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

Farmers hold demo against eviction

Bureau Report; September 19, 2019

Farmers of Haryana area hold a demonstration on Sher Shah Suri Road, Peshawar, on Wednesday. — White Star

PESHAWAR: Farmers belonging to different villages of Peshawar held a protest demonstration in front of the Peshawar Press Club against eviction from their land being acquired for construction of the Northern Bypass.

The demonstration was jointly arranged by Kissan Action Committee, Haryana Bala, and Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek wherein farmers belonging to Garhi Bajaz, Choli Bala, Choli Payan, Mathra, Garhi Wali Mohammad and other affected localities participated.

The protesters told media persons that the farmers’ families possessed the land for the last 80 years which was their only source of livelihood. The farmers claimed that the government was taking possession of the land for construction of Northern Bypass without paying its price to the owners.

“The government is not only snatching our livelihood but also depriving us of our homes which we have built with our meager resources,” they said.

The Northern Bypass project has affected many villages, they said and claimed that the farmers in these areas had been threatened to leave the land or they would be forcefully evicted. They alleged that the compensation of agriculture land and houses had been given to an influential person.

“We have approached various government offices and officials to seek help, but to no avail,” they said and added that the land property was common (shamilat) which had been converted into cultivatable land by their forefathers.

They alleged that MNA Noor Alam Khan was supporting the influential landowner while rest of the farmers had been ignored. “False FIRs have been lodged against some farmers to pressurise them,” they said.

The Kissan Action Committee, Haryana Bala, and Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek have demanded of the government to release all the arrested farmers and withdraw the FIRs.

They urged the government to provide alternative land for housing and payment of the construction cost in lieu of the houses being demolished for the project. The farmers were holding banners and placards inscribed with slogans against what they called their forced eviction.

Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2019

No to Peasants’ Eviction from Haryana Bala, Peshawar

Press Release

September 18, 2019

Kissan Action Committee Haryana Bala, Peshawar held a protest demonstration in front of the Peshawar Press Club against their eviction from their land due to the construction of the Northern Bypass. The landless farmers have been working on this land for the last 80 years, having been the first to domesticate the land making it ready for cultivation. The farmers stated that they were not only losing their livelihood but their homes, which they had built based on their labor and meager earnings. The Northern Bypass project has affected many areas, which, include Garhi Bajaz, Choli Bala, Choli Payan, Mitra, Garhi Wali Mohammad, and farmers in these areas are being threatened that they should leave or will be forcefully evicted. The compensation of agriculture land and houses has been given to big landlords with political influence, which further exacerbated the peasants’ livelihood and miseries.

The peasants stated, “ we approached various government offices and officials to seek help in this regards but no help has been provided.” According to the sources, majority of these land are common lands (shamlat) which has been converted into cultivatable land by their forefathers, and some of the land is owned by landlord Sher Alam Khan. The government has provided compensation that has been appropriated by Sher Alam Khan, even though it has been meant for the peasants. Sher Alam Khan is being backed by a local MNA, Noor Alam Khan. This is the basic reason that voices of the peasant are not been heard. False FIRs have been lodged against some farmers and some have been arrested to pressurize and silence the peasants.

Land grabbing through mega projects such as dams, highways, motorways, special economic zones and others are now a common ‘development’ strategy in many of the third world countries, all at the cost of the most marginalized communities. The government and other policymaking entities ignore the immensely negative impact of such mega-projects on local people livelihood, environment and their way of living.

The Northern Bypass project is to accelerate free trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan. According to sources this project will connect with Khyber Bypass Economic Corridor (KPEC) for which the World Bank has provided loans; the KPEC was approved in June, 2018.

Kissan Action Committee Haryana Bala and Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) demands to the Government and related institutions are:

  • All arrested related to the case must be released immediately and withdraw all false FIRs;
  • Provide alternate space for housing and construction cost in lieu of the houses demolished or to be demolished;
  • Provide alternate land for agriculture purpose for those evicted or to be evicted;
  • Stop land grabbing through development projects and special economic zones;
  • Distribution of land on just and equitable basis;

Urdu Press Release

Released by: Kissan Action Committee Haryana Bala, Peshawar and Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT)

Not for the little guy

Tariq Mehmood
Former coordinator
Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek KPK

“The federal budget offers us nothing,” says Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek’s former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa coordinator Tariq Mehmood. His biggest concerns are about seed development and lack of support for small and landless farmers.

