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Tuesday April 23, 2024

Growers’ body calls for including tenant farmers in Hari Card scheme

By Our Correspondent
April 01, 2024
Hari Welfare Association (HWA) President Akram Khaskheli gestures during a meeting. — X/@Akramkhaskheli/File
Hari Welfare Association (HWA) President Akram Khaskheli gestures during a meeting. — X/@Akramkhaskheli/File

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) did not keep its promise of introducing ‘Hari Cards’ for underprivileged farmers that it made in 2021.

Hari Welfare Association (HWA) President Akram Khaskheli recently said this in a press statement in which he reacted to the recent announcement of the Sindh government of providing Kisan Cards to farmers.

He recalled that in 2021, when the PPP was enjoying its third consecutive government in Sindh, it promised to introduce ‘Hari Cards’ along with a subsidy of Rs3 billion for those who had less than 16 acres of land.

Khaskheli said that in its fourth term, the PPP-led Sindh government had reiterated its pledge to provide Kisan Cards (Hari Cards) to farmers who would benefit from various government schemes such as subsidies, loans, and insurance.

He was of the view that Sindh’s vast majority constituted sharecropping peasants would would not benefit from the Kisan Card scheme, as they had never benefited from any support and subsidy programmes introduced by the government in the agriculture sector.

The statement commended the government’s scheme but expressed serious concern about several key points, including the lack of groundwork, documentation and exclusion of landless sharecropping peasants.

The HWA president said it was being feared that the cards would be distributed among the party’s personal cadres, which would not benefit genuine small-scale landowners. Furthermore, he added, the government had not conducted a survey to identify and provide benefits to genuinely impacted small-scale landowners, who suffered greatly in the recent floods or who had been unable to meet their basic needs amidst an unending wave of inflation.

Khaskheli said that as always, millions of landless sharecropping peasants would continue working and share the burden of land inputs but would receive zero benefits from any government-initiated schemes.

He pointed out that despite devastating floods in 2022, 2011, and 2010 affecting Sindh's agriculture, only landlords were compensated, while not a single sharecropping peasant, who bore an equal burden, received any compensation.

Khaskheli said that due to the unfair and non-transparent accounting system of the income and expenses of crops by the landlords, poor landless peasants and agriculture workers were going into debt bondage and slavery. He demanded that the Sindh government take concrete measures for the protection of the peasants’ rights and implementation of the Sindh Tenancy Act in true letter and spirit.

He said a majority of newly elected members from Sindh of the provincial assembly and National Assembly were landlords but no one had signed a written agreement for cultivation of land with their peasants/sharecroppers under the Sindh Tenancy Act 1950, which was a clear violation of the law.

The PPP leadership must ask its parliamentarians about their agreements with their tenant farmers, Khaskheli said.

The HWA president demanded that the government provide Hari Cards both to landlords and tenants or sharecropping peasants. He suggested that the landlords should be required to provide a written declaration of the tenancy contract to the sharecropping peasants under the Sindh Tenancy Act 1950.