PAKISTAN: International Peasants Day – Sindhi peasants deprived of land rights; demand ownership rights of homes 

KARACHI, April 15, Sindh is characterized with skewed land holding pattern where small minority has got hold of the large chunks of agriculture land resulting in expanding of their power base and deprivation and exploitation of the rural workers (peasants) who are mainly deprived of right to own agriculture land.

According to Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), currently among other provinces, Sindh has the highest incidence of absolute landlessness, with 26 percent or two million households have no land, while 26 percent of 700,000 household possess the lowest share in land.  Majority of the rural people have agriculture as major source of livelihoods in Sindh. It employs 13.46 million people having 7.74 million as rural and 5.72 urban workforce. But for the majority, working arrangements in agriculture — wage work, tenant farming, share cropping –are exploitative and/or yield little earnings.

Brewing from this skewed nature of land ownership peasants and rural workers have been facing exclusion from the mainstream, thereby culminating in their un-ending social vulnerabilities. It is in this condition that peasants are pushed into the quagmire of marginalization where they do not receive fair wages (Rs. 30 per day in some areas), face sexual harassment, lack of access to shelter and dearth of crop insurance, have no record keeping, no right to unionization, and are slapped with the debt-bondage.

In connection to the April 17 the International Day of Peasant Struggle, civil society organizations of Sindh demand of the government for land reforms to facilitate equitable distribution of resources to the rural poor and also to enhance agricultural productivity and raise prospects for financial independence. To address poverty, the poor people need assets to
sustain their livelihoods which in case of rural areas are titles to land.

More than 80 percent rural workers do not own their houses, they live under the age-old feudal system, which does not grant them right to shelter. Therefore, it is also demanded that all human settlements that are situated on the state land of any kind held by any civil and non civil government departments/institutions, in rural area, be registered.

The Sindh Tenancy Act 1950 should be amended in the light of the demands made by peasants in a written Charter of Demand handed over to the Deputy Speaker of the Sindh Assembly on February 26, 2009.

Co-operatives of Haris (land to tiller) be established on at least 1000 acres/ Co-operative. In the context of agriculture, a farmers’ cooperative refers to an organization of farmers residing in the same area that is established for their mutual benefit in regard to the cultivation and
harvest of their products, the purchase of farm equipment and supplies at the lowest possible cost, and the sale of their products at the maximum possible price.

Issued by: Shujauddin Qureshi,Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER)
Phone: +(92-21) 36351145-7 Fax: +(92-21) 36350345

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Document Type : Forwarded Press Release
Document ID : AHRC-FPR-014-2012
Countries : Pakistan,
Issues : Land rights,