Days out with Farmers of Hyderabad

Small farm holders have never been a priority for government, civil society, and education & research institutions.

Our agriculture sector requires a paradigm shift, and it’s only possible if growers, who feed all of us, are made to feed their families too.

Zaheer Udin Babar Junejo

While traveling via road from Mirpur Khas to Hyderabad for soothing breath and breathtaking sceneries, one always dreamed of having such fertile land for the whole Sindh. But interacting with small farm holders and understating their miseries proved that small farm holders have never been a priority for government, civil society, education and research institutions.

They were never taught about climate changes, harms of hybrid seeds and fertilizers. They never had the opportunity to learn from global experiences, accordingly, adopt new climate-smart and appropriate crops and agriculture methods.

Visiting over two dozen of villages in Hyderabad district, I found small growers in the surroundings of Hyderabad who prefer to plant bananas and mangoes instead of risking their investment for growing vegetables.

It’s very alarming that the most known vegetable growing areas with everyday intake are shifting to other crops not because of shortage of water but because of no system for pricing of the crops and inclusive financial and other services for this group of our society.

To understand the situation and find better and appropriate solutions, the government needs to play its part. Farmers were of the view that vegetable input cost is rapidly increasing as it takes too much amount to invest, and return is low due to fluctuating markets. They stated that growers and consumers take losses while the chain of middlemen benefits enormously.

During the field visits I asked why they are shifting to bananas and mangoes instead of growing vegetables, the majority responded that contractors are paying them a good amount for the mentioned crops. Secondly, vegetables are grown on a share basis while mangoes and bananas at farms are total income for landowners with no share to anyone else.

Another major setback discussed by the farmers was that before selling crops at good rates they are exposed to untrustworthy seeds and fertilizers. The rates of vegetables and fruits from farm to market are decided by the middlemen while wheat, cotton, and sugarcane rates are regulated by government authorities. Why the government and price control authorities are failed to administrate same for other crops too?

Small Farmers desperately need inclusive financial assistance, climate-smart agriculture, multi-cropping and innovative horticulture methodologies. The government needs to invest in Farmer Utility Stores (same as Utility Stores) where certified seed, trusted fertilizers and subsidized pesticides are provided to smallholders.

I had the opportunity to visit both vegetable markets of Karachi and Hyderabad. They, in advance, invest a lot into different crops, and crop failures take them to the bottom of the business pyramid. I realized if Individual Middlemen and their services are registered, they may also avail soft loans and assist farmers in growing and ensuring the quality of products they require.

Third and foremost aspect where attention is required is to introduce crop insurance. IT solutions may also be brought at the farmer level where farmers, middlemen, and the market may be connected regularly where farmers may share their plans, get the market update, and accordingly middlemen may ensure a balance between demand and supply.

All the actors involved and worried about food insecurity should realize that the next decade is not about a wealthier society but instead it’s about a healthier one, by promoting only cash crops. We may help people become wealthier but at the same time, we are witnessing vanishing horticulture. Unitedly all of us are contributing and ensuring global food security, poverty reduction, and environmental sustainability but it’s only possible if all of us realize that our agriculture sector requires a paradigm shift, and it’s only possible if growers, who feed all of us, can feed their families too.


Zaheer Udin Babar Junejo is a Freelance Consultant based in Hyderabad.




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