Farmers dissatisfied with relief package

Post Source: One Pakistan.com

 

Farmers’ leaders from all across Pakistan have expressed dissatisfaction over the agriculture relief package announced by the government for the flood victims. In a meeting held at the Action Aid office, Pakistan Kisan Ittehad (PKI) leaders from Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab and Khyber Pukhtunkhwa deliberated on the shortfalls of the recent floods agricultural relief package and later raised concerns in a press conference. Aftab Alam Khan, Action Aid international expert on agriculture, referred to three main reasons for it being an inept and incomplete relief package. “Firstly, it is insufficient because it does not meet the farmers’ expectations and demands; secondly it is delayed, hence farmers may not benefit from it; and thirdly, the farmers do not have enough information about the relief package and that may impair their access to it.

”Highlighting the farmers’ concern, PKI representative Tariq Mehmood said that farmers at local level were not aware of agriculture relief package and that both federal and provincial governments were delaying its roll out. He expressed strong apprehensions of looming food insecurity threats. “More than 50% of the flood devastated land is already uncultivable due to presence of (4 to 8 feet) silt and sand; it will, therefore, have serious impact on food production,” he observed. The farmers’ leadership declared the relief package ‘eyewash’ because, they feared that it might not have included livestock and poultry component into it. Further, they alleged, the tenants’ names were not included in the beneficiaries’ list, which tantamounts to marginalizing the already impoverished community of farmers.

Similarly, no measures have been taken to resolve newly emerged land demarcation issues that have serious repercussions on land recultivation project. Declaring the agricultural relief package as incomplete, insufficient and inappropriate, PKI and Action Aid proposed a long-term agriculture rehabilitation programme. The speakers said that the government should immediately extend food support programme for the next six months to keep famine and hunger away. Women and small farmers should be made an integral part of the relief package by making them responsible for its preparation, implementation and monitoring. Apart from waiving off government agriculture loans for small land-holders, immediate steps should be taken to free poor tenants of the landlords’ loans. They laid stress on inclusion of ‘cash for work’ and ‘kitchen gardening’ projects in the relief package.

“The government must ensure provision of livestock and poultry along with the seed and fertilizer,” they said. Cash for work scheme will enable poor farmers to generate livelihood. The poultry and livestock support will guard the farmers and their children against food scarcity and winter severity. Lastly, they laid stress on the importance of promoting kitchen gardening which, they said, would ensure necessary support to poor women who most probably would happen to be primary beneficiary of the project.

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