All posts by Ramoo

Farmers Agenda for 2014 Elections

#FarmersAgenda2014

Rytu Swarajya Vedhika is planning to bring up the Farmers Agenda for 2014 elections.  Please do share your views. Also please do share it with the political parties you know to include in their manifestos.

2014 Farmers Manifesto (English)

2014 RSV manifesto pdf (Telugu)

Rytu Swarajya Vedhika is planning to bring up the Farmers Agenda for 2014 elections.  Please do share your views. Also please do share it with the political parties you know to include in their manifestos.

 

Effect of Different Nutrient Management Options on Rice under System Method of Cultivation – A review

Author(s): P. Rajitha and K.I. Reddy | International Journal of Plant, Animal and Environmental Sciences | January – March 2014

Rice (Oryza sativa (L.)) is one of the most important stable food crops in the world. In Asia, more than two billion people are getting 60-70 per cent of their energy requirement from rice and its derived products. In India, rice occupies an area of 44 million hectare with an average production of 90 million tonnes with productivity of 2.0 tonnes per hectare. Demand for rice is growing every year and it is estimated that in 2010 and 2025 AD the requirement would be 100 and 140 million tonnes respectively. To sustain present food self-sufficiency and to meet future food requirements, India has to increase its rice productivity by 3 per cent per annum [21]. Rice cultivation requires large quantity of water and for producing one kg rice, about 3000 – 5000 litres of water depending on the different rice cultivation methods such as transplanted rice, direct sown rice (wet seeded), alternate wetting and drying method (AWD), system of rice intensification (SRI) and aerobic rice. Owing to increasing water scarcity, a shifting trend towards less water demanding crops against rice is noticed in most part of the India and this warrants alternate methods of rice cultivation that aims at higher water and crop productivity. There are evidences that cultivation of rice through system of rice intensification (SRI) can increase rice yields by two to three fold compared to current yield levels.

Download link: http://www.ijpaes.com/admin/php/uploads/447_pdf.pdf

Low Economic Efficiency of Irrigation Water Resource in Krishna Western Delta of Andhra Pradesh Demanding Water Management Interventions

Low Economic Efficiency of Irrigation Water Resource in Krishna Western Delta of Andhra Pradesh Demanding Water Management Interventions
Author(s): Dr. A. Siva Sankar, Dr. B. Ravindra Reddy and N. Nirmal Ravi Kumar, Journal of International Academic Research for Multidisciplinary | February 2014

The story of food security in the 21st century in India is likely to be closely linked to the story of water security. Today, the water resource is under severe threat. The past experiences in India indicated inappropriate management of irrigation has led to severe problems. Considering the importance of irrigation water resource efficiency, Krishna Western Delta (KWD) of Andhra Pradesh was purposively selected for this in depth study, as the farming community in this area are severely affected due to severe soil salinity and water logging problems and hence, adoption of different water saving crop production technologies deserve special mention. It is quite disappointing that, canals, tube wells and filter points and other wells could not contribute much to the irrigated area in KWD. Due to fewer contributions from these sources, the net area irrigated also showed declining growth at a rate of –3.98 per cent. Chilly is the most profitable crop cultivated in KWD. Regarding paddy, it was highest for System of Rice Intensification () technology (1.16) than semi-dry and transplanted technologies. The reduction in irrigation cost in and semi-dry paddy production technologies is significant, as indicated by the decline to a tune of 45 and 55 percents respectively over transplanted technology. This clearly indicates that, by less water usage, paddy returns can be boosted by adopting and semi-dry production technologies. Both the system-level and field-level interventions should be addressed to solve the issues / problems of water management. The environment in the State of Andhra Pradesh in general and in KWD in particular, with reference to the execution of water management aspects is congenial for planning various technological interventions. The enabling environment, institutional roles and functions and management instruments are posing favourable picture for executing the water management interventions in KWD. This facilitates the farming community to harvest good crop per unit of water resource used in the production programme.