Farmers’ reliance on imported seeds is increasing day-by-day as indigenous seed is not being improved, he points out.

“The government is doling out lands to multinational companies but is reluctant to distribute land among landless farmers”, he complained, saying that the federal budget focuses on subsidies on tube wells which are used by large landholders and not small farmers. “Budget offers nothing for inputs availability and their prices either”, he said.

Panelists call for ending role of corporate sector in agriculture

Bureau Report March 30, 2019

PESHAWAR: Speakers at a seminar on Friday demanded an end to the role of international corporate sector in agriculture, opposed the ever-increasing allotment of land to the corporate sector and called for just and equitable distribution of land among small and landless farmers in order to turn Pakistan into a real agricultural country.

The event organised at the Peshawar Press Club to commemorate the International Day of the Landless Farmers was arranged by Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT), and Roots for Equity in collaboration with Asian Peasant Coalition, Pesticide Action Network, Asia Pacific and International Women’s Alliance.

PKMT national coordinator Altaf Hussain, Asian Peasant Coalition’s general secretary Raja Mueeb, PKMT’s coordinator Peshawar Shehzad Baig and KP coordinator Fayyaz Ahmed were the main speakers.

They said the day highlighted the struggle of the landless farmers for genuine land reforms and food sovereignty.

They said farmers were being evicted from lands that had been tilled for generations by their ancestors. They demanded that development projects across the country, including those for special economic zones as well as land lease to investors, should be scrapped.

On the occasion, Altaf Hussain said from 2000 onwards, transnational corporations worldwide had grabbed more than 50 million hectares of land through over 1,500 agreements.

Similarly, Raja Mueeb said more than 200 deals spanning almost 20 million hectares of land were further being negotiated. Most of the land deals were being carried out in countries like Pakistan that are rich in natural resources, he pointed out.

It was pathetic that only eight per cent of these land deals were exclusively for food production, and 60 percent of these, were for export purposes, he said, adding around 70 per cent of these deals were reserved for agro-fuel production, which was only fulfilling the needs of the rich capitalist countries.

Mr Mueeb said in the past few years, China’s One Belt One Road initiative had further accelerated land grab.

Fayyaz Ahmed pointed out that various development projects for energy and infrastructure under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project had resulted in land grab across the country.

He pointed out that 1,000 acres of land had been leased in Haripur for a special economic zone, the Northern Bypass Peshawar; 6,500 acres of land was leased for growing high yield seeds to a foreign corporation in Punjab; and 140 acres of land were leased in Khairpur, Sindh for a special economic zone.

He said farmers and fishermen were losing their livelihoods due to these measures.

Shehzad Baig said small and landless farmers were facing exploitation because of unjust distribution of land, corporate agriculture. He said the government was also planning to build a cement factory in Palai area of Malakand, a greenbelt famous for its farmlands and orange orchards.

Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2019

Distribution of agri lands among landless farmers urged

Bureau Report March 30, 2019

PESHAWAR: The Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) has asked the government to take notice of the distribution of the state land to companies, allotment of state land to investors on lease and ongoing development projects.

Speaking at a news conference at Peshawar Press Club, PKMT’s Asif Khan demanded equal distribution of agricultural lands among the landless farmers and working class. PKMT provincial coordinator Fayyaz Ahmad, Shahzad Baig and others were also present. He said the world day for the labourers and farmers was celebrated every year but the poor and landless labourers had been suffering since . Asif Khan said that the multinational companies had usurped 50 million acres of land throughout the world through 1591 agreements since the year 2000, which is a grave injustice to the poor farmers.

PKMT Demands Land for the Landless!

Press Release

March 29, 2019

Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) and Roots for Equity in collaboration with Asian Peasant Coalition, Pesticide Action Network, Asia Pacific and International Women’s Alliance commemorated the International Day of the Landless, which was marked by the slogan “We Will Take Back Our Land, Our Future!” Globally, the Day of the Landless highlights the struggle of the landless farmers for genuine land reforms and food sovereignty, where they are being evicted from lands that had been tilled for many generations by their ancestors. It is in this context that the many protests and demonstrations have been planned in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, Mongolia, Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia among others Asian countries.

