Gateway to fair prices

http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/features/gateway-to-fair-prices/article6489029.eceVenkat 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
www.acbio.org.za
PO Box 29170, Melville 2109 South Africa
Tel: +27 (0)11 486 1156
 

Malawi<br />
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: http://www.acbio.org.za/index.php/publications/seedfood-sovereignty/467-running-to-stand-still-small-scale-farmers-and-the-green-revolution-in-malawi

Contact:

Dr Stephen Greenberg
African Center for Biosafety
Stephen@acbio.org.za

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
E-mail: kchinsinga@yahoo.co.uk/bchinsinga@cc.ac.mw

Molly Cheatum
Kusamala Institute of Agriculture and Ecology
Mobile: +265 (0) 993655468
E-mail: molly@kusamala.org

 

 

UN: only small farmers and agroecology can feed the world

http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2566719/un_only_small_farmers_and_agroecology_can_feed_the_world.html

Nafeez Ahmed

23rd September 2014

Governments must shift subsidies and research funding from agro-industrial monoculture to small farmers using ‘agroecological’ methods, according to the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. And as Nafeez Ahmed notes, her call coincides with a new agroecology initiative within the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.
This is critical for future agricultural policies. Currently, most subsidies go to large agribusiness. This must change. Governments must support small farmers.

Modern industrial agricultural methods can no longer feed the world, due to the impacts of overlapping environmental and ecological crises linked to land, water and resource availability.

The stark warning comes from the new United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Prof Hilal Elver, In her first public speech since being appointed in June

“Food policies which do not address the root causes of world hunger would be bound to fail”, she told a packed audience in Amsterdam.

One billion people globally are hungry, she declared, before calling on governments to support a transition to “agricultural democracy” which would empower rural small farmers.

Agriculture needs a new direction: agroecology

“The 2009 global food crisis signalled the need for a turning point in the global food system”, she said at the event hosted by the Transnational Institute (TNI), a leading international think tank.

“Modern agriculture, which began in the 1950s, is more resource intensive, very fossil fuel dependent, using fertilisers, and based on massive production. This policy has to change.

“We are already facing a range of challenges. Resource scarcity, increased population, decreasing land availability and accessibility, emerging water scarcity, and soil degradation require us to re-think how best to use our resources for future generations.”

The UN official said that new scientific research increasingly shows how ‘agroecology’ offers far more environmentally sustainable methods that can still meet the rapidly growing demand for food:

“Agroecology is a traditional way of using farming methods that are less resource oriented, and which work in harmony with society. New research in agroecology allows us to explore more effectively how we can use traditional knowledge to protect people and their environment at the same time.”

Small farmers are the key to feeding the world

“There is a geographical and distributional imbalance in who is consuming and producing. Global agricultural policy needs to adjust. In the crowded and hot world of tomorrow, the challenge of how to protect the vulnerable is heightened”, Hilal Elver continued.

“That entails recognising women’s role in food production – from farmer, to housewife, to working mother, women are the world’s major food providers. It also means recognising small farmers, who are also the most vulnerable, and the most hungry.

“Across Europe, the US and the developing world, small farms face shrinking numbers. So if we deal with small farmers we solve hunger and we also deal with food production.”

And Elver speaks not just with the authority of her UN role, but as a respected academic. She is research professor and co-director at the Project on Global Climate Change, Human Security, and Democracy in the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara.

She is also an experienced lawyer and diplomat. A former founding legal advisor at the Turkish Ministry of Environment, she was previously appointed to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Chair in Environmental Diplomacy at the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies, University of Malta.

Industrial agriculture grabs 80% of subsidies and 90% of research funds

Hinting at the future direction of her research and policy recommendations, she criticised the vast subsidies going to large monocultural agribusiness companies. Currently, in the European Union about 80% of subsidies and 90% of research funding go to support conventional industrial agriculture.

“Empirical and scientific evidence shows that small farmers feed the world. According to the UN Food & Agricultural Organisation (FAO), 70% of food we consume globally comes from small farmers”, said Prof Elver.

“This is critical for future agricultural policies. Currently, most subsidies go to large agribusiness. This must change. Governments must support small farmers. As rural people are migrating increasingly to cities, this is generating huge problems.

“If these trends continue, by 2050, 75% of the entire human population will live in urban areas. We must reverse these trends by providing new possibilities and incentives to small farmers, especially for young people in rural areas.”

