاصل ہوتی ہے لیکن کورونا ویکسین سے اس نظام کا یہ مکروہ فریب بھی کھل کر سامنے آگیا ہے کیونکہ یہ نظام طبقات پر مبنی ہے۔ جو زیادہ سے زیادہ دولت رکھتا ہے سہولیات بھی سب سے پہلے اسے ہی میسر آتی ہیں۔ Continue reading

“Rural People are Hungry for Food System Change”

Press Release

October 16, 2020

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

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

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

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

According to a member of PKMT Mohammad Zaman from Sahiwal, it is reported in the Pakistan Economic Survey 2019-20, the corona virus had a severe negative impact on the Pakistani economy and at least another 10 million people are feared to be pushed to living below the poverty line in Pakistan. The number could increase from 50 million presently to 60 million. In the Global Hunger Index, Pakistan ranks 106th out of 119 countries where consumption of meat, poultry, fish, milk, vegetables and fruits is six to 10 times lower than that of developed countries.

The worsening situation of hunger and poverty can be gauged from the statement of Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Poverty and Social Protection, that “almost half of the country’s population will be covered by the Ehsas Program.” The statement indicates that in Pakistan, where almost half of the population is employed in the agricultural sector, the current epidemic of rising hunger, poverty and unemployment has exacerbated the pervasive exploitation and brutality of this rotten food and agriculture system that is based extracting super-profits from the poorest segments of society.

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

This domination of the imperialist powers over the global food and agriculture system has linked the local rural economy, in third world countries like Pakistan, to the global agricultural market. This has resulted in the most important resources like our agricultural produce, our land and water have become a source of surplus profits for multinational corporations.

A clear example of this is the increasing production of sugarcane and other cash crops for the production and export of agro-fuels like ethanol, while the production of the most important food crops such as wheat is declining. This is one of the reasons for the rise in food prices and the consequent increase in hunger.

There is an urgent need to change the system where farmers are forced to depend on seeds, chemicals and toxic inputs of companies. These chemicals also pollute the entire food and agricultural system and destruction of the ecosystems and biodiversity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press Release in Urdu (PDF) 

‘Rural Women, problems and daily life’


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.

Inspiration to create a Farmer’s Market


This is a summary of an interview of Ms Maheen Zia conducted by Naveed Ahmed, Seed Sovereignty Program Coordinator from Roots for Equity. The context of the interview is on Maheen Zia’s work with Karachi Farmer’s Market based in Karachi, Pakistan.

Ms Zia is one of the key founders of the Karachi Farmer’s Market. She is working to highlight the work of farmers and give importance to their work. She is promoting the work of farmers while sitting in the city and has the passion and ability to work for farmers. We are grateful to her that she has given her time for this interview.

Question: What attracted you to create a farmers market?

Answer: The news keeps coming that our food has become contaminated, and pesticides, fertilizers and GMOs are being used for it. We are cut off from nature and at the same time, the way disease is growing, it is in front of us too. We are six people who decided to start the farmers’ market. In all of our (six founders) families someone has been sick. It has made us realize that what we were eating makes us sick, so what could be its alternative? Personally, my father had cancer. At that point we started looking for organic flour and milled flour (chaki ka atta) and started thinking about what we were eating. Now cancer has become very common – in every household, in our close friends’ families – someone has been through this disease.

We were searching for pure food items, someone tried to find desi eggs or milks – but we wanted to have a single market where we could buy what we needed for our households. We wanted to have a system that for those who were selling here we could check what they were saying was actually being practiced and it was correct. This is why we started the market; it was started in August 2015 – it will now be five years. It is a small market but in the past five years about 30% of the people regularly buy things from here. They know that products have been checked and are of quality.

Question: Artificial agriculture or chemical agriculture produces more. So why should farmers adopt agroecology?

Answer: If your income is good by giving poison to others, then this is not correct. First of all, it is wrong in principle to produce something of low quality just because you will get production and it will be sold. This is not being said for any particular farmer but making a point in general. For example, if you have land and you want to grow something that is harmful to health for others but grow pure food elsewhere for yourself, it is wrong. In this age, this is how the world has been set up, and it may be difficult to examine it in this manner. But the way you are growing now has a short time outlook. The way you are growing now, putting pesticides and fertilizers this will degrade your land in the next ten to twenty years – what will you do then? You will not even be able to exchange this land for another piece of land? This land will not be able to grow anymore. So for your present gain you are harming your future. The harm being inflicted on others by what you are growing is an other matter but you are destroying your future, as well.

