Environment, agriculture and media experts at a workshop have called for making joint efforts to bring land reforms, ensure food security and halt onslaught of corporate farming in the country by taking all stakeholders on board.
“The government should change its outdated mindset and come forward with a positive and farmers-friendly approach to redistribute land among peasants and provide financial backup aid to them for growing crops so that they could get their livelihood peacefully,” the experts said, while speaking at the capacity-building workshop for media persons, land reforms, food security and poverty organised by the Society for Conservation and Protection of Environment (Scope) and the National Peasants Coalition of Pakistan (NPCP) in collaboration with the Oxfam Novib and the International Land Coalition.
“Agriculture is the mainstay of the Pakistan economy, accounting for 25% of GDP, 60 percent of export earnings and 48 percent of employment,” said Tanveer Arif, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) SCOPE in his presentation on land reforms.
He said that poverty and food security issues are closely linked to land and that was why the International Land Coalition was formed. “We are working on benefits and losses of corporate sector. Food and fuel prices are rising world-wide and they have become a global issue, causing agriculture crisis. Climate change is also affecting agriculture sector,” he observed. He said that some 20.9 million hectares of land (26% of the country) is cultivated, of which 76% is irrigated by a vast network of canals, dams and barrages of Indus River System.
NPCP Network Co-ordinator Waheed Jamali said that several organisations are working for brining agrarian reforms, but work in this regard is still not effective, hence, there is dire need to work with concrete measures to raise land reforms issue at government level.
He said, “The media is our big stakeholder, but the coverage on land reforms has been low. Hence there is also need to expand coverage on land reforms, food security and other farmers’ issues. We will visit different areas of the country and invite media persons so as to guide them in highlighting peasants’ issues in real manner, he said. Mehmood, a peasant’s leader, said that poor people had been compelled to compromise on education of their children, particularly girls due to food and other needs as they could not afford education expenses.