If implemented, Elver’s suggestions would represent a major shift in current government food policies.

But Marcel Beukeboom, a Dutch civil servant specialising in food and nutrition at the Ministry of Trade & Development who spoke after Elver, dissented from Elver’s emphasis on small farms:

“While I agree that we must do more to empower small farmers, the fact is that the big monocultural farms are simply not going to disappear. We have to therefore find ways to make the practices of industrial agribusiness more effective, and this means working in partnership with the private sector, small and large.”

A UN initiative on agroecology?

The new UN food rapporteur’s debut speech coincided with a landmark two-dayInternational Symposium on Agroecology for Food and Nutrition Security in Rome, hosted by the FAO. Over 50 experts participated in the symposium, including scientists, the private sector, government officials, and civil society leaders.

A high-level roundtable at the close of the symposium included the agricultural ministers of France, Algeria, Costa Rica, Japan, Brazil and the European Union agricultural commissioner.

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said: “Agroecology continues to grow, both in science and in policies. It is an approach that will help to address the challenge of ending hunger and malnutrition in all its forms, in the context of the climate change adaptation needed.”

A letter to the FAO signed by nearly 70 international food scientists congratulated the UN agency for convening the agroecology symposium and called for a “UN system-wide initiative on agroecology as the central strategy for addressing climate change and building resilience in the face of water crises.”

The scientists described agroecology as “a well-grounded science, a set of time-tested agronomic practices and, when embedded in sound socio-political institutions, the most promising pathway for achieving sustainable food production.”

More than just a science – a social movement!

A signatory to the letter, Mindi Schneider, assistant professor of Agrarian, Food and Environmental Studies at the Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague, said:

“Agroecology is more than just a science, it’s also a social movement for justice that recognises and respects the right of communities of farmers to decide what they grow and how they grow it.”

Several other food experts at the Transnational Institute offered criticisms of prevailing industrial practices. Dr David Fig, who serves on the board of Biowatch South Africa, an NGO concerned with food sovereignty and sustainable agriculture, said:

“We are being far too kind to industrialised agriculture. The private sector has endorsed it, but it has failed to feed the world, it has contributed to major environmental contamination and misuse of natural resources. It’s time we switched more attention, public funds and policy measures to agroecology, to replace the old model as soon as possible.”

Prof Sergio Sauer, formerly Brazil’s National Rapporteur for Human Rights in Land, Territory and Food, added: “Agroecology is related to the way you relate to land, to nature to each other – it is more than just organic production, it is a sustainable livelihood.

“In Brazil we have the National Association of Agroecology which brings together 7,000 people from all over the country pooling together their concrete empirical experiences of agroecological practices. They try to base all their knowledge on practice, not just on concepts.

“Generally, nobody talks about agroecology, because it’s too political. The simple fact that the FAO is calling a major international gathering to discuss agroecology is therefore a very significant milestone.”

 


 

Dr. Nafeez Ahmed is an investigative journalist, bestselling author, and international security scholar. He is a regular contributor to The Ecologist and The Guardian where he writes about the geopolitics of interconnected environmental, energy and economic crises. He has also written for The Independent, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Scotsman, Foreign Policy, Prospect, New Statesman, Le Monde diplomatique, among many others. His new novel of the near future is ZERO POINT.

Follow him on Twitter @nafeezahmed and Facebook.

Website: www.nafeezahmed.com

 

New Land Acquisition Act – Rules for Social Impact Assessments and Consent Provisions Notified (Relative Progressive Rules – Can also be a useful guide for EIA Processes)

New Land Acquisition Act – Rules for Social Impact Assessments and Consent Provisions Notified (Relative Progressive Rules – Can also be a useful guide for EIA Processes)

 

The NDA government – amidst speculations that it is set to dilute important provisions of the new land acquisition act – has recently notified the Rules for two of its most important and progressive sections, those pertaining to the Social Impact Assessments and the Consent provisions. These Rules, notified on 8th Aug 2014 detail out how to implement these two provisions of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 which is the full and formal name of the new Land Acquisition Act( referred to hereinafter as Act).

Overall, these Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Social Impact Assessment and Consent) Rules, 2014 (Rules hereinafter) provide a relatively progressive framework of implementation.

Provisions for Social Impact Assessment

There are some significant provisions for carrying out the SIA. First and foremost, the Rules require that the SIA be carried out in consultation with the local self-government institutions in the affected area. This provision is also there in Act.

