TDP poll promise: Farm Loan and Women SHG loan Waiver is impractical

Telugu Desam Party has been promising loan waiver to farmers and DWRCA women self help groups immediately after coming to power.  On 24th March, TDP leader has released the Manifesto for 2014 local body elections and promised to waive the loans of Farmers and SHG women.   These promises Rs. 90,146.87 crore (Rs. 67,224.28 cr of farm loans and Rs. 22,922.59 cr of Credit to Women Self Help Groups) will cost about 50% of the total budget (Rs. 1,83,129.00 crores) proposed for the year 2014-15.  While indebtedness among farmers itself is high, institutional credit to agriculture is only around 21%.  Most of the institutional credit only goes to land owners and not the real cultivators who take land on lease and cultivate. In this regard we feel that spending half of the budget to raise hopes and votes from many and finally helping only few is completely unjustified.

The TDP leader is also asking farmers and women self-help groups not to repay the loans as he would waive all of them when comes to power. This will also affect the credibility of the farmers and women SHGs and effect their Credit worthiness.

A.      On Farmers Loan Waiver

  1. The total loans to farmers planned during 2013-14 were Rs. 67,224.28 crore against which Rs. 38,491.65 crores were disbursed till 30th September, 2013. Rest would be distributed in the next during the rabi season (October, 2013 to March, 2014).

Agriculture Credit during 2013-14 (Rs. In Crores)

  Target 2013-14 Achieved till 30th sept 2013
Crop loans 49,988.69 28,820.19
Term loans 7217.50 6276.79
Agril allied loans 10018.08 3394.67
Total 67,224.28 38,491.65

Source: State Level Bankers Committee, http://www.slbcap.nic.in

If this target has to be met, the total budget requirement would be around

The loans are also not evenly or equitably distributed. Based on the data available the variations as follows. The region which is going to be formed as Andhra Pradesh (13 districts) had 61% of cultivated area while the total agriculture credit given till 30th September, 2013 is 69% whereas the state of Telangana which has 39% area got only 31% of the agricultural credit.

Regional Variation in Agriculture Credit (2013-14)

Region/New State 

Total Cropped area

Total Agriculture Credit

in ha

% to total

Target

% to total

Achieved*

% to total

Andhra Pradesh

7662000

61%

47016.95

70%

26486.21

69%

Telangana

4899001

39%

20207.33

30%

12005.44

31%

Total

12561001

100%

67224.28

100%

38491.65

100%

* till 30th September, 2013

Variations are also seen between districts within the two going to be formed states. For example in the 13 districts which are going to be formed as Andhra Pradesh the distribution is as follows. The four districts of Krishna, Guntur, East and West Godavari districts which have only 36% of the cultivated area got about 50% of agriculture credit.  Some people will get undue advantage compared to others.  The details of others districts is given in the annexure.

Regional variation within the newly forming state of Andhra Pradesh (2013-14)

Districts % cultivated area % agril credit target % agril credit achieved
Utterandhra: Srikakulam+Vijayanagaram+Vishaka patnam

14%

11%

9%

Coastal: Krishna+ E& W. Godavari+Guntur

36%

50%

49%

Coastal: Prakasham+ Nellore

14%

14%

11%

Rayalaseema: Chittor+Kadapa+Ananthpur+Kurnool

36%

26%

31%

 

The data of 2012-13 (annexure A) also showed the same trend.

  1. The access to institutional credit is as low as 21% in the combined state of Andhra Pradesh. The government estimation is that the state has 40 lakh tenant farmers and they do not have access to institutional credit. AP government has enacted Loan Eligibility Card scheme Act which identifies Tenant Farmers and issues Identity card which can be used to get access to credit. During 2013-14 only 4.43 lakh cards were issued and among them only 20% of them got access to crop loans. Rest of the farmers had to depend on the private loans at higher rates.
  2. Before going for 2009 elections the UPA government throughAgricultural Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme (ADWDRS), 2008 has waived about Rs. 52,000 crores across the country.  In AP, the total number of farmers who benefited from the scheme was 77,55,227 and the total loan waiver and relief given to them was Rs 11,353.75 crore.  CAG found that in AP, a sum of Rs 40.76 lakh went to ineligible beneficiaries (132 accounts) and reimbursement was made for an amount of Rs 26.55 lakh though loans had not been disbursed (96 accounts).

