In water-stressed Andhra, farmers sign pact to share ground water

 KumKum Dasgupta, Hindustan Times, Anantapur
Ram Chandru Reddy, a 67-year-old agriculturist, has been farming his three-acre plot at Kummaravandla Pally, a hamlet in Anantapur district, for as long as he can remember.
“Farming is in my blood. But I nearly gave it up couple of years ago because of water crisis,” says Reddy, who grows rice, groundnut and red gram. “But the crisis was averted because we decided to share groundwater”.
Anantapur is the second-most backward and drought-prone district in India. Over the past six months, 22 farmers have committed suicide in Anantapur.
Till 2010, the water shortage was manageable. “We did not have to dig deep; we used bullocks to draw water from wells to irrigate our lands,” recalled Venkat Ramana Reddy, a 50-year-old farmer.
Post 2000, the region’s semi-arid weather, deep hard rock aquifers, perversely incentivised power and monetary subsidies, and absence of any formal legislation or social regulation to govern extraction led to competitive borewell digging, all of which led to a rapid fall in groundwater levels. The water shortage led to tension between borewell and non-borewell owning farmers, even as cultivation of water-intensive crops continued.
Read: India’s groundwater crisis
India draws more groundwater each year than the US and China combined; with 89% of groundwater extracted used in the irrigation sector. With rain the most significant source of groundwater recharge, any change in the rainfall pattern influences the groundwater level.
India has a rough estimate of how much groundwater it has but there is no micro-level data and this hampers groundwater management at a localised level.
“The national aquifer mapping programme can help generate granular data for groundwater and make it available for public policy. The idea is to show groundwater is not an infinite resource that can be pumped out endlessly,” said Mala Subramaniam, CEO, Arghyam, a Bangalore-based non-profit. “Second, gram panchayats should be equipped with the basic understanding of hydrogeology and traditional knowledge to help them manage the groundwater efficiently”.
TAKING THE BULL BY THE HORNS
Instead of blaming the monsoon and fate, farmers at Kummaravandla Pally joined hands with the government and WASSAN, an NGO, to tackle the crisis in 2010. After a situational analysis, 25 farmers formed a collective – Kolagunti Ummadi Neeti Yajamanya Sangham — to “share groundwater with each other” to sustain their crops.
Watch | How farmers from Anantapur found a solution to the groundwater crisis

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This led to the concept of networking of borewells to secure rain-fed crops of all farmers, irrespective of borewell ownership. By linking all borewells with a network of pipelines and outlets, all farmers can now access groundwater. To ensure compliance, the farmers signed a MoU in the presence of district officials.
The agreement’s institutional norms include the following clauses: The committee would have farmers with and without borewells; a joint account would be opened in the names of these members; equal contribution towards share capital, irrespective of borewell ownership; annual contribution towards the maintenance fund, on per acre basis at Rs 100 per acre; one farmer would be elected for monitoring the schedule for water distribution/allocation and also collect contribution from each member.
Read: Six charts that explain India’s water crisis
There are non-institutional norms for sharing too. No new borewells should be dug for 10 years without the permission of committee; the irrigated area under borewells will not be increased but the critically-irrigated area can be ; in the critically irrigated areas, water should be given for sowing, flowering, pod development, and crop harvesting; crop budgeting exercise must before sowing ; the System of Rice Intensification, which uses less water, should be practiced for paddy cultivation; micro Irrigation system (drips and sprinklers) should be used to conserve water; and any repairs to the borewells during critical phase (June to November) will be borne form the maintenance fund. During the rest of the year, borewell maintenance will be done by the owners.
FINE PRINT: The Borewell Sharing Agreement
INSTITUTIONAL NORMS
Farmers with or without borewells can join, if they contribute equally towards share capital
Members have joint accounts; annual contribution towards maintenance fund is Rs 100 per acre
One farmer elected to monitor water allocation and collect contribution
NON-INSTITUTIONAL NORMS
No new borewells for next 10 years, irrigated area to remain the same as 2009
Critically irrigated area can increase, but water provided for four key crop phases
Crop water budgeting exercise a must before sowing
If paddy is cultivated, the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) should be practiced
Micro irrigation system such as drips and sprinklers to be used to conserve water
The farmers got financial support from the government for pipeline network and regulators for connecting existing borewells, sprinklers and drips systems. For promoting diversity in agriculture, the National Food Security Mission and the agriculture department provided red gram and groundnut seeds were provided free.
Government schemes such as horticulture plantation in five acres of land; water and soil conservation works under the MGNREGS and NADEP compost pits for non-pesticide management are used by the farmers.
GREEN DREAM
The agreement led to a new way of agriculture in the 72 acres of land of 25 farmers. Since 2010, the cropping pattern has changed, leading to diversity of crops, reduction in costs of cultivation; improvement in value of produce and profit.
According to a study by the Department of Rural Development and Social Work, Sri Krishna Devaraya University, Anantapur, the use of pipeline system instead of field channels has increased water use efficiency. Critical irrigation helped in preventing crop loss, and raised productivity of groundnut. Groundwater levels have been sustained since 2009 , while the area under agriculture and critical irrigation improved, shows data.
Thanks to the success of this borewell pooling, the Andhra Pradesh government is scaling it up across the state via the Indira Jalaprabha Scheme.
In Telangana, several villages in six districts — Mahbubnagar, Ranga Reddy , Warangal, Medak, Karimnagar and Adilabad — are piloting this participatory groundwater management programme.
The author tweets at @kumkumdasgupta

