Regent Plaza Hotel, KarachiSociety for Conservation and Protection of Environment (SCOPE)
A member of International Land Coalition (ILC)
Society for Conservation and Protection of Environment (SCOPE), member of International Land Coalition (ILC), is organizing a ROUNDTABLE on 17 October, 2009, at 2 P.M. at Regent Plaza Hotel, Shara-e-Faisal, Karachi to discuss Corporate Agriculture Farming (CAF) in Pakistan. We are inviting civil society organizations, federal and provincial ministers of agriculture and investment port folios, parliamentarians, media and renowned experts in this roundtable.
We will include maximum 10 minutes each, slots for various speakers, who would like to support of oppose CAF. If you are interested to make a speech/ present paper on the subject, please send us at least a 2 page abstract of your speech/ paper at your earliest for us to include you in the formal programme. The report and declaration of this roundtable will be widely circulated among national and international stakeholders.
You are cordially invited and take part in the discussions of this important issue.
One of the lingering effects of the food price crisis of 2007–08 on the world food system is the proliferating acquisition of farmland in developing countries by other countries seeking to ensure their food supplies. Increased pressures on natural resources, water scarcity, and export restrictions imposed by major producers when food prices were high, and growing distrust in the functioning of regional and global markets have pushed countries short in land and water to find alternative means of producing food. These land acquisitions have the potential to inject much-needed investment into agriculture and rural areas in poor developing countries, but they also raise concerns about the impacts on poor local people, who risk losing access to and control over land on which they depend on. It is crucial to ensure that these land deals, and the environment within which they take place, are designed in ways that will reduce the threats and facilitate the opportunities for all parties involved.
Agriculture is backbone of Pakistan’s economy contributing 25% of GDP, employing 47% of labour force, contributing 49% to industrialproduction and accounting for 67% of export earning. Indeed, it has much more potential for improvement when compared to many other countries including some of our immediate neighbors. But unfortunately our Government has now only one solution Corporate Agriculture Farming (CAF). The Government claims that Corporate Agriculture Farming will enhance efficiency of production. This is simply not possible—unless efficiency means the rapaciously high profits that accrue exclusively to big investors and monopolists. It takes only five units of inputs to produce 100 units of produce through multi-cropped traditional organic methods, while it takes 300 units through chemical monoculture to produce the same 100 units of crops. How is that efficient? According to an Abu Dhabi newspaper, some UAE firms have acquired about 16,187 hectares of land in Pakistan’s Balochistan province for an estimated $40 million to produce food for their population back home. A delegation of their officials was in Pakistan in October for talks on the deal and had a meeting with Chief Minister Aslam Raisani. The delegation also met Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah to explore possible purchase of about 12,140 hectares in Shikarpur, Larkana, Sukker, Thatta & Badin. The UAE imports about 85 per cent of its food from abroad at an estimated cost of $2.9 billion. A Bahrain company, Market Access Promotion (MAP) Services Group, says it will develop ten model dairy and livestock farms in Pakistan during in 2008–10. A Qatari firm is reportedly eyeing the acquisition of Kollurkar farm in Punjab but Pakistan Farmers Forum says that the deal if inked may dislocate 25,000 villages. The Saudi Fund for Development is creating a $566m special investment vehicle for buying land abroad for producing rice and wheat for the country. The first investment will be made in Sudan, to be followed in Turkey and Pakistan. The Al Rabie Group is interested in buying land in Pakistan to develop dairy industry there and also to develop exports of tomato paste, citrus pulp and packed beans for the Saudi market. In June, the UAE government was in bilateral talks with Islamabad for purchase of $400-500m worth of farmland of 100,000–200,000 acres in large holdings in Punjab and Sindh provinces. Details are being finalized. But UAE investors want to purchase land directly in Pakistan and also want to get the lands exempted from any export restriction on the food produced there. Abraaj Capital acquired some 800,000 acres of “barren” farmland last year to produce rice and wheat for export to UAE. Critics say that by seeking to solve their food shortage problem in this way, the rich emerging economies may succeed in producing enough quantity for their populations but may in the long-term be exporting their food insecurity to other nations. For, many local communities will be evicted to make way for the foreign takeover. Until the mid-20th century, many European countries grew rich on the resources of their colonies. Now, the emerging economies rich in cash but facing food insecurity are acquiring vast tracts of agricultural land in developing and poorer nations, to produce food for their populations. Pakistan is among the countries where land is being acquired for the purpose. Foreign investment can provide key resources for agriculture, including development of needed infrastructure and expansion of livelihood options for local people. If large-scale land acquisitions cause land expropriation or unsustainable use, however, foreign investments in agricultural land can become politically unacceptable. It is therefore in the long-run interest of investors, host governments, and the local people involved ensuring that these arrangements are properly negotiated, practices are sustainable, and benefits are shared. Because of the transnational nature of such arrangements, no single institutional mechanism will ensure this outcome. Rather, a combination of international law, government policies, and the involvement of civil society, the media, and local communities is needed to minimize the threats and realize the benefits. In Pakistan landless peasants are struggling for their rights for secure access to land through an agrarian reforms process. Previous land reforms were not able to bring peasants into mainstream development process. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), bound its members (including Pakistan) to take solid steps for sustainable land management and empower the stakeholders including peasants, women, civil society and landless farmers, through an enabling legal environment. The present government, by its very constitution is committed to redistribute land among the landless. The need of time is that instead of going for policies like CAF, government must trust, rely and empower our own people and provide them facilities like electricity, water and other farm infrastructure through Agriculture Development Bank (ADB), micro credit banks or cooperative banks. Civil society, particularly peasant right movements see CAF with much skepticism as they believe that this will dislocate peasants, cause serious threat to their food security, and deprive them with water and other resources. Environment is another concern as deep tube well technologies, pesticides and chemical fertilizers will further deteriorate the environment. The forum invites civil society actors, peasants’ organizations, civil rights activists to express their thoughts on CAF and take a unified position. RSVP
Abdul Waheed Jamali 0300 3250826[email protected]
Fax: 021 4557009References: ILC/ IFPRI on “Land Grabbing” by Foreign Investors in Developing Countries: Risks and Opportunity by Joachim Braun and Ruth Meinzen-Dick, IFPRI Policy Brief 13, April 2009/Dawn 15-12-2008 Article by Ashfak Bokhari/ The world Trade Review/The News 26-6-2002 Article by Najma Sadeque/ SAAG reading material on CAF. Society for Conservation and Protection of Environment (SCOPE)
D-141 (annexy) Block-2, P.E.C.H.S, off Allama Iqbal RoadKarachi-75400, Pakistan
Tel: (+92-21) 4522562, 4559448Fax: (+92-21) 4557009