LAHORE: Climate activists and farmers gathered outside the Lahore Press Club on Thursday to voice their demand for an end to the development of housing societies and commercial structures on agricultural lands.

The demonstration was organised as part of the Day of Action on Food and Climate, coinciding with the celebration of the World Food Day and the World Food Forum scheduled to take place from Oct 16 to 20 at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) offices in Rome, Italy.

Under the banner of the Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee (PKRC), the protesters gathered at the venue, raising slogans against profit-driven agricultural models and urging the government to halt the commercialisation of agricultural fields and the forceful displacement of peasants from their lands. They emphasised the need to protect and ensure the right to food in the face of escalating impacts of climate change.

“We call on the government to intervene and prevent real estate developers from converting agricultural lands into commercial properties,” PKRC General Secretary Farooq Tariq said.

He said the conversion of agricultural lands into commercial use has significant implications for climate change, causing erratic rainfall patterns and extreme weather events, thereby posing a severe threat to food production and endangering national food security.

Zaighum Abbas, a representative of the Asian People’s Movement on Debt and Development, criticised the plan to introduce large-scale corporate farming in Punjab.

He said the corporate farming, in addition to intensive land use, chemical input, deforestation, and water resource depletion, also undermines local and indigenous producers’ food sovereignty, thereby handing over food production and supply chains to major agri-businesses.

Published in Dawn, October 20th, 2023

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