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Farmer-the most endangered species

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Posted by Ramoo on May 18, 2011

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“FARMER LEADERS CALL FOR A REJECTION OF BT BRINJAL

Posted by Ramoo on October 22, 2009

New Delhi, October 21st 2009: Terming Bt Brinjal as a Trojan Horse of the biotech industry for the take-over of Indian farming, farmers’ unions across the country called for a rejection of this biotech brinjal and put out a call for the boycott of the agencies seeking to bring it in. This Bt Brinjal is the guise to enslave poor farmers of the country yet again, they said, and demanded that the Indian government stand by the side of ordinary people in this onslaught on our resources and livelihoods.

“This is a product that is both unneeded and undesirable. It is meant to increase the markets of the biotech companies and agencies, though pushed in the name of farmers. If the government truly wants to help farmers, there are scores of other sustainable and appropriate solutions that should be taken urgently to the last farmer in this country”, said Mr Yudhvir Singh, Convenor of the Coordination Committee of Indian Farmers’ Movements.

Mr Kodihalli Chandrasekhar, President, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha( KRRS) pointed out that Monsanto is infamous for its anti-farmer activities the world over. “It is unacceptable that the government, especially Mr Sharad Pawar, the Agriculture Minister, should be putting his faith on this company and its profit-driven technologies even though Monsanto is notorious for jailing farmers and bribing officials elsewhere. The state agriculture universities should be ashamed of partnering with such agencies and for being involved in the ABSP II project, supported by American agencies for their interests. It is high time that these universities, paid by tax payers here, work for the benefit of farmers in India. If the government proceeds with its plans to introduce Bt Brinjal, mass direct actions will be initiated to stop it”.

“The case of Vidarbha and Bt Cotton is an unfortunate illustration about what lies in store for Indian farmers with biotech seeds. Also, look at the fact that with Bt Cotton cultivation, chemical fertilizer use is going up and agencies are recommending higher use too. When on the one hand, we are realizing the negative impacts of chemical fertilizer use, in an age of climate change and with fertilizer shortages abounding, is this the direction that farmers should be pushed towards? Is there a shortage of brinjal in the country and can we solve the food crisis in the country with GM brinjals? It is shocking to see the irrational arguments centred around food crisis for bringing in Bt Brinjal. ”, said Mr Vijay Jawandhia of Shetkari Sanghatan.

These farmer leaders put out a call to all Indian farmers and consumers to reject GM crops/foods and said that the rejection all over Europe and many other countries around the world came through an informed debate and rejection by farmers and consumers.

“There are reports about the Expert Committee’s and GEAC’s unscientific, biased and hasty functioning with regard to clearing this Bt Brinjal for commercial cultivation. It is also becoming clearer that the Expert Committee and GEAC are unreliable and untrustworthy as far as interests of ordinary citizens go. An overwhelming majority of Indians are expressing in numerous ways that they reject GM foods and the government has to heed to democratic voices. Look at Bt Cotton case also – it has been hyped up as a runaway success when the reality is something else on the ground. Many farmers have not been compensated to this day for the losses that they incurred with Bt Cotton”, said Mr Kannaiyan, Organising Secretary of Tamizhaga Vyavasayigal Sangham.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr G V Ramanjaneyulu, Executive Director of Centre for Sustainable Agriculture said, “There are numerous low-cost, safe and sustainable ecological practices available for farmers to control pest damage in a crop like brinjal. It includes intercropping with marigold, coriander etc.; using of pheromone traps for mass trapping of adult moths; mechanical clipping of infested shoots and so on. In such an approach, measures are taken to control egg-laying itself rather than use a poison to control the larva once it appears. In any method that uses a poison to target a population of pests, it is nature’s principle that they will be under selection pressure for building resistance, which they will do so sooner or later. We need farmers to be told about methods that are affordable, sustainable and safe and it is the responsibility of the government to do so than look at false, faulty solutions”.

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PRIVATISATION IS THE ENEMY OF SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE

Posted by Ramoo on September 4, 2009

Sep 3, 2009 — KZeese

By Vandana Shiva | IPS

The privatisation of the earth’s resources is a recipe for famine and desertification, violence against women, hunger, and, as happens in India, the suicide of farmers, writes Vandana Shiva, author and international campaigner for women and the environment.

