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Impacts of corporate farming on socio economic condition




  • Corporate farming in Pakistan is under discussion since last few years. Let me share with you that what I have listen and read, by initializing with six major points of corporate farming:

    1. Large areas of agricultural lands will be leased to foreign investors for long time and the lease may be extending again and again.
    2. The investors will be assured for availability of irrigation water on any cost.
    3. The investors can sale production at their own interest, in or out of country, in international markets (beyond boundaries).
    4. The investors will not obligatory for them to oblige tenant laws, hence could arrange trained main power and machinery from overseas, at their own will.
    5. Use chemical fertilizers and pesticides on massive quantity.
    6. Grow crops on their own will; utilize hybrid seeds and new varieties, through introduction without following plant quarantine steps.

    Therefore, following four major questions are raised:

    1. Where from these large areas of agricultural lands will be arranged? And where the owners and residents of these areas will be spent?
    2. If the irrigation water will be spared for corporate farming, how other growers can cultivate and irrigate their crops, in irrigation crises scenario.
    3. If, not if, but it is sure that the investors sale out production in international markets at high prices, therefore, what will remain for local consumers?
    4. We have no trained main power and latest agricultural machinery; therefore the investors arrange from foreign, hence what is decided for millions of our illiterate or less literate local population? Because, even motor and other mechanics of agriculture machinery will be arranged from overseas!

    Let we try to understand these ground realities through few facts:

    The Pakistan has 24.01 million hectares cropped area, 21.28 is cultivated, 5.04 is fallow, 16.24 is reported as net area sown and 7.77 million hectares are sown more than once. The province wise details are given in Table 1 (Pakistan Statistical Year Book 2011).

    Table 1. Agricultural Land Utilization (Area in million hectares) during 2008-09

    Province

    Cultivated area

    Current fallows

    Net area sown

    Area sown more than once

    Total cropped area

    Pakistan

    21.28

    5.04

    16.24

    7.77

    24.01

    Punjab

    12.50

    1.50

    11.00

    6.13

    17.13

    Sindh

    4.87

    2.06

    2.81

    1.01

    3.82

    Khyber Pakhtoon Khwa

    1.87

    0.56

    1.30

    0.56

    1.86

    Balochistan

    2.05

    0.092

    1.13

    0.07

    1.20

    According to the numbers and area of farms by size (as reported in same year book, for the 2000), this land is utilized by 6620, 000 Private Farms, having total area of 20407 000 hectares, from which 16498 000 hectares are reported as cultivated area. This may also be remembered that amongst these farms: 1290 000 farms are of under 0.5 hectare in size, 1099 000 farms are of 0.51 to under 1 hectare, 1425 000 farms are of 1.0 to under 2 hectares, 2437 000 farms are of 2.0 to 10 hectares, 261 000 farms are of 10.0 to under 20 hectares, 78 000 farms are of 20.0 to under 40 hectares, 15 000 farms are of 40.0 to under 60 and only 14 000 (8%) farms are of big size, having 60.0 and above hectares area.

    The over all surface and ground water availability in 2009-10 remain 83.88 million acre feet for Kharif and 49.82 million acre feet for Rabi cropping season!? But how it may be increased up to required quantity, for traditional or as well as for Corporate farming?

    This may also be recalled that: What ever we are cultivating? How much we are well aware about export? How many of us are exporting commodities?

    If this is true that in case of FOREIGN TRADE Exports by Commodity Groups (as reported for 2009-10 in the year book), the following agricultural production are already exported (Table 2).

    Table 2. FOREIGN TRADE Exports by Commodity Groups (as reported for 2009-10 in Pak. St. Year Book 2011)

    Fish and Fish preparations

    Cotton yarn

    Wheat (in different farms)

    Cotton thread

    Rice

    Cotton cloth

    Barley unmilled

    Towels of cotton

    Maize (corn) unmilled

    Readymade Garments and Hosiery

    Molasses

    Synthetic textiles

    Raw wool

    Vegetables and Fruits

    Raw cotton

    Spices

    Cotton waste

    Guar and Guar Products

    Leather

    Tobacco (Raw and Manufactured)

    There is no official information, but many of us know that even wheat straw (Hay) is exported, therefore is soled out up to Rs. 300 per 40 kg in Nov.-Dec.

    The export will be increased in case of corporate farming and there may be nothing for consumption of the rural and urban population!

    Traditionally, very much labor is engaged in agriculture, whereas, corporate farming will totally depend over mechanized agriculture. In this way, the un-employment will increased very fast.

    Meanwhile, following impacts of corporate farming on socio economic condition may occur:

    • Displacement and joblessness of indigenous people
    • Food insecurity or sky rocketing prices of food items
    • Loss of biodiversity, through mechanized farming and through introduction of genetically modified, hybrid and or BT seeds
    • Land grabbing from tenants
    • It might be possible that small farmers also handed over their lands to multinational companies (MNCs) on lease basis
    • Irrigation water scarcity
    • Overall dominance of MNCs on food items and agriculture sector

    In view of the facts, figures and questions rose publicly, I am double minded and hoped that the decision will be taken on the basis of ground realities and in the interest of nation and country.

     

    About author

    M. Mithal Jiskani

    Assistant Professor, Plant Pathology &
    Assistant Managing Editor,
    Pakistan Journal of AAEVS,
    Sindh Agriculture University, Tandojam,
     
    (copyrights@agrihunt.com)

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