Landless Farmers Day marked: ‘Lockdown and quarantines should not increase people’s sufferings’

Our Correspondent
March 31, 2020

SUKKUR: Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) and Roots for Equity, a local NGO, joined hands with the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC), and Pesticide Action Network Asia & the Pacific (PANAP) to mark the Landless Farmers Day.

PKMT celebrated the Landless Farmers Day with utmost concern as landless farmers were among the most vulnerable to be affected with the COVID-19 pandemic. More and more, the farmers are forced to work in an informal sector on daily wages in a vulnerable condition bearing the heat of health crisis, especially of COVID-19. The experts said COVID-19 has paralysed almost all economic activities and pushed the world to further food insecurity and poverty.

They said many countries had implemented lockdowns and set up quarantine centres for coronavirus suspects to minimise the impact of COVID-19, adding that the agriculture and food supply chain had been facing great disruption causing escalation in food prices.They suggested the lockdown and quarantines should not be carried out to increase people’s sufferings like food scarcity and provision of other basic essentials. They said it should be ensured that there was no further displacement of rural people from their lands on the pretext of COVID-19 or lockdown, demanded to provide sufficient resources to the people living in the rural areas.

Govt urged to protect rights of small farmers

March 30, 2020

They asked the government to provide immediate economic relief to the marginalised sectors including the landless rural people.

To mark the “Day of the Landless” on Sunday, two organisations Roots for Equity and Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT), asked the government to ensure that no further displacements of the rural people from their lands and livelihood were carried out in the pretext of Covid-19 lockdowns.

The organisatons state that they 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.

Organisations say landless rural people vulnerable to impacts of Covid-19 pandemic

In a media release, they state that 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.

They say that landless peasants along with small farmers are forced to work in a variety of oppressive conditions on lands under feudal ownership.

“Women growers particularly work under double tier of exploitation at the hands of 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,” they say.

They claim that the landless workers 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 paralysed almost all economic activities and pushed them to further food insecurity and poverty,” they maintain.

They say that livelihoods in jeopardy the small producers and poor consumers are suffering the major brunt of the lockdown. They add that in addition, with total ban on inter and intra-provincial travel, agriculture workers and other daily wagers have no means of finding work.

They fear that the Covid-19 may be used as cover up to further harass and dislocate farming communities as part of evictions under land grabbing for corporate interests.

Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2020