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/in-water-stressed-andhra-farmers-sign-pact-to-share-ground-water/story-tcv4mP5mXNBvE74vzqB7eN.html

Haryana, Punjab may cut Bt cotton sowing

Haryana, Punjab may cut Bt cotton sowing
The move comes after a joint action panel recommended use of traditional varieties as they were immune to pest attacks
Komal Amit Gera  |  Chandigarh February 18, 2016 Last Updated at 22:35 IST
Image via Shutterstock

Image via Shutterstock
Farmer suicides in Punjab and Haryana in the aftermath of extensive damage to the crop in 2015-16 due to pest attack has led to a swing in official opinion against genetically modified (Bt) seeds.

A Joint Action Committee was appointed by the two state governments on the causes and to suggest remedies for white fly infestation. Its report says the native variety (arboreum) is immune to cotton leaf curl viral disease and comparatively tolerant to white fly and other sucking insect pests. Hence, its cultivation should be promoted in Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan.

Punjab and Haryana provide 15 per cent of the nation’s cotton output.

Highly placed sources in the Haryana government say an effort is on to assess the availability of traditional variety seeds with the universities, the Central Institute of Cotton Research and private seed producers. “We expect to replace 15-20 per cent of the area under seed with the traditional one this year (rabi 2016-17) and in the next few years to take it to 50 per cent. Co-existence of Bt and non-Bt crop would curtail the chance of spread of epidemics like white fly, as the two crops are resistant to different kinds of diseases. Monoculture in agriculture is one of the cause of widespread diseases in plants. Presently, 95 per cent of the cotton grown in Punjab and Haryana is the Bt variety and this triggered the quick spread of disease.”

The peak season of cotton picking is over, though it lasts till the end of March. Cotton arrivals in Punjab have fallen 60 per cent this year from the corresponding period in the year before. The dent is lesser in Haryana and is estimated to be about 35 per cent less but some farmers had lost the entire crop. Punjab is yet to take a decision on the remedy. The state had to pay Rs 800 crore in compensation to the affected farmers.

Haryana, Punjab may cut Bt cotton sowing

Said a source in Punjab’s agriculture department: “We would like to cultivate desi (native) cotton in at least 10 per cent of the total area and are trying to educate farmers. We don’t have the seed stock to support this much area but will try to organise seed from neighbouring states.”

