Gadkari aims to make agriculture profitable


November 27, 2011

THE TIMES OF INDIA

NAGPUR: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national president Nitin Gadkari, who has big plans for making agriculture a profitable vocation in the region, is organizing the second exposition for farmers – Agrovision 2012. Leaders of other political parties have been roped in to ensure maximum participation. The expo will be held from January 27 to 30 at Reshimbagh Ground.

Addressing a press conference on Saturday, Gadkari said that the organizing committee had planned to hold a large number of programmes for increasing the income of farmers. “This will have to be achieved by going in for new crops, using the right kind of fertilizers and . Load-shedding is a major problem so we will promote solar energy,” he said.

The BJP leader said that he is trying to rope in companies from Brazil and Israel that had pioneered new methods in agriculture and also are good manufacturers of farm equipment.

The committee would set up outlets for marketing organically-farmed products. “We have got a cold storage in this area with government help,” he said while stressing it was a apolitical initiative aimed at welfare of farmers.

Gadkari appealed to the leaders from all political parties to take initiative in water conservation. “Water is a major farming in Vidarbha. As a pilot project we have built a check dam in Wardha district, which is providing irrigation to 1,500 hectares and drinking water to 12 villages,” he said.

He further said that Saoner MLA Sunil Kedar is encouraging custard apple farming in his constituency. “We will inform other farmers about this and extend all possible to the farmers who have gone for it,” Gadkari said. The organizing committee has decided to rope in women self help groups (SHGs) to provide employment to women.

Ex-minister Sulekha Kumbhare will coordinate these activities.

Turning to the expo itself, Gadkari said that arrangements would be made for cheap food for the farmers. Musical programmes would be held in the evenings. “We are trying to make railways and state transport provide tickets to them at subsidized rates” he said.

Girish Gandhi, Ravi Boratkar, Ashok Dhawad and Ramesh Mankar were also present in the press conference.

Cows conserving carbon

03 Oct, 2011 05:00 AM
WHEN it comes to , livestock animals have become confused with human management of livestock, Tony Lovell says.A is just a , the co-founder of Soil Carbon Australia observed, but how a impacts on the environment is entirely the product of human decisions.

Those decisions are particularly relevant when the cow is being targeted as a methane-producing agent of climate change, in Mr Lovell’s view.

Instead of positioning cattle and sheep as problems, he suggested that the focus switch to how humans manage both livestock and fire.

A co-founder with Bruce Ward of Soil Carbon Australia, Mr Lovell recently contributed to Richard Branson’s Carbon War Room initiative in London.

The non-profit organisation is dedicated to harnessing entreprenurial drive in the development of climate change solutions. Managing livestock as a solution, rather than a problem, was one of the options on the table.

Mr Lovell has pursued lines of enquiry that put livestock in a more holistic light.

Grazing animals play a vital role in the ecology of grasslands, in that they provide an efficient way of cycling plants.

Left unchecked, a grassland will grow until it becomes moribund and dies off. The only means left to quickly cycle the plant material is fire – a tool used to excess across the world.

NASA estimates that fires each year consume 1.8-10 billion tonnes of biomass, releasing billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases.

Mr Lovell asked, what if each year the edible portion of the biomass that is now burned is instead eaten by livestock?

Scientists suggest cycling the biomass through livestock wouldn’t create as much greenhouse gas as fire, despite livestock’s reputation in this area.

Mr Lovell asked a CSIRO scientist to calculate how much greenhouse gas would be emitted by burning a tonne of grass, and feeding the same tonne of grass through a cow.

The response in rough terms (given that much depends on the feed quality) was the “greenhouse gas intensity” of burning the grass would be 3.6 times more than if it was eaten by cattle.

And if grass is eaten, instead of being burned, it produces food – potentially quite a lot of it.

Mr Lovell roughed out some calculations under which two billion tonnes of biomass was eaten by livestock instead of being burned, and arrived at a figure of around 100 million tonnes of extra meat production.

Global meat production in 2000 was about 56 million tonnes, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Those extra animals would produce extra methane – but the net greenhouse effect would depend on how they were managed.

Properly managed livestock – that is, livestock managed to allow plant recovery from grazing and buildup of biodiversity – have been shown to be a regenerative force on degraded rangelands across the world.

If livestock were managed in a way that improved soil and groundcover on currently degraded land, that would immediately increase “grass albedo” – the ability of the Earth’s surface to reflect heat, rather than store heat as happens when sunlight hits bare ground.