In this analysis, Shiva writes that until recently water and biodiversity have been commons. Women have been the seed keepers and water keepers in communities. This is the system that privatisation is threatening.

Common access to seed is being destroyed by laws that make it illegal for farmers to manage seeds as a commons and grant the state the power to approve and license varieties and force farmers to seek state approval through “compulsory” registration laws. The result is the destruction of high-quality, reliable, open-pollinated varieties bred and developed by farmers.

Although the links between the growing problem of farmer suicides and their growing dependence on costly purchased external inputs are clear, the Indian government’s only response has been to offer more consumer credit to purchase more external inputs. Women are experts in internal input agriculture, an approach that works with the products of the land to create soil fertility and requires no external.

A permanent agriculture can only be based on the permanence of rights – the rights of the farmers, and the people, not private corporations.

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Posted by Ramoo on August 31, 2009

Arvind Singh Bisht, TNN 30 August 2009, 04:55am IST

LUCKNOW: It is a catch-22 situation in UP. While there is no reprieve from the severe drought in 58 of the total 70 districts in the state,

floods have now become the bane of over one dozen districts. Incidentally, these flood-affected districts are also included in the list of drought-affected districts.
Uniquely, it is East UP which is under floods, while Western UP reeling under severe droughts, has been spared so far from this. Surprisingly, these floods are not due to excessive rain, but are caused due to excessive flow of water from Nepal into the rivers like Ghagra, Rapti, Gandak and Saryu and Narayani. All these rivers are either flowing above the danger mark or just touching this point.
The threat still looms large, as monsoon is not yet over. If the past experience is any cue, then floods have been most common in UP in the month of September. The government by its own admission puts the estimated flood-affected population at present at over 12 lakh in as many as 38 tehsils of 12 districts of Behraich, Pilibhit, Lakhimpur Kheri, Siddarth Nagar, Deoria, Shravasti, Sitapur, Faizabad, Kushinagar, Gorakhpur, Bahraich, Gonda and Balrampur.
The number might swell, if there is more rain in the catchment areas, particularly in Nepal, which is like a scourge for the state in term of floods.
The worst hit are the farmers, who get peanuts in spite of the political blame game going on between the Mayawati government and the Congress-led government at the Centre over the issue of relief package. The state has demanded a hefty sum of around Rs 8,000 cr for drought relief. The package for the flood relief will be in addition to this.
But for the farmers, getting this relief is far more difficult than to face the ordeal of nature’s vagaries. The norms for the relief are as: Rs 1 lakh in case of a death. For rehabilitation, Rs 20 per day each are given to every adult and Rs 15 per day to minor. For the loss of crop, a compensation of Rs 2,000 per hectare is admissible. Likewise, Rs 25,000 relief is given on the destruction of a `pucca house’ and Rs 2,000 on a `kuchha house.’
However, getting this relief is not possible without running from pillar to post. Most of the time it’s very purpose gets defeated due to inordinate delay in its disbursement. The most defective is the compensation norm set for the loss of crop. This is fixed Rs 2,000 per hectare. But the fact remains that most of the land-holdings in UP are less than one hectare. So, the majority of farmers, who are at the rock-bottom of the society virtually get nothing out of the government’s relief. In fact, this comes as a jackpot for the revenue officials and other concerned, who stand to gain most by this.
Already, the situation has taken a turn for the worst in the state. The adversity of nature has put the farmers, particularly marginal and small farmers in abject poverty. The result is that of suicides by farmers in the state. In one such case reported from Lakhimpur-Kheri only last week, a farmer couple– Dharmpal (35) and his wife Dharma Devi committed suicide due to indebtedness.
Incidentally, UP has the dubious distinction of highest number of indebted farmers — much more than Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh where maximum number of farmers’ suicide take place — and the above incident comes as a wake up call.