There is a big problem of spurious seeds and pesticides in Punjab and that is also considered an important reason for outbreak of the disease at an epidemic scale. One result is that only about 60 of Punjab’s 400-odd cotton ginning factories are operational. The state government has plans to take charge of the distribution of seeds through own agencies. Growing two rows of sorghum or bajra millet or maize as a barrier crop around cotton fields is also being recommended to help contain the spread of white fly.

The Union ministry of agriculture, in its second estimate for crop year 2015-16, pegged cotton production at 30.9 million bales (a able is 170 kg), scaling it down from 33.51 mn bales in the first advance estimate.

The states of Punjab and Haryana lost a large part of the crop due to pest attack (white fly) and arrivals in Punjab this year have been at least 60% lesser than the last year.

Area ( in lakh hectares) Production (in lakh bales of
170 kg each
Yield (kg/hectare)
Year Punjab Haryana Punjab Haryana Punjab Haryana
2012-13 4.8 6.14 21 26 743.75 719.87
2013-14 4.46 5.36 21 23 800.45 761.19
2014-15 4.2 6.48 12 20.5 485.71 537.8
2015-16 (P) 4.5 5.76 6 14 320 480


(P) Average estimated projections
Source: State Agriculture Departments and Cotton Advisory board

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)

Vidharba: Massive response to ‘‘Samwad Yatra” – Distressed Farmers urged Govt. and Civil society to look at Despair

Samvad yatra yatra2 yatra3 yatra4 yatra5
Wanjari(vidarbha)-10th September 2013
VJAS  Activists  in agrarian crisis hit  Vidarbha region today started first phase of  a three-day rally, called“Samvad Yatra”, fromTuesday to counsel farmers who are on the verge of mental collapse after the monsoon ravaged their fields received massive response in crisis  ridden village from farmers ,local leaders ,farm widows and hundreds SHG farmers wives ,urging Govt. and civil society to communicate to us  and provide healing touch to these 3 million dying farmers as they are not keen in any special packages as they need restoration right to live with dignity and respect  as region is facing complete social and economic failure ,all emotions and hardships  are being documented and will presented to Govt. and civil society as we are taking this “Samvad Yatra” to all agrarian crisis ridden  district where acute distress and despair is forcing the farmers to kill themselves  and since 2005 more than 11800 farmers suicides have been reported and all relief packages amounting more than Rs.10,000 crore failed to stop the farm suicides  ,Kishor Tiwari convener of Samwad yatra informed today
In first samwad parishad which is part of yatra organized in village wanjari in kelapur taluka of yavatmal district where three farmers suicides  reported recently in last three month which was chaired by local Z.P. member Rokesh Nemanwar and sarpanch santosh bodewar ,KBC fame Aparna Malikar, farm activist mohan jadhav, suresh bolenwar, shekha joshi,nitin kamble  and other all farmers and farm widows  openly  complained that there is complete  collapse food security, NAREGA ,NRHM and farm credit  there is no communicable platform so that their hardship can be redressed and distressed farmers in isolation are killing themselves and massive crop failure this will fuel ongoing crisis and hundreds of farm suicides are feared to take place in relief aid is not given in time,warned village sarpanch santosh bodewar in the meeting.
Over the last three months, there have been reports of at least  200 farmers ending their lives following crop devastation coupled with a cessation of food, medical and credit aid from government agencies and problem of farmers committing suicide was not just political but “a social issue, and its complexity has to be understood in entirety being ignored and Govt  is adopting  piecemeal approach by shortsighted politicians is like administering vitamin injections to a person having cancerous tumour. The government does not want to see the  tumour but just wants to keep on giving feel-good hallucinatory herbs,” Tiwari he said.
Elaborating on the “Samvad Rally,” Tiwari said psychologists specialising in counselling would accompany social activists. “These counsellors specialise in handling distressed and depressed people. We want the farmers to take up the issue and fight for their rights,” he said.
“The situation is grim. It is like an epidemic. Last week there reports of 24 suicides from the Yavatmal district. The flood of suicide reports is concomitant with the heavy monsoon, something which the otherwise dry  Vidarbha faced this year after decades.”
The rally will conduct ground-auditing and prepare an assessment report, apart from video-taping conversations with farmers in street-corner meetings.
“We intend to send these video-tapes to the President, Prime Minister and National the Human Rights Commission… so that they can see for themselves the kind of human rights violation taking place every day, every minute,” said Tiwari.

