India’s Role in the New Global Farmland Grab

See how CII, CIFA, FICCI etc have played an important role in new farm land grab by Indian companies

indias role in new global farmland grab

This report explores the role of Indian agricultural companies that have been involved in the
recent trend in large-scale overseas acquisitions of farmland, criticised as “land grabbing”.
While many international companies have traditionally grown cash crops abroad, and more
recently crops for producing biofuels for global markets, this report is focused especially on
the issue of Indian companies that invest in food production overseas.

The report examines the various factors driving the “outsourcing” of domestic food
production. Primary among these are the Indian Government’s growing strategic concerns
about ensuring the country’s long-term food security, and its concerns about diminishing
ground water tables in Northern and Central India. Other factors include the allure for Indian
foreign investors of much cheaper land and more abundant water sources in overseas
locations and the eager welcome of many developing country governments, many of which
have courted Indian agricultural investors. In many cases, such countries have offered special
incentives, including the offer to lease massive tracts of arable land at very generous terms,
including access to water and the ability to fully repatriate profits generated.

The report also lists the major ways in which the Indian Government has been increasingly
pro-active in taking steps to facilitate this trend for overseas agricultural investment by Indian
companies, such as high-level trade diplomacy and lines of credit from the Export-Import
Bank. India’s outward foreign direct investment has been enabled by a series of reforms and
modifications over the last decade to India’s rules and regulations on Indian companies
investing in overseas operations.

Also reviewed are the pro-active roles played by national Indian business associations such as
the Confederation of Indian Industry’s (CII), the Associated Chambers of Commerce and
Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and
Industries (FICCI), as well as by sector-specific groups, such as the Consortium of Indian
Farmers Association (CIFA) and the Solvent Extractors Association (SEA) of India. Such
groups have been actively engaged in high-level trade delegations to countries which are
interested in luring Indian agricultural firms to invest, and have arranged a series of business
conclaves and trade fairs. The groups are all active in lobbying the Indian Government to
pursue even further reforms to trade policy, Exim Bank credits and the rules on outward
foreign direct investment in order to facilitate the overseas acquisitions of agricultural land by
Indian companies.

The report also explores the negative consequences of such a trend. It looks at why critics
have called the trend “land grabbing” and reviews the impacts on local peoples on the
ground, who are often displaced in the process. It considers the negative ethical, political,
human rights and environmental consequences for the people and host countries involved in
such investments by Indian companies.

Although information about such overseas operations by Indian companies is difficult to get
from the Indian Government, this report used available research and press accounts to explore
the details of 19 Indian companies who have made such land acquisitions abroad, including
an exposé of the actual contracts of 5 Indian companies operating in Ethiopia. Ethiopia has
taken center stage in the story of “land grabbing” because it is one of the developing

countries where some of the largest agricultural land acquisitions by foreign investors have
occurred, including by Indian firms.

The report reviews the calls by many advocates for a major shift away from the current model
of large, corporate commercial agricultural production based on monoculture, which depends
on chemicals and genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), towards an alternative
agricultural production model based on a more decentralised approach that favors small
holder farmers. Such an approach is based on agro-ecological methods that support and
enhance biodiversity, environmental sustainability and community control.

Finally, this report gives voice to those Indian activists fighting for small farmers rights and
against the “land grabbing” going on within India, and their call to create international
linkages of solidarity with small farmers in other countries who are facing similar problems.
They see a “common struggle” everywhere in the world and are calling on Indian citizens to
take action to address the problem of landing-grabbing by Indian companies operating
overseas.

Government Subsidy Schemes on Seed across the country

Scheme/Component Crops Scale of Assistance
Macro Management Rice and Wheat Rs.500/- per quintal or 50% of the cost, whichever is less for certified seed distribution for rice and wheat.
Mode of Agriculture-State Work Plan

 

 

 

Bajra, Jowar, Ragi and Barley

 

 

 

