Small farmer and Pakistan Kissan Ittehad Khalid Araen has expressed concern about rising input prices and decreasing farmer profits.

Despite being the country’s mainstay and major contributors to the national economy, small farmers are on the verge of extinction due to rising input costs, low productivity, and shrinking profitability. Ensuring small farmers rights is essential for economic progress. Small farmers play a vital role in food security and economic development, especially in rural areas.

Farmers cultivate each crop with high expectations of profit and earning a living for their families, but at the end of the day, a large portion of their expected profit is usurped by input providers and middlemen. Even in the main agricultural hubs of Punjab and Sindh, the ancestral land had shrunk into small patches after multiple distributions among the heirs.

Non-promotion of corporate farming over traditional farming, as well as climatic effects, are other factors reducing their output and income, heralding the threat of food security. The situation is similar in South Punjab, where approximately 77% of the population lives in rural areas, with agriculture being the primary source of income for the vast majority of them.

Because the region is typically backward, with farmers having the least access to markets, small farmers continue to face enormous stress as a result of rising inflation and their continued exploitation by middlemen, dealers, and commission agents.

Because the region produces 98% mangoes, 80% cotton, 94% black currant (falsa), 92% green chillies, 75% sunflower, 73% onion, 49% sugarcane, 46% tomato, 45% maize, and 44% wheat, small farmers rarely receive a fair share of profit. As a result of this tendency, the per hour average income of a person in this area is only Rs 65, compared to Rs 95 in Central and Northern Punjab, as reported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) a few months ago.

Small farmer and Pakistan Kissan Ittehad Khalid Araen has expressed concern about rising input prices and decreasing farmer profits.

“Small farmers cannot afford to buy expensive inputs. “As a result, they are unable to maximise production from their fields,” he observed. “Because small farmers are disorganised and do not speak up for their rights in unison, they fall prey to exploiters.”

Khalid also mentioned some issues and roadblocks in the Kissan Body’s proper functioning and pleaded that small farmers be given maximum input subsidies to help them achieve handsome production and profit. He drew the attention of concerned authorities to the high rate of irrigation water consumption by tube well owners.

“They charge Rs 1000 per hour for irrigation water, which is prohibitively expensive for small farmers. At the very least, the government should address the issue of water and fertiliser costs, particularly in the case of small businesses.”

Another farmer, Umar Daraz, stated that small farmers with less than six acres of land could not run their kitchens through farming. “The government should pay special attention to their issues because they are numerous and significant contributors to agricultural production.” He also proposed introducing modern farming and promoting cash crops to provide farmers with immediate relief.

Dr. Asif, vice chancellor of the Nawaz Sharif University of Agriculture, also stated that traditional farming makes it extremely difficult for small farmers to earn a living. “We must shift away from traditional farming and toward high-value crops. Cluster farming is another option for modern agriculture farming “He stated this. “Farmers should shift their focus to clustered tunnel and hybrid systems.”

Because there are scattered examples of profitable corporate farming, there is an urgent need to promote this culture on a large scale. Kashif Hanif and Muhammad Naveed of Dhanot in the Lodhran district can legitimately be cited for earning a living by cultivating high-value crops such as cucumber and red chilli.

As they have done away with taboos and the old way of farming by focusing on high-value crops, convincing others is also critical to ensuring better income for farmers and averting the looming food security crisis. Concerning small farmers’ rights, these farmers believe that they should do their part by adopting new farming methods and advocating for their rights in order to ensure the survival of their families.

“In addition to tunnel farming, they should raise animals as a secondary source of income.” Rana Abbas, Assistant Director of Fruits and Vegetables, agreed that lower input costs were important and that “soil health was very important for peasants, and they should ensure regular examination of soil to maintain its fertility and get enhanced productivity.”

Meanwhile, the Punjab Agriculture Department has mentioned various measures being taken for the benefit of small farmers, with an official mentioning projects worth Rs 300 billion being carried out under the national program to increase wheat, cotton, sunflower, and other crop production.

“Kisan Cards provide over Rs 1 billion in subsidies to approximately 1 million farmers. Furthermore, the support prices for 40 kg wheat and sugarcane have been set at Rs 3000 and Rs 300, respectively, he stated. Aside from that, he said, a Rs 7 billion subsidy on certified seeds and cutting-edge agricultural machinery, as well as a Rs 650 million subsidy on laser land levelers, had been provided. “Issuance of a mobile app” for farmers, as well as many other initiatives to strengthen farmers economically.”

Ensuring small farmers’ rights is not only a matter of justice and human rights, but also a necessary condition for sustainable and inclusive economic progress.