Download link: http://www.jiarm.com/Feb2014/paper10642.pdf

‘Climate Smart’ Farms Key To Feeding The World

http://www.forbes.com/sites/bethhoffman/2014/02/07/climate-smart-farms-key-to-feeding-the-world/
A family in Orissa, India plants 'climate smart' rice using a System of Rice Intensification. Photo by Beth Hoffman.
A family in Orissa, India plants ‘climate smart’ rice using a System of Rice Intensification. Photo by Beth Hoffman.
 
The bad news is that it looks like climate change is here to stay.  The good news is that there are a number of cost effective, sustainable methods farmers can adopt immediately to lessen the blow.
 
I talked with Sonja Vermeulen, Head of Research for the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security about what farmers can do in the face of a changing climate. [See "With Climate Change, What's Better For The Farm Is Better For The Planet" for more information and a related graphic].
 
Beth Hoffman: Can you summarize – What are some of the main “take aways” from the data CGIAR has collected over the years regarding climate adaptation and mitigation for farmers?  If you were going to relate just a few things that were most important, what would you tell people?
 
Sonja Vermeulen: One of the key messages is that there are potential triple wins – for adaptation, mitigation and food security – which is increasingly being called “climate smart agriculture.”
 
A simple example is, if a farmer increased the organic matter in their soil, that increases the carbon storage – a mitigation function – but more organic matter also means better water capacity.  So that means you are much better able to deal with delayed onset of rains or dry spells, which are the kinds of problems farmers are dealing with under climate change.  The increased organic content would also raise the fertility of the soil which would also be better for yields and for food security.
 
There are also many things that farmers can do on their own, by themselves, soon, like increasing the diversity of what they’ve got planted, or changing the planting dates and what they feed to animals.  That’s very good within near term.
 
But for longer term climate change on a wider scale, we need bigger actions – what people are calling “transformative adaptation.”  An example would be that coffee systems are extremely sensitive to temperature, and science is predicting that in countries like Nicaragua and Colombia as soon as 2030 farmers might lose up to 50% of their growing area or more.  So there you need much bigger adaptation actions – farmers would have to move out of coffee and into a different crop and coffee companies would need to change where they are sourcing their beans.
 
It is also important to note that there is also a lot that government policies and companies can do to help.  For example, farmers often need support in order to make changes.  Sometimes that is with direct investment, as we can see with the example of mangrove improvements or improving infrastructure. Access to better roads or inputs, for example, can really help farmers, particularly in developing nations.
 
Policy changes too,  like promoting agroforestry, can also make a big difference.  In Niger, for example, over 5 million hectares – an additional 20 million trees – have been planted by farmers themselves on their own farms.  What allowed that to happen, among other things, was a simple change in law that allowed farmers to have a resource ownership over the trees, whereas before it was owned by the Forest Department and there wasn’t much incentive to plant trees.  So this simple change in policy at a national level allowed this huge scale to be reached and farmers reaped the benefits of that.
 
BH: It strikes me that most of the techniques CCAFS talks about are very “low tech” – mixing cropping systems, rotating crops and livestock, using wild plant varieties, etc.  Is it true that many of the solutions CCAFS found to help in the face of climate change are not high tech?
 
Certainly in terms of moving quickly and effectively on adaptation in low resource, small holder, developing countries, the largest gains are with fairly low tech, established technologies. Many of those practices have been used for decades, if not centuries.  For example, digging terraces to manage erosion and making sure there are buffers of mangroves – these are things we already knew about.
 
But in some cases there are new techniques, like alternate wetting and drying of rice fields.  In 2005, farmers and researchers learned that if you drain rice fields periodically, and re-wet, farmers can get a lot of savings in irrigation and energy costs.  A side benefit was that it also lowers methane emissions from rice (rice fields are one of biggest methane emitters).  A great additional win was higher yields.  There are also very high tech, more sophisticated farming methods that can help, like micro dosing – pumping in exactly the right amount water and nutrients directly to the roots.
 
For the most part, the “new” technologies specific to climate are focused on – how can we predict patterns better and communicate that information effectively to farmers?   Farmers – particularly in poorer countries – are very widely dispersed and may not have high literacy.  And so we need to do a lot of work to get farmers better climate information so they can make better decisions on a day by day, year by year basis.
 
