Government waging war against farmers

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New Delhi, March 30 (IANS) The Indian government has declared a kind of war against the poor and marginal farmers who are also up in arms against its regressive policies, environmental scientist Vandana Shiva said Friday.

“The government has declared a war against India’s small farmers. And war against farmers means war against 65 percent of the population,” Shiva told a press conference here.

Referring to the recent killings in Nandigram in West Bengal and large-scale farmer suicides in Vidharbha, Maharashtra, she said: “Our government is encouraging the throw-away policies of the West and pushing them through violence.”

According to her, policies driven by corporate globalisation are pushing farmers off the land and peasants out of agriculture, which is against the natural evolutionary process.

She said: “The government, by encouraging big business houses like Reliance, Wal-Mart, Monsanto, Cargill is trying to corporatise agriculture.”

“When the world is moving beyond the Wal-Mart model and the Americans are thinking of re-ruralisation, we are being asked to dismantle our mandis (wholesale markets), our haats (rural markets), increase food miles and aggravate climate chaos.”

“A small bio-diverse farm has higher productivity than large industrial farms which contribute to climate change,” Shiva added referring to a recent address by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to an industry body that small landholdings limit the chances to improve agricultural productivity.

On the issue of using genetically modified seeds and chemical fertilisers, she said: “The soil looses fertility through chemical fertilisers.”

As a solution to the problem, Shiva is planning to create a re-agricultural strategy in Nandigram and Vidharbha and formulate a food security system.

Cautioning the government about the upcoming general elections in 2009, she said: “If the anti-farmer and pro-corporate policies continue to be pushed by the prime minister the entire government will have to pay a heavy price.”

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