The Rules require the state or the central government to establish a Social Impact Assessment Unit, “an independent organisation which shall be responsible for ensuring that Social Impact Assessments are commissioned and conducted by such person or bodies other than the Requiring Body as per the provisions of the Act”. (Emphasis added). This is a critical provision for maintaining the credibility of the SIA. Here, a lesson seems to have been learnt from the problems with the Environment Impact Assessments (EIA) process, where the project proponent selects, commissions and pays the agency that carries out the EIA. This creates a direct conflict of interest, and it’s not surprising that most EIAs are highly biased towards the project proponent’s interests.

The Rules empower the SIA Unit to formulate the Terms of References for any SIA proposal, list the activities required, decide the size and profile of the team required, and prepare the costs estimates for the same. Then, the Requiring Body (the agency that wants the land) will deposit the money with the Government, and the SIA Unit will select the agency to carry out the assessment from the roster that it maintains.

To further ensure a distance between the Requiring Body and the SIA team, the Rules explicitly state that the Requiring Body shall not be involved in any way in the appointment of the SIA agency, and that it should be ensured that there is no conflict of interest involving the team members of the SIA agency.

The Rules allow the SIA team to include independent practitioners, academics, qualified social activists, and mandate the inclusion of at least one woman member.

The SIA Unit is also tasked with building and “continuously expand a Database of Qualified Social Impact Assessment Resource Partners and Practitioners”, “conduct training and capacity building programmes for the Social Impact Assessment team and community surveyors”, and “continuously review, evaluate and strengthen the quality of Social Impact Assessments and the capacities available to conduct them”.

Apart from giving a detailed list of the aspects that the SIA must cover, which include all direct and indirect impacts, the Rules also require the SIA to “assess the viability of impact mitigation”. This is critical because often, the mitigation measures are just listed out as a lip service and the project cleared on this basis, but the affected people suffer because it is practically impossible to carry out the measure effectively particularly when the displacement involves large numbers.

In this context, it is also important that the Rules require the SIA to “provide an assessment as to whether the benefits from the proposed project exceed the social costs and adverse social impacts that are likely to be experienced by the affected families or even after the proposed mitigation measures, the affected families remained at risk of being economically or socially worse, as a result of the said land acquisition and resettlement”.

There are several other important provisions including the time period for the SIA (six months), recording the views of the affected families in writing, involving local voluntary organisations and media in the public hearings, recording and considering in the SIA every objection raised in the public hearings, the SIA and public hearings to be in local language and a web-based flow management information system of the acquisition process.

The Consent Provision

The Consent related Rules specify that the Consent process shall be carried out by the Government, through the District Collector. The consent would be obtained (where required by the Act) at two levels – the Gram Sabha level and for the private and public-private partnership projects, at the individual land owner levels.

For getting the consent from the Gram Sabha, the quorum requirements not only ask for 50% of the total members to be present, but also require that one third of total women members also to be present.

The Rules specify that negotiated terms for rehabilitation, compensation, impact management and mitigation which the Requiring Body has agreed to, shall form a part and parcel of the Consent Agreements. This means that the Consent is given only against these commitments.

It also declares that any attempt to coerce or threaten anyone into giving consent shall be treated as a criminal offence, and most important, if any such threat has been made, the consent so given shall be void.

Two Caveats

Of course, these Rules cannot and do not transcend the fundamental problems with the original Act itself (see here  for a detailed account of these), but within that limitation, provide a much better process than has been available earlier for project affected people.

Second, it’s a question as to whether and how long these Rules will survive, as the very provisions that these Rules help actualise are the ones that the Central Government seems to want to do away with. However, till such an eventuality, these Rules will be the ones that will provide the framework for implementation of the Act.

A Lesson for the MoEF

All in all, even with several limitations, these Rules provide a process of SIA that is miles ahead of all earlier processes. Indeed, at this time, the Ministry of Environment and Forest is examining all the environment protection laws, and it could do well to adapt all these provisions of the SIA for the EIA process too.

22 September 2014

The Rules can be downloaded from http://dolr.nic.in/dolr/downloads/pdfs/RFCTLARR%20%28SIA%20and%20Consent%29%20Rules%202014.pdf

New farming practices can increase yields and lower pollution in China, Stanford study shows

An integrated approach to managing soil and crops could help meet the demand of rapidly rising population while reducing greenhouse gases that drive climate change.

