Why India is Losing its War on Hunger


Why India is loosing its war on hunger (download)

India is home to a quarter of the world’s hungry people. Since the Green Revolution, the country has produced enough food to feed itself, but it has not yet been able to wipe out mass hunger. Currently, 40 per cent of the population is malnourished – a decline of only 10 per cent in the past three decades.

Stellar economic growth has not delivered on its promise for poverty reduction and food security. Following a series of neoliberal economic reforms in 1991, India’s GDP has doubled, but despite this, 53 million more people now go to bed hungry every night.

To make matters worse, food prices have recently soared. Poor families, who spend more than 60 per cent of their incomes on food, are increasingly struggling to stretch their meagre household budgets.

Unfortunately, small-scale producers have not benefited from high retail prices for food either, as they usually low prices for their produce. Clearly, the country is in the midst of both an agrarian crisis and a nutrition crisis.

Oxfam International Case Study

Author: Swati Narayan, Independent food and education policy specialist

Detrimental effect of expression of Bt endotoxin Cry1Ac on in vitro regeneration, in vivo growth and development of tobacco and cotton transgenics

Detrimental effect of expression of Bt endotoxin Cry1Ac on in vitro regeneration, in vivo growth and development of tobacco and cotton transgenics
1 Department of Genetics, University of Delhi South Campus, Benito Juarez Road, New Delhi 110 021, India
2 Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants, University of Delhi South Campus, Benito Juarez Road, New Delhi 110 021, India
*Corresponding author (Fax, +91-11-24112761; Email, pburma@south.du.ac.in)
† These authors contributed equally to the work.
High levels of expression of the cry1Ac gene from Bacillus thuringiensis cannot be routinely achieved in transgenic plants despite modifications made in the gene to improve its expression. This has been attributed to the instability of the transcript in a few reports. In the present study, based on the genetic transformation of cotton and tobacco, we show
that the expression of the Cry1Ac endotoxin has detrimental effects on both the in vitro and in vivo growth and development of transgenic plants. A number of experiments on developing transgenics in cotton with different versions of cry1Ac gene showed that the majority of the plants did not express any Cry1Ac protein. Based on Southern blot analysis, it was also observed that a substantial number of lines did not contain the cry1Ac gene cassette although they contained the marker gene nptII. More significantly, all the lines that showed appreciable levels of expression were found to be phenotypically abnormal. Experiments on transformation of tobacco with different constructs expressing the cry1Ac gene showed that in vitro regeneration was inhibited by the encoded protein. Further, out of a total of 145 independent events generated with the different cry1Ac gene constructs in tobacco, only 21 showed expression of the Cry1Ac protein, confirming observations made in cotton that regenerants that express high levels of the Cry1Ac protein are selected against during regeneration of transformed events. This problem was circumvented by targeting the Cry1Ac protein to the chloroplast, which also significantly improved the expression of the protein.

36 363–376] DOI 10.1007/s12038-011-9074-5 [Rawat P, Singh AK, Ray K, Chaudhary B, Kumar S, Gautam T, Kanoria S, Kaur G, Kumar P, Pental D and Burma PK 2011 Detrimental effect of expression of Bt endotoxin Cry1Ac on in vitro regeneration, in vivo growth and development of tobacco and cotton transgenics. J. Biosci].

FSSAI panel meets food safety commissioners, reviews PFA-FSS transition

Wednesday, May 25, 2011 08:00 IST
F&B News, New Delhi

The preparedness of states / UTs was reviewed by V N Gaur, chief executive officer, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, at a meeting with the food safety commissioners. The CEO asked the commissioners to gear up the state machinery to take up challenge of licence / registration of food business operators in their states.

The CEO informed delegates that after extensive consultation with various stakeholders draft rules were notified and suggestions received from the public thereon, within the specified period, were considered. In deliberations that followed, measures were suggested for smooth transition from PFA Act 1954 to FSS Act 2006.

States / UTs in turn assured that despite all bottlenecks, they will be able to ensure smooth transition. User-friendly IT-enabled licensing system will be created to improve governance and compliance. Whistleblower scheme was also discussed and states expressed their opinion and views on the same. It provides for reward to person(s) for information on food adulteration.

Food Safety and Standards Rules have now been notified in the Gazette of India vide G S R 362(E) dated May 5, 2011. These rules will come into force after 3 months of date of publication. Considering the requirements of funds for implementation of FSS Act the state governments were impressed upon to prepare details of estimated expenditure and include same in the state government plans.

