New Delhi, March 19, 2013: On the second day of a large farmers’ rally in the heart of India’s capital here today, the Mahapanchayat (great assembly) of farmers and agriculture workers resolved to stay put until their demands are met. In a historical new formation, people’s movements and large farmers’ unions have come together to defend land rights and protect farm livelihoods. Lambasting the government for its anti-farmer policies, speaker after speaker rejected government’s development paradigm, which neglects rural India and agri livelihoods. The night saw thousands of farmers sleeping on Parliament Street in the open, with the government choosing to ignore them. “We are the Anna Daatas who keep the nation alive and the government cannot continue with its impoverishment policies towards farmers. More people are headed towards Delhi now and it looks like the government will respond only when an issue reaches a flash point”, said Yudhvir Singh of Bhartiya Kisan Union.
The main demands of the Mahapanchayat include: (a) no land acquisition and taking back the land acquisition bill with its amendments to the standing committee, (b) enacting a farmers’ income guarantee act, (c) cancel free trade agreements, (d) promote ecological farming and stop toxic technologies like GMOs and pesticides.
The large gathering was addressed by farmers leaders and activists like Naresh Tikait, Yudhvir Singh, Ajmer Singh Lokhowal, Chukki Nanjundaswamy, Chellamuthu, Gurnam Singh, Medha Patkar, Ulka Mahajan, Kavitha Kuruganti etc.
“Two years ago, empty promises were made to us by the government; this was by the Prime Minister himself making assurances to us on March 8th, 2011. This is tantamount to cheating the largest chunk of citizens of the country and this is unacceptable. If the government does not act this time to respond to this non-violent movement, it would only reinforce the public perception and knowledge that the government is deaf to the needs of its citizens”, said a statement from the Panchayat.
The assembly saw many women farmers joining actively in the rally. Yesterday, there was a symbolic burning of the government’s land acquisition bill to show that it was unacceptable to the gathering. The Mahapanchayat also declared that unless the PMO responds to their demands, they will not move out.
The projected requirement of the subsidy during this fiscal, ending this month, is much higher than the revised Budgets estimates of about Rs 66,000 crore.
Minister of State for Fertilisers and Chemicals Srikant Jena said in a written reply to Rajya Sabha: “The allocation of funds for fertiliser subsidy in the year 2012-13 is Rs 65,592.13 crore under Budget Estimate. The requirement of funds projected in Revised Estimates is Rs 1,02,207.39 crore.”
The Budget for the 2013-14 fiscal, which was tabled in Parliament yesterday, had actually quoted a revised estimate of fertiliser subsidy at Rs 65,974 crore.
On an average, India consumes about 30 million tonne of urea and around 25-26 million tonne of DAP, MoP and complex fertilisers annually.
The government provides full subsidy on imported and domestically produced urea, while it fixes subsidy on nutrients such as N, P and K, which is linked to the import parity price of fertilisers, di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) and muriate of potash (MoP).
The government has lowered the fertiliser subsidy to Rs Rs 65,971.50 crore for 2013-14 fiscal.
It will provide Rs 15,544.44 crore for imported urea, Rs 21,000 crore for indigenous (urea) fertiliser and Rs 29,426.86 crore for the sale of decontrolled fertilisers (DAP, MoP and complexes).
After legislating the Right to Information and Education — and making a stab at the Right to Work and Food through the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and the Food Security Act respectively — the government’s next step seems to be aimed at legally upholding the right to a home of your own.
On Tuesday, a task force set up by the Rural Development Ministry — including government officials and civil society members — is expected to finalise a draft of the National Right to Homestead Bill 2013.
The Bill aims to ensure that “every shelterless poor family has a right to hold homestead of not less than 10 cents … Within a period of 10 years commencing from the date of notification,” according to the draft to be discussed by the task force on Tuesday, a copy of which is available with The Hindu.
According to the National Land Reforms Policy draft — which may also be finalised at the meeting — more than 31 per cent of households in the country are landless. Almost 30 per cent own less than 0.4 hectares, meaning 60 per cent of the population owns only five per cent of the country’s land.