Hector Garcia/Creative Commonswheat fields in Guangxi, ChinaA new study compares current farming practices in China for staple crops including wheat to alternative approaches that can increase yield and lower environmental damage.

Farming practices in China could be designed to simultaneously improve yields and reduce environmental damages substantially, according to a new study by Stanford biology Professor Peter Vitousek and a team of his colleagues at China Agricultural University.

The research paper, published in Nature,compared current farming practices for staple crops corn, wheat and rice in Eastern and Southern China to three alternative approaches:

  • Incremental improvements of the current method, aimed at boosting crop growth and improving environmental quality
  • A yield-maximizing approach with no regard to either financial or environmental cost
  • An integrated soil-crop system management” (ISSM) approach that used crop models to redesign the production system

The integrated soil-crop system approach aims to tailor decisions like crop selection, planting, sowing and nutrient management to each field’s conditions in order both to enhance yields and to minimize environmental damage.

Nitrogen fertilizer is used extensively in modern agriculture – and nowhere more than in China. Overall, Chinese farmers overuse fertilizer, with much of it ultimately polluting the air and water and contributing to hundreds of thousands of premature deaths each year. The production and transport of fertilizer also contributes significantly to agriculture’s share of greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change.

In total, the team tested the four farming methods in 153 site-years of experiments between 2009 and 2012 in widely distributed sites within China’s regions of intensive agriculture. Of the four methods, the yield-maximizing approach produced the highest yields of corn, wheat and rice. Yields from ISSM treatment were a close second, reaching 97 to 99 percent of the levels seen in yield-maximizing fields. Crops grown in the ISSM approach also required much less fertilizer, and used it much more efficiently, resulting in nearly no wasted nitrogen and significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions.

“This is exciting work, because the joint challenges of increasing agricultural yields and reducing the environmental costs of agriculture are particularly stark in China – which has less farmland than the United States, a population that’s four times greater and really horrendous levels of air and water pollution,” Vitousek said. “If we can combine much higher yields with much lower environmental consequences in China, there is real hope that those challenges can be met around the world. It’s globally significant that agricultural science in China is meeting these challenges in fundamental ways, and it’s a pleasure to collaborate with our colleagues there.”

The authors predict that if farmers can reach even 80 percent of the yields seen in the study’s ISSM test fields by 2030 (when China’s human population is expected to reach its peak) on the same amount of land that Chinese farmers cultivated in 2012, grain production could then meet demand for both human and animal consumption.

This would help ensure food security in China and make China’s role in global food markets more deliberate and predictable. At the same time, nitrogen losses could be cut by nearly half, thereby saving many lives, and total greenhouse gas emission could fall by one quarter. Moreover, the ISSM approach could be applied in other areas of the world, where it would boost global yields of major grain crops on existing farmland, while simultaneously reducing nitrogen use, greenhouse gas emissions and economic costs to farmers.

Vitousek is the Clifford G. Morrison Professor in Population and Resource Studies in the Department of Biology and is a faculty affiliate of the Center on Food Security and the Environment at Stanford. He also is a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and is a professor, by courtesy, in the Department of Environmental Earth System Science, School of Earth Sciences.

Media Contact

Peter Vitousek, Biology: vitousek@stanford.edu, (650) 725-1866

Dan Stober, Stanford News Service: (650) 721-6965, dstober@stanford.edu

Integrated Assessment of Scale Impacts of Watershed Intervention

Integrated Assessment of Scale Impacts of Watershed Intervention (1st Edition)
Assessing Hydrogeological and Bio-physical influences on Livelihoods
Author(s): Dr. V. Ratna Reddy and Geoff Syme, Elsevier | Expected Release: October 2014
 
Integrated Assessment of Scale Impacts of Watershed Intervention: Assessing Hydrogeological and Bio-Physical Influences on Livelihoods
Key Features
  • Integrates hydrogeology, bio-physical, and socioeconomic aspects of watersheds in a hydrological context
  • Provides a comprehensive understanding of the impacts  of watershed interventions
  • Assesses the role of watershed interventions in enhancing household resilience
  • Provides hydrological and socio-economic methodologies for  design of sustainble watershed  interventions including scale and institutional arrangements for implementing and sustaining watershed interventions
Description
 