PKMT carried out press conferences at the Peshawar, Multan Press Clubs and a protest rally in Ghotki against the landlessness of farmers, as well as countrywide happenings of land grabs and in the name of foreign investments and development projects.

According to the PKMT National Coordinator Altaf Hussain stated that from 2000 till now, transnational corporations worldwide have land grabbed more than 50 million hectares of land through 1,591 agreements. Further, 200 more negotiations are in ongoing for acquiring 20 million hectares. No doubt, rich capitalist countries along with their imperialist institutions such as the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO have wrought changes in policies which has allowed the massive push in land grab, drowning the farmers in debt and deprivation, all methods which give transnational corporations control over production and markets.

According to the Raja Mujeeb, Secretary General Asian Peasant Coalition, imperialist corporate agriculture is here to plunder our lands, take away our livelihood and poison our lands. No doubt, most of the land deals are being carried out to in countries like Pakistan that are rich in natural resources. It is draconian that only 8% of these land deals are exclusively for food production and 60% of this is for export. Further, most of these land deals, around 70%, are reserved for agro-fuel production – industry bound oil seed production of oil palm, jathropa, corn, wheat, and sugar. This push for agro-fuel is fulfilling the needs of the rich capitalist countries. In the past few years, China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative has further accelerated land grab, and China is now second to the US, in the number of concluded transnational land acquisitions. In Africa alone, land acquired by Chinese companies range from 240,000 to 6 million hectares.

According to the KPK Provincial Coordinator, Fayyaz Ahmad after leasing an additional 1,000 acres of land in Haripur for a special economic zone, and eviction of farmers from their land for building the Northern Bypass, Peshawar, the next target for investors seems to be Palai in Malakand, a green belt famous for its farmlands and orange orchards. The government of KPK is planning to build a cement factory in the area and has imposed Section 4 for acquiring 400 acres of land. The critical importance of this land for the local communities and its fertility can be gauged by government figures which state that Palai has 171,000 fruit trees which are not only a source of livelihood and food security for the local communities but also critical for the environment; all this happening in a country which is in the frontline of vulnerable countries from climate change impacts. Similarly, for the construction of the Swat Expressway precious agricultural land of local farmers has been acquired for pittance, and on top of that farmers are facing delay in payments for the land.

According to PKMT Sindh Provincial Coordinator Ali Nawaz Jalbani, small and landless farmers were facing exploitation and deprivation because of the unjust distribution of land, corporate agriculture, and the imperialist neoliberal policies inflicted on the command of capitalist countries. At the same time, feudalism is not only forcing misery on the landless farmers but the women face further discrimination based on their gender. They are forced to work under scorching heat for harvesting crops such as wheat and cotton; Hindu are forced to bear not only the oppressive feudal mechanisms but also face further discrimination based on religion. According to Mir Babal, a youth PKMT member from Ghotki, various development projects for energy and infrastructure under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor agreement has resulted in land grab in the area for a number of years.

It was pointed out that in Sanghar, a district where the landless facing acute exploitation with a very high percentage of the population suffering from malnutrition, the government under different guises was taking back land that had been distributed to landless farmers in 2004. The much higher percentage of children suffering from malnutrition in this district was proof of the impact of the industrial agricultural production, which takes its toll on impoverished farmer communities. The Sindh government in many districts of the province for the past many decades has been evicting small farmers. On the other hand, farmers have been forcefully evicted from centuries old villages so that big property dealers and investors, who are well known to have acquired land illegally, are given further opportunities for land grabbing.

PKMT Provincial Coordinator Maqsood Ahmed stated that the government of Punjab after leasing 6,500 acres of land for growing high yielding seeds to foreign corporation in Punjab has recently adopted a policy for leasing state land to national and foreign corporations. The Punjab government has provided state forestland to the corporate sector for planting commercial forests. In South Punjab, proposals by investors for developing commercial forests on 99,077 acres of land have been approved. On the other hand, the same Punjab government in district Rajanpur, South Punjab is bent on displacing small farmers from an area called Rakh Azmat Wala, where the farmers have lived for more than a century.

PKMT demands that development project across the country including those for special economic zones as well as land lease to investors should be stopped. In addition, the role of international corporate sector in agriculture should be eliminated, the ever-increasing allotment of land to the corporate sector should be stopped and instead just and equitable distribution of land to small and landless farmers should be carried out immediately.