More rough calculations – by an engineering professor at a Scottish university – came up with the figure that if grass albedo was employed, only 0.4 per cent of the Earth’s land area would be needed to repair the “thermal damage” done to the planet’s surface since preindustrial times.

Mr Lovell also contacted two US professors who discovered that if methane-emitting landfills are covered in fertile, biologically active soil, most of the landfill’s methane is oxidised by bacteria in the soil.

“Asked if it was possible that all the methane from a grazing cow could be similarly oxidised by the bacteria in a good pasture soil, a professor responded that with qualifications, ‘it should be attainable’.”

Put all the “back-of-the-envelope” figures together, Mr Lovell said, and they suggest that properly managed ruminant livestock have a place in addressing climate change.

“I’m not saying we have the answers, but if we think of livestock in terms of environmental cycles rather than just as methane producers, we get a very different picture,” he said.

And if grass is eaten, instead of being burned, it produces food – potentially quite a lot of it.

Mr Lovell roughed out some calculations under which two billion tonnes of biomass was eaten by livestock instead of being burned, and arrived at a figure of around 100 million tonnes of extra meat production.

Global meat production in 2000 was about 56 million tonnes, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Those extra animals would produce extra methane – but the net greenhouse effect would depend on how they were managed.

Properly managed livestock – that is, livestock managed to allow plant recovery from grazing and buildup of biodiversity – have been shown to be a regenerative force on degraded rangelands across the world.

 

If livestock were managed in a way that improved soil and groundcover on currently degraded land, that would immediately increase “grass albedo” – the ability of the Earth’s surface to reflect heat, rather than store heat as happens when sunlight hits bare ground.

More rough calculations – by an engineering professor at a Scottish university – came up with the figure that if grass albedo was employed, only 0.4 per cent of the Earth’s land area would be needed to repair the “thermal damage” done to the planet’s surface since preindustrial times.

Mr Lovell also contacted two US professors who discovered that if methane-emitting landfills are covered in fertile, biologically active soil, most of the landfill’s methane is oxidised by bacteria in the soil.

“Asked if it was possible that all the methane from a grazing cow could be similarly oxidised by the bacteria in a good pasture soil, a professor responded that with qualifications, ‘it should be attainable’.”

Put all the “back-of-the-envelope” figures together, Mr Lovell said, and they suggest that properly managed ruminant livestock have a place in addressing climate change.

“I’m not saying we have the answers, but if we think of livestock in terms of environmental cycles rather than just as methane producers, we get a very different picture,” he said.

Panel seeks ban on plastic, pesticides

http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/Mumbai/Panel-seeks-ban-on-plastic-/Article1-774921.aspx

The (WGEEP) has recommended a blanket ban on plastic in the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats on the lines of the ban that is currently in place in hill stations such as Ooty and Mahabaleshwar. The panel has also suggested phasing out of pesticides

and using the organic farming model that is being used in Kerala as an alternative.
Confirming the recommendations, VS Vijayan, WGEEP panel member and ex-chairman of Biodiversity Board, Kerala, said, “Plastic is detrimental to the natural flow of water, growth of indigenous and rare plants in the Western Ghats, one of the most unique biodiversity hotspots. There’s a complete ban on polythene bags in hill towns such as Ooty and Mahabaleshwar.”

Lauding the move to phase out pesticides, Vijayan said the recommendation will go a long way in helping the region conserve its flora and fauna and save its fertile land. “The idea is to shift towards organic farming completely. We have suggested the organic farming model used in Kerala as an alternative and the use of pesticides should be stopped in a phased manner within five years of adopting this model,” Vijayan told HT.

is one of the states to have adopted organic farming methods and non-pesticidal management. The Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) based in Hyderabad is one of the driving forces, helping the farming community to cultivate crops using traditional methods.

Commenting on the recommendations of the WGEEP report, founder of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology PM Bhargava said, “It’s a wise recommendation. Pesticides have been subsidised many times over leading to its excessive use, which has in turn spoiled the quality of soil and ground water. It is time we understand the importance of organic farming.”

“It has been proven more than adequately that pesticides can be eliminated without affecting the yield. The rural development ministry of Andhra Pradesh along with CSA has helped cultivate 35 lakh acres of land solely by adopting NPM and organic farming,” Kavitha Kuruganti, Bengaluru based anti-GM activist told HT.

I am an Indian farmer, hear me out

O Mother! When our loan and other applications gather dust for months together, big companies are able to getall clearances in a matter of weeks.

