Inequality in Food System Living income gap in Pakistan’s rice value chain

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Staff Reporter
Karachi

Oxfam in Pakistan has published a report “Living Income Gap in Rice Value Chain” to highlight the challenges women growers and workers are facing to sustain the quality standards of rice; while receiving low farm gate prices and facing health and hygiene issues.

Behind the food we buy are millions of people who grow, catch and process it, passing it along a supply chain until it ends up in our homes.

But in a global food industry worth trillions of dollars, far too many of the women and men behind our food are being forced into lives of hardship and suffering, working long hours in inhumane conditions for little reward.

Oxfam in Pakistan’s Country Director, Syed Shahnawaz Ali said, “Most workers and farmers interviewed by Oxfam for our report do not earn a decent living wage or income. Some do not even earn a monthly minimum wage.

In Pakistan, the Gender Transformative and Responsible Agribusiness Investments in South East Asia (GRAISEA) program is working to ensure respect for human rights and inclusion of small-scale producers in agricultural value chains.

Our aim is that supermarkets take their record sales as an opportunity to create a more sustainable and resilient global food supply chain – to genuinely put hard policies and action behind improving and respecting women across their supply chains.”

Supermarkets have emerged as the standout winners from the pandemic, while women, workers and farmers at the other end of the global food supply chain continue to face escalating outbreaks and lack of protections from Covid-19. It is another case of inequality worsening, and again the exploitation of women is endemic.

Any significant Covid-19-related support to the workers and farmers who continued throughout the crisis to provide produce and keep supply chains going was limited.

What is equally as horrifying is the pervasive and systemic exploitation of women in supermarket supply chains.

In Pakistan, rice farming is a key source of income for smallholder producers and their families, especially women.

However, hundreds of farmers and workers who produce our food are forced to work long hours in inhumane conditions.

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