Integrated Assessment of Scale Impacts of Watershed Interventions is the outcome of a multi-disciplinary research team of social scientists, hydrologists (groundwater and surface water), modellers; and bio-physical scientists who have worked together over five years to develop an integrated model of the sustainability of biophysical, economic and social impacts of watersheds. Impacts of watershed interventions are assessed at upstream, mid-stream and downstream locations of two hydrological units that are characterised with differential bio-physical attributes. The editors propose that watershed interventions, when integrated with hydro-geology and bio-physical aspects, have greater influence on the resilience of the socio-ecological system. This book takes these aspects in to consideration and in the process provides insights in to watershed design and implementation.
 

 

Farm Income Insurance Scheme to Provide Protection to Farmers Against Natural Calamities is on the Cards

4.9.2014
Farm Income Insurance Scheme to Provide Protection to Farmers Against Natural Calamities is on the Cards: Radha Mohan Singh

Production and price risks affect the income of farmers, which has adverse effect on their capacity to invest in advance crop varieties, techniques of production and capital formation in farm sector. Inaugurating a Seminar on concept of farm income insurance scheme at Ahmedabad today, Union Minister of Agriculture, Shri Radha Mohan Singh said that agriculture is largely dependent upon monsoon, which leads to uncertainty in production and price of agricultural produce.

Government is considering to launch farm income insurance scheme so that these two important components i.e. production and price can be tackled under single policy instrument. The objective of this scheme would be to protect the farmers by giving them insurance cover for their production and market risks. The scheme aims to ensure continuous production, protection to livelihood and crops, encouragement to multiplicity of crops, which may promote competition from the angle of exports.

Mentioning the sea change in agricultural scenario over the past few years, Shri Singh said that foodgrain production has touched a record figure of 264.38 million tonnes during the year 2013-14. It is a matter of great pride that today we are producing more than our requirement of consumption. Even the States considered to be backward are producing foodgrains in excess. Our godowns have adequate foodgrains and we are in a position to meet any adverse contingency. During the year 2013-14, the country exported agricultural products worth Rs. 2.41 lakh crore. The country anticipates to exceed the targeted growth rate of 4% during the XIII Five Year Plan, he added.

Shri Singh said that we are facing difficulty to deal with storage capacity of our godowns and our procurement agencies like Food Corporation of India (FCI) are facing financial and structural difficulties. As such, mere subsidy cannot ensure guarantee for appropriate income to our farmers. Appropriate management of agricultural produce and improvement in processing technology can ensure good prices to farmers and they can also contribute to it.

The Minister said that Government of India is implementing since 1985 crop insurance to protect farmers from adverse affect of natural calamities at national level. Based on experience gained from implementation of farm insurance schemes, consultation with State Governments and stakeholders, a revised scheme is being considered which may be more conducive to farmers’ needs. During 2003-2004 rabi season some states and districts had started a scheme under which farmers were entitled to get compensation in the event of their getting lesser income from their production than guaranteed income. However, this scheme was applicable in case of rice and wheat only and it could not be implemented further, he added.

The present government has invited suggestions from all states to protect the income of farmers by way of giving a concept paper for insurance scheme so that difficulties experienced in the past could be overcome. Ministry officials have held discussions on 14th August, 2014 with all State Governments, Shri Singh said.

He expressed the hope that deliberations held in the seminar would firm up solid suggestions which would be helpful in preparing a practical and durable farm income insurance scheme.

GG:CP: insurance (4.9.2014)

Tea companies commit to Non-Pesticide Management in tea; Unilever and Girnar lead the way

After 50 hours volunteers climb down the billboards

August 13th, 2014, Mumbai: In an encouraging turn of events, two of the leading tea companies have come forward in support of Non-Pesticide Management (NPM) in tea. Earlier this week, Greenpeace India released its report “Trouble Brewing”1 highlighting pesticide residue in tea samples. Since then, companies have been coming forward to engage with us. In response, Unilever2 and now Girnar Tea3 have both committed to support the NPM approach, which could lead to phasing out pesticides in tea cultivation. Pilot studies will be the first concrete step in this direction.

“It is very encouraging that the tea companies are taking steps to provide their consumers pesticide-free tea. Unilever and now Girnar Tea have taken the first step in this direction. Greenpeace will continue to urge the tea industry to move towards a holistic, ecosystem-based approach that will gradually phase out pesticides and clean our chai,” said Neha Saigal, Senior Campaigner, Greenpeace India.

