KARACHI (ENNS) Peasant women do not have access to information about their registration under the Sindh Agriculture Workers Act 2019 and they do not know how to unionize and be able to access food and livelihoods resources, said speakers on the occasion of international peasants’ rights day organized by the Hari Welfare Association. They said the Government of Sindh should first distribute land among landless peasant women. that the previous project by the government of distributing land among landless peasants was not successful because the land was not given to women.
Akram Ali Khaskheli said that food sovereignty is the fundamental right of everyone including peasants. He said that it means that peasants have the right to define their own agricultural and fishing policies, management of land, water resources, seeds and biodiversity. He added that peasants are not the centre of any of the relevant policies in Sindh and Pakistan.
Shabnam Baloch Provincial Lead for International Trade Center said that food sovereignty is serious issues in Sindh but there was no food sovereignty of peasants who grow and cultivate foods. She also added that for the protection of peasants laws are available but are not implemented.
Abid Niaz Khan, National Project Coordinator of the ILO’s EU funded Trade for Decent Work Project also spoke over the Zoom meeting. He highlighted that ILO’s C011 – Right of Association (Agriculture) Convention, 1921 (No. 11) was ratified by the British Government in 1923. The motivation to do so would probably have been drawn from article VI of the convention which required the member states to apply the ratification to their colonies at that time. Pakistan after becoming a member of ILO in 1947, inherited this ratification.
Professor Ismail Kunbhar from Tando Jam Agriculture University said that Sindh’s peasants and workers produce abundant food including wheat, sugar, rice, but they do not receive it for their survival. Thus, he said, their food sovereignty does not exist. Professor claimed that the migrant workers especially women, from the Tharparkar region to other districts of Sindh where they pick chillies, cotton, mangoes, and watermelon but are not paid decent wages.
Zulfiqar Shah, Joint Director PILER said that, unfortunately, there was a sheer dearth of peasant’s rights struggle by peasants; although NGOs are working in their individual capacity but a collective voice and struggle did not exist. He lamented that due to such a gap, peasants’ real issues including slavery and debt bondage have become silent.
Nuzhat Shirin, Rafia Gulani, Pirbhu Satyani, Iqbal Detho, Ali Hassan Mahar and others spoke in the webinar.