Naveed: So in the beginning you pointed out the impacts on human health and now you are pointing out that farmers must practice agroecology as (chemical agriculture) impacts land and you will face other problems.

Maheen Zia: Land will be ruined; your health will be ruined. When you use pesticide, it will first affect your family, you will be impacted as well. I believe that there is acute poverty and hence people are helpless and their hands are tied, even when they understand, they don’t have an opportunity to do something else. There is a need to help them and understand their position (majbori).

Question: What benefit you get from farmer’s market?

Answer: It makes us happy! This is an opportunity for people, there are about 300-500 people that are buying from the Farmers’ Market. There is better food getting to their households; and through this small businesses have been set up and running – so a system has been initiated. But this is small, it’s just a handful of people– Karachi in itself is a very big city. A much bigger thing that has happened is the conversation that has been started – we need to eat organically grown food, or sustainable food, we need to consume pure food. Where can we get it? Why should we have pure food? Why is it so expensive? How can we increase its production so that prices can come down? So the discussion that has been started is very important and it has the potential to increase organic production.

Question: Will small and landless farmers benefit from agro ecology?

Answer: Absolutely. They will benefit as over time, their land’s soil quality will become better, production will be better. If we can connect them to the market whatever they grow will fetch a better price, there is also a market available. There is only benefit and no harm. Whoever goes toward chemical agriculture there is only harm; you may be getting money from it at the moment but there is no barkat in this money – this is what I believe.

Naveed: If you practice agroecology you can retrieve land fertility and get an environmentally friendly ecosystem. The way the environment has been impacted, there is disease and global warming, the natural environment has been lost, using poison all of this has died and we can now regain all this through promotion of agroecology.

Question: From where did you get the seed?

Answer: If someone is coming from outside (the country) – I research on heirloom seeds – ancient seeds. Some seed banks keep these seeds and the seeds are from different area, they may not of your area but if the seed adapts to your climate than I think its okay. These seed are generally not invasive but it is very important that where you are they are suited (to that environment), they should be pest resilient; they have more nutrition. So, I search for the seed, try it out and if it starts off, then use it the next year. This is the beauty of real seed; from one seed you can get a whole field because each seed will give you plentiful. This is what nature is; in nature if you work a little hard, respect it, it will give you plentiful benefits.  If you fight with nature than you will have to work hard every year, put poison every year, use chemical fertilizer and so in the end you have to work a lot and the result is still not favorable

Question: You mentioned that you get seeds from the ancient seed bank.

Answer: There is a company in the USA called Rare Seeds. They explain the origin of the seed like I have an Iraqi plant and a Chinese beans plant. These companies provide a complete chain of information, where did this seed come from, in which year, which person cultivated it, for how many years they cultivated it, who brought this seed to us, they value the seed, and this is what their work is.

Question: Can we say that the indigenous people of those areas own these seeds?

Answer: No, because the indigenous people are in a very bad condition and they have also lost their seed, there should be an attempt to find those seeds as well; for example there is a particular bean seed Cherokee Tears. When the Cherokee people were driven out of their lands about 150 – 200 years ago, they brought seeds with them. So it’s not necessary that the indigenous people are preserving their seeds. There are some farming communities and there are some people who think like us that the real asset is your seed, it needs to be saved, especially at a time when hybrids are on the rise and GMOs are being promoted. So this is a very important work that they are doing. People are also buying from them. Small farmers buy from them and plant seeds. And then they save the seeds.

Question: Have you ever tried to get seeds from areas of Pakistan or the suburbs of Karachi?

Answer: Once I was filming in Sindh – near Badin – there was a project where they were reviving Indigo which is an ancient seed of this area and it was a plant that died out in the British era. I took the seed from there but its plant did not grow, I thought I would bring the seed again when I go back to Badin. I try that if I get a real seed I grow it. When I went to Hunza two years ago, I also brought seeds from there, but it did not grow. But maybe its climate was different, only a small sprout came out; it still is good to try things out. We need to build a network within our climate zone so that we can save the real seeds among us. Make many seed banks so that if one seed bank fails there are still other seed banks. Like once I had a beautiful sunflower seed, it had a beautiful flower; I distributed this seed to friends so it could be continued. We have a network of people who try to spread seeds in this manner. I also take seeds from the pansar. For example there is a taramera seed– these are still pure seeds – it’s a local variety; there is also kolongi, there is gaozaban but it did not germinate. I have now brought this seed from abroad and have saved seeds from it and will try it again this year. It’s a very useful plant – you can make tea from its leaves and use it for colds or flu. So this is what I do but a systematic system needs to be set up. This is a science and there are different types of seeds, some are self-seeding and you don’t need to keep them away from other plants. But other variety mix with each other for instant maize, it has to be kept a mile away from other varieties so that they do not cross-pollinate. If we are working on seed preservation, it is important to follow the procedure.