To highlight the urgency of the issue, volunteers had climbed up seven billboards at the Bandra Reclamation Road urging the tea companies to “Clean Chai Now”. After spending 50 hours on these billboards, the volunteers today climbed down acknowledging the progress shown by tea companies.

“We are happy that our efforts are paying off and companies are coming forward to engage with us in a positive way. We look forward to a day when all our tea is free from pesticides,” said Bindu Vaz, one of the volunteers.

Notes to the editor:

1) http://www.greenpeace.org/india/en/Press/Greenpeace-calls-on-the-industry-to-save-Indian-tea-from-pesticides/

2)http://www.unilever.nl/nieuwsenmedia/persberichten/2014/UnileverstartonderzoekinIndianaarmogelijkheidtheetetelenzonderpesticiden.aspx

3) https://twitter.com/TeasAtGirnar

For more information: http://grnpc.org/cleanchai

Follow us on twitter: @GreenpeaceIndia

Contacts:

Shashwat Raj: Senior Media Officer, Greenpeace India, +91 9971110144sraj@greenpeace.org

Neha Saigal: Senior Campaigner, Greenpeace India, +917760968772nsaigal@greenpeace.org

Telangana Government GO on Crop Loan Waiver

140813 Loan Waiver GO telangana

The eligible amount for debt waiver would be limited to the amount of loan (together with applicable interest), which is disbursed and outstanding as of 31st of March, 2014 or Rs.1,00,000 per farmer family whichever is lower. The farmer family is defined as head of the family, spouse and dependent children.
The following loans/accounts shall not be eligible under the Crop Loan Waiver Scheme.
a) Advances against pledge or hypothecation of agriculture produce other than standing crop
b) Tied loans
c) Closed crop loan accounts
Short term production loan means a loan given in connection with the raising of crops which is to be repaid within 18 months. It will include working capital loan, for traditional and non-traditional plantation and horticulture.

Implementation Guidelines of the Scheme
a) Preparation of list of farmers with outstanding crop loan dues and arriving at the amount of claim

i) Each lending institution – bank branch – which has disbursed short term crop loans to farmers shall prepare village-wise list of farmers with outstanding crop loan dues as on March 31, 2014 in the prescribed format (Annexure-A).

ii) Each lending institution, shall also prepare a village-wise list of farmers who have outstanding dues as on March 31, 2014 in respect of crop loans taken against gold in the prescribed format (Annexure-B).

iii) The list of farmers in Annexure-A and Annexure-B should be compared by the Bank Branch Manager and a final list of farmers who have outstanding crop loan and limited to a maximum extent of Rs.1.00 lakh should be prepared by the Bank Branch Manager in the format designed in Annexure-C. One copy of Annexure-A, B, C should be sent by the Bank Branch Manager each to LDM and District Collector.

iv) Some of the farmers might have taken crop loan/agriculture gold loan for crops from more than one bank branch of same bank or another bank. Hence, for eliminating the duplication/multiple financing and restricting the benefit of loan waiver of Rs.1.00 lakh per farmer family, a Bankers meeting at Mandal level will be convened by the JMLBC (Joint Mandal Level Bankers Committee) Convener. At the JMLBC meeting all the Banks will come with the lists of eligible farmers prepared in the proforma as in Annexure-A, B & C prescribed by the Government, and compare the list of farmers in Annexure- C with Annexure- C list of other bank branches in the mandal belonging to all the other banks (commercial, rural, cooperative). The mandal Tahsildar will also check all names in Annexure- C of all banks in the mandal and will verify if there are any fake pattadar pass books and also if all loanees have farm land. After this verification any false claims will be deleted. Then the farmer family who have availed loans from more than one bank branch will be identified by the JLMBC members. Their details will be recorded by the JLMBC in Annexure- D. The Co-op. Dept. auditors under the supervision of District Co-op. Audit Officer shall cross verify the A, B, C with D list pertaining to PACs and DCCBs. The DCAO shall allot the auditors to Mandals under his jurisdiction under intimation to the District Collector. A senior officer not below the rank of Deputy Collector and nominated by the District Collector will be the observer for this meeting. The Annexure-D thus prepared in JLMBC will be shared by all bank branches at the mandal level.

