Mountain Farming is Family Farming: FAO report

The FAO has recently launched a publication highlighting the challenges faced by mountain family farmers. The publication provides case studies from around the world showing how mountain regions and family farmers are affected by population growth, the spread of urban lifestyles and the migration of men and youth to urban areas.  It also looks at the opportunities of improving livelihoods through creating, labeling, and selling quality mountain products derived from organic production.

http://www.fao.org/docrep/019/i3480e/i3480e.pdf

Myths and realities of Gujarat Agriculture: various articles

2013 agril growth 2013 agril output

 

  1. Agriculture_in_a_High_Growth_State_Case_of_Gujarat_1960_to_2006
  2. Agriculture_in_Gujarat gujaratEconomic_Liberalisation_and_Indian_Agriculture_A_Statewise_Analysis
  3. Growth_and_Structural_Change_in_the_Economy_of_Gujarat_19702000
  4. Labour_and_Employment_in_Gujarat
  5. Labour_and_Employment_under_Globalisation_The_Case_of_Gujarat
  6. Modis_Gujarat_and_Its_Little_Illusions
  7. Regional_Sources_of_Growth_Acceleration_in_India
  8. Gujarat’s_agricultural_growth_story_IRAP_2010
  9. Gujarats_Growth_Story
  10. Secret_of_Gujarats_Agrarian_Miracle_after_2000
  11. Sources_of_Economic_Growth_and_Acceleration_in_Gujarat
  12. Temporal_and_Spatial_Variations_in_Agricultural_Growth_and_Its_Determinants

Land location overrides fertility; threat to food security: Study

Farmers engaged in agriculture on fertile land which has locational advantages get lower economic returns from agriculture

Press Trust of India  |  <news:geo_locations>New Delhi 

 Last Updated at 19:06 IST
With industrialisation, the location of a land overrides thefertility factors which may pose a threat to country’s food security problems, said a study released today.
“Location of a land holding plays a far more pivotal role than the quality or fertility of land, irrespective of whether the land parcel is in a rural or urban area.”
“The farmers engaged in agriculture on fertile land which has locational advantages get lower economic returns from agriculture than if they were to sell that land. However such depletion of fertile land has its implications on the country’s food security problem,” the report said.
The report ‘Study on Fair Pricing of Land and its Compensation in an Emerging Economy: Case for India’ done by Germany’s GIZ was released by Vandana Jena, Secretary, Department of Land Resources, Pronab Sen, Chairman, National Statistical Commission and Alok Sheel, Secretary, Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council.
GIZ supports the German government in international cooperation for sustainable development and international education.
According to the study, location and the level of industrialisation are the determinants of pricing gains for a land over successive decades while fertility loses as a determinant factor.
Fertile land is being lost due to industrialisation, there is a strong case for not touching fertile land for acquisition which is also mentioned in the Land Bill, the study said.
The study said that the circle rates are arbitrary that give rise to social conflicts and there is a need for a fair price discovery.
“There is a rampant violation of circle rates…People are generally more aware of the true price of their land in a more developed region. In a backward district, such transactions are pervasively undervalued, raising a potential for future conflicts,” it said.
Proximity to road/highways and railway stations or future development of these facilities affect land prices across India, found the report.
“The distance from municipal centre or nearest city were next factors that drive land prices. In terms of acquisition by industry or government, intended use of land that might give rise to any of these infrastructure developments may be integrated into pricing model for sellers to reflect a fair pricing that reduces conflict and overall costs in short and long run.”
The report said that land sales in any region are mostly guided by economic and market considerations and there is a close correlation of land prices with variables including inflation and size of land being sold or purchased.
The report has suggested an approach which is neither government mandated nor tantamount to an auction but is based on an informed understanding of the price dynamics for land.
http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/land-location-overrides-fertility-threat-to-food-security-study-114012200999_1.html

India needs to export excess food grains

http://www.moneylife.in/article/india-needs-to-export-excess-foodgrains/35973.html

AK RAMDAS | 15/01/2014 12:00 PM |   

There is an urgent need to encourage corporate bodies to invest in building up the infrastructure facilities for storage and exports of food grains

In order to support the Food Security Act, the Ministry of Agriculture has estimated that the essential foodgrains in India, to the extent of 53 million tonnes be maintained as a buffer stock. This is based on the assumption that it is safe to have this divided into three categories. A three month buffer stock, at the rate of 5.1 million tonnes (mt), three months reserve and a strategic reserve of 7.5 mt would be sufficient, as a start, as per Tejinder Singh, a well known foodgrain trade analyst.

Also, we must remember that as fresh supplies are coming in, stored materials are also being despatched continuously for daily consumption. The foodgrains in overflowing godowns are stored, in large quantities, outside under plastic sheets, tarpaulins etc, which are subject to heavy climatic damage, besides being vulnerable to pilferage and act as a regular storehouse for rodents! Any excess inventory of even 13 to 15 mt are estimated to be worth Rs32,500 crore to Rs37,500 crore!

