“Save our Invaluable Rural Assets”

“Save our Invaluable Rural Assets: Campaign against Corporate Control of Dairy and Livestock Sector in Pakistan.”

March 8, 2023

Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) and Roots for Equity, on the occasion of the International Working Women’s Day on March 8, 2023, launches “Save our Invaluable Rural Assets: Campaign against Corporate Control of Dairy and Livestock Sector in Pakistan.” The campaign objectives are to resist the government-imposed regulations on natural pure milk and the increasing trade liberalization and control of the corporations in the sector. The campaign will also build awareness amongst the farming community and the masses to standup against the attack on their food, livelihood and the environment.

Punjab and Sindh Food Authorities have intensified law-making and regulations in the dairy sector. Punjab and Sindh Food Authorities have released the Pure Food Regulations 2018; the Punjab government has been making statements stressing the total ban of natural pure open milk in Lahore, to gradually increase the span to other parts of Punjab. According to these regulations, natural pure open milk can only be sold after pasteurization. Further, those businesses which produce and sell milk, or milk products have to get government licenses.

What forces and groups are behind these regulations? These regulations are based on the mandatory requirements of the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Mechanisms and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) agreements of the World Trade Organization (WTO) that were pushed by mega-international corporations in the dairy and livestock sector. No doubt, regulations in Pakistan are being imposed at the behest of these very corporations. The value-added production and sale of milk and various dairy products such as butter, cheese, yoghurt among other products are carried out by these monopoly corporations, earning them enormous profits. At the other end of the spectrum are the small and landless farmers, especially landless women farmers and workers whose intense labour is responsible for providing the whole country with rich nutritious food including milk, dairy products and meat. In actuality, these corporations are trying to snatch away the livelihood and nutritious food of these hundreds of thousands of rural households. It is because of the key role of women small and landless farmers and agricultural labourers that this campaign is being launched on March 8, International Working Women’s Day.

It is very important to note that now foreign breeds of cows are being imported into Pakistan. There is a fear that our farmers will be coaxed into adopting these imported breeds in place of maintaining our own breeds; there is also the importation of semen for breeding animals. Trade liberalization has also allowed an influx of fodder and fodder seeds in the market from outside the country. What will be the result? Currently, Pakistan’s debts stand at about $126 billion (approximately PKR 337 kharab). The people, and the nation are facing acute distress in the face of such a humongous debt, and cannot bear the further burden. Instead of saving, and safeguarding our invaluable livestock breeds we are heaping more debt on ourselves and giving an open invitation to monopoly corporations to take control of our resources and markets.

The livestock sector has a 60% share of agriculture and contributes 11% to the GDP. This sector provides income to nearly ten million rural households, and their own food security; in fact, the food security of the nation rests on the shoulders of these rural households. Indeed, it is these small and landless farmers whose intense labour has pushed Pakistan to be the 4th biggest milk-producing country in the world. It is this amazing production that imperialist forces, using the shield of trade liberalization and neoliberalism, are trying to take over. No doubt, the very large consumer base of South Asia and China is a very lucrative market for their dairy and meat products. At the moment, 80% of the natural pure open milk supply is by small and landless farmers, which rankles with the corporate sector and views this hold of our farmers with acute hostility. Different ‘legal’ manoeuvres as well as constant propaganda are being launched against small producers and sellers.

Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek fully intends to block this imperialist agenda. We know how to take care of our invaluable assets. In the past, we lost our extremely precious traditional seeds and that wealth of biodiversity has been replaced with very poor quality genetic and hybrid seeds; these unnatural seeds are hazardous to humanity, to the farming community, and to the environment. We will now not allow our invaluable livestock to be lost, their germplasm to now be plundered and controlled by monopolistic corporations in their greed for super profits!

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