Does ‘No Pesticide’ Reduce Suicides?

  1. Lakshmi Vijayakumar

    1. SNEHA and Voluntary Health Services, Adyar, Chennai, India,
  1. R. Satheesh-Babu

    1. Mamata Medical College, Khammam, India


Introduction: Ingestion of pesticides is the most common method of suicide, particularly in China, Sri Lanka and India. Reported pesticide suicides in India numbered 22,000 in the year 2006.z

Method: Four villages in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India that had stopped using chemical pesticides in favour of non-pesticide management (NPM) were visited to assess any change in suicide incidence before and after discontinuation of chemical pesticides. Four similar villages in the same region that continued to use chemical pesticides were used as controls for comparison.

Results: In the pesticide-free villages there were 14 suicides before introduction of NPM and only three suicides thereafter. The percentage of suicides not reported to authorities was 47%.

Conclusion: Restriction of pesticide availability and accessibility by NPM has the potential to reduce pesticide suicides, in addition to psychosocial and health interventions.

Huhud crop recovery Advice-1

#Hudhud #CropAdvisory #eKrishi

On the fateful day of 12th October, 2014 a severe cyclone HudHud has stuck the north coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh. Twenty one people in Andhra Pradesh and 3 in Odisha have lost their lives. Thousands of acres of paddy fields, banana, coconut, cashew and mango orchards are severely damaged. Over 250,000 people in 320 villages in the districts of Vishakapatnam, Vijayanagaram and Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh are severely affected. Crops planted over 144,174 hectares have been damaged and the expected production loss is 230,206 tonnes. In Odisha Hudhud has impacted 247,557 hectares (ha) of agricultural land, of which 40,484.5 ha have sustained crop loss of over 50 per cent in Gajapati, Koraput, Malkangiri and Rayagada districts.

State-wise crop advisory is given below for adoption of contingency measures to minimize and prevent further damage in standing crops.

141024 Advisory for Hudhud affected areas in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha

Salt tolerant potatoes to make a big difference for farmers in saline areas

Humble spud poised to launch a world food revolution

Dutch team is pioneering development of crops fed by sea water

salt-tolerant potatoesMarc van Rijsselberghe with some of his experimental crop of salt-tolerant potatoes. Photograph: Observer

In a small army field-hut Dr Arjen de Vos shows off his irrigation machine with pride. Pipes lead out to several acres of muddy field, where only a few stragglers from the autumn harvest of potatoes, salads, carrots and onions are left. The tubes are lined with copper to stop corrosion because – in a move that defies everything we think we know about farming – de Vos is watering his plants with diluted sea water.

Last week the project beat 560 competitors from 90 countries to win the prestigious USAid grand challenge award for its salt-tolerant potato. “It’s a game changer,” said de Vos. “We don’t see salination as a problem, we see it as an opportunity.”

Here, on one of the Netherlands’ northernmost islands, windswept Texel (pronounced Tessel) surrounded by encroaching ocean and salt marshes that seep sea water under its dykes and into ditches and canals, an enterprising farmer has taken the radical step of embracing salt water instead of fighting to keep it out. And now he thinks he might just help feed the world.

Inspired by sea cabbage, 59-year-old Marc van Rijsselberghe set upSalt Farm Texel and teamed up with the Free University in Amsterdam, which sent him de Vos to look at the possibility of growing food using non-fresh water. Their non-GM, non-laboratory-based experiments had help from an elderly Dutch farmer who has a geekish knowledge of thousands of different potato varieties.

“The world’s water is 89% salinated, 50% of agricultural land is threatened by salt water, and there are millions of people living in salt-contaminated areas. So it’s not hard to see we have a slight problem,” said van Rijsselberghe. “Up until now everyone has been concentrating on how to turn the salt water into fresh water; we are looking at what nature has already provided us with.”

The scarcity of fresh water has been labelled as the planet’s most drastic problem by the World Bank, NGOs, governments and environmentalists. A fifth of the world’s population already lives in areas of drought, and climate change is only going to exacerbate the problem. Poor farming practices, along with road and pavement building, is raising water tables and increasing the salination of rivers and lakes – in the Western Australian wheat-belt alone, salinity has caused a 50% fall in the numbers of wetland bird species, and threatened 450 plant species with extinction.