B. Loans to DWRCA/Women Self Help Groups

  1. Total loans to Women SHGs in Andhra Pradesh are Rs. 22,922.59 crore.
Loans to Women SHGs In crore (as on 30th September, 2013)
Total out standing Rs. 21,245.19
Over dues Rs. 946.15
Non Performing Assets (NPAs) Rs.731.25
Total Rs. 22,922.59

http://www.slbcap.nic.in

The TDP leader also promised the waiver of loans to women self help groups and is asking them not to pay the loans in every meeting.

TDP should make clear

a. Whose loans and what loans will waived.   Otherwise many farmers are now not paying their dues and at the end they all end up in problems.

b. what would be the quantum of loans that would be waived and what is the source of the resources.

Annexure A

The Agriculture Credit Target and Disbursed during 2012-13

Districts Net cropped area % to total Target Disbursed % of achivement % to total

1

Srikakulam

405000

3%

1003.27

1297.49

129.33%

3%

2

Vijayanagaram

373000

3%

650.85

976.44

150.03%

2%

3

Vishakapatnam

315000

3%

666.71

1257.18

188.56%

3%

4

East godavari

598000

5%

2862.44

5089.93

177.82%

10%

5

West godavari

618000

5%

3074.45

5157.56

167.76%

10%

6

Krishna

716000

6%

2178.14

2975.34

136.60%

6%

7

Guntur

796000

6%

3660.46

4597.55

125.60%

9%

8

Prakasham

628000

5%

2039.86

2940.49

144.15%

6%

9

Nellore

429000

3%

1418.68

2316.99

163.32%

5%

10

Chittor

404000

3%

1767.24

2360.35

133.56%

5%

11

Kadapa

473000

4%

1656.70

2056.82

124.15%

4%

12

Anantapur

901000

7%

2476.06

2704.79

109.24%

5%

13

Kurnool

1006000

8%

2049.00

2361.68

115.26%

5%

14

Mahaboobnagar

917000

8%

1980.00

1061.92

53.63%

2%

15

Medak

554000

4%

945.00

1474.03

155.98%

3%

16

Nizamabad

420000

3%

1668.00

1255.41

75.26%

3%

17

Adilabad

634000

5%

920.00

2046.19

222.41%

4%

18

Karimnagar

563000

4%

1688.00

2046.19

121.22%

4%

19

Warangal

557000

4%

1345.00

1436.43

106.80%

3%

20

Khammam

439000

3%

1055.77

1514.07

143.41%

3%

21

Nalgonda

585000

5%

1351.38

1684.31

124.64%

3%

22

Ranga reddy

230000

2%

669.47

1059.62

158.28%

2%

23

Hyderabad

100%

0%

1.30

434.42

33416.77%

1%

Total

12561001

101%

37127.78

50105.2

134.95%

 


Total Agriculture credit to Farmers during 2013-14

Name of the District 

Total Cropped area

Crop Loans (Rs. In Crore)

Agrl.Term Loans (Rs. In Crore)

Agrl.Allied (Rs. In Crore)

 

Total Agriculture loans (Rs. In Crore)

 