Posted in Drought, Utter Pradesh | Leave a Comment »

Non Stop Death Dance in Nizamabad

Posted by Ramoo on August 30, 2009

NIZAMABAD: Despite chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy asserting a few days ago that the government would ensure that no farmer would commit suicide due to crop failure or mounting debts, 15 ryots have committed suicide in Nizamabad district in the last 22 days alone. And in many of these instances, erratic power supply was stated as the reason for them taking the extreme step.
“Unable to come to terms with the drying up of standing crops, the farmers who sowed the crops by borrowing huge loans from private moneylenders are resorting to suicide,” farm expert Ch Krishnamurthy said. Though it rained for a couple of days in Nizamabad town, the prolonged dry spell has hit the district farmers badly. Nearly 30 out of 36 mandals have recorded deficit rainfall in the last two months, officials said.
The heavy rainfall the district has been receiving in the last few days has come as too late for many farmers. Pokala Sailoo, 45, of Mudhelli village in Gandhari mandal and Toorpu Gopal, 48, of Gandhari, were the latest who ended lives on Wednesday.
If clearing the mounting debts was hanging like a sword of Damocles, the farmers were also crippled by withered crops and erratic power supply. “Do I have any other option? It (suicide) is the only alternative for us to run away from the debts,” said Kalali Srihari Goud of Devunipalli village in Machareddy mandal. Holding back the tears, Goud said besides the paddy seedlings, his maize crop sown in one acre had dried up at the budding stage itself due to lack of rainfall.
Taking a dig at the government, Goud, who recently borrowed Rs 2 lakh to perform his daughter’s marriage and dig borewells, said: “Will the real YSR please come to our rescue?” And Goud is no small farmer — he owns five acres of agriculture land!
It was Nenawat Govind, 25, who set the alarm bells ringing by hanging himself on August 6 at Piskalgutta thanda in Gandhari unable to clear the Rs 2 lakh debt. Debt-ridden Poshatti of Nagepur in Navipet mandal and Bhumanna in Donchanda of Morthad followed Govind and soon it became a death dance.
Three more farmers — Anantha Reddy of Borgam, Beerappa of Nyalkal and Krishana of Mudakpalli of Nizamabad mandal — also ended their lives due to distress. In the intervening period, Macha Karrenna of Gadkol in Sirikonda mandal, Chandu of Madnoor, Gaddam Saireddy of Darpalli, Ramulu and Sailu of Pitlam mandal have committed suicide.

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Posted in Andhra Pradesh, Data, Farmers Suicides | Leave a Comment »

Farmers suicides in Karnataka

Posted by Ramoo on August 30, 2009

BANGALORE, AUGUST 29: Like other states, Karnataka too showing signs of severe agrarian distress in the current financial year. More than 50 farmers committed suicides in less than five months in the current fiscal year.

The BJP government has already declared 86 taluks in 20 districts as drought hit. Standing crops on 16 lakh hectares got damaged on account of deficit rains since June 1. The crop loss in rainfed areas has been estimated at Rs. 720.20 crore and horticultural crops on over 60,000 hectares have been ruined due to scanty rains. In fact, more than 3/4th of lands in the state is rainfed. Only 23 per cent the sowing was depended on irrigation facilities in Karnataka.

Standing food crops and commercial crops got withered in 20 districts following scanty rainfall. The central team visited to the state to said the state’s demand for Rs. 394 crore relief is realistic demand.

According to sources in the Government, as on July end, the highest number of suicide cases has been reported from Shimoga (7), followed by Tumkur – six cases, Belgaum and Hassan – five each, Chikmagalur, Bidar, Davangere, and Bijapur – three each, Chitradurga, Dakshina Kannada – two each and Mysore district – one.

Out of the last nine years, the State has experienced droughts for seve

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n years and this is one of the major reasons for farmers taking extreme step. A large number of farmers committed suicide during the drought period from 2000-01 to 2003-04. As many as 337 suicide cases have been reported in 2008-09.

Despite several steps taken by the State government, farmers suicides continued over the years. Cooperatives have been disbursed loans at three per cent rate of interest. To learn new farming methods, the Government sent 633 farmers to China at a cost of Rs. 423.79 lakhs. The government had given Rs. 1,000 each to small and marginal farmers who are dependent on dry lands farming, officials said.