Attempts to desalinate sea water are going on around the globe – the UK has a £270m plant on the river Thames and Saudi Arabia produces 70% of its drinking water through desalination. But removing the dissolved minerals is expensive, requires much energy and the leftover concentrated brine has to be disposed of. The process is far too expensive to be used for irrigation in poorer countries. But thanks to a partnership with Dutch development consultants MetaMeta, several tonnes of the Texel seed potatoes are now on their way to Pakistan where thousands of hectares of what until now had been unproductive land because of sea water encroachment have been set aside for them.

If the experiment works and the potatoes adapt to the Asian climate, it could transform the lives of not only small farmers in Pakistan and Bangladesh,, where floods and sea water intrusion wipe out crops with increasing regularity, but also worldwide the 250 million people who live on salt-afflicted soil.

Van Rijsselberghe is happy to be seen as an entrepreneur whose interest was to grow a “value added” food crop that would tolerate Holland’s problems with water. He says he used a trial and error approach in development. “We’re not a scientific institution, we’re a bunch of lunatics with an idea that we can change things and we are interested in getting partnerships together with normal farmers, not people who want to write doctorates.” As a pioneer of organic farming in the 1990s, he faced heavy opposition, while a project to grow sea aster – a salt marsh-grown salad popular in high-end restaurants – ended in disaster when 3,000 migrating ducks made an unexpected stop and ate the entire crop in three hours. ”

He says the Netherlands needs to rethink its approach to food: “A third of the country is sensitive to salination. We put up dykes and pump away the water; we feel safe. We believe that outside the dykes is for the fishermen and inside the dikes is for the farmers. I think we have to stop that and talk to each other. What can be grown on the salt marshes and in the sea? Can we grow prawns in the lakes? We need to have these conversations and rethink the way we produce food.”

But where does all that salt go? Aren’t we in danger of overdosing on salt if we eat the Salt Farm Texel crops? “What we find is that, if you tease a plant with salt, it compensates with more sugar,” said de Vos. “The strawberries we grow, for example, are very sweet. So nine times out of ten the salt is retained in the leaves of the plant, so you’d have to eat many many kilos of potatoes before you’d exceed your recommended salt intake. But some of the salads are heavy with salt, you wouldn’t eat them by the bucketful.

“And there are other potentials, too – if we could find a grass that was salt tolerant, then it would make a big difference to all those golf courses built in developing countries that are using up all the locals’ fresh water. Nature has already laid out some helping hands for us. Mankind just hasn’t realised it.”

Issue Food security cards & Old age pensions

2014 telangana social security download

Telangana government has issued a GO  giving guidelines to identify the beneficiaries and remove ineligible persons/families.

some of the series issues are

1. only one person will be given the old age pension in a family

2. the survey will use the ‘samagra kutumba survey’ data and will be cross checked.

3. ineligibility criteria: land more than 2.5 acres wet/5.0 acre dryland, employees, verification officer’s assessment by estimating the life style of the person,

4. widow pensions only if there is a death certificate of the spouse

5. disability pension only to those who have a SADAREM certificate showing more than 40% disability



Gateway to fair prices Iyer

Ready to eat: The supply chain for organic produce has long been hampered by poor linkages between farms and consumers
Ready to eat: The supply chain for organic produce has long been hampered by poor linkages between farms and consumers

Grower and buyer find each other directly on the Eco-Farmers Market info-exchange portal

Maridesi Here Gowda of Mandya District, Karnataka, has for seven years now grown sugarcane without using pesticides on his two acres and produced organic jaggery. But selling it has been a challenge each year and it often goes for a low price. This year, Gowda sold a bulk of his stock to a buyer from Hyderabad at a rate he found fair.

This was made possible by the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) and its new information-sharing portal, Eco-Farmers Market. Here the producer and buyer come together on the same page to conduct business. The supply chain for organic produce has been long hampered by poor linkages between farmers and buyers.

According to Ananthoo, the co-convener of ASHA who handles the portal, “Agriculture today is failing because there is no fair pricing for the farmer and consumer. Our efforts are to encourage the local economy and bridge the gap between farmer and market.”

