Big farmers rally in Thatta: Entire rural Sindh may face Tharparkar-like situation: SCOPE chief

Thatta: A large number of farmers took a rally here on Friday, urging lawmakers to oppose land concentration policies and demanding their right to land for their livelihoods and food security.

The rally was organized by the National Peasants Coalition of Pakistan (NPCP) in association with Society for Conservation and Protection of Environment (SCOPE) and Oxfam’s GROW Campaign that is a worldwide campaign, which is focusing mainly on food security, climate resilience and empowerment of small holders and landless farmers.

The participants of rally, carrying placards and banners, marched from central Makli area to Makli Press Club, where they staged a demonstration. Speaking on the occasion, General Secretary NPCP Noor Nabi Rahoojo said that this event has genuinely raised the demand of securing land rights to poor, including women, that needed to be addressed on priority basis.

He said: “All the development efforts would render meaningless unless one of the fundamental root causes of poverty and food insecurity is not addressed that is the role of secure land rights, especially for women.”

He said that current land distribution program of Sindh government should focus on landless poor women and the program should be transparent and well executed. He shared that pro-poor land reform program in the country has become indispensible to feed the nation.  He emphasized that all the political parties should include land reforms program in their manifestos.

Tanveer Arif, CEO of SCOPE, said that land is one of the most important sources of security to earn sustainable livelihood and to enhance food security for poor people living in rural Pakistan.

He informed the rally members that Pakistan is facing acute rural poverty and food insecurity because its massive rural population is landless labour without proper legal cover, while the country’s political and administrative system is dominated by the powerful feudal lords who have been dodging past efforts of land reforms.

He cautioned policy makers that all the development efforts will render meaningless unless one of the fundamental root causes of poverty and food insecurity is not addressed that is the role of secure land rights –especially for women. He said that many government and independent researches and surveys have indicated that malnourishment in Sindh has crossed the emergency threshold of 15% population which requires public policy action.

“Food insecure households with moderate and severe hunger were estimated to be 34% and 17%, respectively in Sindh, higher than all other areas in Pakistan. In Sindh, 57% children under age 5 are stunted and 35% are severely stunted respectively, whereby the situation is more severe in rural areas. Entire rural Sindh may face situation like Tharparkar. Therefore land distribution to poor farmers is essential to avoid large scale food crisis in Sindh,” he concluded.

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