The New Geopolitics of Food


In the United States, when world wheat prices rise by 75 percent, as they have over the last year, it means the difference between a $2 loaf of bread and a loaf costing maybe $2.10. If, however, you live in New Delhi, those skyrocketing costs really matter: A doubling in the world price of wheat actually means that the wheat you carry home from the market to hand-grind into flour for chapatis costs twice as much. And the same is true with rice. If the world price of rice doubles, so does the price of rice in your neighborhood market in Jakarta. And so does the cost of the bowl of boiled rice on an Indonesian family’s dinner table.

Welcome to the new food economics of 2011: Prices are climbing, but the impact is not at all being felt equally. For Americans, who spend less than one-tenth of their income in the supermarket, the soaring food prices we’ve seen so far this year are an annoyance, not a calamity. But for the planet’s poorest 2 billion people, who spend 50 to 70 percent of their income on food, these soaring prices may mean going from two meals a day to one. Those who are barely hanging on to the lower rungs of the global economic ladder risk losing their grip entirely. This can contribute — and it has — to revolutions and upheaval.

Already in 2011, the U.N. Food Price Index has eclipsed its previous all-time global high; as of March it had climbed for eight consecutive months. With this year’s harvest predicted to fall short, with governments in the Middle East and Africa teetering as a result of the price spikes, and with anxious markets sustaining one shock after another, food has quickly become the hidden driver of world politics. And crises like these are going to become increasingly common. The new geopolitics of food looks a whole lot more volatile — and a whole lot more contentious — than it used to. Scarcity is the new norm.

Until recently, sudden price surges just didn’t matter as much, as they were quickly followed by a return to the relatively low food prices that helped shape the political stability of the late 20th century across much of the globe. But now both the causes and consequences are ominously different.

How Food Explains the World
By Joshua E. Keating

Street Eats

An FP Slide Show

In many ways, this is a resumption of the 2007-2008 food crisis, which subsided not because the world somehow came together to solve its grain crunch once and for all, but because the Great Recession tempered growth in demand even as favorable weather helped farmers produce the largest grain harvest on record. Historically, price spikes tended to be almost exclusively driven by unusual weather — a monsoon failure in India, a drought in the former Soviet Union, a heat wave in the U.S. Midwest. Such events were always disruptive, but thankfully infrequent. Unfortunately, today’s price hikes are driven by trends that are both elevating demand and making it more difficult to increase production: among them, a rapidly expanding population, crop-withering temperature increases, and irrigation wells running dry. Each night, there are 219,000 additional people to feed at the global dinner table.

More alarming still, the world is losing its ability to soften the effect of shortages. In response to previous price surges, the United States, the world’s largest grain producer, was effectively able to steer the world away from potential catastrophe. From the mid-20th century until 1995, the United States had either grain surpluses or idle cropland that could be planted to rescue countries in trouble. When the Indian monsoon failed in 1965, for example, President Lyndon Johnson’s administration shipped one-fifth of the U.S. wheat crop to India, successfully staving off famine. We can’t do that anymore; the safety cushion is gone.

That’s why the food crisis of 2011 is for real, and why it may bring with it yet more bread riots cum political revolutions. What if the upheavals that greeted dictators Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, and Muammar al-Qaddafi in Libya (a country that imports 90 percent of its grain) are not the end of the story, but the beginning of it? Get ready, farmers and foreign ministers alike, for a new era in which world food scarcity increasingly shapes global politics.

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శాస్త్రీయ విధానంలో మద్దత్తు ధర (ఎంఎస్‌పి)

సెంటర్ ఫర్ సస్టైనబుల్ అగ్రికల్చర్, May 25th, 2011

వరిధాన్యానికి కనీస మద్దతు ధరను శాస్ర్తియ విధానంలో నిర్ణయిస్తేనే రైతులకు గిట్టుబాటు అవుతుంది. ప్రస్తుతం అవలంభిస్తున్న విధానం లోపభూయిష్టంగా ఉంది. దాంతో రైతులు ఆర్థికంగా కుంగిపోయి జీవిస్తున్నారు. వ్యవసాయ ఉత్పత్తుల ధరలను నిర్ణయించడానికి, వ్యవసాయేతర ఉత్పత్తుల ధరలు నిర్ణయించడానికి అసలు పొంతనే లేదు. ప్రస్తుత ధరలను 1997-98తో పోలిస్తే వ్యవసాయ ఉత్పత్తుల ధరలు కేవలం 25 శాతం పెరిగితే సిమెంట్, స్టీల్, ప్రాసెసింగ్ ఫుడ్ తదితర వస్తువుల ధరలు 300 నుండి 600 శాతం పెరిగాయి. ఇదే సమయంలో ఉద్యోగుల వేతనాలు 150 శాతం పెరిగాయి. రైతుల ఆదాయం మాత్రం పాతిక శాతం కూడా పెరగలేదు. పంటలకు పెట్టుబడులు పెరగడంతో పంటల ఉత్పత్తులకు లభిస్తున్న ధరలు గిట్టుబాటు కావడం లేదు. 2004-05లో క్వింటాల్ ధాన్యానికి పెట్టుబడి ఖర్చు 578 కాగా, అదే క్వింటాల్‌కు ఎంఎస్‌పి 560గా నిర్ణయించారు. 2010-11 సంవత్సరానికి క్వింటాల్ ధాన్యానికి పెట్టుబడి ఖర్చు 1500లకు పెరగగా, ఎంఎస్‌పి మాత్రం 1030గా నిర్ణయించారు. వాస్తవాలను పరిగణనలోకి తీసుకుపోవడమే ఇందుకు కారణం.