O Mother Earth! God bless my country. We, farmers, are the umbilical cord who connect mankind with you, Mother. What a high position we held in this country. We and our profession have been the central theme of many poets. My grandfather used to quote Tiruvalluvar, the great Tamil sage, who has dedicated 10 couplets to us — agriculture was considered the noblest of professions as the world was dependent on the farmer and his till. We still have great pride in feeding our brethren though we ourselves go hungry. But what is our status now? We are seen as untouchables by the government and its officials. Is it because we are not rich and because we belong to the lower strata of society? Or, is it believed that other than growing crops, we are of no use to this country?

O Mother Earth! Recently, the government snatched my neighbour’s lands, citing some law. The compensation it gave was a pittance. Why do they target agricultural land when barren land is available aplenty? To whom are we to turn to against this injustice? What is being achieved by snatching land from us and donating it to rich companies? The government may earn money in the long run and everybody may have pockets full of money. But what about food? Unless we have lands to grow crops, how will my countrymen satisfy their hunger? Import every grain of food? What an absurdity!

O Mother! When our loan and other applications gather dust for months together, big companies are able to get all clearances in a matter of weeks. Also, they get all help from the government — be it electricity, good roads or security — whereas we are seen as expendables. The government showers monetary incentives on big companies like tax concession, whereas farmers are struggling to repay even small loans of a few thousand rupees. Every time the creditor comes, we are put to shame. He hurls abuses at us and even resorts to violence. He shames our families and snatches our belongings. Unable to bear such insults, thousands of my people have committed suicide. Sometimes, the government wakes up from its deep slumber and writes off our debt. What is the use of it when the family has lost its breadwinner? The king is dead. Long live the king?

O Mother Earth! You know our needs. They are very minimal. We need good seeds and fertilizers. We need uninterrupted power supply. We need flexible loans from the government. We need protection from middlemen. We need a reasonable price for our produce. Above all, we need good guidance. When other countries are able to grow more using minimal land, why is my country, which has a large extent of agricultural land, not self-sufficient yet? Something is amiss.

O Mother! Every time our politicians disclose their assets, their wealth has grown by leaps and bounds. I feel giddy reading it. How do they do that? If that secret is revealed to farmers like me, we will wipe out our loans and look after agriculture peacefully. Recently, when Anna Hazare went on fast against corruption, we rejoiced. We, farmers, are huge sufferers due to corruption. We were happy that so many people joined him and at last, the mighty government has agreed to accept the wishes of the people. We wish there is someone like Mr. Hazare to highlight our problems too.

O Mother Earth! My tribe is fast vanishing. You are supreme. Help us survive. God bless my country.

(The writer’s email ID is:taraj2804@gmail.com)

Q&A: Vandana Shiva ‘Retail FDI is not about investment, but market grab’

Q&A: Vandana Shiva
‘Retail is not about investment, but market grab’
Sreelatha Menon / November 27, 2011, 0:40 IST

The Cabinet’s decision to allow up to 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail was taken without consulting the states, activist Vandana Shiva tells Sreelatha Menon.

Three years ago, you had campaigned against FDI in retail. But, with the Cabinet’s decision to open the sector to foreign chains, it has been made a reality. Do you accept it now? You have been silent on the issue.
It is still wrong, and many times over so. First, the model of FDI in multi-brand retail has completely failed. The failure has been established in the West. Why else do you have the Occupy Wall Street protests? Also, the decision was taken by the government on the third day of the Opposition demanding action on price rise and the economic crisis. The government seems to be saying, “We don’t care about Parliamentary democracy”. As far as I am concerned, I am writing to the states to improve the understanding on implications of the Cabinet’s decision. The media has been silent, too. In fact, it has been celebrating it, as if it was a big achievement.

One of the reasons in its favour is it would cut wastage and create a cold chain.

In the last one year, I wrote foreword to many books; most were on the wastage in the giant retail model. There is 50 per cent wastage. That India records 40 per cent wastage of food is a lie. It is another matter that the Prime Minister is allowing grains to rot by not picking them up.

How can there be wastage in big retail?
About 50 per cent of the wastage is at the farm level. If you order bread from a bakery, the baker has to stock it all day, and throw what is not sold.

But isn’t it supposed to help farmers, since 30 per cent of the procurement is local?
That is another lie. They call small retail ideological. But it is a reality in this country. The entry of Walmart and the likes started only after India inked the knowledge agreement on agriculture with the US.

As for farmers, if Monsanto’s entry led to a quarter million suicides, Walmart would pave the way for more. The model thrives on making everyone reduce margins, till none exist at lower levels. People reduce their margins till they go out of business. Besides, the criterion for 30 per cent local procurement qualifies businesses below $100 million. That is not small-scale in India!

