Agriculture, the biggest sector of the economy, is under serious threat as gradual sale and lease of large patches of lands to foreigners is been carried out in a very quick and secretive manner, the Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) said. The idea of corporate farming has evoked more fears than hopes. Many think that corporate farming will have negative impact on rural livelihood and will transform Pakistan into a more unequal country.
Despite opposition, some important persons seem determined to allow foreigners to own an unlimited amount of land in any part of Pakistan. The development is bound to hurt environment, water resources, forests, wildlife and above all the farming community. Millions of farmers will become jobless while thousands of acres of fertile land will become barren because the corporate farms would be given preference in provision of canal water, seed, pesticides, fertilizers and other inputs, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.
Political unrest may follow as rights of farmers are being neglected and nation is not being taken into confidence. Alternative arrangement for poor peasants seems not to be a consideration at all; rather a force would be raised to help foreigners carry out their activities in a smooth manner.
Industrial privatization was carried out to retire the debt. In the process we lost many profitable unite and the country was pushed to brink of bankruptcy. Now fertile lands are being privatized in the name of technological advancement and attracting foreign investment.
Foreigners have only one think in mind while investing outside their country, to gain maximum in minimum of time and leave. “Wealthy countries have controlled global trade, now they are eying over one trillion dollar agricultural output of underdeveloped countries,” said Dr. Murtaza Mughal.
Rich countries have already bought large farms in many countries like Congo, Sudan, Zambia, Myanmar, Laos, Uganda, Cambodia, Mozambique, Madagascar, Ethiopia, Angola, Nigeria, Tanzania, Brazil and Central Asia. They are expanding attracting unrest and riots. It seems that now it is our turn.
Corporate farming will push some cultivators to commit suicide while others may prefer crimes. A good number may develop extremist tendencies that will have a heavy political price. -PEW