After Bihar tragedy, FAO urges cut in hazardous pesticides

http://in.reuters.com/article/2013/07/30/fao-pesticides-bihar-midday-meal-idINDEE96T07520130730?feedType=RSS&feedName=globalCoverage2

Reuters

30 July 2013

(Reuters) – Developing countries should speed up the withdrawal of highly hazardous pesticides from their markets following the death of 23 children from contaminated food in India, the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization said on Tuesday.

The children in Bihar died earlier this month after eating a school meal of rice and potato curry contaminated with monocrotophos, a pesticide considered highly hazardous by the FAO and the World Health Organization.

“Experience in many developing countries shows that the distribution and use of such highly toxic products very often poses a serious risk to human health and the environment,” the FAO said in a statement.

Monocrotophos is banned in many countries but a panel of government experts in India was persuaded by manufacturers that the product was cheaper than alternatives and more effective in controlling pests that decimate crop output.

Although the government argues the benefits of strong pesticides outweigh the hazards if properly managed, the food poisoning tragedy underlined criticism such controls are virtually ignored on the ground.

The FAO said many countries lacked the resources to properly manage the storage, distribution, handling and disposal of pesticides and to reduce their risks.

“Highly hazardous products should not be available to small scale farmers who lack knowledge and the proper sprayers, protective gear and storage facilities to manage such products appropriately,” the FAO added.

Monocrotophos is currently prohibited in Australia, China, the European Union and the United States, and in many countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, the FAO said.

(Reporting by Agnieszka Flak, editing by Silvia Aloisi and Elizabeth Piper)

 

SC Technical Expert Committee recommends ‘GM Field Trials to wait till the regulatory system is improved’

The Technical Expert Committee appointed by the Supreme Court made the following recommendations.

  1. On field trials

    1. Overall recommendation for open field trials: Based on and in particular, “the examination/study of the safety dossiers, it is apparent that there are major gaps in the regulatory system. These need to be addressed before issues related to tests can be meaningfully considered. Till  such time it would not be advisable to conduct more field trials”
    2. Bt food crops: The TEC “reiterates its recommendation made in the Interim Report that there should be a moratorium on field trials for Bt in food   crops   (those   that   are   directly   used   for   food)   intended   for commercialization (not research) until there is more definitive information from sufficient number of studies as to the long term safety of Bt in food crops”.
    3. Herbicide Tolerant crops: The TEC finds them completely unsuitable in the Indian context and recommends that field trials and release of HT crops ‘   not be allowed in India.”
    4. Crops in their Centre of Origin or Diversity: The TEC therefore recommends that release of GM crops for which India is a centre of origin or diversity should not be allowed”
    1. 1.      Other recommendations and TOR a &b: Nature and sequencing of risk assessment and point of release for Open Field Trials  (pg 79-83):
    • to introduce a consultation step to start with, ideally prior to the GM product intended for field trials having been developed” , encompassing  the scope of issues that need to be addressed, relating to health and environmental safety — on a  “case-wise basis keeping in mind the overall phases of risk assessment: hazard identification; hazard characterization; exposure assessment; risk characterization; and mitigation options.   Need, socioeconomic factors, and sustainability should also be considered and thoroughly discussed at this stage with involvement of all the stakeholders”.
    • “There is a need to include chronic and trans-generational toxicity testing in feeding studies of rodents based on the fact that food is consumed over the entire lifetime and that nutritional stress can also lead to adverse or unintended effects over long-term exposure. The sensitive stages of reproduction also need to be included.
    • The regulatory process should be open to new scientific information that may have a bearing on the risk assessment, if necessary even after deregulation of an event.
    • The applicant is responsible for providing to the regulator, all information that has a bearing on the risk assessment, regardless of whether it was obtained for the purpose of the risk assessment.
    • Stakeholder participation, need, socioeconomic considerations, societal impact, and sustainability should be some of the dimensions to be incorporated in the risk assessment and this should be done at an early stage in the risk assessment process”.
    • The TEC noted that Post Release Monitoring (PRM) is also an important aspect of environmental safety as well as health safety (if the plant is consumed as food) and this has not received adequate attention in the regulatory system (1R: p3, 9) or in practice.