Also, their model is to use five companies for two years, and then abandon these for new ones.

What would be the implications on labour? Won’t it create jobs?
Why is Walmart importing 80 per cent of what it sells in the US from China? Walmart can’t exist where there are labour rights. They had to leave Germany. As for jobs, the difference between India and the US is we have surplus labour. However, the irony is displaced farmers would not find jobs in these shops. They get educated kids. The poor migrants here can then resort to crime.

What about cold chains and backend infrastructure, which would come with retail FDI?
Does our country lack backend infrastructure? It is decentralised and distributed across the country. If there is a functional village haat or a local mandi that is backend infrastructure, they want to centralise these.

Walmart, for instance, entered India on cash-and-carry five years ago. What backend infrastructure have they created so far? If they couldn’t in five years, what can any of these companies do now?

But hasn’t China benefited from FDI in retail?
Yes, their domestic retail has doubled. But the truth is there was not a shop there. You are comparing a country with zero retail with India, which has a 400 million strong retail force.

The Cabinet decision is not about investment, but market grab. It is the Macaulay effect: You feel inferior and thus, succumb to anything that comes from outside, even if it is worthless.

Why do you call it market grab?
The whole unemployment crisis in the West is due to the model of centralised procurement by a few big players. If the big retailer is to import all medicines from China, our pharmacists would shut shop. Our electronics shops would shut shop. People would go to the big retailer to get cheaper stuff. In the 80s, the difference between retail and wholesale prices was six per cent, which rose to 50 per cent six years ago. With FDI in retail, 98 per cent would go to retail and just two per cent to farmers.

But no state or party has objected so far.
This is because states have not been consulted. It is so undemocratic. And, the Opposition has been tricked when it was not prepared for it. It shows the government refuses to learn a lesson from what happened to Europe and the US. It is an insult to the nation.

Have you been supporting the Anna movement?
I have known Anna since 1984, and his work in Ralegan Siddhi is great. In April, I told him the challenge is to join the energy of existing movements. It is focused on one law. It should be a set of parallel movements, with each member taking up a cause. Maybe, (Arvind) Kejriwal can take up Lok Pal and someone else can take up another issue. Public support can be channelised to many issues to create a nationwide movement for change on many fronts.

Critics have said the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has been driving the movement. Do you agree?
No, that is not true. The RSS has not been able to keep up with issues and is out of touch. If it wanted to do something, it would do it on its own. It is a coming together of many people from different movements. I was called for their first meeting in January, but wasn’t able to make it. And, there were people from across the spectrum — from Ramdev to activists.

Would you join them?
No. I don’t jump into any bandwagon.

Sreelatha Menon: Blood cotton, blood silk

Sreelatha Menon / November 27, 2011, 0:43 IST

Greek hero Agamemnon pays for the indulgence of walking on a rich tapestry with a bloody end. For farmers in the country, the aspiration to earn more seems to have become their hubris — whether it is the case of , , or even ginger, with the state remaining a mute witness.
They are walking to their deaths on carpets of unsold cotton and silk. Or, cotton and silk that is fetching next to nothing compared with their input costs.

Farmers are killing themselves in , Maharashtra and Karnataka unable to bear losses. The government has reported 96 suicides in October this year alone. In the case of cotton, the reason is poor crop and a crash in global prices. Also, farmers have put most of their land under cotton.

The government had a minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 3,300 a quintal for cotton when the going price last year was Rs 7,000 and the cost of production is about Rs 4,000. The prices are down to Rs 3,800 in Vidarbha to Rs 4,200 in Gujarat, leaving farmers in huge debts and no other alternatives as far as crops are concerned.

Ashok Gulati, the chairman of the Committee on Agricultural Costs and Prices, under the ministry of agriculture, blames lack of irrigation (just five per cent compared to 50 per cent in Gujarat), rather than uneconomical MSP of cotton for Vidarbha’s woes. Maharashtra needs to invest in irrigation to improve yields, he says.

The suicides are not a new development. These happen every year, almost in same numbers. Only the reasons change. Between 1998 and 2010, 2.5 lakh farmers committed suicide, an average of around 16,000 or more a year.

In Andhra Pradesh, nearly 25 per cent of all arable land was put under cotton, about 47 lakh acres as against 25 lakh acres last year. In Vidarbha, which is rain-fed and too dry for a water-consuming crop such as cotton, half the arable land was put under cotton.