వ్యవసాయానికి పెట్టే పెట్టుబడితో పాటు రైతుల జీవన ఖర్చులను కూడా పరిగణనలోకి తీసుకోవాలి. జాతీయ రైతు కమిషన్ చేసిన సిఫార్సు ప్రకారం పెట్టుబడి ఖర్చుతో పాటు యాభైశాతం అదనంగా కలిపి కనీస మద్దతు ధర నిర్ణయించాలి.
రైతుల నుండి కొనుగోలు చేసే ధాన్యం మొత్తాన్ని ప్రభుత్వమే నేరుగా కొనుగోలు చేసే విధంగా ఒక విధానాన్ని రూపొందించాలి. చత్తీస్‌గఢ్ రాష్ట్రం సమర్థవంతమైన కొనుగోలు విధానాన్ని అమలు చేస్తోంది. ఇదే విధానాన్ని మనం కూడా అమలు చేస్తే బాగుంటుంది. మన రాష్ట్రంలో మహిళా సంఘాల ద్వారా జరిగిన ధాన్యం కొనుగోలు బాగానే ఉంది. ఈ విధానాన్ని విస్తృతం చేస్తే బాగుంటుంది. మహిళా సంఘాలు 2006-07 నుండి కొనుగోలు చేస్తున్న ధాన్యాన్ని మిల్లింగ్ చేసి భారత ఆహార సంస్థకు విక్రయిస్తున్నాయి. దాంతో మహిళా సంఘాలు తమ ఖర్చును మినహాయించుకుని రైతులకు మంచి ధరను చెల్లిస్తున్నాయి. ఈ విధానాన్ని విస్తృతం చేసి మిల్లర నుండి ఎఫ్‌సిఐ లెవీ బియ్యం కొనుగోలు చేసే పద్ధతికి స్వస్తి పలికితే రైతులకు లాభదాయకంగా ఉంటుందనడంలో సందేహం లేదు.
2009-10లో సేకరించిన బియ్యం నిల్వలతో రాష్ట్రంలోని గోదాములు నిండి ఉన్నాయి. ఈ కారణంగానే 2010-11లో ఇప్పటి వరకు ప్రభుత్వం రైతుల నుండి కొనుగోలు చేసిన ధాన్యం 4.70 లక్షల టన్నులు మాత్రమే కావడం గమనార్హం. రబీకి సంబంధించి 60 లక్షల టన్నులు మార్కెట్లోకి వచ్చింది. ప్రస్తుతం ధాన్యం వ్యాపారం మొత్తం మిల్లర్ల చేతిలో ఉండటంతో వారు ఏవో కారణాలు చెబుతూ రైతులకు ఎంఎస్‌పి ఇవ్వడం లేదు. ఒకవైపు రైతులకు తక్కువ ధర చెల్లిస్తున్న మిల్లర్లు మరోవైపు ఎఫ్‌సిఐకి మిల్లింగ్ చేసిన బియ్యం ఎక్కువ ధరకు ఇస్తూ, బియ్యంతో పాటు వచ్చే ఉపఉత్పత్తుల ఆదాయాన్ని కూడా తినేస్తున్నారు. పంటలు వేసేందుకు ఆరు నెలల ముందే ఎంఎస్‌పిని ప్రకటించాల్సిన అవసరం ఉంది. ఈ విధానం వల్ల ఏ పంటలు వేసుకోవాలో రైతులే నిర్ణయించుకుంటారు. సకాలంలో బ్యాంకుల ద్వారా రైతులందరికీ రుణసౌకర్యం కల్పించాల్సిన అవసరం ఉంది.
– డాక్టర్ జి.వి. రామాంజనేయులు
ఎగ్జిక్యూటివ్ డైరెక్టర్, సెంటర్ ఫర్ సస్టైనబుల్ అగ్రికల్చర్


Natural Gas requirement by fertilizer sector in India

Download fertilizer sector in India-Gas_Parikh 2009

Interesting paper that argues for India to shift to gas based fertilizer plants – based on ‘efficiency’. Obviously, efficiency is not something that is to be measured without considering how (the subsidy) the resource/energy is supplied to the fertilizer plant. If markets are to determine prices of all energy sources, then the state must bring in criteria to value human and animal labour also as energy sources, with parity in pricing. The latter-  the doubling or trebling of wage rates for human labour, is however, not acceptable. Equally unacceptable is a reduction of other energy prices (on the basis of current market rates for human labour- measured in joules or k.calories per hour) to one third of their current price. We are left with a state that allows different “markets” to operate on different sources of energy.

