Home »Agriculture and Allied » Pakistan » Agriculture productivity boost: call to provide more facilities to women farmers
Almost 20 percent agricultural productivity of Pakistan can be enhanced, if the women farmers are provided facilities at par with male farmers which include their share in land, the proper documentation of their ownership, and the availability of agricultural loan.

The stakeholders including farmers' organisations, women farmers, academia, media and civil society put their demands at the first National Conference on Right to Food jointly organised by Food First Information and Action Network (FIAN) Pakistan Group, Journalists for Democracy and Human Rights (JDHR), ActionAid and Oxfam Novib, Dharti campaign, in partnership with Pakistan Kissan Ittehad (PKI), Sustainable Agriculture Action Group (SAAG) and Infochange News and Features Network (INFN). They called upon the governments to control price hike immediately.

Rukhsana Sham, a social activist said that the conference provided chance to women farmers to connect with networks of farmers and policy campaigners to ensure that women farmers are mainstreamed in national level networks, their contribution as farmers is acknowledged and the real producers of food have control over their produce for just and equitable distribution of the produce. A new research report 'Food Price Hike: Empty Plates on Rise' was also launched at the conference. Others Nourish S. Asia and Grow were introduced.

"Act now to protect hungry and the poor from food insecurity, food vulnerability, land grabbing, and denial of women's right to land as it has a deep structural nexus with food security. The provinces should legislate to protect right of the people to food and acknowledge women working in fields as farmers," she said.

Tariq Mehmood, Pakistan Kissan Ittehad called for averting food crisis by stabilising food production with greater investments in agricultural infrastructure to increase crop production and expand storage facilities, to better ensure grain produced is not wasted and to strengthen social safety nets. The recent food shortage and soaring food prices have a devastating effect on poor people all over the world and are likely to drive the number of poor Pakistani people to stress even further.

Shafqat Munir, Convenor FIAN (Food First Information and Action Network) Group Pakistan said in a country where almost half the population (48.6%) does not have access to sufficient food for active and healthy life, right to food has fast emerged as the most major challenge. Along with the issues of production, it is also a challenge of accountability of food governance and necessitates a mandatory legal framework where people can actually claim this right.

Aftab Alam from ActionAid said for poor families in Pakistan, who already spend more than 60% of their income on food, higher food prices further reduce their ability to pay for medical care and their children's education and if this trend goes on, the food crisis will badly undermine recent gains in poverty reduction.

Dr Wajid Pirzada said Pakistan recently faced three big disasters 2005 earthquake and 2010 and 2011 floods that literally rendered millions of more people at the verge of hunger. The floods have destroyed not only the crops but also seeds, cattle, smallholders land, and other means of livelihood of subsistence farmers and the poor living in villages and added around 30 million more to the bracket of vulnerable people, particularly women (in terms of food insecurity).

Majid Bashir, legal expert, said sub clause (d) of the Article 38 of the Constitution of Pakistan says: "The state shall provide basic necessities of life, such as food, clothing, housing, education and medical relief, for all such citizens, irrespective of sex, caste, creed or race, as are permanently or temporarily unable to earn their livelihood on account of infirmity, sickness or unemployment." The floods have literally turned almost 30 millions into infirmity increasing their vulnerability and inability to earn their livelihood. So, in this situation, it becomes the responsibility of the state (federal and provincial governments) to provide them food by invoking Article 38 and making a law that enables such people to claim their right to food, he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2011

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