Farm suicides on the rise: AP

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/Farm-suicides-on-the-rise/articleshow/20836650.cms

TNN | Jun 30, 2013, 12.33 AM IST

MAHBUBNAGAR: Excessive use of chemical pesticides, erratic rainfall, heavy debt burden, and spurious seeds are taking a heavy toll on farmers in the perennially drought-hit Mahbubnagar district.

As many as 20 farmers have committed suicide in the district in the last three months. They have taken the desperate step unable to bear the losses due to frequent crop failures or clear the mounting agricultural debts. Insufficient loan advances by banks and high interest rates collected by private moneylenders too have played their part in the sucides.

District officials refuse to admit the increasing instances of farm suicides, but don’t’ deny that Mahbubnagar district is “vulnerable” thanks to a combination of factors ranging from high consumption of pesticides and fertilisers to unpredictable climatic conditions. The authorities wait the post-mortem reports for disbursal of compensation.

On Saturday a tenant farmer, Venkataiah, 35, from Pervetipally of Upunuthala mandal committed suicide by consuming pesticide. Only a day before, a tribal-farmer, Shankar Naik (50) of Badrigani thanda of Veldhanda mandal, ended his life following crop loss. Last week, P Srisailam of Manganoor village of Bijinapally mandal took the same extreme path.

Srisailam borrowed Rs 4 lakh to cultivate his five acres of land but could not repay the loan as the crop failed.

Mahbubnagar agriculture join director KV Rama Raju blames farm suicides on the indiscriminate use of pesticides. “Farmers here spray pesticides in quantities more than required. They thus not only spend more money on pesticides, but end up in losses or get low yield as excessive spraying of chemicals change the texture of the soil”.

Rama Raju said farmers sowing cotton crop are the most vulnerable of the lot. They invest big amounts on things not needed. “Many farmers do not follow the advice of agricultural extension officers on the optimum use of fertilisers and pesticides,” he added.

The rate of suicide is relatively higher among farmers who grow non-assured crops like cotton than those who go in for crops like paddy and maize. Some crops bring in minimum profits, but the returns are guaranteed.

“Farmers in Mahbubnagar district are vulnerable,” admits district collector M Girija Shankar, though he evades a reply on the exact number of farmers committing suicide in the district.

The district administration has so far distributed Rs 25 lakh as compensation to the families of about 70 farmers who committed suicide, “The situation is grim in case of SC/ST farmers,” he said adding that distribution of compensation is often delayed for technical reasons.

Clinical psychologists point out that farm suicides are mainly a psychological problem. “Such deaths can be prevented or at least minimized if we counsel farmers at frequent intervals,” said Dr M Radha Krishna Rao, senior clinical psychologist.

Last year about 120 farmers committed suicide in the district. Many farmers could not take up cultivation last season as the monsoon played truant in the district even as the groundwater levels plummeted.

“The crop in our five acres dried due to lack of water. We incurred heavy losses. This forced my husband to commit suicide,” said G Yadamma of Govonipally village in Nawapet mandal. Her husband G Pentaiah (43) consumed a pesticide on June 30 finding no means to pay Rs 80,000 he borrowed from a private moneylender.

