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Farmers cry over corporate plan to control agriculture

Peshawar: The Pakistan Kisan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT), a farmers’ representative body, and Roots for Equity, an NGO, have opposed the proposed Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Seeds Act, 2014 for agriculture, currently with the provincial assembly.

The proposed act was tabled in the K-P Assembly on January 15 and aims to regulate the agricultural seeds market of the province.

PKMT Coordinator Tariq Mehmood said under the proposed act, no unregistered person or institution will be allowed to sell seeds without official permission and the sale of unauthorised hybrid and semi-hybrid seeds will be banned. He added there will also be a ban on rebranding seeds and then selling them.

The bill is the reintroduction of the proposed federal seeds act which dangled over the heads of farmers for many years until the passage of the 18th Amendment.

“The proposed act is aimed at fulfilling the wishes of multinational companies dealing in the agriculture sector,” claimed Mehmood. “Without the act, these companies face problems in investing in the country and controlling the seed market.”

He accused the companies of wanting to control the sector. “This will snatch the right of poor farmers to produce their own indigenous seeds, exchange them and so create jobs,” said the PKMT coordinator.

Roots for Equity Executive Director Azra Nasir Saeed said it is better for agriculturists to produce their own seeds than to be made dependent on multinational companies.

Abdullah, a farmer and seed producer from Charsadda, had come to attend the news conference. He explained, “We have been producing and sowing our own seeds for decades. Instead of encouraging us, the provincial government is snatching our right of pursuing the business of seed production and sales.”

Farmers will never allow multinationals to control their agriculture methods and source of livelihood, concluded Abdullah.

 

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