Thinking about the future of food security and feeding the 9 billion under climate change doesn’t just require attention to how much food we are producing.  There are also trade barriers, rising food prices, and distribution which are also issues.  Can we also find better ways to distribute and waste less food?  An FAO report last September found we throw away 1/3 of food, and so solving consumption patterns is also part of the puzzle.
 
BH: What makes these methods “sustainable”?  How are you using the term?
 
A big theme that is emerging is an idea of sustainable intensification.
 
The idea here is that one of the biggest impacts farming has on greenhouse gas emissions – but also on biodiversity – is its impact on forest clearance.  It actually makes more sense to grow more on smaller area – even if that means using more inputs like fertilizer – so as long as what you do at the same time is leave a larger area of forest.  You need to think at the landscape level when you are thinking about if what is going on on the farm is sustainable or not.
 
That said, we also want to think about what can be done to increase yields on smaller areas while increasing inputs as little as possible.  You want to not use more fertilizer, not to use more energy, but in some cases you will have to do a little of that, especially in very low input systems in Africa where they use less than 5% of fertilizer levels used in Asia for instance.
 
And so we might see things which have not traditionally counted as “sustainable” or “ecolological” in this case considered good practice, as long as it saves forests.  What we are saying is what we don’t have a vision of absolute perfection, where we want every farm to be self contained with internal recycling on farm – we just don’t think that is achievable.  But we do think that almost any farming system in world can improve its sustainability.  They can all improve their environmental management.
 
Advanced economies have made huge gains here as well.  Between 1990-2010, Denmark decreased its agricultural emissions by 20 percent, with no loss whatsoever in profitability.  So there is enormous scope in becoming more sustainable in almost any farming system.
 
Sustainability also needs to take into account the whole food chain.  For example, you might argue that finding ways to grow tobacco or a similar crop with less fertilizer would be really good.  But at a larger scale you may say – maybe that is not really the best use of our agricultural land, and in fact the best thing we can do for sustainability is to grow something else.  Tobacco is particularly unpopular now around the world, but that would also apply to the amount of meat we produce or dairy.  You would need to weigh the benefits as compared to more plant based diets.

Mr. Prime Minister – You are wrong. GM crops are dangerous, and there is sound scientific evidence. says Coalition for GM Free India

Mr. Prime Minister – You are wrong. are dangerous, and there is sound scientific evidence. says Coalition for GM Free India

Coalition challenges the PM to prove that concerns about Bt Crops are prejudiced.

New Delhi, 4th Feb, 2014: Reacting to the promotional statement on Genetically Modified (GM) crops by the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in his inaugural address at the Indian Science Congress which started in Jammu yesterday [1], the Coalition for a GM Free India stated that the Prime Minister is wrong and wilfully misleading the nation on the issue of genetically modified (GM) crops.

The statement by the PM that the nation “should not succumb to unscientific prejudices against Bt crop” comes at a time when there is a growing body of scientific evidence on the adverse impacts of GM crops on human health, environment and farm livelihoods. The Coalition had recently released a compilation of more than 400 abstracts of peer reviewed scientific papers that points to the various adverse impacts from GM crops [2].

The Final Report of the Technical Expert Committee (TEC) set up by the Supreme Court of India in a PIL against open releases of GMOs into the environment has pointed to the inherent risks associated with GM crops and the absolute failure of the Indian regulatory system on GM crops. The TEC comprised of eminent scientists from the fields of molecular biology, toxicology, biodiversity, nutrition science etc had recommended against any open release of GM crops including for experimental trials, until a robust regulatory system is put in place. This was followed by more than 250 eminent Indian scientists including Padma awardees and 11 current and former Vice chancellors, writing to the Prime Minister about the serious concerns on GM crops[3]. They demanded that the Government of India stay clear of any vested interests and accept the recommendations of the TEC Final report as it is based on sound science, principles of sustainability and intergenerational justice.

