‘Corporate farming in Pakistan to increase poverty, food insecurity’

Pakistan has silently started allotting vast areas of land in Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan to countries with larger populations for corporate farming, which would destroy local agriculture and also lead the country towards severe food insecurity, resulting in increased poverty.
This was stated by experts in the field of land utilisation on Tuesday during the first day of a two-day ‘National Dialogue on Land Grabbing’.
The dialogue has been organised by the Society for Conservation and Protection of Environment (SCOPE) in collaboration with the International Land Coalition, the Land Watch Asia, the Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development, and the National Peasant Coalition of Pakistan.
Experts argued that corporate farming would lead to food insecurity, hunger and poverty, and convert the country from net food exporter to food importer, alarming signs of which have already become visible.
The dialogue was also attended by members of the civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations, educational institutions and farmers’ organisations, as well as journalists, researchers and students.
They also actively participated in the discussion on the worsening situation of land grabbing and its effects on different sectors of Pakistan’s economy, particularly agriculture.
Addressing the participants of the dialogue, SCOPE Chief Executive Officer Tanveer Arif gave an overview of the current state of land grabbing in the country, and its reasons and effects.
He said that corporate farming in the country is the worst form of land grabbing, adding, “There is an urgent need to put an end to it because it is the cause of unsustainable farming practices, and use of exotic crop species and other farm inputs that have been harming the fertile soil of the country.”
He pointed out that land grabbing is not a problem of Pakistan alone, but it is also being carried out in other parts of the world, particularly in the developing countries, by investors from rich nations.
“Major spurs behind land grabbing are food, agrofuel, timber, carbon sequestration and tourism,” he said, adding that over a billion hungry people live in Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar and Mali, where land grabbing by investors from developed countries has expedited.
He pointed out that unstable food grain markets, rising prices and deepening food insecurity are the outcomes of land grabbing in Asian, African and Middle Eastern countries.
Pakistan, Uganda, Brazil, Cambodia and Sudan are among the most favoured countries by international land grabbers who are also behind corporate farming, he said.
He also said that land grabbing and corporate farming has faced stiff resistance in different forms by members of the civil society organisations, including farmers’ organisations.
Giving an overview of land grabbing and corporate farming in Pakistan, he informed the participants of the meeting that the issue of Corporate Agriculture Farming (CAF) surfaced for the first time during former president Pervez Musharraf’s rule.
“Policy measures to facilitate CAF on the pretext of attracting much-needed foreign investment in the ailing agriculture sector, transfer of modern farming technology from rich nations to the country, and modernisation of the sector were announced without pointing out the negative effects of CAF on agriculture, the mainstay of the country’s economy,” he said.
He also said that the Corporate Farming Ordinance (CFO) was passed in 2001, under which listed corporations could lease land in the country for 99 years, broken into two periods of 50 years and 49 years. Besides, the then government had identified state lands to lease under the controversial CFO, he added.
He further said that Investment Policy for Corporate Agriculture was also prepared by the Investment Ministry, which offered incentives to those investing in CAF in Pakistan.
In the policy, the investors have been allowed 100 percent foreign equity, and the agricultural technology to be used for CAF is exempted from custom duty and sales tax on import, he added.
He said that those who initiated CAF in different parts of the country started exploiting the fertile land in the shape of exotic farming techniques, which would turn fertile lands barren after a few years.
“Millions of hectares have been leased or sold so far. The United Arab Emirates (UAE), which imports 85 percent of its food, purchased 324,000 hectares of farmland in Punjab, Balochistan and Sindh in June 2008,” he added.
Besides, UAE’s Emirates Investments Group and Abraaj Capital have also expressed interest in investing directly in corporate farming, he concluded.



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3 Comments

  1. Sara said:

    Sir, Instead of letting the rich nations invest here. Why not make a local company for it? Utilise the already available resources? Introduce Corporate Farming using the traditional means and slowly and gradually incorporating new technology through R n D?

  2. zahidhussainmirani said:

    Indeed a time of crises is going to be happen in Pakistan since multinational companies have sit on the chair in our fertile lands . The solution of that issue is only in politics by which these investors can be stopped to end the lesson here.

  3. Sajid Barkat said:

    another example how rich corporations become richer . they r given free or cheap large lands in thousands of acres later on they employ few local ppl expoilt their poverty and then sell their products in nice packaging at very high price if local cannot afford then export it to rich countries.. what a evil face of capitalism.

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