in ha

%

Target

achieved

% to total

Target

Achieved

% to total

Target

Achieved

% to total

Target

% to total

achieved

% to total

Andhra Pradesh 

1

Srikakulam

405000.00

5%

1435.80

819.44

4%

495.74

129.21

4%

132.42

60.09

3%

2063.96

4%

1008.74

4%

2

Vizianagaram

373000.00

5%

1000.00

370.00

2%

180.00

60.05

2%

350.00

141.45

6%

1530.00

3%

571.50

2%

3

Visakhapatnam

315000.00

4%

800.10

699.33

3%

452.50

128.03

3%

160.29

70.58

3%

1412.89

3%

897.94

3%

4

East Godavari

598000.00

8%

4765.73

2356.78

11%

463.81

510.64

14%

1224.98

234.70

10%

6454.53

14%

3102.12

12%

5

West Godavari

618000.00

8%

4374.08

3025.54

15%

411.90

353.71

10%

1452.05

157.67

7%

6238.04

13%

3536.92

13%

6

Krishna

716000.00

9%

3049.39

2026.06

10%

453.80

260.75

7%

728.65

304.13

13%

4231.84

9%

2590.94

10%

7

Guntur

796000.00

10%

5191.61

2649.77

13%

210.71

579.90

16%

980.70

443.06

20%

6383.01

14%

3672.73

14%

8

Prakasam

628000.00

8%

2600.32

1241.90

6%

747.38

319.68

9%

66.42

23.91

1%

3414.13

7%

1585.49

6%

9

Nellore

429000.00

6%

2402.84

893.45

4%

142.01

262.35

7%

460.38

144.63

6%

3005.22

6%

1300.43

5%

10

Chittoor

404000.00

5%

2044.87

1597.00

8%

109.99

168.29

5%

577.60

395.22

17%

2732.46

6%

2160.51

8%

11

Kadapa

473000.00

6%

2004.60

1260.11

6%

253.90

605.92

16%

563.20

47.03

2%

2821.70

6%

1913.06

7%

12

Ananthapur

901000.00

12%

3127.31

2085.56

10%

290.49

84.19

2%

123.38

144.08

6%

3541.17

8%

2313.83

9%

13

Kurnool

1006000.00

13%

2752.00

1505.00

7%

189.00

228.45

6%

247.00

98.55

4%

3188.00

7%

1832.00

7%

 

Total

7662000.00

100%

35548.65

20529.94

 

4401.23

3691.17

 

7067.07

2265.1

 

47016.95

 

26486.21

 
Telangana 

1

Mahabubnagar

917000.00

19%

2405.70

1120.16

14%

452.01

298.07

12%

137.00

104.13

9%

2994.71

15%

1522.36

13%

2

Medak

554000.00

11%

1134.00

740.19

9%

198.00

203.85

8%

126.00

91.21

8%

1458.00

7%

1035.25

9%

3

Nizamabad

420000.00

9%

1921.00

950.25

11%

482.00

210.08

8%

708.00

89.86

8%

3111.00

15%

1250.19

10%

4

Adilabad

634000.00

13%

1656.50

704.05

8%

114.33

30.00

1%

19.79

24.82

2%

1790.62

9%

758.87

6%

5

Karimnagar

563000.00

11%

1772.40

1033.33

12%

473.26

411.31

16%

267.91

177.95

16%

2513.57

12%

1622.59

14%

6

Warangal

557000.00

11%

1800.00

985.31

12%

210.00

71.15

3%

280.00

74.13

7%

2290.00

11%

1130.59

9%

7

Khammam

439000.00

9%

1598.34

1020.99

12%

192.15

205.05

8%

997.79

279.64

25%

2788.28

14%

1505.68

13%

8

Nalgonda

585000.00

12%

1445.41

778.92

9%

456.84

322.83

12%

114.92

78.09

7%

2017.17

10%

1179.84

10%

9

Ranga Reddy

230000.00

5%

706.70

765.86

9%

237.68

229.05

9%

299.60

135.66

12%

1243.98

6%

1130.57

9%

10

Hyderabad

1.00

0%

0.00

191.19

2%

0.00

604.23

23%

0.00

74.08

7%

0.00

0%

869.50

7%

TOTAL

4899001.00

 

14440.05

8290.25

 

2816.27

2585.62

 

2951.01

1129.57

 

20207.33

 

12005.44

 

Andhra Pradesh

7662000.00

61%

35548.65

20529.94

71%

4401.23

3691.17

59%

7067.07

2265.10

67%

47016.95

70%

26486.21

69%

Telangana

4899001.00

39%

14440.05

8290.25

29%

2816.27

2585.62

41%

2951.01

1129.57

33%

20207.33

30%

12005.44

31%

Total

12561001.00

 

49988.70

28820.19

7217.50

6276.79

10018.08

3394.67

67224.28

38491.65

 

http://www.slbcap.nic.in

 

‘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.