Urdu Press Release

Released by Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek/PKMT

News Coverage;

Power To The Peasants: Reclaiming Lands, Reclaiming The Future

Part one of a two-part features series on the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) in commemoration of the Day of the Landless on 29 March.

“Further consolidate the Asian peasants” was the theme of APC’s 5th General Assembly held in Surat Thani province, Thailand in October 2018. (Photo: PANAP)

Perhaps there is no greater irony in the 21st century than the fact of landlessness that millions of peasants grapple with in the face of a global land rush — the large-scale acquisition, lease, or concession of lands in corporations’ bid to seek resources most profitable in the global markets.

The resulting dispossession of farmer communities seems but an afterthought when, in reality, it is an affront to the industry and dignity of the very people who feed the rest of the world with food that they themselves often cannot afford to eat. Few countries illustrate the magnitude of the problem better than those in Asia, where rural unrest is set against the backdrop of poverty and political instability. It is in this context that the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) was formed.

Now in its 15th year, the APC continues to unite landless peasants, farmers, farm workers, food producers, fisherfolk, indigenous peoples, herders and pastoralists in Asia. More than 15 million members commit to consolidating gains on the ground to defy all forms of peasant oppression.

It is the role of peasant movements like the APC to step in where governments fall short, where ruptures for social change can come forth. No shortcut can be taken to help the peasantry climb out of the ditch decades of subjugation has plunged it into, but the APC’s aims are nowhere near impossible: to assert the right to land in the pursuit of genuine agrarian reform, to sever the ties between states and transnational monopolies, and to upset the dominion of imperialist powers.

Farm labor and feudal lordship

In many Asian countries, to say “land is life” is to speak not just of a matra but of a fundamental reality. Loss of land might as well be a death sentence to farmer families, indeed, as it entails loss of livelihood, security, and food. The estimated 15 million members people living in rural areas in Asia are bound to land, and it is upon their backs that the region imparted 49.8% of global agricultural value in 2013, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

But while Asia boasts of vast tracts of agricultural lands, much of which, however, are worked by farmers and farm workers who own but smallholdings, if at all. Among the foremost campaigns of the APC has been to intensify the struggle against land and resource grabbing and all forms of exploitation that remain rooted in the monopoly of a small fraction of local landowners.

Centuries of colonial experience of Asian nations like the Philippines and India have entrenched such feudal arrangements in agricultural production. The APC, since its inception, has helped peasant organizations decry tenurial relationships that perpetuate bonded labor as payoff for land rents, debts, and threats of displacement that landless farmers find themselves worrying.

At its first general assembly in Dhaka, Bangladesh in November 2004, all member organizations recognized the tragedy in how more and more Asian people got mired deeper in landlessness, poverty, and hunger while doing all the work under unconscionably exploitative conditions at the behest of compradors and big landlords.

Almost 15 years later, current APC chairperson Poguri Chennaiah of the peasant group Andhra Pradesh Vyavasaya Vruthidarula Union (APVVU) in India would echo this sentiment at the APC’s fifth general assembly in Surat Thani province, Thailand in October 2018. While he recognized the victories on the ground — particularly the land occupation activities by a growing number of farmers of late — it still cannot be denied, Chennaiah said, that the majority of those suffering from malnutrition in the world come from Asia, the bread basket for all but its own peasantry.

With the scale of landlessness and land grabbing accelerating at an alarming rate over the past decade, the APC has tried to outmatch this injustice in its vow to intensify the fight for genuine agrarian reform founded on the principle of “land to the tiller.”

Yet expropriation of land is a problem that tenants face not only against usurious and abusive landholders but also against governments that offer little to no avenues for redress. Semi-feudal structures are no longer just shored up by a local elite but also by prevailing systems of law and governance that aggravate land insecurity. The state is as much to blame for its complicity, from inutile intervention in land conflicts to outright harassment or criminalization of peasant leaders.

Tens of thousands of debt-laden Indian farmers descended on New Delhi to demand from the administration a one-time loan waiver in the run-up to the parliamentary elections, November 30, 2018. Poguri Chennaiah, chairperson of the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC), cited recent massive mobilizations in India as proof of the peasant movement’s resounding calls for the government to take action. (Photo: AP)

Authorities and autocrats

The APC has never wavered in calling out governments that sponsor all but the welfare of the peasant sector. It has also unabashedly professed its progressive stance, as in its first general program of action in 2004 which states its campaign to “resist the maneuver, betrayal, and divisive character of local regimes against the farmers.”

