Acharya NG Ranga Agriculture University spends only 10% of funds for Research

Acharya NG Ranga Agriculture University, once a premium agriculture university in the country is now suffering from paucity of funds.   The university which has over rs. 50 cr budget spends Rs. 45 cr for salaries of the scientists and about Rs. 5 cr. for research.  Even in the research budget much of the budget goes for hi-tech research which never reaches the field.  There is an urgent need to make an assessment of the funding and outputs.

Based on news paper reports

Insecticide usage on cotton in India 1999-2010 (Rs crores)

 
Year
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
% Bt Cotton
0.38
1.2
5.59
11.51
41.42
67.1
80.8
82.43
90.67
cotton, Insecticide
879
839
1052
597
925
1032
649
579
733
791
834
880
Cotton fungicide
11
10
6
3
8
6
8
11
25
31
52
67
Cotton herbicide
2
1
1
1
3
4
8
12
22
26
45
87
Total Insecticides in Agrl.
2128
2052
2268
1683
2146
2455
2086
2223
2880
3282
3909
4283
% share of cotton
41
41
46
35
43
42
31
26
25
25
21
21
Total Pesticides in Agrl.
3004
2972
3207
2622
3147
3581
2439
3396
4697
5293
6999
7684

NCRB all-India figure 1995-2010: 2,56,913 farm suicides

NCRB all-India figure 1995-2010: 2,56,913 farm suicides;

2010: 15,964 farmers’ suicides

First 8 years 1995-2002: 1,21, 157.

Second 8 years 2003-10: 1,35,756

Pawar, Agriculture Minister’s home state Maharashtra by far the worst in the country with 50,481 farm suicides between 1995-2010.  That is, 1995-2002: 20,066 and for 2003-10: 30,415

 

Main points for us to push and use:

  • ·         last 8 years was much worse at an annual average of 1832 higher than first 8 years.
  • ·         It is disgraceful and decidedly odd that Pawar who fancies himself as an effective agri Minister and farmer  never once referred to, quoted or discussed the recommendations of the National Farmers Commission (headed by DR. M.S. Swaminathan who is a member of the RS (Rajya Sabha – upper house).  This was a government-appointed committee,  and a very wide spectrum of opinion participated in its deliberations. It is now several years since the reports were submitted  –

Neither the Government nor Pawar has taken note of this report. The Q that must be asked is “what gives” and WHY?

  • ·         Until November 30, 2007, the GoI and the Agriculture Minister  RIGHTL  used  NCRB data on farm suicides in their replies in Parliament.

However, the government and the minister abandoned using data from the NCRB which is in fact a division of the Union Home Ministry and the only authentic source of suicide figures nationally whether it be for farmers, students or anyone else.

  • ·         As the figures grew worse, the government started suppressing NCRB data and instead using arbitrary figures from bureaucrats. Interestingly to this day, GoI uses NCRB data for the other categories, but not for farmers.
  • ·          Using arbitrary state figures and estimates has led to GoI giving  two very different estimates to the Rajya S in the same week ! : see How to be an eligible suicide: http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/article428367.ece ) The Hindu, May 13, 2010. Unlike the states, NCRB has no vested interest in covering up the numbers.
  • ·         “Why are the state government figures so much lower? Because they set up IMPOSSIBLE criteria to prove that a suicide is a farmer’s suicide and just be considered for compensation. For instance: In Andhra Pradesh, a family would have to get no less than 13 pieces of documentation approved at various level in order to establish this! These include five from the local police station, including a post-mortem report the family ends up paying for. And how the heck do they produce documents n private loans when those are on word-of-honour basis?  Then there are pattas, bank papers, you name it.  Maharashtra made it even more impossible, setting up committees that soon earned themselves the name ‘rejection committees’  which divided the deaths into ‘genuine suicides’ and ‘non-genuine suicides’. Note that in either case, the victim was just as dead. The dispute was over whether his or her death constituted a ‘genuine’ farm suicide driven by distress. In some months, not a single one in some districts would be accepted as a ‘genuine’ farm suicide” (Sainath).