Challenging the PM to prove his point that concerns about Bt Crops (GM crops with  toxin genes from the soil bacteria Bacillus thuringenesis) are unscientific and prejudiced, the coalition also reminded that it was his own Government had agreed to serious lacunae in the biosafety studies related to Bt Brinjal, the first GM food crop that came up for commercialisation and had put it under an indefinite moratorium. The Coalition for GM Free India demands Dr Manmohan Singh and his government to stop peddling risky GM crops and stand by the side of sound science and people of India.

Notes to the editor

1. The Prime Minister’s inaugural speech at the Indian Science Congress can be accessed at

http://pib.nic.in/newsite/pmreleases.aspx?mincode=3

2. The 2nd edition of the scientific compilation on adverse impacts of GM crops can be accessed at http://indiagminfo.org/?p=657

3. The letter to PM on concerns with GM crops by Indian Scientists can be accessed at http://indiagminfo.org/?p=654

For more info:

Rajesh Krishnan, Convenor, Coalition for GM Free India,

Mob: 09845650032 , email: rajeshecologist@gmail.com

Coalition for a GM-free India 

Website: www.indiagminfo.org, email : indiagmfree@gmail.com,  Facebook page – GM Watch India

Scientists pitch for managing both agriculture & wetlands

Press Trust of India | February 2, 2014

Agriculture and in India and the rest of the world should be managed in unison to tackle poverty and conserve ecosystems, says a new report.

Agriculture and wetlands in India and the rest of the world should be managed in unison to tackle poverty and conserve ecosystems, says a new report.

Around six per cent of the world’s landmass is classified as either permanent or seasonal wetland. Millions of people directly depend on them for food, water, and other purposes.

Researchers estimate that wetlands are worth around USD 70 billion globally each year.

However, these areas also face a number of threats, the most serious of which is agriculture, the ‘Wetlands and People’ report unveiled today said.

Inline image 1
Download: http://www.iwmi.cgiar.org/Publications/Books/PDF/wetlands-and-people.pdf

“Wetlands and agriculture can and must coexist,” said Matthew McCartney, a hydrologist at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), a CGIAR centre, and a contributor to the report.

“We need policies on wetlands that support ecosystems, sustain rich biodiversity, and simultaneously improve the livelihoods of farming communities who depend on wetlands or whose activities directly affect them. We need to find a way to have the best of both worlds,” he said in the report.

Noting that outright protection of wetlands is incompatible with farming and undermines livelihoods, McCartney said: “But there are landscape approaches and agricultural practises that can support and sustain healthy wetlands, and vice versa. Working with local communities will help us find the best solutions.”

As per the report, India has 26 wetland sites of global importance. These include well-known lakes – Loktak in Manipur, Chilika in Odisha and Wular in Kashmir.

It is estimated that in the last century alone 50 per cent of the nation’s wetlands have been lost. A similar situation prevails in Southeast Asia.

In the report, researchers highlighted a number of examples of the value of wetlands to poor, rural communities in Asia, Africa and Latin America. They also outlined ways to manage them sustainably for current and future generations.

IWMI said the debate around conservation of wetlands has been polarised for years, with agriculture implicated as one of the greatest threats to their survival.

It said now there is a growing consensus that a ‘people-centred’ approach that seeks to optimise e benefits for small-holder farmers and reduce poverty, while simultaneously protecting ecosystems, represents the most promising future for long-term conservation of wetlands.

CGIAR (The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research) is an international body that funds and co-ordinates research into agricultural crop breeding with the goal of reducing rural poverty and increasing food security.

