KARACHI: Executive Director, Society for Environmental Actions, Re-Construction and Humanitarian response (SEARCH) Pakistan, Waheed Jamali, said on Sunday that Agriculture and Food Security Policy draft contains several flaws as it lacks solid strategy to alleviate poverty, support small farmers and ensure food security.
“The draft of Agriculture and Food Security Policy made by Ministry of National Food Security and Research Pakistan needs to be amended for supporting vulnerable segment of society like small farmers, landless peasants and poor people, particularly women. The draft, if approved, will not ensure any significant benefit to these vulnerable people passing life in miserable conditions in Pakistan. The provision of interest-free small loans to poor class, including farmers and laborers, by the government for agriculture crops and other small businesses are mandatory for alleviating poverty in Pakistan,” Jamali said in an interview to PPI.
The country will not make real progress if poverty is not alleviated and small farmers, laborers and poor are not given incentives because of the fact that supporting corporate sector only will create wide gap between power of people and rich class. History shows that supporting rich classes has always brought poverty and hunger in the world,” he said.
Commenting on a clause of the draft that the government resolves to achieve value added growth in the agriculture sector for both domestic and export markets, Jamali said that it seemed that there was a clear priority towards commercialization of agriculture and privatization of land, which was harmful for poor segment of the society. “It is also a bid to boot corporate farming which is causing loss to poor farmers and laborers.” He said that the present government also needs to abolish corporate agriculture farming policies introduced by former President Pervez Musharraf.
“There is also need to promote enhanced flow of credit to the agriculture sector without compromising financial stability. The interest-free small loans should be given to poor farmers so that they could grow cops and earn livelihood for their families. This will also boost economic progress of the country and lead it towards prosperity,” said Jamli, who also conducted a research on agrarian reforms in Philippines.
“Experiences show that agricultural growth is usually not correlated with reduction of poverty. The draft does not focus on those who are suffering from hunger and malnutrition, while focus has only been laid on increasing food production. It is fact that only poor farmers and laborers work in agriculture field and contribute a lot of share to the economy. Hence there is need to alleviate poverty,” he said.
He said that there was no incorporation of farmer community leaders’ views in the draft which is condemnable act. The questions and choices put up in this survey are already biased. “I have glanced through, and my impression is that to a great extent, there is need to accept the choices given by FAO, containing the old paradigm of increasing yields and upgrading technology to ensure food security for all.
This approach does not reflect much of a Human Right perspective. For example, the issue of land grabbing, and sustainable agriculture is not tackled. So in order to contribute in a meaningful way, to include the Human Right approach, the already shared questionnaire is not useful. It is not at all clear how this could be achieved by applying what was mentioned before.”
“Intentions of Federal secretary, Ministry of National Food Security and Research Pakistan are much positive but he must consult with International organizations working on right to food such as FIAN International and ANGOC Philippines for including Human rights perspective in policy.
He said that the big seed corporations like an American multinational company “Monsanto” are dominating in the world and it is really a problem that supply of improved seeds for major crops has grown rapidly particularly after adoption of the national seed policy in 1994.
“Most seeds are provided by the private sector with a number of crops, such as maize, oilseeds and vegetable, relying heavily on imports. This problem needs to be tackled,” SEARCH chief executive officer concluded.