Posted in Data, Farmers Suicides, Karnataka | Leave a Comment »

Farmer couple writes to president, demands mercy killing of four sons

Posted by Ramoo on August 28, 2009

Ani

August 28th, 2009

NEW DELHI – The farmer couple Jeetnarayan and wife of Prabhawati living in Bashi village of Mirzapur district of Uttar Pradesh have written to the President of India seeking permission for mercy killing of their four sons aged between 10 and 16 years.

The brothers are suffering from an affliction caused by muscular dystrophy, leaving them to lead a life in a vegetative state.

The four children, Durgesh, 16, Sarvesh, 14, Brijesh, 11, and Suresh, 10, were afflicted with the disease when they turned five.

Children cannot even stand on their feet, move their body below the neck, and have to rely on their parents’ for every daily activity.

Jeetnarayan has sold everything of financial value in his house to foot the hefty sums spent for the children’s treatment.

“Now we are very tired as we just take care of them day and night. There is no time to work even to earn our living. Then we submitted an application to the Prime Minister and also chief of the state. But there was no hearing to our plight. No one came to our door. It’s better for the entire family to die rather than live in such a miserable state,” said Jeetnarayan

“We wanted treatment to be done. But it’s not happening anywhere. We don’t have any other option, we are very poor and there is no way to go. We wanted them to be treated but that’s not happening anywhere and no treatment can be done. So it’s better that we die,” said Prabhawati.

Indian laws do no permit euthanasia or mercy killing. (ANI)

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Kisan Incorporated

Posted by Ramoo on August 28, 2009

http://www.deccanchronicle.com/op-ed/kisan-incorporated-414

 

August 28th, 2009

By G.V. Ramanjaneyulu & Kavitha Kuruganti

Some recent developments in India’s agri-related laws might make former finance minister P. Chidambaram’s infamous dream of seeing “only 15 per cent of Indians in villages” come true much faster than anyone thought possible. Moves are afoot to ensure large-scale displacement of farmers and agricultural workers — the most blatant move is already underway in Andhra Pradesh, under Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy. An experiment under the garb of “farmers cooperative” was approved by the state Cabinet recently, not very different from what his rival N. Chandrababu Naidu attempted some years ago. The arguments too are old: Small holdings lead to low productivity, low income, low investments and, this vicious cycle goes on.

This argument ignores the fact that more than 900 scientists from 110 countries have recently concluded an international process, called the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), pointing out that small-holding ecological farming is the way forward. We are also familiar with the subsidies that prop up intensive, large-scale models of farming elsewhere, despite claims of efficiency. Numerous studies have confirmed the inverse relationship between the size of farms and the amount of crops they produce per unit.

A study from Turkey shows that farms less than a hectare are 20 times more productive than farms that are over 10 hectares! But why should anyone be looking at such data when the sizes of land holdings and their alleged low productivity is used as an excuse to grab land?

This is what the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister is proposing: Get farmers to pool their land into a cooperative/society/company. Farmers sell their land to the new entity in return for some shares, which will then take up all agricultural operations and pay dividends. Farmers can exit by selling their share to existing members and, if there are no takers, government will buy the shares at a pre-determined market price. Land cannot be obtained back. Though many questions remain unanswered — what will happen to the farmers and how will they take part in any decision-making? What will tenant farmers and agricultural workers do? Why will land not be returned to the farmers? — the state Cabinet has decided to take up a pilot project in 50 villages by investing Rs 5,000 crore and there are moves to introduce a new legislation along these lines.

To begin with, the entire reasoning that bashes small holdings is faulty. Two, an experiment taken up by Mr Naidu some years ago along these lines (“Kuppam Project”) failed in delivering the promised benefits and had environmental repercussions. Most importantly, this move will take away land permanently from farmers and is truly an exit mechanism.

Incidentally, it is in Andhra Pradesh that the world’s largest ecological farming project is unfolding, supported by the state’s rural development department, which is proving that farming can indeed be made viable through alternative technologies and people’s organisations.

This programme, yielding results on more than 20 lakh acres, all small and marginal holdings, has attracted great attention already. Is it by design that the state government chose to ignore such vastly successful models and set about “to make farming viable” through proven-to-have-failed models?

