To both empower rural women and overcome the current food security issues in the country, the government should allocate at least one acre of land to landless farmer women.
This suggestion was given by speakers at a discussion titled “Food Security and Coping Mechanism”, organised by the National Commission on Status of Women on Friday at its official premises.
The main subjects of the discussion were the recent floods and the unprecedented food inflation which is causing much hardship and exacerbating poverty, not only in the flood affected areas but all over the country.
The discussants were of the view that their recommended initiative would also help ensure enough food for the entire family. Moreover, they were of the opinion that food insecurity invariably gave rise to militancy and violence, destabilising the entire society as a result.
Therefore, they said there was a dire need to shift focus and attention to the issue before it got worse. They agreed that is was high time to find realistic solutions and identify opportunities for economic growth at the local level.
To justify the suggestion to allocate land to women farmers, well-known writer, journalist and researcher Najma Sadeque showed several clips. The short movies revolved around the lives of women farmers and the benefits of home-based farming.
She said home-based farming could be economical and profitable and the quality of crop gained from this kind of cultivation was superior to commercially grown vegetables. “If you do not have land, you can always use pots to grow your own vegetables,” she added.
One documentary highlighted the various cosmetic and medicinal benefits of growing Aloe Vera at home. It showed that the plant’s juice can be used as a natural remedy for acne and fungal or bacterial infections and can control itching and swelling of skin. It contains six antiseptics and can cure burns, cuts, insect bites, sunburn and rash.
“This plant should be a must for the kitchen window so that women can benefit from it in the time of need. We should also teach children the benefits of Aloe Vera and other such plants,” said Sadeque.
She criticised the government’s plan of allowing corporate farming in the country and urged civil society to protest such developments. She said thousands of acres of agricultural land would be given on lease to multinationals as a result, allowing them to grow any crop they wished.
“Instead of food crops, these multinationals will grow fuel crops to earn more profit and thus, further enhance food insecurity in the country,” she opined.
Concluding her address, she said, “If people start taking the responsibility of planting at least one or two trees every year, many healthy changes would occur in both the environment and the lives of people.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 03rd, 2011