Half a dozen tribal-farmers committed suicide so far this season. Eraguntla thanda of Bijinapally mandal recorded four suicides. Govind (38), Deshya (30), Mnya (28) and Madhya (35) committed suicide in the last two months in the mandal. Ironically, these farmers could not procure loans from banks and had to approach private moneylenders to raise crops. “Private moneylenders are responsible for the death of my husband,” says Madavath Devli, the widow of Govind.

Farmers, who took up cotton cultivation are the worst hit in the district, said Balu Naik of Kalwakurthy. Many tribals have migrated to other parts of the country leaving their agricultural fields behind. K Krishna Reddy, district president of Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, alleged that banks had stopped issuing fresh loans unless farmers clear the old dues. He said the crop insurance compensation for the year 2011 is yet to reach farmers.

More pests ‘resistant to GM crops’ across the World: study

(AFP) – 17 hours ago

PARIS — More pest species are becoming resistant to the most popular type of genetically-modified, insect-repellent crops, but not in areas where farmers follow expert advice, a study said on Monday.

The paper delves into a key aspect of so-called Bt corn and cotton — plants that carry a gene to make them exude a bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis, which is toxic to insects.

Publishing in the journal Nature Biotechnology, US and French researchers analysed the findings of 77 studies from eight countries on five continents that reported on data from field monitors.

Of 13 major pest species examined, five were resistant by 2011, compared with only one in 2005, they found. The benchmark was resistance among more than 50 percent of insects in a location.

Of the five species, three were cotton pests and two were corn pests.

Three of the five cases of resistance were in the United States, which accounts for roughly half of Bt crop plantings, while the others were in South Africa and India.

The authors said they picked up a case of early resistance, with less than 50 percent of insects, in yet another US cotton pest.

And there were “early warning” signs (one percent resistance or less) from four other cotton or corn pests in China, the United States and the Philippines.

The scientists found big differences in the speed at which Bt resistance developed.

In one case, it took just two years for the first signs to emerge; in others, the Bt crops remained as effective in 2011 as they were 15 years earlier.

What made the difference was whether farmers set aside sufficient “refuges” of land for non-BT crops, said the study’s authors.

The idea behind such refuges comes from evolutionary biology.

The genes that confer resistance are recessive, meaning that insects can survive on Bt plants only if they have two copies of a resistance gene — one from each parent.

Planting refuges near Bt crops reduces the chances of two resistant insects mating and conferring the double gene to their offspring.

“Computer models showed that refuges should be good for delaying resistance,” study co-author Yves Carriere, an entomologist at the University of Arizona at Tucson, said in a press release.

Practical evidence of this is shown in the case of a cotton-munching pest called the pink bollworm, said his colleague, Bruce Tabashnik.

Bt crops in the southwestern United States, where growers work closely with scientists to devise a refuge strategy, do not have a resistance problem.

In India, though, local pink bollworms became resistance within six years, simply because farmers did not follow the guidelines or get this support.

The researchers cautioned that resistance to Bt crops was simply a matter of time, as all pests eventually adapt to the threat they face. But refuges were the key to braking it.

“Either take more stringent measures to delay resistance such as requiring larger refuges or this pest will probably evolve resistance quickly,” said Tabashnik.

Farming groups have been furiously debating the value of refuges, and in recent years the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) relaxed its refuge-planting requirements.

More than a billion acres (420 million hectares) of land have been planted with Bt crops since the mid-1990s.

In 2011 alone, 66 million hectares (164 million acres) of land was planted with Bt crops.

That year Bt corn accounted for 67 percent of corn planted in the United States and Bt cotton for between 79-95 percent of cotton planted in the US, Australia, China, and India.

Transgenic crops are opposed in Europe and other parts of the world where green activists say they are a potential threat to human health and the environment.

Odisha holds a workshop on ‘Conservation of Rice Diversity’

A state-level workshop on ‘Conservation of Rice Diversity’ and ‘Marketing of Organic Rice for Livelihood Improvement of Small holder Farmers’ was organized by NIRMAN, a grassroots organization working towards sustainable agriculture and conservation of agro-biodiversity at IMAGE, Bhubaneswar.
 