While this is happening in Andhra Pradesh, in neighbouring Tamil Nadu a bill was introduced in the Assembly and supposedly passed on a day when 30 bills were passed without much discussion. This new legislation, called Tamil Nadu State Agricultural Council Act 2009, is about setting up a council that will be empowered to inspect agricultural institutions, courses of study, examinations etcetera, all to ensure that standards are conformed to.

“At present, there is no law to provide for the regulation of agricultural practice… it’s been considered necessary to regulate agricultural practice and registration of agricultural practi-tioners…” states the object of the legislation. Sounds inane enough? However, the law says that no one can render agricultural services unless his/her name is registered in the “Tamil Nadu Agricultural Practitioners Register” with a formal agricultural qualification from Tamil Nadu (outsiders can register within 90 days of their entry!).
In a country which has always had a rich tradition of farming based on an oral and experiential knowledge and in a state where paddy productivity levels are recorded to have been up to 13 tonnes per hectare (in 1807 in Coimbatore) without qualified agriculture scientists, this move is an outright rejection of the vast untapped knowledge of our farm women and men.

Worse, in the name of regulating agricultural services, this seems to be a way of controlling the farmer-to-farmer spread of ecological farming in the state, which is led by farmers themselves, their networks and other civil society groups. Tamil Nadu is also the state where the anti-genetically modified protests against Tamil Nadu Agriculture University’s unthinking capitulation to agro-MNCs like Monsanto are running at a high-pitched level. A connection between the resistance movement and this new law cannot be ruled out.

This new regulation of “agriculture services” will effectively provide more and more markets for particular kinds of technologies at the expense of farmers, as the advisories will be driven by the mindsets that prevail in the agriculture education/ research system in the country and the commercial interests of the agri-services to be set up. This route of a “qualified” advisory system will obviously facilitate conflicting interests and help in improving exclusivity of “markets” by reducing competition, while ignoring the causes for the current agrarian crisis. While a law of this kind should regulate services provided by agricultural research and agri-business bodies to ensure accountability for their services, especially in relation to economic, environmental and social viability and sustainability of farming, it should not be used as a weapon to penalise farmers and civil society

groups which are trying to promote sustainable farming.

These two initiatives in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are not to be seen as isolated attempts to create more markets for agri-businesses, but as an orchestrated move towards an unwritten “exit policy” for farmers.

These two moves will set a bad precedent for the rest of the country.

Given that agriculture is contributing a lower and lower share in the country’s gross domestic product, its importance in the mainstream economic development model might be diminishing for many policymakers. However, this is a question of livelihood for millions of Indians — without ensuring access and control over basic productive resources and without moving towards sustainable production technologies, the current saga of agrarian distress, including suicides, will only increase.

Such legislations and programmes cannot be brought in without comprehensive debates and without the government clearly stating its vision for farming livelihoods and how they would be liable when things go wrong.

* Dr G.V. Ramanjaneyulu is the executive director of Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, Hyderabad, and Kavitha Kuruganti is a trustee of Kheti Virasat Mission, Punjab.

Posted in Agri-Science, Agroecological farming, Andhra Pradesh, Govt. Initiatives, Land question, Opinion pieces | Leave a Comment »

Seed of the crisis

Posted by Ramoo on August 28, 2009

Kavitha Kuruganti

Monday, July 27, 2009 20:42 IST

The US and India are back at it again. This time around, it is not the spectre of a looming famine in Bihar that is expected to kill thousands through starvation but global hunger and malnutrition, for which India and USA will collaborate to provide leadership in agriculture to raise crop yields.

Never mind that India has record buffer stocks of food grains right now and still more people sleep hungry in India than ever before and that India ranks 66th on the Global Hunger Index for 88 countries.

Never mind that intensive agriculture models led to more farmers killing themselves than the projected numbers of starvation before the Green Revolution was ushered in or that Punjab for example, the seat of the Green Revolution in India, is reeling under a severe environmental health crisis quite closely connected to agricultural technologies deployed in the name of increasing yields.

