Why do I get a sinking feeling every time I hear our prime and chief ministers talk about agriculture and all the good things they’d like to do for the farmers? Is it because the rhetoric about the welfare of farmers is so obviously a façade, and behind it, as in the case of everything else our leaders turn their attention to, it is all about money? In the present instance, the big dead rat of their multi-billion agricultural schemes is not only stinking badly, it is laid out on the table for all to see.

The blood-chilling story of agricultural terrorism against the land of Pakistan and its hard-working farmers is unfolding in full public view.

But, like other stories that really matter, it has been drowned out by our screaming shouting media in its loud din of distractions.

Meanwhile, the USAID, in collaboration with our power elite, is cheer-leading the deadly assault by the greedy mafia of mega-bucks agricultural industry; companies that profit from poisoning the land and driving poor farmers to suicide.

Agricultural terrorism is a story of corporate-generated pseudo-science and plagiarism that subverts the scientific method and is designed to suit the interests of its sponsors. It’s a story reeking of kickbacks, commissions and favours. It is about co-opted members of the power elite and their miserly pieces of pie in the agricultural industry. It features greedy global cartels and investment banks that profit by creating famines, speculating about food prices in the commodities market as children die of hunger. But let’s start from where it all starts:

Increasing the yield.

Like other fragmented notions about development marketed by liberal fascists, the concept of yield has been de-contextualised, stripped of all other meanings but quantity. So development of agriculture is measured in number of maunds per acre and the tons of annual production. That’s it. There are no other values attached, no other qualities that add value to the yield, like what it consists of and where would it end up? Will it feed the farmer’s family or will it feed the profits of the mega-bucks agricultural industry?

As long as the numbers keep adding, we need not worry about other variables in the equation. It should not matter to us how much we poison our mother earth each year to add to those numbers. It should be irrelevant that she would eventually die if we poison her for an x number of years. All the birds and bees, the insects and weeds, wiped off by the poisons of agricultural industry should not matter either.

We should not be concerned about losing a diversity of strong natural seeds and, as long as the numbers keep adding, be happy with engineered weak seeds that would die in a natural environment, seeds that need hazardous chemicals to survive and give a bitter impotent harvest; a crop with only chemical-laden low-nutrition food and no seeds for re-cultivation. We should exclusively concern ourselves with the maunds and tons.

What does it matter whether the yield ensures the sustenance of the farmer or makes him poor and dependent? What does it matter whether the land is enriched by farming or plundered of its fertile treasures in the process, whether it is lovingly tended or brutally raped?

What does it matter that the farmer goes hungry or even commits suicide?

Countless reports and scientific studies have shown us the dark side of the mega-bucks agricultural industry and its violent repercussions for the land and those who till it. Its hazardous ways of growing things are being rejected as environmentally unsustainable. Health risks are being associated with its artificially produced high yields. The importance of ecologically sustainable agriculture and the superior nutritional value of naturally grown organic food is recognised the world over. It is also known that the world’s poor are sustained by small farms growing a variety of indigenous crops not the tons of mono-crop yields being traded on the commodities market.

Russia is not the only country that has gotten off the blundering band-wagon of agricultural industry and is headed in the opposite direction.

It did not decide to ban GMOs, the pinnacle of what they call modern agriculture, on a whim. The highest scientific body of the country came to the conclusion that the GMOs were not safe to cultivate or consume. Many countries in the European Union, Latin America and Asia have banned their cultivation as well and burnt crops to ward off dangerous contamination.

The idea of adding numbers through the use of chemical fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides and artificially manipulated seeds is on the retreat. Countries and communities around the world are moving towards natural ways of growing things. So why are we following a pied piper who has been thoroughly exposed? Why are those in charge of our destiny so willing to buy the fraudulent notions of the agricultural industry and its rejected wares?

Has the agricultural industry co-opted and cultivated everyone in the field? The pseudo-academics infesting our institutions of agricultural education and research and churning out plagiarised papers to come to predetermined conclusions about the benefits and harmlessness of the hazardous agricultural industry, the bureaucrats who are supposed to regulate it turning a blind eye to its illegalities, the legislators making laws to their advantage, and the ministers sitting atop the stinking heap formulating policies and announcing schemes to suit the vested interests of greedy companies; have they all been bought?

Why would our so-called leaders ignore what’s happening in the world around them? Why are they so eager to jeopardise our food security and make our farmers dependent on unethical companies for everything they need to grow things?  Do they not know that Pakistan has some of the most fertile land in the world and a rich tradition of self-sustaining organic farming that goes back centuries?

Do the prime and chief ministers even bother to ask the poor farmers what they need? Clearly, their multi-billion schemes and ‘revolutionary’ policies are designed to benefit the agricultural industry and not the poor farmers who will be the first ones to drown in their crocodile tears.