Rs.800/- per quintal or 50% of the cost, whichever is less for certified seed distribution of varieties for Bajra, Jowar and Barley
Rs.1000/- per quintal for certified seed distribution of hybrid of Bajra and Jowar.
Rs.1000/- quintal or 50% of the cost, whichever is less for assistance for production hybrid rice seed.
Rs.2000/- per quintal or 50% of the cost, whichever is less assistance for production hybrid rice seed distribution.
Integrated Scheme on Oilseeds, Pulses, Oil Palm and Maize All Oilseeds, Pulses and Maize

 

Full cost for purchase of Breeder seed.
Rs.1000/- quintal for foundation and certified seed production.
Rs.1200/- per quintal or 25% of Seeds cost whichever is less for certified seed distribution.
Oil Palm Sprouts

 

Full cost of Seed Minikits of high yielding varieties (implementing agency NSC/SFCI).
75% of the cost with a ceiling of Rs.7500/ha.for entire land holding of farmers.
Technology Mission on Cotton Cotton Seed 50% of the cost or Rs.50/- per kg. whichever is less for foundation seed production.
25% of the cost or Rs..15/- per kg. whichever is less for Certified seed production.
Rs.20/- per kg. for certified seed  distribution.
50% of the cost limited to Rs.40/- per kg. seed treatment
Technology Mission on Jute and Mesta Jute and Mesta 50% of the  cost limited to Rs.3000/- per quintal for  foundation seed production.
25% of the  cost limited to Rs.700/- per quintal for  Certified seed production
50% of the cost limited to Rs.2000/- per quintal for certified seed distribution.
National Food Security Mission

 

 

 

Rice Rs.1000/- per quintal or 50% of the cost whichever is less for certified hybrid rice seed production.
Rs.2000/- per quintal or 50% of Seeds cost whichever is less for certified hybrid rice seed distribution.
Rs.5/- per kg.. or 50% of the cost, whichever is less for certified high yielding varieties seed distribution.
Full cost of Seed Minikits of high yielding varieties.
  Wheat Rs.5/- per kg. or 50% of the cost whichever is less for certified high yielding varieties seed distribution
Full cost of Seed Minikits of high yielding varieties.
  Pulses Rs.1000/- per quintal for foundation and certified seeds production.
Rs.1200/- per quintal or 50% of the cost whichever is less for certified seed distribution.
Full cost of Seed Minikits of high yielding varieties
Seed Village Programme All Agricultural Crops To upgrade the quality of farmer saved seed financial assistance for distribution of foundation/certified seeds at 50% cost of the seed for production of quality seeds.
Assistance to train the farmers on seed production and seed technology @ Rs.15000/- for a group of 50-150 farmers.
to encourage farmers to develop storage capacity of appropriate quality  assistance @ 33% subject to a maximum of Rs. 3000/- for SC/ST farmers and @ 25% subject to maximum of Rs. 2000/- for other farmers for procuring seeds storage bin of 20 qtl. capacity .Assistance @ 33%  subject to maximum of Rs. 1500/- to SC/ST farmers and @ 25% subject to maximum of Rs. 1000/- for other farmers for making seeds storage bin of 10 qtl. capacity in the seed villages where seed village scheme is being implemented.
Transport subsidy on Movement of Seeds to North Eastern States including Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand & Hill areas of West Bengal  All certified seeds excluding potato 100% difference between road and rail transportation charge is being reimbursed to implementing States/Agencies for movement of seeds produced from outside the State to the identified State Capital/District Headquarter.
Actual cost restricted to maximum limit of Rs.60/- per quintal  whichever is less for movement of seeds transported within the State from State Capital/District Headquarter to sale outlets/sale counters is being reimbursed.
Hybrid Rice Seed Production Only Rice Hybrid Rice Seed Production assistance Rs.2000/qtls.
Hybrid Rice Seed Distribution assistance Rs2500/qtls.
Creation and Strengthening of Infrastructure Facilities All Crops To create/strengthen infrastructure facilities for production and distribution of quality seeds for the States/State Seeds Corporation financial assistance for creating facilities for seed cleaning, grading, processing, packing and seed storage is being provided in public sector
Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana All Crops All Activities including Seed Infrastructure  Facilities
Assistance for Boosting Seed Production in Private Sector for high volume-low value crops For increasing seed production with a view to enhancing seed replacement rate, particularly in high volume low value crops, credit linked back-ended capital subsidy  is provided @ 25% of project cost up to a maximum limit of Rs. 10.00 lakh on seed infrastructure development relating to seed cleaning, grading, processing, seed treating, packaging, seed storage and seed testing facilities, to private companies, individual entrepreneurs, NGOs and seed co-operatives through commercial banks and National Seed Development Corporation. The Private Companies, individual entrepreneurs, NGOs and seed co-operatives constitute the beneficiaries under this scheme.

