PESHAWAR: Representatives of farmers, agriculture workers and non-governmental organisations said here on Tuesday that the government was allowing free market forces to take over land, livestock, food production and processes as well as markets instead of promoting small and landless farmers.

They vowed to fight all forms of feudal encroachments and grabbing of agricultural land by big corporations and to strive for food security.

Addressing a press conference at Peshawar Press Club, representatives of Pakistan Kisan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) and peasant movements demanded of the federal government to provide substantial economic relief through social protection initiatives to all the marginalised people, especially women.

The presser was organised in connection with the Day of the Landless. It was addressed by representatives from across the country, including PKMT general secretary Tariq Mehmood, Dr Azra Saeed of Roots for Equity, Zahoor Joya from Multan, Ali Nawaz from Ghotki, Nabi Jan from Peshawar and others.

Tariq Mehmood said that rich governments were representing big corporations while governments of poor countries were subservient to foreign and private capital of so-called climate friendly schemes under the pretext of sustainable food systems.

“Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, instead of promoting and implementing policies that would promote sustainable food system, the United Nations supported mega business platforms and corporations to promote industrial-chemical methods of agricultural production,” he said.

Mr Mehmood said that corporate farming systems, including those being used in the dairy and livestock sector, were responsible for eviction of small and landless farmers from their communities. A key example, he claimed, was the authority’s taking away control of the fresh milk sector from small producers and giving it to huge corporations.

He said that digitalisation of the food production system would allow further encroachment of not only agro-chemical corporations, but also financial and IT corporations to control agriculture.

Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2022

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