There is this one instance of Allam Sattenna, a 35-year-old farmer who committed suicide in October this year in Perkalaguda in the Adilabad district. He had two acres and had leased three more for Rs 6,000 for each acre. He planted cotton on all and got just a quintal worth Rs 3,000. A bag of seeds alone costs Rs 900 and the fertilizer as much. His debts were over Rs 70,000, his wife Vijaya told activists of , a group of farmers organisations.

The case of silk farmers in Karnataka was different. The government lowered import duty on silk last year (33 per cent to five per cent) flooding the market with Chinese silk. About 97 suicides have been reported by the state government till this month. The figures were over 200 for 2010-11, according to the state records, which are always lower than central figures

In Kerala, ginger farmers were faced with a crash in global prices compared with last year, Rs 500 a quintal now against Rs 3,000 last year. Suicides have followed.

Agricultural activist Vijay Jawandhia says if global prices are low, the government should give export subsidies to farmers in the form of transportation subsidies, allowed under the World Trade Organisation agreements. Besides, MSP should be revised, he says.

When prices crash, the American farmers never commit suicide. They are cushioned by subsidies of $ 4.6 billion, he says. He cites what Kamal Nath said, when he was the commerce minister, that Indian cotton farmers are pitted against the US treasury, not US cotton farmers.

Political parties are making hay. The Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena are demanding Rs 6,500 for cotton in Maharashtra while their governments in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have not offered such a price.

They are the chorus to the Greek tragedy of Indian farmers.

Farmer suicides hit a 15-year low: AP govt

The number of suicides by farmers in the state has fallen to an all-time low in the last 15 years despite the crisis in the agricultural sector. After a thorough enquiry, the revenue officials published the total number of suicides at 71 this year. Last year, till date, there were 181 farmer suicides. Since 1998, as many as 5,261 farmers have ended their lives in the state.

“Suicides due to genuine agriculture-related reasons this year is 71. The deaths have been confirmed as per inquiry reports. Some more deaths have been reported, which are still being inquired into by the division level officers committee. Final reports are awaited,” a senior revenue official said. With 19 suicides each, Anantapur and Guntur districts account for the highest number of farmer suicides. Kurnool follows with 12 suicides, Medak with seven, Prakasam with six, East Godavari and Krishna with two each and Mahbubnagar, YSR Kadapa, Srikakulam and Visakhapatnam with one suicide each.

Though the Opposition parties dispute the government’s claim, officials insist that the figures are accurate. The government enquired into the farm-related suicides after some bogus claims came to light. The kin of farmers who died of heart attacks, illness, snake bites and other reasons also claimed the benefits, it is alleged.

Data of farmer suicides compiled by the revenue department from 1998 till date is as follows: 1998 (104 suicides), 1999 (180 suicides), 2000 (191 suicides), 2001 (256 suicides), 2002 (323 suicides), 2003 (304 suicides), 2004 (145 suicides), 2004 (1,036 suicides), 2005 (655 suicides), 2006 (556 suicides), 2007 (493 suicides), 2008 (469 suicides), 2009 (297 suicides), 2010 (181 suicides) and 2011 (71 suicides).

“In spite of financial support, the government has given admission of children in social welfare schools and hostels, allotted houses under the IAY scheme, economic support under various schemes, allotted houses under the IAY scheme, economic support under various schemes, pensions etc,” the official said.

http://www.deccanchronicle.com/channels/cities/hyderabad/farmer-suicides-hit-15-year-low-493

‘Wrong government policies force farmers to commit suicide’: ASHA releases report

95 farmers committed suicide in 6 Andhra districts between 7 October and 8 November, says report
Tehelka.com Bureau
New Delhi

http://www.tehelka.com/story_main51.asp?filename=Ws251111AGRICULTURE.asp


Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture members have demanded a parliamentary forum to voice farmers’ problems

Blaming official policies for the increasing number of farmer suicides across the country, farm activists have demanded immediate government intervention to support farmers.

According to a report presented at a press conference organised by the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture () here on Friday, 95 farmers committed suicide in six districts in between 7 October and 8 November. The figure is based on ’s compilation of local news reports after which it conducted a fact-finding mission visiting 20 affected families. found that all the suicides were connected to agriculture-related issues. “They were driven by factors like debt, crop failure and other agrarian reasons,” Kiran Vissa, of Association for India Development, said.

The issues faced by families of farmers committing suicide were brought up by Sajaya Kakarla, of Andhra Pradesh-based Caring Citizens Collective, who has been working with such families for the last five years. “Often, officials deny such families the due compensation of Rs 1,50,000. In fact, they blame the wife for not stopping her husband from committing suicide,” said Kakarla. Besides, there’s the strange official notion that a suicide could not be genuine.