A visit to Subhash Sharma’s organic farm, Chhoti Gujri, Yavatmal, Maharashtra

 (Source: India Water Portal)

This presentation by Sultan Ismail, deals with the experiences of Subhash Sharma of Yavatmal, Maharashtra in organic farming. As he watched the decline of his soil and agricultural yields he let nature be his teacher and tried to understand the agro-economics of agriculture. He abandoned insecticides and chemical fertilisers and relied instead on the cow, trees, birds and vegetation with remarkable results. Click: Economics of agriculture under natural farming – Research paper – Subhash Sharma – Yeotmal – OFAI SAC (2009) 62.29 KB)

The mystery of the boom in farm credit

The spurt in farm credit by commercial banks, including regional rural banks, has interestingly not led to any let-up in distress in the agrarian economy—a mystery that continues to baffle academics, policy planners and, more recently, bankers

Capital Calculus | Anil Padmanabhan

Last week, a clutch of bankers and policy wonks gathered in Bangalore to review recent trends in farm credit. On the face of it, credit to the farm sector is on an unprecedented spiral and, hence, logically should not be cause for worry.

That is precisely the point. The conclave was convened to attempt a candid review of some disconcerting trends in farm credit, which could potentially point to something sinister.

They had reason to do so. The spurt in farm credit by commercial banks, including regional rural banks, has interestingly not led to any let-up in distress in the agrarian economy—a mystery that continues to baffle academics, policy planners and, more recently, bankers. Especially, given the quantum of credit that has been extended and the fact that these loans were made available at an interest rate of less than around 7%—most state governments provide a reduction over and above the priority sector lending rate.

 

File photo of a rural bank

File photo of a rural bank

Four broad and interlinked trends, made available by some inspiring research undertaken by R. Ramakumar, Pallavi Chavan and Nirupam Mehrotra on farm credit, provide clear pointers that assist us in understanding these apprehensions, if not proving them.

First, there has been a stunning growth in farm credit, especially since the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was voted into power. While in general there was an increase in farm credit, there was a clear spike after 2004—after the UPA promised to double credit outflow in the next three years—growing by 44% each in 2004-05 and 2005-06. As a result, the average rate of agricultural credit from commercial banks rose from an annual average growth rate of 1.8% in the 1990s to 20.5% between 2000 and 2006. This trend held for the decade, and at the end of 2010-11, farm loan advances aggregated Rs. 446,779 crore compared with Rs.62,045 crore in 2001-02.

There was, however, no corresponding improvement in the farm economy. The overall growth in agriculture showed an impressive pick-up, growing from an annual average increase of 1.5% between 1999-2000 and 2004-05 to 3.5% in the next five years. However, much of this impressive increase has been due to growth in the production of cotton of about 12% a year. Increased frequency of farmer suicides only reinforces the claim that agrarian distress is still a cause for concern.

Secondly, most of this increase was inspired by what is officially defined as indirect finance—credit that flows to institutions supporting growth of agriculture as opposed to loans that flow directly to farmers. Of the big increase in farm credit that occurred in the first six years of the last decade, one-third was due to the growth of indirect finance.

 

File photo

File photo

This in turn has been brought about by liberalizing the definition of what constitutes indirect finance, including buying of land for the construction of godowns. This process, initiated from the early 1990s, accelerated in the last decade.

Thirdly, linked to the spurt in indirect finance, much of the increase in loan disbursal has occurred in the big-ticket category: between Rs. 10 crore and Rs. 25 crore, and Rs. 25 crore and above. Consequently, the share in total advances of loans with a credit limit of Rs. 25,000 dropped from 35.2% in 2000 to 13.3% in 2006.

In contrast, the share of loans of the ticket size of Rs. 25 crore and above increased from 5.7% to 16.8% over the same period. (Whatever happened to the UPA’s slogan of inclusiveness, which should logically have had the small and marginal farmer as the biggest beneficiary?)

Fourthly, as Chavan points out, there is a growing trend towards a preponderance of the disbursals flowing from urban and metropolitan branches in India. Its share, which was 16.3% in 1995, jumped to 30% in 2005.