Unemployment among rural youth at highest level since 93-94

Unemployment among rural youth at highest level since 93-94

In rural areas, 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.

Myths and realities of Gujarat Agriculture: various articles

2013 agril growth 2013 agril output

 

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

Land location overrides fertility; threat to food security: Study

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

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

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

India needs to export excess food grains

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

AK RAMDAS | 15/01/2014 12:00 PM |   

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Pesticides ‘making bees smaller’

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

theguardian.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leaving farmers to reap the bitter harvest

Devinder Sharma
January 19, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Torch bearers for millet seed security

Jan 19, 2014:
The National Biodiversity Authority has recognised 30 villages in Zaheerabad of Medak district of Andhra Pradesh that grow traditional and fast-disappearing millets as Agricultural Biodiversity Heritage Site (ABHS).

The Andhra Pradesh State Biodiversity Board (APSBB), which finally gave green signal for the rare recognition, has sent its recommendation to the National Biodiversity Board, which has approved the proposal making these villages to become first villages in India to be recognized as ABHS.
“The file is now with the agricultural department. By the end of January we will announce these villages as ABHS with or without their opinion,” a determined APSBB Chairman Dr R Hampaiah says. Thus, the dryland villages in four mandals and the 5,000-strong women farmers of the Deccan Development Society (DDS) that grow only “forgotten millets” without fertilisers or pesticides will join the list of 27 such other sites around that world by February.
“Nowhere in the world 60 different varieties are cultivated in 30,000 acres and the seeds are distributed among women farmers, assuring food safety and saving the environment,” says Dr SN Jadhav, Member Secretary, APSBB.

The 500-year-old banyan tree in Pillamarri tree spread on three acres of land in Mahbubnagar district and the rare forest on Tirumala hills are the other two sites in Andhra Pradesh that have such special recognition.

In fact, a few months ago, three members from the Board—Anisetty Murthy, Ashok Kumar and Hampaiah– had visited the farms to see the amazing agricultural biodiversity that was being conserved and propagated by the women of DDS.

The announcement added vigour to the 15th edition of biodiversity festival in Algole, a small village in Zaheerabad mandal in Medak district, from where a month-long bullock cart caravan yatra begins and tours 70 villages in all the four mandals of the heritage site, encouraging people to adopt forgotten crops.

“We are now trying introduce the concept in 18 other states in the country. The DDS even had its impact in Africa, where women are trying to take back farming from the hands of commercial organisations,” added DDS Director PV Sateesh.

While agriculture in other parts of the country was in doldrums, the sangham farmers were completely self-reliant as far as food, seeds and farming are concerned. When farmers elsewhere were facing the indignity of having to stand in long queues to access government supplied seeds, women of the DDS were staking their claim to the elusive mantle of food sovereignty.

Women of the DDS also succeeded in drawing the attention of the government to the need for including millets in government food programmes like PDS, the mid-day meal scheme and so on; the spate of orders asking for the inclusion of millets in these schemes is a testimony to the extent of success of the women of the DDS.

Some women farmers of the DDS also can handle the latest version of digital camera, the daily narrow cast of the Sangham FM radio and help save bio-diversity by cultivating forgotten millet crops with equal élan. Women camera operators of the Community Media Trust (CMT), probably the only such media house in the country, can handle, shoot, edit and produce short films without any outside help.

The initial toil and success of women was then presented to the outside world through photos and then videos. Then came the launch of the CMT, which has been winning several laurels for its amazing media work over the last decade.

The CMT runs a women’s video collective (WVC) and the first-ever community radio of India called Sangham Radio. While the WVC has been functioning since 1996, the Sangham Radio took up Narrowcasting since 1998 and has been on the air since October 2008, broadcasting two hours every day. Both these outfits are managed entirely by women from farming communities.