A pound of flesh to feed the poor: WTO and Indian Food Security Bill

Realising that New Delhi needs to clear its food security legislation at the WTO in time for the election, the West has sought increased market access in return for temporary relief
A few months ago, the most optimistic observers of international politics were not willing to hedge their bets on the Doha Development Round at the World Trade Organisation. The Doha Round negotiations have been stalled for more than a decade now — the West would like developing countries to remove import barriers while India, Brazil and China want the United States and the European Union to reduce the massive subsidies they provide to rich farmers.Neither side has conceded ground on its claims. But at the Bali Ministerial Conference this December, the U.S. will use a trump card to have its way with India and other emerging markets: our food security legislation. On the pretext of “allowing” India’s food security law to exist alongside its commitments to the WTO, the U.S. has wrested an in-principle agreement from New Delhi on the issue of “trade facilitation.” In other words, India has agreed to greater market access for western companies in order to ensure the survival of the Food Security Act.
‘Import facilitation’
Late last year, India’s Permanent Representative to the WTO in Geneva went on record to say “trade facilitation […] is nothing but import facilitation.” The overall gain for developing countries from such additional trade will be “next to nothing,” said Ambassador Jayant Dasgupta. He also acknowledged that the West had fallen back on its promise to help improve the export capability of emerging markets. The whole mantra of trade facilitation, Mr. Dasgupta went on to observe, was “[…] please open up [your markets]. Don’t ask for anything in return. It’s good for you.”
Yet, last week, Union Trade Minister Anand Sharma suggested “there should not be any confusion on trade facilitation because we are in favour (of the same).” What changed in the course of a year? The United Progressive Alliance, desperate to ensure that the Food Security Act does not fall foul of India’s commitments under the WTO Agreement on Agriculture (AoA), has curried favour with the Obama administration. The U.S. — which runs one of the largest domestic food aid programmes in the world — has steadfastly opposed plans by developing countries to provide food security to their poor. Now it is using the AoA to push its objectives under the “trade facilitation” agenda at Bali. During his recent visit, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sought to extract an assurance from President Barack Obama that the U.S. would not oppose India’s food security scheme. Mr. Sharma’s remarks themselves came after WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo casually observed that the Food Security Act may run into trouble with our AoA commitments.
Room for concern
But the government’s piecemeal attempt to resolve this issue bilaterally (with the U.S.) leaves much room for concern. For starters, the Obama administration is driving a hard bargain: there is no reason why the UPA should trade food security for market access, because India has a legitimate case under the AoA. Second, without an amendment to the AoA, any ad hoc solution is subject to the whims of U.S. foreign policy. The UPA seems content to see the food security scheme just through to 2014, in time for the election. Third, abandoning the case of the developing world to shore up its own food security law will reflect poorly on Indian diplomacy.
The proposal to categorise higher-than-normal procurement prices — for the purpose of ensuring food security — as a permitted agri-subsidy was mooted by the G33 last year. The G33 proposal was based on a simple premise: food security schemes needed massive quantities of grain and farmers had to be offered attractive prices if they were to sell their produce to governments. But the WTO Agreement on Agriculture unfairly casts such procurement prices as “trade-distorting.”The WTO imposes a cap on the price support that countries can provide for an agricultural product, known as the “Aggregate Measurement of Support (AMS).” Mathematically, AMS is the difference between the procurement price and a “fixed, external reference price” for a product, say rice, multiplied by its total domestic production.
Unfair
The AMS rule is patently unfair because the “external reference price” is pegged to 1986-88 levels. There is abundant literature to conclude world food prices were low during the late 1980s on account of massive dumping of food grain by U.S. and European companies on foreign markets. It is farcical to expect developing countries — whose agricultural sectors were no doubt adversely affected by dumping — to base their support for farmers on such manipulated prices.
What’s more, market price support in itself is no effective marker of trade protectionism. Jacques Berthelot, a French agricultural economist, has highlighted how the U.S., the European Union and Japan simply slashed their procurement prices on paper during the 1990s without reducing any of the subsidies they grant to rich farmers. In defence, the West has facetiously argued that farm aid “decoupled” from production and instead contingent on a farmer’s maintaining her land in “good condition” is permitted under the AoA. India, on the other hand, has adhered to both the letter and spirit of the AoA, reducing its agri-tariffs progressively. In objecting to India’s food security legislation on account of higher procurement prices, the U.S. has made it clear needy citizens in the West are more equal than others.
Since the AMS rule has found its way to the AoA, however, there is no alternative for the G33 but to negotiate its amendment. For India and other developing countries, the de minimis AMS is capped at 10 per cent of the total value of production. For the most part of the last two decades, as economist Munisamy Gopinath observes, India’s support prices for farmers has been lower than the external reference price. But with the advent of the food security legislation and a general rise in food prices (after adjusting for inflation), there is little doubt that India will breach this ceiling in 2012-13.
‘Re-interpretation’ sought
To prevent this situation, our WTO representatives have sought a modest “re-interpretation” of the AoA annex to peg the “external reference price” from 1986-88 levels to current global prices. The other option, according to Ambassador Dasgupta, is “to have a deflator mechanism to compensate for excessive rates of inflation.” The G33’s original proposal still remains our best shot at ensuring food security. But the UPA government has instead opted for an “interim solution” —– an invocation of the AoA’s “Peace Clause” which entails requesting the West to desist from initiating legal proceedings against India. In other words, this politically tempered proposal is an admission that India’s food security law violates the WTO regulations.
It is unclear whether the ‘Peace Clause’ proposal is supported by all members of the G33. Since India has thrown its weight behind this rarely-invoked measure, the mood at the WTO, as one diplomat told Bridges Weekly, seems to be “that the only game in town for the G33 proposal is a peace clause.” New Delhi’s objective is clear: remove all hurdles that stand in the way of the Food Security Act for now. In its election rush, the government is sacrificing the sovereign right of India and the developing world to provide food to their needy on a sustainable basis. The U.S. has seized this vulnerability to extract concessions on the trade facilitation front. A Faustian bargain, if there ever was one.