State policies on agriculture are often equally absurd forcing farmers to commit suicide. “The policies promote wrong cultivation practices in rain-fed areas such as encouraging crops dependant on rain,” Kishor Tiwari, of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, pointed out. “We can’t term them suicides; they’re policy-driven victims of the state. We want policies which let the farmers live,” he added.

However, it’s the absence of proper policies which hits farmers in some cases. GV Ramanjaneyulu, of the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, said that there was currently no mechanism to compensate farmers hit by drought. Kavitha Kuruganti, of ASHA, said that the domestic price system did not take farmers into consideration and non-institutional agencies didn’t cover tenant farmers.

High cost of cultivation and price collapse triggers suicides as well. In fact, according to advocate Pradeep Kumar, of Haritha Sena, “Eleven farmers committed suicide in Kerala in the last 25 days alone due to the collapse in prices of ginger and banana.”

In a meeting with nine members of Parliament and civil society groups on Thursday, the ASHA was promised that these issues would be discussed in the Rajya Sabha. Though a welcome measure, the ASHA does not think that a mere discussion is sufficient and has placed a list of demands, including setting up Parliamentarians Forum on Agrarian Crisis immediately to voice the distress of farmers at the highest possible level.

letters@tehelka.com

రాష్ట్రం లో రైతు ఆత్మహత్యల లెక్క దాస్తున్నారు -డిల్లీ లో ఆశా నివేదిక విడుదల

రాష్ట్రంలో గత ఏడేళ్లలో 3775 మంది బలవన్మరణం; జయతి ఘోష్‌ సిఫార్సులు ఇంతవరకు అమలు చేయలేదు; ప్రభుత్వ విధానాల వల్లే ఆత్మహత్యలు; రాష్ట్రంలో తీవ్ర దురి్భక్షం నెలకొంది; ‘ఆశ’ స్వచ్ఛంద సంస్థ పరిశోధన నివేదిక
న్యూఢిల్లీ – న్యూస్‌టుడే

పెరుగుతున్న ఖర్చులు, తరుగుతున్న ఆదాయం, ప్రభుత్వాల సవతి తల్లి విధానాలు కలగలిపి అన్నదాతల గొంతులకు ఉరితాళ్లు పేనుతున్నట్లు ‘అలయన్స్‌ ఫర్‌ సస్టెయినబుల్‌ హోలిస్టిక్‌ అగ్రికల్చర్‌’(ఆశా) అనే స్వచ్ఛంద సంస్థ తేల్చింది. ఆంధ్రప్రదేశ్ ప్రభుత్వం రైతుల ఆత్మహత్యలను తక్కువచేసి చూపుతూ నిజాలకు పాతరేస్తున్నట్లు తెలిపింది. ఆంధ్రప్రదేశ్తోపాటు దేశవ్యాప్తంగా గత 15 ఏళ్లుగా జరిగిన అన్నదాతల ఆత్మహత్యల లెక్కలు, అందుకు దారితీస్తున్న పరిస్థితులపై ఆశా సంస్థ ఒక పరిశోధనా నివేదికను ఇక్కడ విడుదల చేసింది. 1995-2010 మధ్యకాలంలో దేశవ్యాప్తంగా 2,56,913 మంది రైతులు ఆత్మహత్యలు చేసుకున్నట్లు తెలిపింది. ఒక్క ఆంధ్రప్రదేశ్లోనే 1997 జనవరి నుంచి 2011 ఆగస్టు మధ్యకాలంలో 5251 మంది చనిపోయినట్లు తేల్చింది. 1997 నుంచి 2003 వరకు 1476 మంది రైతులు ఆత్మహత్యలు చేసుకోగా, కాంగ్రెస్‌ అధికారంలోకి వచ్చిన 2004 నుంచి ఇప్పటివరకూ 3775 మంది చనిపోయినట్లు ‘ఆశా’ వెల్లడించింది. అయితే నేషనల్‌ క్రైమ్‌రికార్డ్స్‌ బ్యూరో ప్రకారం 2010లోనే రాష్ట్రంలో 2525 మంది చనిపోయినట్లు పేర్కొంది. రైతుల ఆత్మహత్యలు అరికట్టడానికి వై.ఎస్‌ సర్కార్‌ జయతీ ఘోష్‌ కమిషన్‌ ఏర్పాటు చేసినప్పటికీ ఆ సిఫార్సుల్లో చాలావరకు అమలే చేయలేదని చెప్పింది. ‘ఆశా’ నివేదిక ప్రకారం రైతు ఆత్మహత్యల్లో గత పదేళ్లలో వరంగల్‌(725 మంది), అనంతపురం (654), కరీంనగర్‌ (541) జిల్లాలు మొదటి మూడు స్థానాల్లో, విజయనగరం(2) పశ్చిమ గోదావరి(11), శ్రీకాకుళం(11), విశాఖపట్నం(23) చివరి మూడు స్థానాల్లో ఉన్నాయి. ఆత్మహత్యలు చేసుకొనే సగటు రైతు వయస్సు కేవలం 36 ఏళ్లు మాత్రమేని ఆశా ప్రతినిధి సజయ కాకర్ల చెప్పారు.

నివేదికలోని ముఖ్యాంశాలు
1. గత పదేళ్లలో వ్యవసాయ విధానంలో విపరీత మార్పులొచ్చాయి. 90 శాతం భూమిలో కేవలం వరి, పత్తి, వేరుశనగ, మొక్కజొన్న సాగవుతోంది.
2 ఈ ఏడాది తీవ్ర వర్షాభావ పరిస్థితులు నెలకొన్నాయి. విద్యుత్తు కోతలు తోడయ్యాయి. 2011 ఖరీఫ్‌లో 51 లక్షల ఎకరాల్లో పంట ఎండిపోయింది. ప్రభుత్వపరంగా సాయం లేదు. 50 శాతం సాగువిస్తీర్ణం ఎండిపోయిన తర్వాత ప్రభుత్వం కరువుపీడిత ప్రాంతాలను ప్రకటించింది. వర్షపాతం నెలలో 20 మిల్లీమీటర్లకంటే తక్కువగా ఉంది.

3. సాగు ఖర్చులు విపరీతంగా పెరిగిపోయాయి. పౌష్ఠికాధార సబ్సిడీ విధానం అమలులోకి వచ్చిన తర్వాత ఎరువుల ధరలు పెరుగుతూ పోతున్నాయి. ఏడాదిలో డీఎపీ ఖర్చు రెట్టింపయింది. అయిదేళ్లలో విత్తనాల ధరలు 100 శాతం పెరిగాయి. వర్షాధారిత ప్రాంతాల్లో ఒక్కో బోరు తవ్వకానికి కనీసం రూ.50 వేలు ఖర్చవుతోంది.

4. వ్యవసాయ విధానం రైతుకు అనుకూలంగా లేదు. పెట్టుబడులు పెరిగాయి. నష్టాల ముప్పు అధికంగా ఉంటోంది. కొన్ని వాణిజ్య పంటలే వేస్తూ వెళ్లడం వల్ల చిన్న రైతులు ఆర్థికంగా నష్టపోతున్నారు. నీళ్లు, భూసారం విషయాల్లో కూడా నష్టపోతున్నారు. ఈ ఏడాది 47 లక్షల ఎకరాల్లో (దాదాపు 25%) పత్తి మాత్రమే వేశారు. ఈ పంటకు తమ భూములు తగినవో కాదో రైతులకు తెలియదు. పత్తిసాగుకు కేవలం బోరుబావుల పైనే ఆధారపడటంతో భూగర్భ జలాలు సన్నగిల్లాయి. 60 శాతానికి పైగా ఉన్న వర్షాభావ ప్రాంతం ప్రభుత్వ నిర్లక్ష్యానికి గురవుతోంది. పంట మార్పిళ్లు జరిగేలా ప్రభుత్వం చొరవ తీసుకోవడంలేదు. రక్షిత సాగునీరూ అందించడం లేదు. పశు పోషణ ఆధారిత భృతి కల్పించడం లేదు. దాంతో రైతులు వాణిజ్య పంటలకు మరలి కష్టాల్లో కూరుకు పోతున్నారు.

5. వరికి కనీస మద్దతు ధర రూ.1130 ఉంటే ఖర్చు క్వింటాల్‌కు రూ.1400 అవుతోంది. కౌలు రైతులకు ఖర్చు రూ.1800 వరకు ఉంటోంది.

6. 27 శాతం మందికే బ్యాంకు రుణం లభిస్తోంది. అందే రుణం కూడా స్వల్పం. ఎకరా వరిసాగుకు రూ.17,500 ఖర్చవుతుంటే (కౌలు ఖర్చు సీజన్‌కు పదివేలు అదనం) రుణం మాత్రం రూ.17,000 మాత్రమే వస్తోంది. వాణిజ్య పంటల ఖర్చు-రుణాల మధ్య అగాధం చాలా ఎక్కువగా ఉంటోంది. రైతులు బలవంతంగా వడ్డీవ్యాపారులను ఆశ్రయించాల్సి వస్తోంది.