According to information available in the media, as of December 2013, the stock level of foodgrains with the Food Corporation of India (FCI) stood at 45 mt, some 20 million more than required, based on the estimation of 5.1 mt per month. This figure varies from time to time, based on consumption pattern, arrivals and despatches. We must also bear in mind that most state governments have their own food subsidy schemes, and there is no uniformity on a national scale.

Our foodgrains should be sold, on export basis, at the best possible prices in the overseas market, and our own minimum “floor price” rules have no bearing on the purchaser. Fresh supplies to the godown are simply placed on the top of the heap of the lot already in, which causes irreparable damage at the bottom!

Take the question of wheat stocks in the country and the overseas demand pattern, apart from the aggressive activities of our competitors. At this point of time, cold weather conditions in the US, prime and leading grower and exporter, are indicative of shortfall in their supplies.

Indian wheat stocks, as on 1st December, stood at 31 mt, which is the statutory requirement for buffer stock. Agricultural experts estimate a bumper crop this season, amounting to over 95 mt, as wheat acreage in the current rabi season is estimated to be over 302 lakh hectares, thanks to various state schemes in operation. In Madhya Pradesh, the government had announced a bonus of Rs150 per quintal over the minimum supportprice (MSP) and it appears more farmers increased the wheat acreage! The central government had announced a MSP of Rs1,400 per quintal, an increase of Rs50 over the previous year, to encourage production.

As a sequel to the bulging stocks of wheat, export efforts by government authorities, besides private exporters, are bearing fruit. Fortunately, in line with the international market, the government had to reduce the floor price from $300 per tonne to $260 per tonne to push up exports and to literally get rid of the stocks, and to make way for the new crop to come in. Preferred supplies from Black Sea producers were fetching $305 per tonne, while both US and French supplies were quoted at about $ 300 per tonne. However, with the cold wave, there has been interest in the tenders called for by India,prices above the floor price of $260 per tonne has been obtained, such as $282.62 per tonne from Vitol Group, for shipment from Mundhra port, while Al Ghurair of UAE bid $ 283.60 per tonne for shipment from Chennai. India thus plans to export at least two million tonnes of wheat before the new crop starts arriving in April, with hopes to reach four million this fiscal, as there are several tenders on the anvil.

Other items like corn (maize) have also made headway in exports, with orders booked for 350,000 tonnes at $216 per tonne. Iran has increased its purchase of basmati rice and soya meal with other items like sugar picking up.

Our efforts to push up export of foodgrains is imperative; at the same time, there is an urgent need to encourage corporate bodies to invest in building up the infrastructure facilities for storage, but allocating free land or on long term lease, suitable for this purpose, in every state and more importantly near the ports to facilitate exports. Anything that can be done in these areas to prevent loss of foodgrains due to climatic damage would be most beneficial to the country.

(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)

 

Pesticides ‘making bees smaller’

Bumblebees exposed to a widely-used pesticide produced workers with lower body mass, scientists

theguardian.com

Bumblebees could be shrinking because of exposure to a widely-used pesticide, a study suggests.
Bumblebees could be shrinking because of exposure to a widely-used pesticide, a study suggests. Photograph: Nick Ansell/PA

Bumblebees could be shrinking because of exposure to a widely-used pesticide, a study suggests.

Experts fear smaller bees will be less effective at foraging for nectar and carrying out their vital task of distributing pollen.

Scientists in the UK conducted laboratory tests which showed how a pyrethroid pesticide stunted the growth of worker bumblebee larvae, causing them to hatch out reduced in size.

Gemma Baron, one of the researchers from the School of Biological Sciences at Royal Holloway, University of London, said: “We already know that larger bumblebees are more effective at foraging.

“Our result, revealing that this pesticide causes bees to hatch out at a smaller size, is of concern as the size of workers produced in the field is likely to be a key component of colony success, with smaller bees being less efficient at collecting nectar and pollen from flowers.”

Pyrethroid pesticides are commonly used on flowering crops to prevent insect damage.

The study, the first to examine the pesticides’ impact across the entire lifecycle of bumblebees, tracked the growth of bee colonies over a four month period.

Researchers exposed half the bees to a pyrethroid while monitoring the size of the colonies as well as weighing individual insects on micro-scales.

They found that worker bees from colonies affected by the pesticides over a prolonged period grew less and were significantly smaller than unexposed bees.

Findings from the study, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (Nerc), appear in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

Professor Mark Brown, who led the Royal Holloway group, said: “Bumblebees are essential to our food chain so it’s critical we understand how wild bees might be impacted by the chemicals we are putting into the environment.

“We know we have to protect plants from insect damage but we need to find a balance and ensure we are not harming our bees in the process.”

Currently a Europe-wide moratorium on the use of three neonicotinoid pesticides is in force because of their alleged harmful effect on bees.

As a result, the use of other types of pesticide, including pyrethroids, is likely to increase, say the researchers.

Dr Nigel Raine, another member of the Royal Holloway team who will be speaking at this week’s national Bee Health Conference in London, said: “Our work provides a significant step forward in understanding the detrimental impact of pesticides other than neonicotinoids on wild bees.

“Further studies using colonies placed in the field are essential to understand the full impacts, and conducting such studies needs to be a priority for scientists and governments.”