Jan Satyagraha impact
The Jan Satyagraha movement, spearheaded by the Ekta Parishad last year, brought thousand of landless people together to protest this state of affairs. Their march to Delhi ended in Agra when Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh agreed to a charter of demands, with the Right to Homestead and a National Land Reforms Policy heading the list.
The task force, headed by Mr. Ramesh, has held three meetings so far to try and fulfil that agreement. The draft Bill calls for State governments to notify an implementation plan within one year to identify beneficiaries, make an inventory of available lands and acquire more, and develop and allot plots. It mandates that the Central government will bear 75 per cent of the cost — through a National Homestead Guarantee Fund.
Eligibility criteria uncertain
The draft seems uncertain about the specific eligibility criteria for beneficiaries. The Bill is aimed at poor families in rural areas only. Government employees, landowners, income tax payers are all exempt. Other criteria, including a maximum income level, have not yet been finalised. The title to the homestead will be given in the name of the adult woman member of the household.
హైదరాబాద్, ఫిబ్రవరి 14: వచ్చే ఆర్థిక సంవత్సరంలో వివిధ రంగాలకు రుణ మంజూరుపై నా బార్డు కసరత్తు చేస్తోంది. ఇందులో భాగంగా వ్యవసాయానికి దాదాపు రూ. 63 కోట్ల మేర ఇచ్చేవిధంగా ప్రతిపాదనలు సిద్ధం చేసింది. ఈ మేరకు స్వల్ప, దీర్ఘకాలిక రుణాల కింద రూ.59818.95 కోట్లు, భూమి అభివృద్ధికి రూ. 654.75 కోట్లు, యాంత్రీకరణకు రూ.2432.12 కోట్ల మం జూరుకు ప్రతిపాదించింది. వీటిని రాష్ట్రస్థాయి బ్యాంకర్ల కమిటీ (ఎస్ఎల్బీసీ)కి పంపనున్న నేపథ్యంలో సోమవారం వ్యవసాయశాఖ అధికారులతో సమావేశమై సూచనలు స్వీకరించింది. ఈ సందర్భంగా అధికారులు వివిధ అంశాలను ప్రస్తావించారు.
In most parts of the State groundwater depletion is an issue’
State secretary of the federation C.Nallasamy told The Hindu that the faming community is thankful to Chief Minister Jayalalithaa for the free goat and also milk animal scheme. “”But once the livestock are given to the poor , where will they go for the fodder? They might be forced to think of only abattoirs,” he warned.
Mr.Nallasamy says that only Thiruvallur, Thiruvannamalai, Villupuram, Cuddalore, and Tuticorin have had some rains and hence groundwater is not a serious problem. But in most other parts, not only the crops have withered but also groundwater itself is becoming a serious issue due to drought conditions. “Indiscriminate exploitation of water, especially for irrigation, has led to the depletion of groundwater. In some areas, borewells have been sunk up to a depth of even 1,000-1,500 ft.”
While more than half the delta area is drought-hit, several regions including Lower Bhavani Project area, Right and Left Bank Canals of Mettur, Amaravathi, PAP, Vaigai and Tamiraparani did not get adequate water for irrigation. Poor rains have hurt the lakes and tanks too. “Then where is the scope for green fodder?” he asked.
Mr.Nallasamy, who hails from Kongu region, says the entire region is in the grip of serious drought.
According to him, even the State government can do nothing about the green fodder whose prices are shooting up. Maize fodder of one acre which used to sell at Rs.500-1,000 is now quoting around Rs.15,000. Hay, which used to cost around Rs.3,000-4,000 an acre, is also quoting around Rs.15,000. Rice bran, which used to be sold at Rs.350-400 per bag of 50 kg, is now quoting around Rs.600. Cattle feed sells for Rs.1,300 for a bag of 50 kg. “But milk procurement price stays put at Rs.18 a litre.”
The result is that the price of even good breed like Jeresy Freisian, normally sold between Rs.35,000 and Rs.40,000, is now quoting around Rs.20,000. “They are no more valued but only weighed,” he laments.