The WTO is destroying Indian farming

http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/Columns/The-WTO-is-destroying-Indian-farming/Article1-1137811.aspx

Devinder Sharma

The double standards are clear. In 2012, the US provided $100 billion for domestic food aid, up from the $95 billion it spent on feeding its 67 million undernourished population in 2010 including spending on food coupons and other supplementary nutrition programmes. In India, the Food Bill is expected to cost $20 billion and will feed an estimated 850 million people. Against an average supply of 358kg/person of subsidised food aid (including cereals) in the US every year, India promises to make available 60 kg/person in food entitlement. And yet, while the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is quiet on the subsidy being doled out in America for feeding its poor, the US has launched an attack on India for “creating a massive new loophole for potentially unlimited trade-distorting subsidies.”

 

India’s subsidies for feeding its hungry are being blamed for distorting trade in agriculture while the US, which provides six times more subsidies than India for feeding its hungry, is seen as doing humanitarian service. The US subsidies are unquestionable, while India’s hungry are being conveniently traded at the WTO. Public posturing notwithstanding, India is believed to have given in to US pressure. Commerce minister Anand Sharma is believed to have assured the WTO director-general that India is committed to take the multilateral trading regime to its logical conclusion. That India is not willing to contest the unfair provisions, and has agreed to a compromise, becomes evident from what the WTO chief said: “What we have agreed in Geneva is we are going to be working on a Peace Clause.”

The US/EU is pushing for a Peace Clause lasting two-three years. India is willing to accept it since it allows the food security programme to continue without any hiccup till 2014. The Peace Clause is a temporary reprieve. Although it expired in 2003, it is being reinvented now to allow India to continue with its food subsidies for the specified period during which its subsidies cannot be challenged before the WTO dispute panel.