Chinna Narsamma, a small farmer who made a film “Community Conquers Hunger”, said that the sanghams were the first group in India to have started 100 days of employment for the poor, which preceded MGNREGA by 20 years.

Summer employment

Through this employment programme which they called summer employment, they brought over 5,000 acres of near fallow lands under cultivation, produced more than a million days of employment in 30 villages in 10 years and started producing over 20 million kg food every year. This was the first step in abandoning hunger in their sanghams.

Zaheerabad Punyamma added that the sanghams started leasing lands and launched collective farming groups on these leased lands and produced additional food for their families.

In two decades, the sanghams have leased more than 1,000 acres of land and produced over half a million kg of food for their groups. Dandu Swaroopamma, a community filmmaker and a member of the DDS Food Sovereignty Trust said that the sanghams have brought over 4,500 acres of cultivable fallows under cultivation and produce nearly a million kg or more food every year.

They have done poverty mapping of their villages and identified over 10,000 families as recipients of their jowar-based millet rations. Each family has received a ration card through which they can draw between 10-25 kg of jowar every month depending on their poverty status. The jowar is sold at 25 per cent of the market price to the identified poor.

Begari Laxmamma, a community filmmaker and a community seed keeper, pointed out that all these villages have their own community seed banks from which any farmer can borrow nearly 50-80 seed varieties. Thousands of women in these villages have their own household seed banks and never depend upon outside seeds. Thus these villages have become seed sovereign.

Thammali Manjula, filmmaker and a coordinator of the Community Food Sovereignty programme, says “Our films have nothing dramatic but depict our lives and it’s about how we conquered hunger.”

J B S Umanadh in Hyderabad

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/381375/torch-bearers-millet-seed-security.html#

Agricultural fertilizer chemicals in water causing neonatal deaths?

original article http://people.brandeis.edu/~nmenon/Draft04_Agrichemicals_Water_Brainerd_Menon.pdf

NEW DELHI: India has been struggling to bring down neonatal mortality rate which accounts for 75% of infant deaths in the country. A paper published in the Journal of Development Economics indicates that the high mortality of neonates (babies less than 29 days old) might be due to the exposure to fertilizer chemicals in water, especially in rural areas where agriculture is the main occupation for women.

The paper titled, Seasonal Effects of Water Quality: The hidden costs of Green Revolution to infant and child health in India, examined the impact of fertilizer agrichemicals in water on infant and child health using water quality data combined with data on child health outcomes. According to the authors, Elizabeth Brainerd, Nidhiya Menon of the Department of Economics in Brandeiss University, the results of their study indicated that children exposed to higher concentrations of agrichemicals during their first month experienced worse health outcomes on a variety of measures. It also showed that these effects were most pronounced among the most vulnerable groups, particularly the children of uneducated poor women in rural India where women constituted 55-60% of agricultural labour.

“The women are directly exposed to chemical applications that are made to the soil to improve productivity; their children are exposed to these contaminants both before and after birth. This exposure may contribute to the relatively poor indicators of child health in India: Indian children have one of the highest rates of stunting and wasting among all developing countries. These rates are higher than predicted given the level of per capita income and infant mortality rates in the country,” stated Nidhiya Menon in an article about child health outcomes.

Despite a decline in infant mortality, neonatal mortality rate in India at 35 deaths per 1000 live births, remains more or less static and is among the highest in the world. Three quarters of these deaths happen in the first week of life and about 20% occur within the first 24 hours of birth.

According to the paper, the presence of fertilizer chemicals in water in the month of conception significantly increases the likelihood of infant mortality in general and neonatal mortality in particular. This, the authors explained was as expected as neonatal mortality is understood to have also occurred from things that happened at the pre-natal stage or before birth which could be in utero exposure. The presence of toxins in water in the first month after conception is also significantly associated with reduction in other measures such as height-for-age and weight-for-age for children below five years of age, stated Menon.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Agricultural-fertilizer-chemicals-in-water-causing-neonatal-deaths/articleshow/29019929.cms