Hundreds of peasants stage big rally for food and land rights

Shahdadpur: Hundreds of peasants staged a big rally in Shahdadpur which marched through various roads and reached local press club where they held a demonstration for food and land rights . They were carrying placards and banners inscribed with various demands in favour of their right to land resources.

Noor Nabi Rahojo, General Secretary of NPCP, while addressing the participants, said that most of the rural communities are landless peasants who rely on the land to survive and have no legal rights to the land they are tilting from decades.

He demanded land rights to the landless communities based on a planned and well executed land reform program in the country. Rahojo assured the marchers that NPCP is working on both long-term and short-term strategies with regard to these demands and will continue to strive for the genuine land and agrarian reforms in the country.

Tanveer Arif, CEO of SCOPE, also addressed and 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/peasants is essential to avoid large scale food crisis in Sindh

The NPCP members and local peasants were chanting various slogan based on their demands including land rights should be awarded to landless communities without gender discrimination; political parties should prioritize land reforms in their party manifesto; Sindh Tenancy Act should be reformed in favour of peasants; bonded labour must be eliminated through stringent laws and punishments; and Corporate Agriculture Farming (CAF) policy negates the popular demand for land reforms and should be abolished.

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. NPCP, established in 2011 with the facilitation of SCOPE, is a national platform of peasants’ movements struggling for land reforms in Pakistan. NPCP’s major demand is equitable land and agrarian reforms in Pakistan.

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