The main issue here is the increasing amount being spent on public stockholding of foodgrains and thereby the rise in administered prices for wheat and rice that is procured from small farmers. According to the WTO Agreement on Agriculture, the administered price cannot exceed the ‘de-minimis’ level of 10% of the total volume of production. This exemption is allowed under the Aggregate Measure of Support. India has already exceeded the limit in the case of rice where the procurement price has shot up to 24% from the base year 1986-88 that was agreed upon.

It is, therefore, not the food subsidy Bill that is under the radar, but the procurement price system in India which is now on the chopping block. If India is forced to limit the rice procurement price at 10% of the total production, and refrain from increasing the wheat procurement price in future, it will sound the death knell for agriculture. Agreeing to a Peace Clause only shows how India is trying to skirt the contentious issue and is ready to sacrifice the livelihood security of its 600 million farmers.

According to the US-based Environment Working Group, America had paid a quarter of a trillion dollars in subsidy support between 1995 and 2009. In the 2013 Farm Bill, these subsidies have been further increased. This results in the dumping of foodgrains, thereby dampening farm gate prices, and pushing farmers out of agriculture. In India, wheat and rice growers have merely received $9.4 billion as procurement price in 2012. Forcing India to freeze procurement prices means that the WTO is being used to destroy Indian agriculture.

Smallholders and sustainable wells: a retrospect – participatory groundwater management in Andhra Pradesh (India)

Central to the concept of Participatory Groundwater Management is community ownership and treatment of groundwater as a common property resource. The core principle is demystification of hydrological science for the benefit of rural communities, enabling them to blend their local hydrological knowledge for sustainable management of their groundwater resources. Great emphasis is put on reducing the agricultural water demand through a myriad of options such as changes in cropping pattern, water use efficiency and artificial groundwater recharge.

Attachments:

How can we grow more rice – with less land, water and pollution?

http://www.edf.org/blog/2013/07/31/how-can-we-grow-more-rice-%E2%80%93-less-land-water-and-pollution

Kritee / Published July 31, 2013 in Economics

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(This post was co-authored by Richie Ahuja.)

Rice feeds the world. It provides more calories to humans than any other food, and more than a billion people depend on rice cultivation for their livelihoods.

In fact, rice is central to existence in many nations. For example, in 2008, when rice prices tripled, the World Bank estimated that an additional 100 million people were pushed into poverty. No wonder that changes in the price and availability of rice have caused social unrest in developing countries.

To keep rice prices affordable as populations increase, the International Rice Research Institute estimates that anadditional 8-10 million tons of rice will need to be produced worldwide every year. But a report from the International Food Policy Research Institute estimates that by 2050 rice prices will increase some 35% because of yield losses due to climate change. Some 90% of the world’s rice is grown in Asia, on more than 200 million small scale farms, most no larger than an acre.

These colliding trends mean that the world must learn to produce more rice – and to do it with less land, less water and less labor. That means devising more efficient and profitable production systems that are resilient to climate change and contribute less to it. This is exactly the challenge EDF and its partners have taken up in India, a country where roughly 500 million of the world’s 2.3 billion people in small-scale farming families live and earn $2 – $4 a day.

Rice farming releases greenhouse gasses more potent than carbon

When organic material decays without oxygen, as it does in water-logged rice paddies, soil microbes generate methane, a greenhouse gas with 25 times more warming potential than CO2. In India, rice methane emission account for about 10% of the nation’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Lately there is growing awareness that when rice is grown under dryer and aerated conditions, nitrous oxide emissions from rice can be as (or even more) significant as methane emissions. Nitrous oxide has about 300 times more warming potential than CO2. It has not yet been estimated what percentage of nitrous oxide emissions in India, or for that matter other rice growing regions in Asia, come from rice cultivation.

Partnering with NGOs in India yields a promising future

The rice farmers in South India are working with non-governmental organizations that are part of a broad coalition called the Fair Climate Network. EDF’s science team is working with these NGOs to develop an environmentally sustainable and economically profitable way to farm rice that will increase climate resilience and decrease GHG emissions.