Pointing out that drought has hurt all the contiguous States and also western India, he says even if the State government wants to help the farming community by procuring green fodder from other States, it may not be available elsewhere too.
“The State government is facing a very tricky situation,” he admits.
All that we can pray for is normal summer rains – from April to July – when 20 per cent of the total annual rainfall is recorded by the State, he adds.
Meanwhile the government could try to provide dry feed such as “parutthikottai (cotton seed) and pinnakku (oil cake),” at subsidised cost.
Official sources point out that the State government has been encouraging green fodder cultivation in most of the districts even by extending an incentive of Rs.3, 000 for 0.25 acre. Almost in every district a minimum of 100-200 acres has been identified every year and each beneficiary of the free livestock scheme is given 0.25 acres for raising green fodder. A number of farmers are accustomed to growing Co3, Co4 varieties for fodder apart from cholam. At the same time, the sources admit that drought conditions prevailing in several regions of the State would naturally affect the availability of green fodder.
NEW DELHI: More than 150 scientists have written a letter to the environment minister, Jayanthi Natarajan on Saturday raising concerns about genetically modified (GM) crops. Their primanry concern is that Ministry of Agriculture is allegedly making a case for GM crops by stating that the technology is ‘absolutely needed’ for India’s food security.
They referred to a recent affidavit filed by the ministry of agriculture in the Supreme Court claiming that nation’s food security will be jeopardized without GM crops. “It also argues that open-air field trials of GMOs are absolutely essential for this.”
The scientists in their letter said that there are “many serious scientific and policy fallacies” in the argument made by the Ministry of Agriculture. This affidavit was filed in response to a Supreme Court appointed technical committee report on GM crops which had advised a ten year ban on GM crops because of its unpredictable impacts on the environment. It had also said that we have not conducted adequate research to confirm the safety of GM food crops.
On Saturday, the scientists and the GM free coalition of organisations also celebrated the third anniversary of a moratorium on transgenic Bt Brinjal which was imposed when Jairam Ramesh was environment minister and urged Natarajan to make sure that the moratorium is not lifted.
In response to Agriculture ministry’s argument, the letter said: “An overwhelming majority of countries worldwide do not grow GM crops. They are grown on a mere 160 million hectares that comprise 3.2% of the global agriculture land. Just four crops cover 99% of the area under GM crops: soybean (47%), maize (32%), cotton (15%) and canola (5%).” It also summarised the experiences of various countries including the US who have commercialised GM food crops.
They quoted US Economic Research Service’s report for 2011, which says: 17.9 million households were food insecure at some point in the year. “This means that an unprecedented 50.1 million people (1 in every 6 Americans) live in food insecure households in this nation that has the largest area under GM crop cultivation in the world, after having begun commercializing crops with this controversial technology way back in 1996.” It said.
The letter also tries to dissociate the issue of food production with shortcomings of distribution. “Food security, is a problem not only of production but of distribution and access/purchasing power. Today India’s paradox of overflowing godowns/rotting grains, with 320 million people going hungry is well-known. The world over and in India, most of the hungry people are ironically partaking in the food production process. Clearly hunger is a more multi-faceted problem than what can be fixed by using a particular seed or cocktail of chemicals,” it explained.
The letter recommends various other approaches to resolve food insecurity in the country and urges MOEF to stress on agro-ecological approaches with low external inputs.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Food and Consumer Affairs has suggested that food entitlements under the National Food Security Act be made available to 67 per cent of the population, leaving out the 33 per cent who pay taxes, have a pucca house and so on.
It wants the ‘priority’ (Below Poverty Line) and ‘general’ (Above Poverty Line) categories to go and be replaced with “inclusion” and “exclusion” categories.
The identification of beneficiaries for subsidised rice and wheat under the Public Distribution System will be done by State governments.
The committee, headed by Vilas Muttemwar, has decided to speed up submission of its report to the Lok Sabha Speaker as the issue is likely to come up in the Congress party’s “ chintan shivir ” in Jaipur, later this week.
