Speakers at a seminar on Friday highlighted the impact of climate change on agriculture and measures for its revival, said a press release issued by Damaan, a non-government development organisation that had organised the seminar. They described climate change as a great threat to Pakistan and asked farmers to practice traditional knowledge and improve food security.
The event was held in collaboration with the Sustainable Agriculture Action Group (SAAG), ActionAid, and Sungi Development Foundation to explore different models of sustainable agriculture, small farmers and food security.
Mehnaz Ajmal Paracha from Oxfam Novib, while highlighting the plight of the small farmers, said the present agriculture system is creating inequality and food insecurity. She said 40 per cent of Pakistanis are food insecure and small farmers have no say in decision making. She pointed out that farmers are not getting their rights under labour laws.
Paracha lamented that large farmers have representation in the legislative process and get all the benefits from the government, but agriculture is no longer profitable for small farmers, who are abandoning the trade and migrating to cities. She called for organising farmers’ associations so that they could fight for their rights.
Taking a more holistic view, Damaan Project Manager Shoaib Aziz said increasing population and decreasing resources may pose threats to future generations and stressed the need for setting up market infrastructure for the promotion of organic produce.
The participants also discussed the increasing prevalence of monocropping which they said was not good for the produce and the land. Khadim Hussain, an expert, said corporate agriculture farming is posing a big threat to agriculture since multinational companies are grabbing land and growing the same crop on the same piece of land, year after year.
“Farmers from mountainous parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa are growing medicinal plants and earning good amounts for their produce,” Sungi NRM Manager Gulfam Dogar said. He stressed the need to establish plant health clinics and requested farmers to link their agriculture with the lunar calendar so that they may be able to cope with rapidly changing climate in Pakistan.
ActionAid Policy Officer Nasir Aziz cited success stories from many countries regarding sustainable agriculture. He said the promotion of sustainable agriculture not only saves the environment but also boosts farmers’ incomes. He said farmers from India are earning billions of rupees through promotion of organic produce. He lamented the lack of an enabling environment for sustainable agriculture in Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2012.