With our partners, we are developing rice farming practices that change water, fertilizer and organic matter management such that GHG emissions go down as rice yield and farm profitability stay stable or go up. Our partners are working with thousands of rice farmers to record all the farm level data (methods of tilling and weeding, types of fertilizer used, amount of water used and harvest yields) necessary to understand the economic and environmental impacts of their work.

We have also developed protocols to quantify everything: yields, production costs, and emissions of nitrous oxide and methane from the rice fields. Our partners have even set up field laboratories in rural South India to constantly monitor GHG emissions. Our preliminary research work in fields “adopted” by EDF’s partners shows that there is potential to reduce GHG emissions by 2-5 metric tons per acre per year which is same as taking of an average American car off the road for a year.

Eventually, we expect to have enough data to make a case for low carbon farming of rice throughout all of South India. If low carbon rice farming becomes the standard just in all rice growing farms in South Indian states where we are currently active, we can decrease GHG emissions by 40-100 million tons of CO2e per year while saving water, improving farm incomes and protecting rice yields. This reduction is roughly equal to taking 10 million American cars off the road or taking 10-20 coal power plants off the grid. To make this possible, we will have to raise resources for outreach and the transactions costs of monitoring and verifying the GHG reductions.

The potential for this kind of research to support development, food and political security, while mitigating climate change is enormous. That’s something to think about the next time you have a bowl of rice.

Governments Renew Commitment to Implement Farmers’ Rights!

Last week, the Governing Body of the International Seed Treaty (IT PGRFA) met for the fifth time (GB5) in the exclusive, chilled environment of the Al Bustan Palace Hotel, Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman. The results were promising, however, and Civil Society and Farmers’ Organisations helped stimulate commitment to essential changes in how the Treaty operates.

Attached is a brief report (GB5-CSOreflection_PatrickMulvany.pdf) including the near final text of the Farmers’ Rights resolution; also our Civil Society statements at the opening and closing sessions, presented by NGOs from Asia, Iran and by Via Campesina.

The degree of unanimity of the African, Asian and Latin American blocs, with significant support from some European countries, and with united advocacy from farmers ‘organisations and CSOs present, all contributed to better outcomes than some had predicted.

These outcomes included:

·         a good resolution on Farmers’ Rights (FRs), which renewed the commitment of governments to implement Farmers’ Rights

·         a coded call to UPOV and WIPO to report on their impacts on Farmers’ Rights
·         warm acceptance of the offer by a Farmers’ Organisations to produce a report for GB6 on the state of implementation of Farmers’ Rights
·         actions designed to improve the sustainable use of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, linked to commitments to realise Farmers’ Rights
·         commitments to review and change the multi-lateral Access and Benefit Sharing mechanism (MLS), to prevent pillaging of the System by patents on native traits
·         significant new voluntary financial contributions from Norway for the Global Crop Diversity Trust and for the benefit sharing fund to support on-farm conservation
·         acceptance of the distinction between NGOs and Farmers’ Organisations and the need to include us, especially representatives of farmers’ social movements, in negotiations
·         a request to the Secretary to report on relevant discussions that relate to Farmers’ Rights within other UN fora including the Committee on World Food Security .
African, Asian and Latin American regions were the most united on Farmers’ Rights that they have been since 1998/9 at the height of the negotiations on the Farmers’ Rights article (Article 9). This solidarity forced through a good resolution on Farmers’ Rights which commits governments, with the engagement of farmers’ organisations and CSOs: to develop national action plans; review and adjust laws that will allow farmers to save, use, exchange and sell seeds; and improve access to genetic resources.

As we said in our Final Statement:

Our Treaty should be at the heart of securing future food through establishing effective governance of PGRFA that will enable farmers to continue to conserve, develop and sustainably use a wide range of crop biodiversity on-farm, at a time of increasing social, economic, environmental and political threats. The Treaty will be judged on whether it can stop the losses and improve access to existing PGRFA which have been developed by small-scale farmers in situ and on-farm.

The Treaty must change in direction and process if it is to realise its objectives. And to do so it must provide facilitated inclusion of the organisations and social movements of biodiversity-conserving farmers, and support CSOs, in the deliberations and work of the Treaty.
The Treaty has the responsibility to ensure support for small-scale farmers in their task; the Treaty’s future depends on this. We urge the GB to assume this responsibility; we look forward to collaborating with the Secretariat and Bureau, inter-sessionally, and to purposeful mutual engagement in the next Governing Body meeting.