The months-old Eco-Farmers Market has 300 registered farmers and around 20 organic buyers. Those registered can recommend other organic farmers. Each registration request is screened by call agents, who collect from the farmer data regarding the produce, land area and organic practices. Before registering, ASHA co-ordinators visit the farmer, if necessary, to ascertain his or her organic practices. Currently the portal registers only farmers with 100 per cent organic practices and classifies them as “declared” organic, “certified” organic (third-party certification) or “guaranteed” organic (belonging to a Participatory Guarantee Scheme).

To be doubly sure, all the organic farmers are re-verified by a panel of credible referees in each State. And, even after all these precautions, the portal urges buyers to do their own checks to verify the organic nature of the produce.

Once registered, each farmer’s crop details, including the next season’s produce and current availability, are updated on the portal by the call agents. The farmers can update this every 10 days, as also set a desired price for the produce.

When searching for a product, registered buyers or distributors can directly contact the farmer closest to them and thereby reduce both transportation costs and food miles. The actual transaction happens outside the portal. There are no charges for registering or transacting through the portal.

As the portal evolves, buyer loyalties are expected to increase towards specific sets of growers, rendering the portal redundant or free to offer a different kind of service. “In the future, we would like to open the portal to consumers as well, so they can link with the farmer directly to buy their food requirements,” says Ananthoo.

ASHA is an informal network of more than 400 groups in 20 states that came together in 2010 to organise the Kisan Swaraj Yatra, a nationwide mobilisation to draw attention to issues impacting food and farmers. The network includes farmers’ organisations, consumer groups, women’s organisations, environmental organisations, individual citizens and experts working for sustainable farm livelihoods.

The portal has received financial support from German organisation Welthungerhilfe (through Pravah and Forum For Integrated Development). For small farmers like Gowda in remote villages, it is literally a gateway to fair prices.

The writer is an organic farmer based in Dahanu, Maharashtra

(This article was published on October 10, 2014)

“Running to stand still: Small-scale farmers and the Green Revolution in Malawi

ACBThe African Centre for Biosafety
PO Box 29170, Melville 2109 South Africa
Tel: +27 (0)11 486 1156

ReportThe African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) has today released its research report based on field work conducted in Malawi, titled “Running to stand still: Small-scale farmers and the Green Revolution in Malawi.” The research, conducted by the ACB in collaboration with the National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi (NASFAM), Kusamala Institute of Agriculture and Ecology and Dr Blessings Chinsinga from the University of Malawi, does not validate the argument that Malawi is a Green Revolution success story. On the contrary, the research highlights the plight of small-scale farmers at the receiving end of the Green Revolution (GR) push in Malawi. Among its findings are that farmers are trapped in a cycle of debt and dependency on costly external inputs with limited long-term benefit, and that the natural resource base is being degraded and eroded despite – or perhaps because of – GR inputs.

According to ACB’s lead researcher, Dr Stephen Greenberg, “our research found that small-scale farmers are using shockingly high levels of synthetic fertilisers at great financial costs to themselves and the public purse. Rising soil infertility is a feature of farming systems reliant on synthetic fertiliser. We found that farmers are increasingly adopting hybrid maize seed, encouraged by government subsidies and the promise of massive yields. However, adoption of these hybrid seeds comes at the cost of abandoning diversity and resilience of local seed varieties, and the ever escalating requirement for synthetic fertilisers. Indeed, our findings show net transfers away from farming households to agribusinesses such as SeedCo, Pannar (recently merged with Pioneer Hi-Bred), Monsanto and Demeter in the commercial seed industry. For fertiliser, the major fertiliser producers and distributors are Farmers World (which also owns Demeter seed), Yara, TansGlobe, Omnia and Rab Processors.”

The research is part of ACB’s multi-year research programme in southern and east Africa to investigate seed and soil fertility practices and challenges facing small-scale farmers in the region. One of the aims of the study is to offer an evidence-based critique of the Green Revolution agenda, with a particular focus on the activities of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), an institution that plays a critical coordinating role in expanding the GR agenda on the continent.