Question: Pakistani farmers are facing financial loss – how can we address this issue??

Answer: I have met only few farmers who came to the market and do not have a very good understanding of Pakistani farmers; I have met a few farmers but have not studied the issue deeply as yet and need to understand it as well. I think our economic situation is dependent on a cash economy and it drives everything. Before we used to have a barter system as well it may not have been so difficult for farmers. There are now so many barriers for farmers. Maybe I need to ask you this question why farmers are facing so many losses?

Green Revolution began under General Ayub. The whole world has been suffering the consequences of the fifty years of Green Revolution, of chemical agriculture. One third of the land is damaged which was arable and we could grow on it; if there is decreasing production and farmers are suffering losses– a big reason has to be that their land and water has been spoiled.

Question: If farmers adopt agro-ecology they will suffer financial loss. How can we compensate for this financial loss?

Answer: We need to think on ways forward. There needs to be a diversity of income. For example may be also including handicrafts.  Also be involved in value added production so that they can have better value. All of us need basic education. It’s not a simple sum game. You will not get to know about everything from instructions on a packet. When we are growing things – it’s a natural process and we need to deepen our learning of nature, of soil. Why is soil so important, it’s not just dirt– it’s like our heart? All that we eat is based on this layer of soil. If we increase the quality of soil we will eat better. If we loose this soil then we will all face starvation. The quality of our soil is critical. We don’t understand the importance of water. These are Allah’s systems; they have been there for thousands of years. These systems were there before us and will be there after us. We are the ones who have destroyed these systems. We have used advanced technologies and believe that by using them we can make it better. But we need to go back to nature and study how systems are managed in nature.


Progression in PKMT Jazba Farmers Cooperative

PKMT Farmers Cooperative Jazba is going smoothly in different districts of the three provinces Sindh, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtoon Khwa. Though it was not easy to communicate or visit in the days of lock down due to corona virus but still the farmers manage to share their work by sending pictures of their farms. In Ghotki (Sindh) Jantar (Fodder) was sowed in the half acre of the farm of Rehana Kausar. It had very good results and the other farmers are surprised to see the green lush lot. She is preparing other half acre of the land for sowing Rota wetter.

Ghotki (Sindh) Farm with lush green fodder

In Shikarpur (Sindh) and Muzafargarh too the farmers are working steadily on the Jazba Rice farms. In Khyber Pakhtoon Khwa, the farmers have sowed maize.  They are satisfied with the outcome.

PKMT Jazba Farmers’ Cooperative proceeding towards Harvesting

Under the PKMT Jazba Farmers’ Cooperative, farmers from all over Pakistan have started agroecological farms. They have sown the traditional seeds and make organic compost. As time passes the farmers from Sindh and Punjab are now sampling the crops and started harvesting and thrashing.

The farmers from Shikarpur, Ghotki Tando M Khan (Sind) and Multan (Punjab) are busy working in the fields.


Assert and Defend the Rights of Small and Landless farmers amid the COVID-19 pandemic!

Press Release:

Day of the Landless 2020, March 29, 2020

Roots for Equity and Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) join hand with Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) and Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP) to mark the Day of the Landless March 29, 2020.

Today, we commemorate the Day of the Landless with utmost concern as the landless rural people are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The landless peasants along with who are also the small farmers with precarious land ownership or control are forced to work in a variety of oppressive conditions on lands under feudal ownership. Women agricultural are particularly work under the double tier of exploitation at the hands of the landlord as well as patriarchy. Along with this, capitalist agriculture through its mega-corporations has captured agricultural production and markets resulting in a huge increase in the percentages of the landless. More and more, the landless are forced to work in the informal sector on daily wages in a variety of situations. Together with the rest of ordinary toiling people, they bear the brunt of the raging public health crisis of COVID-19 that has paralyzed almost all economic activities and pushed them to further food insecurity and poverty.