v) After comparing and deleting farmer family who have taken loan in more than one bank branch (Comparing Annexure C and D) each bank will prepare Annexure-E. It is to be noted that if a farmer family has multiple accounts but overall outstanding for crop loan is less than Rs.1.00 lakh, then their name will not be deleted. In case outstanding crop loan is more than Rs.1.00 lakh, then the name will be retained in the bank where the farmer family first availed the crop loan or where the outstanding amount is higher, the latter being the first priority. Annexure-E will be the final list of farmers bank branch wise who will be eligible for loan waiver.

vi) Annexure-E will be exhibited village wise and social audit conducted by a team consisting of MPDO, Tahsildar, AR (SDLCO)/Sl.& Branch Manager or his representative. After conduct of social audit and finalization of all objections received the final list of farmers bank branch wise will be prepared in Annexure-E (final). After the social audit and after taking into account the objections of villages, if any, a final village-wise list of eligible farmers along with the amount eligible for waiver shall be prepared Annexure ‘E’ and displayed at all bank branches after due authentication. The final list shall be sent to the LDM and the District Collector in Annexure-E.

vii) A District Level Bankers’ meeting will be convened (DCC) by the LDM and district details of loan waiver bank wise, farmer wise will be recorded and sent to SLBC in Annexure-E. SLBC will intimate Bank wise, Branch wise farmers eligible amounts to be released to the Government in Annexure-E.

b) Claim reimbursement by the Government to the lending institutions
i) The final list shall be consolidated village-wise and district- wise by convening a meeting of the District Level Bankers’ Committee. After consolidating all such lists from the districts, the banks would need to raise a claim with the Government, which would be reimbursed to the banks.

ii) After adjustment of loan waiver amount by the State Government, each branch shall certify the amount of outstanding crop loans waived after duly crediting the amounts in the crop loan accounts of farmers. Before crediting the amount, an undertaking should be taken from the farmer in that he shall repay the amount of waiver if it is found subsequently that he/she has fraudulently obtained the crop loan or is found not eligible for crop loan waiver under the Scheme. A certificate of loan waiver in Annexure ‘F’ shall also be issued by the bank branch to each farmer, whose outstanding loan has been waived. The amount of loan waiver shall be consolidated bank-wise for the entire State.

iii) A meeting of the JMLBC shall be convened within one month of the completion of procedures laid down in i) and ii) above.

Audit

After the completion of procedures in i) and ii) above, the auditors of the Cooperation Department shall take up the audit of Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies to ensure accuracy of the waiver amounts and shall submit the audit report to the Chief Auditor. The books of accounts of every lending institution that has granted crop loan waiver shall be subject to an audit in accordance with the usual procedure prescribed by RBI / NABARD. The audit may be conducted by concurrent auditors, statutory auditors or special auditors.
Obligations of lending institutions

Every lending institution shall be responsible for the correctness and integrity of the list of farmers eligible under the scheme and the particulars of crop loan waiver in respect of each farmer. Every document maintained, every list prepared and ever certificate issued by a lending institution for the purpose of the scheme shall bear the signature of an authorised officer of the lending institution.

Monitoring and Grievance Redressal

There will also be a suitable monitoring and grievance redressal mechanism established at Mandal, District and State levels and every representation has to be disposed off within 30 days. Detailed orders in this regard would be issued separately.

Fresh Lending and agriculture campaign

Since the eligibility for loan waiver is decided based on the outstanding crop loan as on March 31, 2014, along with the interest on it computed up to the date of implementation to be notified by the State Government, and the liability will be taken over by the State Government. All the bankers should commence fresh lending of crop loans immediately. For clarity, it is reiterated that the eligible loan amount as computed by following the prescribed procedure shall be reimbursed irrespective of its renewal subsequent to 31-03-2014.

(BY ORDER AND IN THE NAME OF THE GOVERNOR OF TELANGANA)

POONAM MALAKONDAIAH,
APC & PRINCIPAL SECRETARY TO GOVERNMENT.

To
The Commissioner & Director of Agriculture,
Government of Telangana, Hyderabad.
Copy to:
The Principal Secretary to Chief Minister.
The P.S. to Hon’ble Minister (Agri & A.H.)
The P.S. to Chief Secretary.
The Finance (EAC) Department.
The Accountant General, Telangana, Hyderabad.
The Pay and Accounts Officer, Telangana, Hyderabad.
SF/SCs.