Small and Landless Farmers Resist the Vicious Cycle of Imperialist Climate Crisis and State Negligence
In Pakistan, of the total 116 districts, 81 districts have been heavily impacted by the climate crises induced floods. Sindh has experienced many months of intense monsoon rainfall which was followed by river flooding leaving a very destructive impact on rural life; if the seven districts of Karachi are included than entire Sindh has suffered severely.
Of the total 8.3 million acres of agriculture land where standing crops have been destroyed, 3.4 million acres are from Sindh. Village after village has been inundated leaving 1545 dead as well as heavy economic loss. According to the Pakistan Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), Sindh September 17, 678 people have died. From June 20 to 30, 2022 18,138 livestock was lost, from June 20 to 30 August 232,593 livestock has perished: this sharp rise in losses is also reflected in other statistics.
No doubt, the imperialist mode of production based on capitalism and its greed for profit, are responsible for continuous high rate of carbon emissions and the ensuing global warming, and stoking the climate crisis, increasing the frequency of extreme weather events, globally, resulting in climate disasters one after the other; currently, there are floods not only in Pakistan but also India, Sudan and Italy.
On one hand, there are anti-people policies of the United States, Europe and other rich industrial countries, and on the other hand, the Pakistani state and its elite are least concerned about the crippling hardship being borne by the people, especially the small and landless farmers; this is also true for Sindh government and feudal lords that have shown condemnable performance in duty and conduct. The continuous rains and floods have already destroyed standing crops, and now small and landless farmers face a grave danger that they will not be able to sow the wheat crop in the coming season, a crop critical for the rural population and national food security. In Khairpur, Shikarpur and Ghotki, in many areas water is still standing on agricultural land. Big landlords are using state machinery to for cleaning drain canals to get rid of the standing flood water, while small farmers are waiting for government to take needed action to clear their lands as well. In some areas, where drainage canals are not accessible, big landlords are draining water to adjoining lands; if small farmers try to stop them or to push water further down, they have to face the wrath of the big land lords along with the police force.
A very critical point is that if small and landless farmers are unable to cultivate wheat in the coming months, then there will be an immense increase in hunger and malnutrition in the rural population. According to 2021 statistics, Pakistan ranked 92 among 116 countries with respect to hunger, which indicated serious hunger in the population; in Sindh from April 2022 to August 2022, the average price increase in wheat flour was approximately 36 percent – in those months 2022 wheat flour stock was still available in the market. Now when the Kharif crop including rice has been destroyed, if in the coming months wheat crop is also impacted due to the current situation, how will the small and landless farmers be food secure? What will happen to their livelihood and economic security?
Our government, whether it’s the Government of Pakistan or Sindh, has been turning its eyes away from the dire economic situation of poverty stricken small and landless farmers. No doubt, it’s only because of the extremely hard labor of this class that the feudal landlords, the Khans, the Sardars are able to amass billions of rupees; their families have a prosperous life, consume the best available – this is all because of the farming community. In this time of acute desperation, if we are not treated justly, if our land is not made ready for sowing, if there is not a timely provision of seed and other agricultural production inputs then the small and landless farmers across the country will not bear the resulting hunger, humiliation and deprivation quietly, we will rise to take our rights.
Based on this imperialist climate crisis, farmers have not only been deprived of their land and livelihood but also cannot access food, drinking water and much-needed medicines with acute shortage in the market. Millions of women farmers are living under the sky with no protection from the heat and the blazing Sun, they do not even have mattresses to sleep on; there are uncounted pests and disease in the environment, and acute shortage of mosquito nets. The women farmers of Sindh have lost their most important crop, cotton, which allows them to earn some cash for household expenses and stock wood as fuel; there is acute shortage of fodder, and some Sindhi women farmers, walking hundreds of miles have been migrating with their livestock to Punjab. The prices of all basic need items are sky-high. In these conditions, where is our State? Where is the Sindh government? Why is there failure in controlling the sky-rocketing prices? Why are rural communities not being provided with basic necessities? It is the task of the Pakistani state to demand the US and other rich industrial imperialist nations to pay for the loss and damages incurred through this monstrous climate calamity. In these terrible conditions, instead of the State looking after the people’s needs, it has allowed the US defense forces to come in the pretext of examining the havoc created, and instead of responding to the calamity, it has requested the US government to provide the Pakistani state with USD 450 million worth of military weapons. We reject such imperialist ventures, and instead demand the following:
- The US and other rich industrial imperialist nations must pay for the loss and damages incurred through this monstrous monsoon and climate calamity;
- Based on human rights, food, water, medication, safe shelter and other amenities should be provided to all rural communities, immediately;
- Particular attention should be paid to fulfill women’s needs for security and sanitation, especially for pregnant women and/or women with new born babies;
- Immediate steps should be taken to drain water from agriculture land, so that it can be made ready for cultivation. Needed agriculture production inputs and other facilities should be provided free of cost;
- Fodder for livestock should be made available immediately, free of cost;
- All debts held by small and landless farmers should be cancelled and further interest-free credit should be provided;
- A wide-scale fumigation must be carried out to curtail mosquitoes and other pests;
- Construction of shops and homes should be carried out free of cost; the PKR 25,000 should be increased to PKR 100,000;
- In the pretext of providing aid, imperialist policies that allow corporate sector encroachment over agricultural production and markets must not be entertained;
- In agriculture policy making and implementation, small and landless farmers’ (50% women and 50% men) leadership must be mandatory.