Here an obvious omission is that of output structure and employment which again is causally linked.  For most of humanity, the only commodity a person has to sell is labour power, so that the person’s entitlements depend crucially on his or her ability to find a job, the wage rate for that job, and the prices of commodities that he or she wishes to buy (Sen, 1983).

Rajeswari Raina, NISTADS


Natural Gas is one of the important fossil fuel energy resources in India. Anchor customers of natural gasare the power sector and nitrogenous fertilizer. It is the cleanest form of energy derived from the fossilfuel basket. Because of clean combustion characteristics, natural gas is the fuel choice for many sectionsof Indian industry. The demand for natural gas will grow with time. Currently natural gas accounts for 7%of the primary energy consumption of India. The Government of India has its commitment to foodsecurity and energy security. The policies are directed toward greater allocation of natural gas ona priority basis to fertilizer and the power sector. Natural gas is the main and preferred feedstock for ureamanufacture. This paper analyzes and estimates projected demand of natural gas in the next twodecades. The demand projections have been reviewed in the context of changing government policiesregarding the fertilizer industry, such as farm gate price regulation and self-sufficiency level of indigenousurea production. The current growth plan of natural gas supply and evolving supply scenario in thefuture are also considered in the study.

America’s $24bn subsidy damages developing world cotton farmers

The developing world can’t compete with the US’s giant $24bn subsidy for its cotton farmers. Barack Obama should end the payouts

A man works in a cotton factoryc in Mumbai

A man working in a cotton factory in Mumbai, India.

US subsidies of $24bn to its cotton farmers have driven down world prices and damaged livelihoods of developing world cotton producers. Photograph: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

I’ve been looking forward to President Barack Obama’s state visit to the UK this week and to hearing him address MPs and peers at Westminster Hall.

President Obama will no doubt focus on many matters of great international importance. I think cotton should be one of them. I have seen for myself just how vital cotton is for millions of farmers in west Africa and the damage caused to their livelihoods by developed country subsidies. I have pressed for EU reform, but action from the United States is critical.

President Obama could, and should, take a lead in addressing this.

The US government continues to subsidise its cotton farmers – $24bn (£15bn) over the past 10 years – despite the World Trade Organisation ruling some of these subsidies illegal. And when the WTO backed Brazil’s case that the subsidies were damaging, the US government simply offered to pay subsidies to Brazilian farmers too.

I can’t be alone in spotting the irony of the world’s greatest free-trader continuing to violate the system so blatantly.

America’s payments to its farmers are designed to shield them from the volatility of cotton prices. But they also enable the US to export cheaply, depressing the price for other cotton producers in some of the poorest regions of the world and leaving them unable to compete with their richer American counterparts.

The voices of African farmers and others in developing countries are being ignored. In 2008, a group of African leaders tabled specific proposals to which the US has so far failed to respond.

It is now nearly 10 years since the WTO Doha Round talks first began. In 2001 there was a clear objective – to lower trade barriers around the world and help facilitate the increase of global trade. But the promise to make the Round deliver for development has clearly failed and the talks are now on the brink of collapse.

The world needs to focus on rebuilding faith in the multilateral trading system and also respond to the concerns raised time and time again by governments across Africa. An immediate commitment by the US to implement the WTO’s ruling and to cut cotton subsidies further would be a good place to start.

Taking this action would send a clear message to farmers in developing countries that the world is serious about its commitment to trade reform.

Discussions around the latest US farm bill have just begun. Now is the ideal time to raise this matter and bring about real change for millions of farmers who depend on cotton for a living. The coalition government has promised to do more to address the impact of European subsidies and must honour this, but action from the US is vital. The president’s state visit provides a unique opportunity for the government to raise the profile of this important issue.

The United States and others made a commitment in Doha to farmers from developing countries. But, almost a decade later, there has been no change. Whether Doha fails or succeeds, President Obama can and should, take a lead on removing illegal cotton subsidies and ensure that the promises made are honoured.

• Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead is the opposition’s spokeswoman on international development in the House of Lords and an expert on trade and development. She was minister for Africa in Gordon Brown’s government