The scientists sprayed the pesticide on the bees’ pollen feed at the concentration recommended for oilseed rape.

Colony growth and reproductive output were monitored for up to 14 weeks.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jan/20/pesticides-making-bees-smaller

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1365-2664/earlyview

The Trials of Genetically Modified Food: BT EGGPLANT AND AYURVEDIC MEDICINE IN INDIA

Chithprabha Kudlu
Washington University
Glenn Davis Stone
Washington University
Abstract
Although planting of genetically modified (GM) crops has topped 148 million ha.
worldwide, direct consumption of GM foods remains extremely rare. The obstacles to GM
foods are highly varied and they can provide windows into important cultural dynamics.
India’s heated controversy over its would-be first GM food—Bt brinjal (eggplant)—is
driven not only by common concerns over testing and corporate control of food, but by
its clash with the Ayurvedic medical establishment. GM brinjal may outcross with wild
relatives commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine, and claims that outcrossing would not
affect medical efficacy miss the point. Ayurveda emphasizes polyherbal treatments and
has developed an epistemology oriented towards complex combinations of compounds.
As such it does not recognize the authority of specific studies of transgene effects. The
conflict is not with genetic modification per se, but with the reductionism that is central
to the biotechnology approvals process. This opposition has played a significant role in
the government moratorium on the plant.
Keywords: biotechnology, genetically modified food, Ayurveda, India, regulation

http://artsci.wustl.edu/~anthro/research/stone/Kudlu%20and%20Stone%202013.pdf

Leaving farmers to reap the bitter harvest

Devinder Sharma
January 19, 2014

A day after Parliament approved foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail in December 2012, a newspaper report highlighted how a big retail company was exploiting both the farmers as well as the consumers: the wholesale cash-n-carry Bharti-Walmart enterprise, the report said, was buying baby corn from contract growers in Punjab at Rs. 8 per kg, selling it in wholesale at Rs. 100/kg and finally the consumers were paying Rs. 200/kg. In other words, farmers were getting only 4% of the end price consumers paid.

So to say that private enterprise will save Indian agriculture is all bunkum. Take the case of paddy in Bihar, the only state to have repealed the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act way back in 2006, thereby allowing farmers the freedom to sell their produce to whomsoever they like. Against the procurement price of `1,310 per quintal of paddy that Punjab farmers got this year, Bihar farmers have managed to sell paddy at something around `800-900 per quintal. This is nothing but a distress price/sale, a classic example of the ruthless exploitation by private traders.

Ironically, the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP), which is supposed to ensure remunerative prices to farmers, lists Bihar as the top ‘market-friendly’ state as far as agriculture is concerned. Punjab, which has a network of mandis and provides an assured price to farmers, is at the bottom of the chart. At a time when being market-friendly is the new mantra, the CACP is asking Punjab to disband the APMC Act and allow markets to operate freely. In other words, it wants Punjab farmers to go the Bihar way.

So when Rahul Gandhi asked the Congress chief ministers to exempt fruits and vegetables, which have contributed much to raging food inflation, from the APMC Act by January 15, I thought he had gone by what FICCI/CII have been campaigning for. What probably he has never been told is that only about 30% of India’s farmers get the benefit of procurement prices. The rest 70% are in any case dependent on the markets. If the markets were so helpful to these 70% farmers, I am sure by now the farmers in Punjab and Haryana would have demanded the repeal of the APMC Act.

But that hasn’t happened. The APMC Act, despite all its flaws, provides an assured price and market to farmers. It is primarily for this reason that Punjab farmers are refusing to diversify from wheat and rice cultivation in the absence of an assured price mechanism for other crops. This year, Madhya Pradesh is expected to take over Punjab in wheat production. It will manage to achieve this only because farmers have been given a bonus above the procurement price and thankfully have not been left to the mercies of unscrupulous private traders.

I am amused when some economists blame the APMC for the monopolistic market structure that restricts the entry of free trade and competition, thereby denying farmers an economic price for their produce. This is a wrong assumption. Under the APMC Act, farmers bring produce to the designated mandis where private traders are first allowed to make purchases. It’s only when there are no buyers left that the Food Corporation of India (FCI) or the State procurement agencies step in to lift whatever is available at the minimum support price.

This is what irks the private trade. It doesn’t want to pay the minimum support price to farmers. For example, if it can get paddy at `800-900 per quintal in Bihar, why should it shell out `1,310 per quintal in Punjab?

To say that our present market structure does not permit the entry of new players who want to invest in other infrastructure is wrong. In seven years after repealing the APMC Act, Bihar has seen no revolution in agricultural marketing. Farmers have been left in the lurch and the private trade has not made any investments. The clamour to do away with the APMC Act is primarily to pave the way for setting up terminal markets for the big agribusiness companies as well as for multi-brand retail.

Devinder Sharma is a food policy analyst.
The views expressed by the author are personal

– See more at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/news-feed/columnists/leaving-farmers-to-reap-the-bitter-harvest/article1-1174747.aspx#sthash.QshUxkuj.dpuf