This objective is far from lip service. The coalition, for one, has supported mass demonstrations of peasants against policies typically hoisted under the banner of ‘development.’ “But is it the development for the people who have been depending on natural resources?” said Chennaiah. “Or is it for the small percentage of the people who are plundering what meager resources have been vested in the communities?”

Development projects are so called only from the vantage point of a private sector that receives concessions from government offices paralyzed by patronage, corruption, and profit seeking.

In Bangladesh, for example, the government has allowed much of the arable land it once vowed to distribute to landless peasants to be turned into residential and infrastructure developments or export processing zones. In Cambodia, while public lands attractive for tourism get privatized, the authorities tasked to resolve land disputes perform overlapping administrative functions and get embroiled in red tape. Indonesian mining laws, meanwhile, grant the state blanket power to encroach on indigenous peoples’ land to pave the way for operations of mining concessionaires.

Local farmers also rarely rely on the courts. The recent decision of the top court in India to reject the ancient ownership claims of over a million forest dwellers has not only triggered a series of protests but also evinced the anti-people bent of most legal instrumentalities.

Chennaiah remains hopeful, however, that public pressure would halt the eviction order, just as it did when tens of thousands of environmental defenders and subsistence farmers protested and forced the World Bank to withdraw its funding for the Sardar Sarovar dam in 1993, which would have displaced more than 140,000 villagers.

“The people’s resistance has been strong enough,” said Chennaiah, “to remind [the government] that its role is not to work as a broker for the corporate world but that it has responsibilities to the people of its country.”

Legal frameworks that facilitate land grabs and worsen peasant troubles could even take on more malevolent, blatant forms. From January 2017 to March 2019, PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) has monitored through online news and reports from its partners a total of 101 cases of arrests, detention, and legal persecution worldwide, not to mention the 159 politically motivated killings related to land conflicts and struggles.

The deadliest country for farmers and land rights activists, the Philippines proves an interesting case study for the increasingly authoritarian tendencies in Asia, which the APC has identified as an emergent concern. Besides extrajudicial killings in the countryside, members of progressive groups and peasant activists are tagged as insurgents and suffer at the hands of alleged paramilitaries or state forces. Leaders like Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte are resorting to more than just incendiary rhetoric to muzzle with impunity the clamor against state-backed seizure of lands.

It would be short-sighted, however, to divorce the rise of authoritarian rule from the failure of the string of policies of liberalization, privatization, and deregulation that have set the stage for it to begin with. The APC recognizes that the plunder of Asian resources are indeed symptomatic of the expansionist takeover of international markets and of more dominant Western economies.

Collaterals and collusions

While land and resource grabbing is inherent in capitalism, it has become one of the linchpins of neoliberalism — the global order for the past four decades that has privileged big businesses over basic social services, tax cuts for the rich over decent wages for the working class, and, in agriculture, profit-oriented models over sustainable farming and equitable land distribution.

The impetus for global land grabs originates chiefly from the appetite of the United States and Europe for fuel, food, and warehouses in which to foist off their detritus and surplus. From this supply chain, the Global South stints on scraps in the form of foreign direct investments. In recent years, the rise of China as a new global power is also fueling greater conflict over land and resources, particularly under its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that so far spans 65 countries worldwide.

“Corporate plunder has been intensified along with globalization,” said Chennaiah. “We at the APC believe that no isolated country-level struggle can defeat these forces globally.”

The coalition continues to denounce the hand of multilateral institutions like the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank in wrecking local economies to the detriment of vulnerable groups like the peasants. In October 2018, former APC Chairperson Rafael Mariano talked at the coalition’s general assembly about the double burden of financial instruments like speculative funds and bonds that these institutions bank on to drive prices up.

Moreover, the public-private partnerships (PPPs) Asian governments foster with multinational lenders rest on an uneven ground. Funds for some conditional cash transfer (CCT) schemes, for example, partly come from loans from the WB and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

“The CCT in the Philippines, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and other parts of the world is actually a doleout program that merely exacerbates each country’s debt,” said Rahmat Ajiguna, chairperson of Indonesian peasant group Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria (AGRA) in an APC statement on World Food Day in 2015. Currently the Internal Vice Chairperson of the APC, Ajiguna described the onerous policy conditions tied to these loans as ultimately damaging to food sovereignty of the borrowing, underdeveloped countries.