In Maharashtra, one in two agricultural loans made out in 2008 flowed from metropolitan bank branches; Mumbai’s share alone was 42.6%. (It is a little difficult to imagine, despite the huge improvement in connectivity, a small and marginal farmer making the trip to an urban area to pick up the loan.)

Connecting the dots suggests that the concerns, evinced in some quarters, are legitimate. The obvious fact is that there has been a huge increase in farm credit in the last decade. However, it has not flowed directly to agriculture and particularly to the small and marginal farmers or to reduction of agrarian distress. The political economy of this trend is that this reinforces the existing power equations in rural India.

The fact that bulk of the disbursals have occurred in urban areas points to a trend that sectors associated with farming have been the greater beneficiaries. Given the liberal definitions, who is to guarantee that diversions of concessional credit into more lucrative avenues have not taken place?

So far this fear is expressed sotto voce, because data that can support or dispel this will be made available only after the results of decennial All-India Debt and Investment Survey are made available. That is still about two-three years away. Till then suffice to say, red flags have been raised in some quarters. Food for thought no doubt.

Anil Padmanabhan is a deputy managing editor of Mint and writes every week on the intersection of politics and economics. Comments are welcome at capitalcalculus@livemint.com

Data for national-level pesticides consumption

Data for national-level pesticides consumption shows no dramatic decrease in pesticide use after Bt cotton came in unlike the popular claim.

http://eands.dacnet.nic.in/At_Glance_2010/15.2.xls

2001-02 (first year of illegal Bt cotton cultivation?): 47.02 thousand tonnes of TG materials;
2002-03: (first year of approved bt cotton cultivation): 48.30
2003-04: 41.00
2004-05: 40.67
2005-06: 39.77
2006-07: 41.51 (mealybug first appearance?)
2007-08: 44.77
2008-09: 43.86

OFFICIAL FIGURES SHOW NO DRAMATIC DECREASES IN PESTICIDES CONSUMPTION AS CAN BE SEEN ABOVE. THIS INCIDENTALLY IS VERY DIFFERENT FROM THE NUMBERS THAT EVERYONE CITES, ATTRIBUTING IT TO KESHAV KRANTHI, CICR, WITHOUT MENTIONING WHERE IT WAS PUBLISHED!

The value-related data in crores of rupees is available from CICR as quoted in the DTE report also:

http://www.downtoearth.org.in/dte/userfiles/images/20l_31072011.jpg (this shows a three-fold increase in the cost of pesticides in India across crops, all over the country. One and half times increase in insecticides use in agriculture; 47% increase in insecticides in cotton alone, in the decade of Bt cotton expansion in the country!.
(courtesy: Kavitha Kuruganti, ASHA)

Bt. Cotton area UP from 66.69 Lakh hectare to 93.36 Lakh hectare in Two Years

 

The sown area under Bt. Cotton has increased from 66.69 lakh hectares in 2008-09 to 93.36 lakhhectares in 2010-11 and in 2011-12 it is expected to increase to 95.04 lakh hectares.

 

The demand for cotton seeds has increased from 1.95 lakh quintals in 2009-10 to 2.30 lakh quintals during Kharif 2011.  The availability position against the requirement in the country is as under:

 

                                 (Quantity in Lakh Quintals)

Year Requirement Availability
2009-2010 1.95 2.43
2010-2011 1.99 2.60
Kharif 2011 2.30 2.62

 

Under Technology Mission on Cotton, Government provides assistance for cotton seed production and distribution as under:

 

(i)         50%  of the cost or Rs.50/- per kg. whichever is less for foundation seed production.

 

(ii)        25% of the cost or Rs.15/- per kg. whichever is less for certified seed production.

 

(iii)       Rs.20/- per kg. for certified seed distribution.

 

(iv)       50%  of the  cost of seed treatment limited to Rs.40/- per kg.

This information was given by Shri Harish Rawat, Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Processing Industries in written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha today.

 

 

MP: SB:CP: cotton bt. (16.8..2011)