According to informed sources, the panel has assessed the total requirements of foodgrains at 62 million tonnes per annum with a subsidy bill of over Rs. 1.15 lakh crore.
The Central government will make subsidised foodgrains available to 67 per cent of the population, including 75 rural and 50 per cent urban, even though States have different estimates of the poor.
The Act was referred to the Parliamentary panel in December 2011 after it was tabled in the Lok Sabha amid demand for a universal food security bill.
The crop fields of the women of Deccan Development Society (DDS), an NGO working for the last 25 years in Medak district, would be soon recognised as biodiversity heritage sites by the Government of India.
This was announced by Dr. P. Balakrishna, chairman, National Biodiversity Authority (NBD), after formally launching 14th mobile biodiversity festival at Ippapally village in Zaheerabad mandal of Medak district on Monday. This would be the first such heritage site in India. The site would cover about 50 villages spread across three mandals in Medak district. He also said that to recognise this area as a biodiversity heritage site would be a matter of pride.
He has also full of praise for the uniqueness of the localised Public Distribution System (PDS) based on jowar pioneered by DDS for the last 15 years. This model of the PDS, which was a by-product of the rich biodiversity being practiced by the farmers of the DDS, would be propagated by the NBA all over the world as one of the best practices based on biodiversity, he added. Dr. Balakrishna explained that the Government of India was about to announce a new policy wherein about 5 per cent of all productivity in agriculture would be based on the biodiversity.
Dr. Hampaiah, chairman, AP State Biodiversity Board, said that the efforts made by the Sangham women were being recognised by the Board. The festival would be held for one month.
By Suchandana Gupta
January 14, 2013
BHOPAL: Madhya Pradesh has been selected to receive the Krishi Karman Award of the Union government for best performance in agricultural production in 2011-2012.
The cash prize award of Rs 2 crore will be given away by President Pranab Mukherjee to chief minister Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Chouhan’s agriculture minister Ramkrishna Kusmaria will also accompany the chief minister in the award giving function.
The Krishi Karman Award for year 2011-12 is being conferred to Madhya Pradesh for food production.
In addition, Raisen farmer Radhabai Dube and Hoshangabad’s Gambhir Singh Pal will be honoured by the President for best performance in organic farming. They will be given Rs one lakh in cash and a certificate each.
Elated over the selection as best performing state for agricultural production, the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government claimed, Madhya Pradesh produced a record 216.08 lakh metric tonnes of food grains last year.
Compared to that, in 2010-11 the state’s maximum food production stood at 166.41 metric tonnes.
The government said that the chief minister made certain important decisions including the constitution of an agriculture cabinet.
Interest on cooperative loans to farmers was reduced to zero percent. Farmers were given Rs 100 per quintal bonus on wheat procurement and Rs 50 per quintal of paddy procurement.
It has been decided to give Rs 100 per quintal bonus on paddy also from this year.
High-yield varieties were promoted and weekly reviews of farm input supply was made. Seed production was increased by forming 1,217 seed production societies.
Besides, 83 percent seeds were sown after treatment and adequate increase was ensured in seed transplantation in wheat and paddy crops.
Micro nutrients like zinc phosphate were promoted. Irrigation facility was provided in 16.35 lakh hectare by enhancing irrigation potential of big dams.
Agriculture credit limit was increased to 30.5 percent for famers. Loans worth Rs 7,629.27 crore were distributed to farmers through cooperative banks in year 2011-12.
According to the agriculture department, Raisen district’s woman farmer Radhabai Dube has emerged as the state’s organic farming ambassador by establishing record of maximum organic crop production in the state.
She produced 23 quintal gram in one hectare land and proved that traditional Indian organic farming method are more beneficial the than use of chemical fertiliser.
When Radhabai receives the award from the President on Tuesday, she will be the first woman farmer of Madhya Pradesh to receive this prize.
Gambhir Singh Pal of Seoni-Malwa in Hoshangabad district will be felicitated for producing a record 74 quintals of wheat per hectare.