Dr. R.S. Gopalan, IAS, Director, Agriculture and Food Production, Dr. J. K. Roy, Retd. Joint Director, CRRI & renowned rice scientist, Natabar Sarangi, rice conservationist and organic farmer jointly inaugurated the workshop.
Prasant Mohanty, Executive Director of NIRMAN delved upon the history and highlighted that rice diversity existed in Odisha, which happens to be one of the birth places of rice. India is a global center of origin and diversity of rice. Over 60,000 distinct rice seed varieties have been collected by Indian agricultural research centres. Many more grew in farmers’ fields, adapted to diverse conditions.
 
About 19,000 rice varieties were collected by Dr Richharia from Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, of which 1600 varieties were found to be high-yielding. He also raised concern for the promotion of hybrid rice variety when traditional variety has the high yielding potentials.
Mr. Sadangi shared his experience of cultivation of rice in organic way and conservation of rice diversity by his farm field. He emphasized that organic farming and cultivation of indigenous rice is the only solution to save farmer, consumer, water and environment.
 
Syed Ghani Khan from Karnataka shared his experience of conservation of 250 varieties of rice in his own farm and was awarded a farmer breeder for developing new variety. Dr. Jafrana Keshari Roy, renowned Rice Scientist said it the wisdom of our farmers due to which traditional rice diversity exists even today. He emphasized the contribution of farmers in conservation of rice diversity.
 
Genetic diversity is the basic raw-material for crop Improvement. Odisha is bestowed with many natural resources including genetic diversity of rice (Secondary centre of origin of rice). The state’s traditional varieties have many unique characters like tolerance to flood, water logging, salinity, drought, pest & disease tolerance, scented rices, fast-flood preparations and contain high grain number.
 
As of date, Odisha has total 6700 varieties of rice. Dr Roy also cited the effects of Green Revolution which has caused irreversible damage of bi-diversity degradation. He emphasized that govt. should extend support to farmers for adoption of in situ conservation of traditional variety of rice.
 
Mr. Debalu from Sanjeevani, Araku Valley, Andhra Pradesh participated and shared his experience in the workshop. Mr. R. S. Gopalan, Director, Dept. of Agriculture and Food Production shared the state’s experience on conservation of traditional rice variety in Odisha. He has made efforts to getting registration of traditional variety of Rice by Protection of Plant Variety and Farmers’ Right Authority (PPV & FRA), New Delhi. He said they have indigenous varieties with a high yielding potential. “Our scientists should research on Desi varieties and should have open mind,” he said.
 
Mr. Krishna Prasad, Director of Sahaj Samruddh, an organization in Bangalore promoting organic farming and conservation of local variety participated in the workshop and shared how they have successfully created models for marketing of organic rice variety and he wished that it should be replicated in Odisha for the benefit of farmers conserving local variety.
 
He also said that we can boost conservation through linking farmers with market for better prices of their produce. The workshop came up with a follow up plan of organising an Organic Mela in Bhubaneswar to provide platform for organic farmers to sale their produce in next 2 to 3 months.
Organic farmers, NGO representative, Govt. Officials and academicians actively participated in the workshop. There was a rice seed exhibition outside of the IMAGE Conference hall. NGOs like NIRMAN, Sahaj Samrudh, Bangalore, Sanjeevani, Andhra Paradesh, Agriculture dept. of Govt. of Orissa, Amhinsa Club participated in the workshop.

THOUSANDS MORE FARMERS JOINING KISAN-KHET MAZDOOR MAHAPANCHAYAT ON PARLIAMENT STREET: MAHAPANCHAYAT RESOLVES TO STAY PUT UNTIL DEMANDS MET

FAMERS’ DEMANDS TO THE PRIME MINISTER

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.

 

 

 

For more information, contact: Dharmendar Kumar: 9219691168; Kannaiyan: 9444989543; Ashlesha: 9900200771