Monday, December 14, 2009


Leasing out agricultural land for foreign operators is a controversial issue and whether it is really beneficial to the countries who offer their land to multinational agri-business companies cannot be predicted. There are no proven legal frame work that can ensure any advantage to the leasing countries and there is no way to force the operators to sell their produce within the country. Pakistan is one of the countries that is offering large tracts of fertile lands to foreign companies with the hope that there will be quantum jump in land productivity through injection of more resources and modern technologies. Many local critics feel that the Corporate Agricultural Farming policy (CAF) of the government would ruin millions of small farmers because modern farming technology is highly mechanized without any dependence on the help of farm hands.

"Expressing serious concerns on the government's growing emphasis on the role of multinational companies in the country's agriculture sector, SAAG said that the involvement of companies in farming sector would increase food insecurity in Pakistan, which has faced serious food shortages over the last few years. According to World Food Program, country's 72 districts are food insecure in one-way or the other".

There is some apprehension that, without proper provisions for controlling the activities of the foreign companies, there could be large scale shift from staples to high value crops creating further food shortages within the country. Lack of progress in land reforms has created large farm holdings by rich land lords employing millions of people and an alliance between the foreign operators and the large land holders under the new CAF policy could put the livelihood of marginal farmers in jeopardy.


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