PESHAWAR: Several food security activists have claimed that the agriculture system dominated by capitalist countries has failed which was evident from the ongoing food and employment crises and growing hunger during Covid-19 pandemic.
Quoting Pakistan Economic Survey 2019-20, they said the Covid-19 pandemic had a severe negative impact on Pakistani economy and at least another 10 million people were feared to be pushed below the poverty line in the country.
These activists belong to different civil society organisations including Roots for Equity and Pakistan Kisan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT), which in collaboration with People’s Coalition for Food Security, Pesticide Action Network Asia and Pacific and Asian Peasant Coalition marked the World Food Day as “World Hunger Day” on Oct 16 by holding protests and a webinar attended by participants from different cities.
This year’s global campaign focuses on the plight of rural populations during the pandemic and their demands for change in the food and agriculture systems.
A representative of PKMT, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Tariq Mehmood, said that the transnational agro-chemical corporations’ domination in the food and agriculture sector around the world, their exploitation and destruction of biodiversity and natural habitat was a catalyst for Corona pandemic.
Another leader of PKMT from Sahiwal, Mohammad Zaman, stated that according to Pakistan Economic Survey 2019-20, because of the Corona virus around 10 million people were feared to be pushed to living below the poverty line in the country.
He said that in the Global Hunger Index, Pakistan ranked 106 out of 119 countries where consumption of meat, poultry, fish, milk, vegetables and fruits was six to 10 times lower than that of developed countries.
Roots for Equity’s chairperson Dr Azra Sayeed stated that according to National Nutrition Survey 2018, 53% of children and 44.3% of women in the country are suffering from anemia.
She said that the livestock and dairy sector accounted for 56% of the total agricultural production and majority of the farmers involved in milk and meat production were small scale.
“It consisted of cattle breeders, especially women, who make it possible to produce 60 billion liter of milk annually in the country, but these same rural populations are starving themselves as a result of monopoly of capitalist companies in the food and agriculture sector,” she added.
Another representative of Roots for Equity, Wali Haider, said the domination of imperialist powers over global food and agriculture system had linked the rural economy in the third world countries like Pakistan to the global agriculture market.
“This has resulted in the most important resources like our agriculture produce, our land and water have become a source of surplus profit for multinational corporations,” he said adding that there was an urgent need to change the system where farmers were forced to depend on seeds, chemicals and toxic inputs of multinational companies.
Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2020