CSOs and farmers organisations, will continue, in the face of many challenges, to take our responsibilities: we will resist, we will organise and we will transform the seed and food system so that our Farmers’ Rights and food sovereignty are realised.

In addition to the main lobbying activities, the IPC presented a Side Event on Friday 27 September. The title of the event was Farmers’ Rights to their seeds and knowledge: a challenge for global governance of the ‘sustainable’ use of PGRFA. The presentations by CENESTA and MPA at the IPC Side Event are available. CSOs were also involved in many other Side Events including one celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA), at which Patrick Mulvany presented a CSO perspective on the work of the Commission including its preparation of the State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture, an assessment, using the ecosystem approach, of all agricultural biodiversity. Presentation is available with the title: “Agricultural Biodiversity feeds the world when sustained in the framework of Food Sovereignty.”

If anyone wants more information or is interested in involvement in the inter-sessional process up to GB6, please get in touch.

A summary of proceedings at GB5 has been published by ENB www.iisd.ca/biodiv/itpgrgb5

Patrick Mulvany

Chair: UK Food Group; Adviser: Practical Action; Observer: IPC for food sovereignty
Mobile: +44 7949 575711 (UK)
Email: patrickmulvany@clara.co.uk
Skype: pmulvany
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European Union has introduced a new legislation to replace all the existing seed regulations

2013 EU seed law

The new “Plant Reproductive Material Law” regulates all plants. It contains immediate restrictions on vegetables and woodland trees. (It also creates powers that can be used to restrict any other plants in the future, but the details of how this will work are left for later.)

Under the new law, it will immediately be illegal to grow, reproduce or trade any vegetable seed or tree that has not been tested and approved by a new “EU Plant Variety Agency”, who will make a list of approved plants. Moreover, an annual fee must also be paid to the Agency to keep them on the list, and if not paid, they cannot be produced.

In reality, it seems to be mostly about the globalised agribusiness seed industry needing new laws to cope with gene patents and plant patents, and to be able to register ‘their’ industrial varieties or genes safely and securely before selling them in large quantities to industrial farmers, who might otherwise save the seed and sell it or use it themselves without paying a royalty fee.

he law starts from the premise that all vegetables, fruit and trees must be officially registered before they can be reproduced or distributed. This obviously is a major restriction on seed availability, as there are all sorts of costs in both time and money dealing with the bureaucracy of a central Plant Variety Agency. Then, after making that the basic rule, there are some exceptions made in limited cases (which could of interest for india):

  • Home gardeners will be permitted to save and swap unregistered seed without breaking the law.
  • Small organisations can grow and supply unregistered vegetable seed – but only if they have less than 10 employees
  • Seedbanks can grow unregistered seed without breaking the law (but they cannot give it to the public)
  • There might be easier (in an unspecified way) rules for large producers of seeds suitable for organic agriculture etc, in some (unspecified) future legislation – maybe.
the bill has to be approved by the parliament

The State of Food Insecurity in the World: 2013

The multiple dimensions of food security

The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2013 presents updated estimates of undernourishment and progress towards the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) and World Food Summit (WFS) hunger targets. The latest assessment shows that further progress has been made towards the 2015 MDG target, which remains within reach for the developing regions as a whole, although marked differences across regions persist and considerable and immediate additional efforts will be needed.

The 2013 report goes beyond measuring food deprivation. It presents a broader suite of indicators that aim to capture the multidimensional nature of food insecurity, its determinants and outcomes. This suite, compiled for every country, allows a more nuanced picture of their food security status, guiding policy-makers in the design and implementation of targeted and effective policy measures that can contribute to the eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.

Drawing on the suite of indicators, the report also examines the diverse experiences of six countries in more detail, finding a mixed picture of progress and setbacks. Together, these country experiences show the importance of social protection and nutrition-enhancing interventions, policies to increase agricultural productivity and rural development, diverse sources of income and long-term commitment to mainstreaming food security and nutrition in public policies and programmes.