With many countries implementing sweeping lockdowns and quarantines often with vague operational guidelines, to contain the spread of COVID-19, the agriculture and food supply chain faces great disruption with an escalating price-hike already sending food prices to very high levels. Livelihoods in jeopardy the small producers and poor consumers are suffering the major brunt of the lockdown. In addition, with a total ban on inter and intra provincial travel, agriculture workers and other daily wage earners have no means of finding work. It is feared that the COVID-19 may be used as a cover-up to further harass, and dislocate farming communities as part of evictions under land grabbing for corporate interests.

Furthermore, public health systems, eroded by decades of neoliberal assault such as privatization, commercialization and budget cuts, are already weak in general and are susceptible to collapse when pandemics strike. In Pakistan, the health care budget has never exceeded 3% of the total budget allocations. Hence, the situation has magnified a hundredfold for rural communities especially the landless.

We support and reiterate the immediate demands of the landless and all toiling peoples amid the pandemic –

  1. Ensure that the lockdowns and quarantines are not carried out at the expense of the food security of the people and that the right to produce and earn a living for small farmers, fishers and other direct food producers is duly respected in a manner that does not endanger their health;
  2. Provide immediate and substantial economic relief (including food grains, cash, and other forms of aid that are essential and appropriate) and social protection that are readily accessible to the marginalized sectors, including the landless rural people, as well as other forms of government assistance such as production and marketing support for the small food producers;
  3. Ensure that no further displacements of the rural people from their lands and livelihood are carried out in the pretext of COVID-19 lockdowns;
  4. Allot sufficient public resources to the health sector and make reliable public healthcare services, including free testing for COVID-19 infection and treatment, available without delay or difficulty for everyone, including the rural communities;
  5. As a learning, the health budget should be based on building a robust public healthcare system that is capable of functioning with equity and efficiency in face of all health crises.

Amidst the spreading darkness and misery due to a pandemic caused by more than anything else an ecologically and socially destructive mode of capitalist production, the movement of landless rural people and their supporters, together with all oppressed and exploited toiling peoples, shall remain among the bearers of light and hope.

Press Release; Urdu

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

PKMT Jazba Farmers’ Cooperative Awareness Program

PKMT Jazba Farmers’ Cooperative organized an awareness session program based on the Agroecology farming and sustainable agriculture on village level at different districts of Sindh, Punjab and KP. In Sindh district Tando Mohammad Khan, Shikarpur and Ghotki, in Punjab district Multan and in KP district Haripur and Lower Dir the session were organized.

The session begins with the introduction of the team and the farmers. The team asks different questions from the farmers like who cultivate the land and which sort of cultivation is going on nowadays?


The participants replied that nowadays, we are using artificial means of production, which had chemicals in it, and we use chemical fertilizer in cultivation. Different topics of production and consumption were discussed with the help of pictures.

Unhealthy Production: The participants were told about the unhealthy food production that how modern machinery and chemicals are introduced to increase the production for example, breeding of cows by using artificial means, increasing of milk and meat of animals, increasing chemical spray, fertilizer, use of hybrid seeds and genetically modified seeds. The participants agree that they use the chemicals and machinery which results increase in diseases and unemployment.

Unhealthy Consumption: The participants were told about the unhealthy food like big companies use artificial methods in the preparation of food and are enforced on us for example, Potato chips, burgers, pizzas and unbalanced diet. The participants said that the junk food made by the companies has no energy, the threat of diseases increases and the food is also expensive. Capitalism increases class system. The rich influence on poor just because of this system. The working class is deprived of basic needs of life like food and health; we should not use these things.

Healthy Production: The participants were shown opposite mechanical and artificial method of production. The natural and traditional ways of farming, which includes milking, traditional way of cultivating pure and healthy food. According to our history, we use traditional seeds and eat pure food and live in a clean environment for centuries. The capitalists now capture the markets enforced farmers and labors into poverty.

Healthy Consumption: The participants said that the food from companies are unhealthy, the bread, Saag (local spinach), Lassi, butter, pure ghee are healthy foods. We should promote our own things, which we get through natural means.

Poverty and hunger! Why ? The adopting of chemical methods and an increase in production, the participants said that hunger, poverty and unemployment is increasing day by day. 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)