The first time around, they said that they were trying to get away from the ship to mouth existence that is being imposed by the Americans on us through PL 480 food aid programmes — and whose help did they take to get away from the American intrusions? The Americans themselves!

It is interesting to see how American leaders make it a point to include agriculture into their agenda during their India visits. George W Bush decided to stop over at the agriculture university in Hyderabad and Hillary Clinton at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Pusa. For a country which has only 1.9 per cent of its labour force working in agriculture and a mere 0.7 per cent of total GDP contributed by agriculture (2002), why this American interest in Indian agriculture?

The answer possibly lies in potential huge markets held in the seeds and food processing sectors. In India, this market is emerging in an impressive fashion. In the global seed market estimated at $30 bn, India already has a large market worth $1 bn. The domestic seed market, especially of hybrid seeds, is expected to grow at an impressive growth rate of 13 per cent at least. In the food processing and retail sector, the Indian urban food market is expected to form a major chunk of the $50-bn-mark retail market in India in the near future.

Clinton’s speech at Pusa Institute made a clear mention of seeds and food processing as the sectors where investment will go. Interestingly, the second green revolution in this country, with the help of the Indo-US Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture (KIA) is supposed to be ushered in under the guidance of corporations like Monsanto and Wal-Mart which are on the KIA board. How investment on food processing would increase productivity of our food grains is an unanswered question, of course.

There is also mention of “cutting edge technologies” to raise crop yields and Clinton affirmed with authority that crop productivity was the ‘root’ of the problem of world hunger.

No mention at all of food lands going for bio-fuels, no mention about food grains being used for cattle feed and building inefficient food chains, no mention of the shocking wastage of food in the developed world not at the grain level but of processed foods, which would have already consumed much energy in their processing and packaging.

Nor any mention of overflowing granaries in India continuing to mock at the poor in the country who cannot access such food.

While Clinton is reported to have avoided the use of “GM” as the frontier tec

hnology, given the vast controversy over it, our agriculture minister was more forthright. He opined that collaboration in frontier areas like biotechnology would make a significant contribution to the world!

What our leaders don’t seem to realise is that there are vast differences not just in conditions of farming in the USA and in India but in the very philosophies and outlook towards agriculture. India for instance opposes patents on life forms in international forums while the USA and its corporations seek to patent everything that they can.

The rigid patent regimes in the USA have led to hundreds of farmers sued and/or jailed for doing something that they have done for millennia — saving their seed! Who is India listening to, on world hunger and the way out?

It would be extremely unwise for our leaders to provide ready platforms and markets for profit-hungry US corporations in the name of food crisis, world hunger, second green revolution and climate change.

If the government is keen on tackling the food crisis, it would do well to evolve a deeper understanding of both food production and access related issues, take up a comprehensive analysis of the Green Revolution and then chart out an Indian course of action. In this hundredth year of “Hind Swaraj”, our modern day leaders would do well to revisit Gandhiji’s vision.

Posted in Agri-Science, Indo US Knowledge Initiative, Opinion pieces, Policies | Leave a Comment »

States asked to limit BPL beneficiaries

Posted by Ramoo on August 21, 2009

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Gargi Parsai

NEW DELHI: Even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has promised that “nobody will go hungry” in the country, the Centre is asking the States to put a ceiling on the number of Below Poverty Line (BPL) beneficiaries under the Targeted Public Distribution System for the purpose of the National Food Security Bill that is in the making.

Poverty estimates

The Union government wants to limit the “targeted” BPL beneficiaries to 5.91 crore as per 2009 population estimates, instead of the present 6.52 crore. The majority of the States have disputed the Centre’s poverty estimates and demanded “food for all” under the Bill.

Against the allocation of foodgrains to 6.52 crore BPL families, the BPL cards issued by the States are 11.03 crore. They also do not want the present monthly entitlement of 35 kg subsidised foodgrains per BPL cardholder reduced.

The Congress, in its election manifesto, had promised to give, by law, every BPL family 25 kg of wheat or rice a month at Rs. 3 a kg. However, it seems that not only is the entitlement likely to get truncated but even the number of beneficiaries is going to be reduced.

Posted in Food Security | 1 Comment »

 
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