June 26, 2014
by Safdar Abbas – Agri Business
The booming population and a drastic increase in the demands of agriculture-related items have led to the discovery of new frontiers both in farming and handicrafts designs, but rural workers have yet to find a platform that enables them to showcase their products to a broader market.
In this context, a two-day Share Mela organised by Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) kicked-off at the National Agriculture Research Centre (NARC) in Chak Shahzad on Tuesday with an aim to provide rural men and women across Pakistan with a platform to share their techniques in various fields of farming.
The event is being attended by around 73 representatives of different organisations, 75 small-scale farmers, 25 research institutes and private sector enterprises working in all four provinces and AJK.
Among other products on display, large organically-grown radishes, garlic and green bananas from AJK attracted most of the visitors.
A majority of the participants expressed concern over the lack access to markets and opportunities in general that poor farmers suffer as these could help them promote their products apart from training and technical education along modern agrarian lines.
“We work day and night and still fail to get what we deserve,” Sindhi farmer Mohammad Rafiq complained while adding that farmers like him, who know various techniques to produce crops and wants to share them with others, cannot educate others from the field due the lack of a platform solely meant for farmers across the country to share their knowledge and brainstorm over newer ideas.
“The producers barely get ten per cent of what their products are actually worth. Middlemen take full advantage of their unawareness and sell the same products for double, triple price in the market,” informed Musarrat Soomro, a farmer from Khairpur in Sindh. “Rural women artisans are very hard working and spend hours on the embroidery — all after completing their domestic chores, child rearing and cattle-tending.”
Representing an AJK-based organisation, Bushra Tabassum suggested the skills of the artisans needed to be polished and at the same time they should also be facilitated to put their work on sale in the urban markets.
Meanwhile, PARC Chairman Dr Iftikhar Ahmad emphasised on equipping farmers with innovative ideas and latest technology to enhance their potential so they can provide for both, the country’s basic food requirements and surplus produce that could help support the country’s worsening economy.
“There is a need to amend the prevalent laws which present a hurdle for small farmers wanting to establish their own markets,” he opined. FAO Representative Patrick Evan said that the aim of his organisation was to ensure food security and nutrition, economic development and build capacity for promising results and that they were working with both the federal and provincial governments to develop the agriculture sector — one that has a great potential to flourish.
“Over 95.7 per cent of the country’s farmers have less than 25 acres of land, but are actually those who support the agriculture sector and provide for the masses,” said National Food Security and Research Minister Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan.