Enhancing agricultural livelihoods through community institutions in Bihar, India (English)

Author(s): Behera, Debaraj; Chaudhary, Arvind Kumar; Vutukuru, Vinay Kumar; Gupta, Abhishek; Machiraju, Sitaramachandra; Shah, Parmesh
Source: World Bank | January 2013
 
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Bihar’s agriculture sector employs more than eighty percent of the labor force and more than fourfifths of these farmers are small and marginal. They have one of the lowest agricultural productivity in India that has not increased due to several constraints. Jeevika, a project jointly supported by the World Bank and the Government of Bihar, has piloted, customized and eventually scaled-up several innovative livelihood interventions to improve the well-being of poor households in Bihar. A number of innovative aspects account for the success of these livelihoods programs in the state. Foremost among these is the fact that it was implemented through community-driven and community-owned institutions. The institutional platform that was facilitated by the project has enabled the creation of a single-window system at the doorstep of small and marginal farmers. Farmers can now demand better services from the public sector, access credit from commercial banks, and experiment and customize various technologies. This note will focus on System of Crop Intesification’ (SCI), which has evolved from a well-known farming methodology called System of Rice Intensification. It has been customized and adopted for wheat, green gram, oil seeds and vegetables in Bihar. The participant farmers have witnessed 86% increase in rice productivity and 72% increase in wheat productivity. The profitability of rice cultivation has increased 2.5 times and has almost doubled for oil-seeds. Since 2008, implementation of SCI has contributed to an additional income increase of around US$10.7 million.  Read more >>

Illegal planting of GM corn during field trials by Monsanto in UAS, Dharwad, Karnataka: GM Free Coalition

Coalition for GM-Free India

April 9th 2012

To

Smt.Jayanti Natarajan,

Minister for Environment & Forests ( Independent Charge )

Ministry for Environment & Forests.

Dear Madam,

Re: Illegal planting of GM corn during field trials by Monsanto in UAS, Dharwad, Karnataka

Ref : Letter from the MoEF dtd 12017/10/2012/CS-III dated 19th March, 2012.

We appreciate the response from the Ministry’s Gentic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) on the above subject; however we would like to point out that extracts from the minutes of the GEAC meeting 115 on February 8, 2012 does nothing to establish the legality of planting NK603. The GEAC minutes have not addressed or answered our representation about this serious matter of illegal GMO planting and the consequent threat to biosafety.

In fact the explanations from GEAC raises more questions, obfuscates issues and tries to avoid the issue of illegal planting without addressing it. Given below are the pertinent issues that point to the fact that our original representation about illegal planting stands valid and in addition, there now seems to be an effort to cover up the issue and make it seem legal and in order.

  1. As per point 1 (of the GEAC facts of the case from minutes of meeting 115) the protocol/experimental design submitted by the applicant (Monsanto for Biosafety Research Level-I of its GM maize) and approved by GEAC on four different occasions did not include the treatment with NK6031 as comparator. This means that at no previous stage of field trials of this transgenic corn, NK603 was used as a comparator.
  1. There were 4 different applications made to GEAC during the BRL-II trials of the same GM hybrid corns. (BRL-II, seed production and IRM). Three of them were taken up by GEAC during its 104th meeting on 15/11/2010 and the fourth one during its 105th meeting on 8/12/2010 (relevant excerpts from GEAC minutes attached for ready reference).
  1. The trial under question is the BRL-II which was discussed and approved on 15/11/2010 during the 104thmeeting of GEAC. The application from the applicant did not seek the use of NK603 as comparator. GEAC’s approval statement2 and its subsequent letter to the applicant did not carry any statement permitting the use NK603 as comparator. (Attached GEAC letter to applicant).
  1. Therefore the point 4 (of the GEAC facts of the case table from minutes of meeting 115) stating that “field design included the inclusion of the treatment with event NK603 as comparator” is completely incorrect.
  1. On the other hand, the GEAC minutes and the letter to the applicant with instructions about the trials protocols repeatedly and specifically state that the objectives of the trial (BRL-II) is to study the efficacy of transgenic corn hybrids and compare them with their non-transgenic counter parts (Attached GEAC letter to applicant).
  1. In parallel, while considering the application for IRM testing Monsanto had sought the permission to use NK603 as part of the refuge in a bag strategy. GEAC had explicitly refused permission for the use of NK603 as detailed here: “5.6.4 The Committee noted that the corn hybrids expressing NK603 has not been approved for environmental release and, therefore, rejected the request of the applicant to use transgenic corn hybrids expressing NK603 while conducting IRM trials for ascertaining refuge strategy.”3
  1. From the above points it is amply clear that GEAC had decided that the use of NK603 cannot be allowed as the GMO is not approved for environmental release.
  1. Further the notes from meeting 115 of GEAC mention that the same BRL-II of Monsanto’s maize trials going on at Anand, Gujarat is being conducted without treatment with NK603.

In view of the above how did the committee (of GEAC) during the discussions on 8th February, 2012 (meeting 115), reviewing these very facts conclude as follows: “the Committee noted the fact that the GEAC in its 104th and 105th meeting held on 15.11.2010 and 08.12.2010 respectively had approved the request of the applicant to conduct BRL-II trials with the inclusion of the treatment with event NK603 as a comparator.”4 ?

  • Where is the evidence that NK603 “unapproved for environmental release” according to GEAC’s own decision and disallowed for the IRM trial on those grounds, was for some reason allowed to be used as comparator for BRL-II trials of Monsanto maize?

  • How can we simply believe this assertion about the use of this unapproved GMO (NK603):

    • which is not backed by evidence

    • which stands contrary to GEAC’s own pronouncements in the same meeting about NK603

    • and which is not part of any previous or concurrent field trial protocol of the same crop in any other location other than UAS Dharwad?

  • Why has the applicant not been asked for any explanation in this whole process and why is the regulator defending the applicant?

  • While bringing these points we would also like to put it on record that in the sequence of events GEAC has tried more than once (Points 4, 13, 14) to obfuscate the issue with irrelevant and incorrect facts.

  • Also the regulator has cast aspersions on the head of the compliance committee in order to defend the applicant. This either means that people designated to do compliance and monitoring do not know the regulations and protocols, which in turn means that our assertion about the threat to biosafety due to unsupervised trials is again validated. If not that, then the officials are being made into scapegoats to defend a biotech-multinational like Monsanto which puts under the scanner the impartiality of GEAC and the stringency of its processes. How can we accept that the Principal Scientist of the Institute which was made into the supervising authority for these trials, which drew up the trial protocols, did not know what he was verifying and would have just made a frivolous remark without any basis during his monitoring visit on May 5th 2011 to the field trial? 

In view of the fact that no evidence and no scientific reasoning has been provided to establish the legality of the use of NK603, we believe that the planting of NK603 as comparator was illegal. We further allege that GEAC is involved in covering up this serious violation without being able to provide any reasoning or evidence.

 

 

The Coalition reiterates its demand that:

 

  • The Minister for Environment & Forests fix accountability on Monsanto and its Indian associates for violating Indian law.
  • MoEF take action against the regulators who repeatedly fail to check the violations of the corporations.

 

 

Thanking you

Yours truly

 

Sridhar Radhakrishnan,

Convener, Coalition for a GM-Free India

H-3, Jawahar Nagar, Kawdiar, Thiruvananthapuram – 695003, Kerala.

Ph : 09995358205

email : mail.thanal@gmail.com, website : www.indiagminfo.org

 

Copy to : Sri M F Farooqui, Chairman, GEAC

Ms Ranjini Warrier, Member Secretary, GEAC

1 NK603 is an unapproved GM HT corn whose planting is therefore illegal in India.

2 Minutes of the 104th meeting of GEAC on 15/11/2010 http://www.moef.nic.in/divisions/csurv/geac/decision-nov-104.pdf

3 Minutes of the 104th meeting of GEAC on 15/11/2010 http://www.moef.nic.in/divisions/csurv/geac/decision-nov-104.pdf

Robustness and Strategies of Adaptation among Farmer Varieties of African Rice (Oryza glaberrima) and Asian Rice (Oryza sativa) across West Africa

“New research from West Africa challenges the widely held view that African and Asian ‘farmer rice’ varieties have only local value owing to their poor ability to adapt to adverse environmental conditions.

Researchers at Wageningen University in the Netherlands and AfricaRice in Benin studied 26 varieties of rice developed and cultivated locallyby farmers in five West African countries between 2006 and 2012. They were varieties of both African rice (Oryza glaberrima) and Asian rice (Oryza sativa). Their findings suggest that farmer rice varieties can grow without fertilisers, require no special maintenance and can develop ways of coping with stress. This makes them highly adaptable to a wide range of environments.”

For the full article, see http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0034801

Odisha holds a workshop on ‘Conservation of Rice Diversity’

A state-level workshop on ‘Conservation of Rice Diversity’ and ‘Marketing of Organic Rice for Livelihood Improvement of Small holder Farmers’ was organized by NIRMAN, a grassroots organization working towards sustainable agriculture and conservation of agro-biodiversity at IMAGE, Bhubaneswar.
 
Dr. R.S. Gopalan, IAS, Director, Agriculture and Food Production, Dr. J. K. Roy, Retd. Joint Director, CRRI & renowned rice scientist, Natabar Sarangi, rice conservationist and organic farmer jointly inaugurated the workshop.
Prasant Mohanty, Executive Director of NIRMAN delved upon the history and highlighted that rice diversity existed in Odisha, which happens to be one of the birth places of rice. India is a global center of origin and diversity of rice. Over 60,000 distinct rice seed varieties have been collected by Indian agricultural research centres. Many more grew in farmers’ fields, adapted to diverse conditions.
 
About 19,000 rice varieties were collected by Dr Richharia from Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, of which 1600 varieties were found to be high-yielding. He also raised concern for the promotion of hybrid rice variety when traditional variety has the high yielding potentials.
Mr. Sadangi shared his experience of cultivation of rice in organic way and conservation of rice diversity by his farm field. He emphasized that organic farming and cultivation of indigenous rice is the only solution to save farmer, consumer, water and environment.
 
Syed Ghani Khan from Karnataka shared his experience of conservation of 250 varieties of rice in his own farm and was awarded a farmer breeder for developing new variety. Dr. Jafrana Keshari Roy, renowned Rice Scientist said it the wisdom of our farmers due to which traditional rice diversity exists even today. He emphasized the contribution of farmers in conservation of rice diversity.
 
Genetic diversity is the basic raw-material for crop Improvement. Odisha is bestowed with many natural resources including genetic diversity of rice (Secondary centre of origin of rice). The state’s traditional varieties have many unique characters like tolerance to flood, water logging, salinity, drought, pest & disease tolerance, scented rices, fast-flood preparations and contain high grain number.
 
As of date, Odisha has total 6700 varieties of rice. Dr Roy also cited the effects of Green Revolution which has caused irreversible damage of bi-diversity degradation. He emphasized that govt. should extend support to farmers for adoption of in situ conservation of traditional variety of rice.
 
Mr. Debalu from Sanjeevani, Araku Valley, Andhra Pradesh participated and shared his experience in the workshop. Mr. R. S. Gopalan, Director, Dept. of Agriculture and Food Production shared the state’s experience on conservation of traditional rice variety in Odisha. He has made efforts to getting registration of traditional variety of Rice by Protection of Plant Variety and Farmers’ Right Authority (PPV & FRA), New Delhi. He said they have indigenous varieties with a high yielding potential. “Our scientists should research on Desi varieties and should have open mind,” he said.
 
Mr. Krishna Prasad, Director of Sahaj Samruddh, an organization in Bangalore promoting organic farming and conservation of local variety participated in the workshop and shared how they have successfully created models for marketing of organic rice variety and he wished that it should be replicated in Odisha for the benefit of farmers conserving local variety.
 
He also said that we can boost conservation through linking farmers with market for better prices of their produce. The workshop came up with a follow up plan of organising an Organic Mela in Bhubaneswar to provide platform for organic farmers to sale their produce in next 2 to 3 months.
Organic farmers, NGO representative, Govt. Officials and academicians actively participated in the workshop. There was a rice seed exhibition outside of the IMAGE Conference hall. NGOs like NIRMAN, Sahaj Samrudh, Bangalore, Sanjeevani, Andhra Paradesh, Agriculture dept. of Govt. of Orissa, Amhinsa Club participated in the workshop.

Taming food inflation in India by Ashok Gulati

Taming food inflation in India by Ashok Gulati released yesterday talks about raising agriculture wages as one of the main reasons for raising food inflation and suggests mechanisation to increase farm labour productivity and also moving to direct cash transfer for food, fuel, power and fertiliser subsidies.

though much of the economic calculation seems to be complicated and needs some expert to analyse, i feel the last few papers by Ashok Gulati are spelling out what is in offing for indian farmers…..

A Harvest of Heat:Agribusiness andClimate Change

A Harvest of Heat:Agribusiness andClimate Change
How Six Food Industry Giants Are Warming the Planet

Agriculture’s critical dependence on fossil fuels and the clearing of forests, grasslands and prairies for farming are the top two factors responsible for today’s massive global increases in CO2.

http://www.ifg.org/pdf/AgriBiz&Climate4-8.pdf