Consumption of unbalanced, less nutritious and unsafe food leads to poor health. After the onslaught of Green Revolution the cropping pattern has changed drastically. Wheat, rice and cotton are grown as the major crops. This pattern is a serious deviation from the tradition where farmers managed everything from within the village except kerosene oil and salt, as a woman put it.
When they are growing only cash crops they are heavily dependent on cash to procure all other necessities of life that has seriously hampered their access to balanced, nutritious and healthy foods. The backbone of Pakistan economy is agriculture but unfortunately millions of small farmers are food insecure.
With empowerment of women farmers as the overarching aim, food sovereignty, ecological agriculture, chemical free and safe environment and equitable distribution of food are the major objectives of Khoj partnership with rural communities.
Khoj responds to the situation in a variety of ways.
Action and policy research, campaigns against the hazards of chemical pesticides, community pesticide action monitoring, working with farmers on ecological agriculture and ecological kitchen gardening, documentation of indigenous knowledge, publishing awareness materials on alternatives to chemical pesticides, organizing festivals and melas to revive healthy food consumption, development of curricula, educational and extension materials around agricultural issues are some of the activities to offer a holistic response to the marginalized rural communities.
Khoj has more than 40 publications on agriculture to its credit.
United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Oxfam Pakistan Field Office, Canadian International Development Agency, Royal Netherlands Embassy, Save the Children UK and PAN Asia & Pacific, Malaysia are some of the partners in work.
The Founder of Khoj won an FAO award for her services in the field in 1998.
Acute and chronic pesticides exposure could cause several health problems and serious diseases. Many scientific studies proved a link between pesticides exposure and cancer, leukaemia, disruption of the endocrine, immune or neural system.
All of us are exposed indirectly to pesticides and other agrochemicals via food, water, gardening and household use or spray drift. Farmers, farm workers and their families are in direct contact with the chemicals, sometimes daily. Young children can be more exposed to pesticides because they play on the ground and their hands and mouth are in contact with the potentially contaminated surface. Developing brain and neural system of children and fetus are more susceptible to damage than adults. Exposure of pregnant women may contribute to an increased risk of childhood cancer and neurodevelopment disorders. Long-term low-dose exposure is also suspected to increase the risk for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Some pesticides could also act as endocrine disruptors and promote hormonal disorders, affect reproduction or contribute to a spontaneous abortion and possibly to prolong time-to-pregnancy.
Khoj promotes the alternatives of agricultural and household pesticides to ensure a healthy life and safe environment.