Karnataka: Budget proposes Farmers Income Commision

Karnataka Government proposes to establish Farmers Income Commission in the new budget

The Karnataka Agriculture Budget for 2013-14 is at http://www.kar.nic.in/finance/bud2013/bud2013.htm (go to Part I Agriculture). Some of the schemes and strategies announced, that caught my attention, are pasted below:

14. Creation of basic database of farmers and distribution of pass books: Database containing comprehensive information (land holding, category, address, facilities availed etc) of farmers has to be created with the integration of ‘Bhoomi’ project with the existing “Aadhar” database in the State. This information   will be useful to enable greater attention hereafter for categories and areas which have got less importance till now and for formulating agriculture related policies.   A pass book containing all this information will be provided to the farmers.  A sum of Rs 15 crore will be spent to implement this programme by fully computerizing and web-enabling in
co-ordination with the E-governance department on a pilot basis in the districts of Mysore, Tumkur, Dharwad, where Aadhar project is completed. This programme will be extended to the other districts in a phased manner.

17. New MoU for improvement of life of farmers: With a view to improve the economic condition of the farmers along with agricultural wealth, Farmers Income Commission will be set up as per the recommendations of Dr. Swaminathan. In order to formulate a programme to protect the farmers of Karnataka from the effect of frequent droughts, the State Government has entered into a MoU with 9 international C.G.I.A.R1 organisations. Basic status survey and activities as per the action plan are under progress in one district each in the four revenue divisions (Tumkur, Chikkamagaluru, Bijapur and Raichur) for implementation of the said programme. Rs.50 crore will be provided as funding to extend this programme to all the districts in the coming years in a phased manner.

19. Suvarna Bhoomi Scheme: Based on the demand from the farmers, the scheme will be continued during this year and will be   extended to the farmers growing millets such as Ragi, Jowar, Maize and Bajra.  Rs.300 Crores will be provided for assisting 3 lakh beneficiaries under this scheme during the current year.


21. Preparation, certification and distribution of organic manure : High priority has been given to organic farming in the State during the last 4 years and my Government is implementing Amruth Bhoomi scheme by constituting Organic Farming Mission.  Organic village programme will be extended and will be implemented in 240 acres in each Hobli under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojane. In view of increasing demand for organic manure, it is proposed to handover its manufacturing, certification and internal control by
APEDA identified agencies and marketing to non- Governmental organisations which are experts in this field and  to encourage them, a sum of Rs 100 crores is proposed.

22. Own Seed Development Scheme: As there is high demand by the farmers for good quality  seeds, it is necessary to encourage  production of certified seeds. For this purpose own seed development scheme will be implemented by seed production centres of
agriculture department in collaboration with various seed production corporations/boards/private farms of the State.  To encourage seed production in selected villages at Hobli level,  infrastructure facilities like fee concession for seed certification, construction of seed storage godowns, construction of threshing yards and equipments required for processing will be provided. Rs. 55 crores will be provided for this purpose.

25. Solar power pump sets : There are 18 lakh irrigation pump sets in the State and their electricity consumption is increasing. Karnataka Solar Energy Scheme will be formulated to make up for the shortage of electricity, to adopt modern technology and to install solar power based pump sets, where ever possible. Initially this scheme will be implemented in 4 districts (one each in every revenue division).  On the basis of its evaluation after implementation, Rs.50 crores will be provided in the first phase for extension to the other districts.

33. Development of vegetable gardens in schools to overcome malnutrition: To compensate for deficiency of vitamin A and B in the children of North Karnataka (especially in Gulbarga, Raichur, Koppal, Bidar, Bellary, Bijapur and Bagalkot districts) who are
suffering from malnutrition, it is proposed to grow fruits and vegetables in kitchen gardens, school gardens, community parks and such other places and supply to children.  About 50 lakh children will be benefitted at a cost of Rs.2.5 crore during the year 2013-14.

73. In order to provide necessary warehouse facilities and to enable farmers to get warehouse based loans, necessary infrastructure facilities will be provided in a scientific manner in 19 places of the State (Hubli, Bijapur, Raichur, Bidar, Gadag, Bagalkot, Sankeshwara, Ranebennur, Harihara, Davanagere, Challakere, Chitradurga, Bharamasagara, Gundlupet, Soraba, Chamarajanagar, Santemaranahalli, Mysore and Kollegala).

(2012-13 report)

• A web portal has been started in 2012-13 for online disposal of farmers’ subsidy applications and to avoid delay in the payment of subsidy. So far 11,820 applications have been received through the web portal.

Impact of policies favouring organic inputs on small farms in Karnataka, India: a multicriteria approach

Interesting published paper from ATREE which uses a multi-criteria analysis to compare villages supported under an organic farming project/policy in Karnataka with those that are not, in terms of a variety of parameters on the economic, environmental and socio-cultural fronts. I am not too sure where I picked up the paper from, and might be circulating it back to a group from where I picked it up and my apologies for the same.