Rhythms of the herd: Long term dynamics in seed choice by Indian farmers

Glenn Davis Stone,  Andrew Flachs,

Scholars in many disciplines have approached the question of how humans combine environmental learning (or empirical assessments) and social learning (or emulation) in choosing technologies. As both a consumer item and the subject of local indigenous knowledge, commercial crop seeds provide a valuable window into these processes. Previous research on by cotton farmers in Andhra Pradesh, India, uncovered short-term seed fads, or herding, indicating agricultural deskilling in which environmental

learning had broken down. Unknown was if the faddism (and the underlying deskilling) would continue or even be exacerbated by the spread of genetically modified seeds. Data covering 11 years of seed choices in the same sample villages are now available; we
combine analysis of this unusual data set with ethnographic observation. We find that herding has continued and intensified. We also find an unexpected emergent pattern of cyclical fads; these resemble classic models of successive innovation adoption where
periodicity is introduced from outside the system, but we argue that it periodicity is actually generated by an internal dynamic.

http://artsci.wustl.edu/~anthro/research/stone/Rhythms_of_the_Herd.pdf

Unemployment among rural youth at highest level since 93-94

among rural youth at highest level since 93-94

In , Kerala had the worst record with 21.7% of its youth unemployed followed by Assam with about 15%
 
Unemployment among rural youth at highest level since 93-94
http://www.livemint.com/Politics/rmxquBMhnmzwwXtxWm9m1H/Unemployment-among-rural-youth-at-highest-level-since-9394.html
Rural unemployment was about 4.7% for both rural males and females in 2009-10. In 1993-94, 3.5% of rural young men in the labour force had no jobs. The corresponding figure was 1.9% for young women in rural areas. Photo: Mint
New Delhi: Joblessness among the youth aged 15 to 29 years in rural areas has hit the highest level since 1993-94, official five-yearly survey data shows, raising potentially difficult questions for the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government just months before the Lok Sabha polls are due.
About 5% of rural young men and women remained without jobs in 2011-12, a new report on the 2011-12 survey released on Friday shows.
Rural unemployment was about 4.7% for both rural males and females in 2009-10. In 1993-94, 3.5% of rural young men in the labour force had no jobs. The corresponding figure was 1.9% for young women in rural areas.
Experts said a rising trend in the unemployment rate in rural areas could indicate a structural shift in the labour market that policymakers have not adequately addressed.
“These data are very worrying because they show how the declines in agricultural employment have not been met by rising jobs in other activities, since only construction has shown a significant increase. So there are few options for the growing number of youth who have gone through more secondary and tertiary education. What is even more shocking is how little the government is responding to these trends with any sense of urgency,”said Jayati Ghosh, professor of economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University. Workforce in agriculture fell below 50% for the first time in 2011-12.
The proportion of workers engaged in agricultural activities fell from 81% in 1977-78 to 63% in 2009-10 to 59 % in 2011-12 for rural males and from 88% in 1977-78 to 79% to 75 % in 2011-12 for rural females, the National Sample Survey Office’s survey reports show.
Pronab Sen, chairman of the National Statistical Commission, said it could be that enough jobs to absorb raw youth are no longer being created.
The report said, “Over the years, there has been considerable increase in the proportion of workers engaged in ‘construction’. Between 1977-78 and 2011-12, the increase in the proportion of workers in ‘construction’ was about 11 percentage points for rural males, 6 percentage points for rural females, 7 percentage points for urban males and 2 percentage points for urban females.”
In rural areas, Kerala had the worst record with 21.7% of its youth unemployed followed by Assam with about 15% and Uttarakhand with about 11% youth unemployed.
In urban areas, Jammu and Kashmir had the highest proportion of unemployed young persons at 18.7%, followed by Assam and Kerala.
To be sure, higher unemployment among youth, particularly educated youth, has always been higher when compared to the overall average of all age groups.
The unemployment rate among educated youth was 8.1 % for rural males, 15.5 % for rural females, 11.7 % for urban males and 19.8% for urban females, the report said.
The trend of urban unemployment rates, in general and for youth, being higher than those in rural areas continued in 2011-12.
But, the trend over time has been more mixed in urban areas, where although it has declined to its lowest level since 1993-94 for young women to 13.1%, it rose from its all time low of 7.5% in 2009-10 for young men to touch 8.1%.
The rise in joblessness holds true when statistical investigators ask persons about their employment status in the one year till the survey, or their usual principal and subsidiary status.
However, unemployment by current daily status, where statistical investigators ask persons about their employment status on each day of the week before the survey, has declined since 1993-94 for all areas.
The report said the difference between the two measures of unemployment reflected, among other things, intermittent employment.