Recently, loans have been pouring in not only from the West but also from Asia’s richest nation China, which is now gaining muscle to rival the economic heft and military might of the US. It has cashed in on the collapse of trade barriers. Its BRI has been afoot and ensnared countries like Sri Lanka in debt bondage. Its neighbors Laos and Myanmar have had farmer families displaced to make way for Chinese-funded rails and dams.

As China continues its ascent and starts to harbor its own imperial desires, a great majority of Asian countries remains in the throes of rural backwardness. Such stagnation is telling of economies hitched to corporate and colonial/neocolonial structures of control. This comes at the expense of those at the bottom, whose resistance nonetheless remains alive.

This resolve and energy of the poor and landless to persevere in reclaiming their rights fuel the APC’s campaign for a more united front of peasants in the region. For too long, they have been paying the price for agrarian programs gone amiss and promises of relief still unrealized. When measured against the costs, their decision to rise up promises a better shot at a life with dignity.

Power to the Peasants: Reclaiming lands, reclaiming the future

Peasants declare “NO TO GM MAIZE!”

Press Release

February 13, 2019

There has been news in print media, which indicates that the Ministry of National Food Security & Research has distanced itself from going ahead with approval of genetically modified maize in Pakistan; the first indication was the cancellation of Variety Evaluation Committee (VEC) by PARC, where it was expected that approval of commercial farming of GM corn varieties, developed by multinational seed companies may be granted.
Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) fully support the Ministry’s position, and reiterate their demand for a moratorium on genetically modified seeds and foods in the country. PKMT has opposed the introduction of genetically modified seeds in the country for the past decade as it violates farmers’ collective rights to seed. It needs to be recalled that granting of patent rights to mega-transnational corporations springs from the TRIPs agreement of the WTO.

The stand against GMOs by peasant organizations and activists globally and of course in Pakistan since inception of the WTO have shown ample proof of their soundness. The recent lawsuit against Monsanto won by a USA citizen suffering from cancer due to the company’s herbicide Roundup Ready clearly shows the critical health hazard to Pakistani famers who will be forced to use the herbicide along with GM seeds. In India, Monsanto’s Bt Cotton has shown to fail drastically; and the story is no different in Pakistan. Farmers are extremely unhappy with Bt Cotton, and the rapidly falling cotton yield is a testimony to the fact. Now, after BT Cotton failure, the company wants the maize seed market. There is no doubt that the company for past many years has been lobbying for commercial use of GM maize; if approved GM maize will be even worse than Bt Cotton since it cross pollinates and will rapidly destroy the local maize seed varieties. Pakistan’s per hectare production of maize was already showing an upward trend that is already ahead of many countries that are using genetically modified maize.

The coming years will show that our farmers will be totally dependent on extremely expensive GM maize seeds as is the case for cotton. It should be noted that we are allowing corporate control in our food crops; further it is well known that maize is used for ethanol production as well for commercial purposes in synthetic biology. All of this will exacerbate the extremely dire situation of hunger, malnutrition and environmental catastrophe, not to mention the increasing pauperization of small and landless farmers.

Press Conference was addressed by PKMT National Coordinator Altaf Hussain, Provincial Coordinator KPK, Fayaz Ahmad and senior member Zahoor Joya, Tariq Mahmood, and Asif Khan.