7. కౌలు రైతులకు బ్యాంకు రుణాలు అందడంలేదు. రాష్ట్రంలో 25 లక్షల మంది కౌలురైతులుంటే గుర్తింపు కార్డులు 5 లక్షల మందికే ఉన్నాయి. ఇందులో 75 వేలమందికి ఖరీఫ్‌లో బ్యాంకు రుణాలు అందాయి.

ఆత్మహత్యలపై సర్కారుకు సూచనలు
చి మూడేళ్లలో వరుసగా పంటలు నష్టపోయిన రైతులను గుర్తించి ఎకరాకు కనీసం పదివేల రూపాయల పరిహారం ఇప్పించాలి. రైతులకు భరోసా ఇచ్చినట్లవుతుంది. ఆత్మహత్య ఆలోచన రాకుండా అడ్డుకుంటుంది.
చి రైతులకు అనుకూలంగా ఎగుమతి, దిగుమతి సుంకాలను సవరించాలి.

చి కనీస మద్ధతు ధర నిర్ధారణ, పంట సేకరణ విధానాలను మార్చాలి. ఎఫ్‌సీఐ, సీసీఐలాంటి ప్రభుత్వం ఏజెన్సీల ద్వారా నేరుగా రైతుల నుంచి సేకరణ జరపాలి.

చి ఆత్మహత్య చేసుకున్న రైతు కుటుంబాలను గుర్తించి తక్షణం పరిహారం అందించాలి. ఆత్మహత్యలను గుర్తించలేని అధికారులపై చర్యలు తీసుకోవాలి. రైతు ఆత్మహత్యల్లో వ్యవసాయ, వ్యవసాయేతర తేడాలు వద్దు. 2010లో ఆంధ్రప్రదేశ్ ప్రభుత్వం కేవలం 158 ఆత్మహత్యలను గుర్తిస్తే, నేషనల్‌ క్రైమ్‌రికార్డ్స్‌ బ్యూరో 2525 మంది బలవంతంగా ప్రాణం తీసుకున్నట్లు తేల్చింది.

చి పంట ఖర్చుపై 50 శాతం లాభం వచ్చేలా కనీస మద్దతు ధర నిర్ణయించాలి. రాకపోతే నష్టపోయిన మొత్తాన్ని ప్రభుత్వం చెల్లించాలి. వినియోగదారుల ధరల కోసం రైతులను బలిచేయొద్దు.

Big plans for mechanisation of farming in 2012-17: Pawar

New Delhi, Oct 19 (PTI)

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/199116/big-plans--farming-2012.html

Faced with labour shortage after the rural employment guarantee scheme, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar today announced that the government plans to launch a mega programme in the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17) for mechanisation of the farming sector.

He expressed the confidence that the country’s foodgrains production in the 2011-12 crop year would surpass the previous year’s record of 241.56 million tonnes and said four per cent targeted growth in the farm sector will be achieved.

Addressing the Economic Editors’ Conference, Pawar said, “With successful implementation of MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) and other anti- poverty programmes of the government, there is now pressure on availability of farm labour.

“While we are attempting to innovatively utilise MGNREGA for augmenting activities that directly add to farm productivity, for compensating scarcity of labour, I am proposing a large programme for agricultural mechanisation during the 12th Plan,” he said.

Pawar said there is “nothing wrong” if rural population was getting better wages under the MGNREGA, but underlined that the farm sector would have to find some alternative to deal with the labour problem.

“Whenever I go to any state and discuss with Chief Ministers, one general complaint I keep hearing about is non- availability of labour, particularly, at the time of sowing and harvesting. “So, in that period, we have to see there is availability of labour and if it is not there…We have to find some alternative mechanism,” he said.

Citing the example of farming of sugarcane wherein a large number of labourers are required at the time of harvesting, Pawar said many states had requested for introduction of sugarcane harvester.

On production outlook for 2011-12 crop year (July-June), Pawar said the monsoon had been very encouraging this year and the country is estimated to have produced a record production in the kharif season.

“We hope to see a substantial expansion in crop area and to achieving record production in the coming Rabi season, too. We are confident that we will be able to surpass our own production record set last year,” he said. Pawar noted that the government’s strategies to rejuvenate the agriculture sector “have been working well and will now be able to achieve targeted four per cent growth”.

He said the agriculture sector posted a 6.6 per cent growth rate during the last fiscal and an average 3.2 per cent in the current plan so far. The minister, however, said that the country needs to produce more to meet the rising domestic demand and this could be achieved through raising the yield from existing area.