The key findings of the report include the following:

The Farmer Input Subsidy Programme (FISP) is an essential element in the expansion of GR technologies in Malawi. The programme has increased effective demand for hybrid maize seed and synthetic fertiliser, and created a guaranteed market for MNCs to profit in. Mostly the grains are limited to relatively minor yield increases, with long term negative consequences on the ecology. The money comes in from public expenditure through subsidies and development aid, and leaves through private channels (seed and fertiliser companies).

When increased input costs are taken into account, farmers adopting GR technologies realise a potential income deficit of K55,954 (US$133.22). Even if the synthetic fertiliser is also shared amongst other crops, overall production of these crops remains low and it is highly unlikely that farmers will realise a net profit by adopting these technologies. The short-term benefit of higher yields masks this net transfer from small-scale farming households to seed and fertiliser agribusinesses.

AGRA-supported seed development, production and distribution programmes cover a fairly wide range of crop types in Malawi, but farmers are still using non-certified seed. The AGRA programme has not had a major impact in the research sites to date, with small quantities of seed being distributed (less than 5kg per participating farming household) and limited returns to farmers. This is mainly due to high prices and various quality factors (including storage, processing, conversion rates of kernels to flour, taste, insect resistance both in the field and in storage, and drought tolerance). The availability of local and uncertified varieties offers farmers a range of options.

Seed recycling is a common practice, with 80% of local maize seed, 73% of cowpea, 64% of beans, 55% of groundnuts and 54% of soybean seed being recycled by respondent households. Hybrid maize is the only seed that was mostly purchased from seed dealers (59%). Yet, farmer-managed seed systems and agro-biodiversity are downplayed, with farmer-managed systems considered to be inferior to profit-generating private activity in seed production and distribution.

There is no practical support from government for the saving or exchange of uncertified seed, while efforts by AGRA and government alike tends towards replacing uncertified seeds with certified varieties. Farmers are not arguing to replace local seed with hybrid or certified seed. The quality of uncertified pigeon pea (100% from a small sample of users), beans (81%), groundnuts (81%), cowpea (77%) and soya (72%) were all assessed as good by the majority of respondents. Seed quality was not a major issue for most farmers, although seed price was, indicating a commercial market.

Independent soil testing conducted by Chitedze Research Station as part of the research reveals soils that are technically infertile, with very low levels of key nutrients and nutrient-holding capacity, despite years of synthetic fertiliser applications. This gives lie to the argument that the addition of synthetic fertiliser is necessary for long-term improvements in soil fertility. Indeed, the opposite is the case.

According to ACB’s Gareth Jones, a researcher involved in the programme,”Green Revolution interventions, of which AGRA is a leading example, are fundamentally premised on the idea that increased costs of certified seed and synthetic fertiliser can be met by increasing yields, which will allow for increased sales that can generate income for input purchase in the next year as well as expansion of farming as a business to the benefit of producers. However, this ‘endless virtuous cycle’ does not appear to have taken root in Malawi as borne out by our research. The vast majority of households appear to be caught in a relationship of dependency on GR inputs, in particular, synthetic fertiliser.”

The study recommends that input subsidies targeted at individuals should be phased out and replaced with public investment in extension, farmer-based R&D and bulk infrastructure such as water and roads with collective benefit. A key part of public investments in R&D and extension can include identifying, prioritising and supporting work around participatory plant breeding, participatory variety selection, farmer-managed seed certification and quality assurance systems, identifying and supporting the development of locally important crops on the basis of decentralised participatory R&D, farmer to farmer exchanges, identifying and expanding means of increasing organic content in the soil, an orientation to nurturing soil life as the basis of soil fertility or soil health programmes, and support agro-ecological methods of soil improvement and water retention. Work on nitrogen fixing trees and food trees could advance soil fertility and food security agendas.

The study also recommends that tobacco cultivation, an anti-social, poisonous crop, which locks farmers into production systems that are not in their long-term interests be replaced by socially and ecologically just alternative crops and production systems.

To download the Summary Report, click here:


Dr Stephen Greenberg
African Center for Biosafety

Dr Blessings Chinsinga
Centre for Social Research (CSR) and Department of Political and Administrative Studies (PAS)
University of Malawi
Tel: +265 999 836 680/888 577 842

Molly Cheatum
Kusamala Institute of Agriculture and Ecology
Mobile: +265 (0) 993655468