Release by: Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek/PKMT

Urdu Press Release

Urdu Press Release GM Maize

سامراجی تجارتی نظام کے خلاف، کسان مزدور اتحاد

پریس ریلیز

تاریخ: 6  مئی 2018

پاکستان کسان مزدور تحریک کا چھٹا سالانہ صوبائی اجلاس ماتلی، ضلع بدین میں منعقد کیا گیا جس میں صوبے بھر سے چھوٹے اور بے زمین کسان مزدوروں کی بڑی تعداد نے شرکت کی۔ صوبائی اجلاس کے اختتام کے بعد پی کے ایم ٹی اور روٹس فار ایکوٹی کی جانب سے ماتلی پریس کلب کے سامنے ملک میں جاری سامراجی پالیسیوں کے نتیجے میں جاری کارپوریٹ زراعت، زمینی قبضے کے خلاف احتجاجی مظاہرہ بھی کیا گیا۔
پی کے ایم ٹی کے رہنماؤں کا اس موقع پر کہنا تھا کہ ورلڈ ٹریڈ آرگنائزیشن جیسے عالمی سامراجی اداروں اور ممالک کی ایماء پر ملک میں مسلط کردہ زرعی و تجارتی پالیسیوں کے نتیجے میں چھوٹے اور بے زمین کسان مزدور بھوک، غربت، غذائی کمی، بیروزگاری کا شکار ہوکر زراعت چھوڑنے پر مجبور ہورہے ہیں۔ ڈبلیو ٹی او کے ٹرپس جیسے معاہدوں پر عملدرآمد کرتے ہوئے بیج کا ترمیمی قانون اور پلانٹ بریڈرز رائٹس جیسے قوانین کے نفاذ کے ذریعے کسانوں کو ان کے روایتی بیج سے محروم کرکے بین الاقوامی زرعی کمپنیوں کو ان کے استحصال کی کھلی چھوٹ دے دی گئی ہے۔ ملک میں غربت کے خاتمے اور پیداوار میں اضافے کے نام پر غیر پائیدار کیمیائی زراعت کا فروغ کسانوں کو مزید غربت میں دھکیل رہا ہے۔ غیر پائیدار طریقہ زراعت کے تحت زیادہ پیداوار حاصل ہونے کے باوجود کسان خالی ہاتھ رہ جاتا ہے جبکہ سارا منافع بیج اور دیگر مداخل بنانے والی دیوہیکل زرعی کمپنیوں کی جیب میں چلاجاتا ہے۔ ان ہی پالیسوں کے نتیجے میں کسان مقامی منڈی میں اپنی پیداوار فروخت کرنے سے بھی قاصر ہیں۔ دوسری طرف غیر پائیدار کیمیائی طریقہ زراعت ناصرف ماحولیاتی اور غذائی نظام کو زہر آلود کررہا ہے بلکہ عوام میں بڑے پیمانے پر مختلف بیماریوں میں اضافے کا سبب بن رہا ہے۔

پاکستان بھر میں چھوٹے اور بے زمین کسان مزدور جو پہلے ہی جاگیرداری نظام کے ہاتھوں بدترین استحصال کا شکار ہیں اب ملک بھر میں نیولبرل پالیسیوں کے تحت کارپوریٹ فارمنگ، خصوصی اقتصادی زون، شاہراؤں کی تعمیر اور ترقیاتی منصوبوں کے نام پر بیدخل کیے جارہے ہیں۔ خیبر پختونخوا کے علاقے ہری پور حطار، پنجاب میں ضلع راجن پور کے علاقے رکھ عظمت والا میں کئی دہائیوں سے آباد کسانوں کی زمین سے بیدخلی اس زمینی قبضے کی چند واضح مثالیں ہیں۔ ملک سے بھوک غربت اور غذائی کمی کا خاتمہ صرف اور صرف جاگیرداری نظام کا خاتمہ کرکے زمین کی منصفانہ اور مساویانہ تقسیم سے ہی کیا جاسکتا ہے جو کسانوں کو خوراک کی خودمختاری اور غذائی تحفظ کا ضامن ہوسکتا ہے۔

پی کے ایم ٹی مطالبہ کرتی ہے کہ عالمی سامراجی نیولبرل پالیسیوں کا خاتمہ کرکے چھوٹے اور بے زمین کسان مزدور مرد و عورتوں میں زمین منصفانہ اور مساویانہ طور پر تقسیم کی جائے، زرعی شعبے سے بین الاقوامی زرعی کمپنیوں اور ڈبلیو ٹی او کاکردار ختم کیا جائے کیونکہ کسان کی خوراک کی خودمختاری ہی قومی غذائی تحفظ، پائیدار ترقی اور ملک سے بھوک و غربت کے خاتمے کی ضمانت ہوسکتی ہے۔ ملک بھر کے چھوٹے اور بے زمین کسانوں کے لیے لازم ہے کہ وہ پیداواری وسائل خصوصاً زمین پر اپنے حق کے لیے متحد ہوکر جدوجہد کو اپنا لائحہ عمل بنائیں۔
جاری کردہ : پاکستان کسان مزدور تحریک