Purushothaman et al 2012 mca ktaka(1)

Seema Purushothaman • Sheetal Patil • Ierene Francis
Received: 3 October 2011 / Accepted: 12 February 2012

Ó Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012
Environ Dev Sustain
DOI 10.1007/s10668-012-9340-1

The paper presents the results of a multicriteria analysis conducted to comprehend
the effects of two different practice–policy scenarios on smallholders in Karnataka—one
scenario ‘with policy’ (WP) to support organic agricultural practices and the other a
‘business as usual’ (BAU) scenario that continues to stress on market-based, synthetic
inputs for cultivation. The paper integrates results from quantitative and participatory
techniques to compare and project effects on ecological, economic and socio-cultural
indicators. Ecological and economic indicators in WP are projected to be significantly
higher than BAU in a majority of the study sites, while socio-cultural indicators show
mixed outcomes, depending on regional and social characteristics. Across the study sites,
small and rain-fed farms are benefitted better in WP compared to large and irrigated farms,
respectively. Among small and rain-fed farms, soil fertility, water quality, agro-diversity,
net income and freedom from indebtedness improve considerably, while there is slight
reduction in collective activities and no perceivable change in land-based subsistence. 

Paddy Museum: Preserving his inheritance

Ghani Khan
Organic farmer Ghani Khan’s project, a paddy museum, will soon be ready

Fired by zeal for conservation of genetic diversity in crops, an organic farmer from the Mysore region has embarked on a project to establish what is reckoned to be India’s first paddy museum.

Ghani Khan of Kirugavulu in Malavalli taluk of Mandya district cultivates and conserves more than 300 varieties of paddy and rice, most of which do not make it to the market and may be lost to posterity.

However, Mr. Khan, who has inherited his forefathers’ farmland donated by Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan more than 200 years ago, has converted his 20-acre-plot to a genetic hotspot with a variety of crops, dominated by paddy and mango. His paddy project has led him to convert a portion of his house into a museum, which will be ready in a few months’ time.

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Khan said paddy varieties conserved by him include Jeerge Sanna, Gandasale, Bilinellu, Raskadam, Rajmudi and Pakistan Basmati, to name a few, and he has dedicated nearly 3 acres of land for their cultivation and demonstration.

PART OF HIS HOUSE

“The first floor of my house will be converted to a paddy museum, where samples of nearly 300 varieties of paddy acquired from different places, cultivated and preserved by me, will be on display,” said Mr. Khan, who continues to acquire rare varieties of paddy and augment his collection.

He said he had invested half his income in developing the paddy museum, and a senior farmer would be invited to inaugurate it, he added. While the paddy museum was expected to draw like-minded conservationists to his farm, Mr. Khan also gets regular visitors for the rare mangoes he cultivates. At the last count, there were 120 varieties of mango in his farm including Mangmari, Jeerge Maavu, Shakkargubbi and Mosambi ka aam, none of which are commonly available.

‘UTMOST CARE’

“I have preserved these varieties of mango as an inheritance from my forefathers and maintain the orchards with utmost care, though I do not get any support from the Government for this,” he said.

Notwithstanding his efforts and drive to protect crop diversity, the going is tough for Mr. Khan owing to loss of income, as 3 acres of land is earmarked for paddy demonstration. “It is easy to introduce Alphonso and Badami in my orchard, which will increase my earnings. But if I cease to cultivate or fail to conserve these varieties, they will be lost to posterity,” Mr. Khan remarked.

NO ASSISTANCE

Apart from a token award and a title of Krishi Pandit, which is routinely conferred on farmers every year, there is little by way of Government assistance for Mr. Khan, who was promised that his orchard and farmland would be declared a biodiversity hotspot.

Though he is under tremendous pressure from his well-wishers and a few of his family members to switch to conventional agriculture, the conservationist in him refuses to compromise.

However, Mr. Khan has support from the Bangalore-based Sahaja Samruddha, an organic farmers’ association that provides him market linkage.

Not content with cultivating and conserving, Mr. Khan has tied up with the local government school, whose students visit the farm to learn about organic and natural farming “This is important, as the new generation of children even in villages are fast losing touch with the natural world and believe in chemical farming,” said Mr. Khan.

Central team visits Karnataka to assess drought impact

Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda at the Legislative Assembly on Dec. 13, 2011. Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy
The Hindu Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda at the Legislative Assembly on Dec. 13, 2011. Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

A central team arrived on Wednesday to assess the impact of drought in parts of Karnataka, where the Government has declared 99 taluks as drought-hit.

Replying to a debate on the drought situation in the Legislative Assembly, Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda said once the team files the report with the Centre after the two-day visit, the State would take out an all-party delegation to the Union Government to press for grant of funds towards drought-relief works.

He announced sanctioning of Rs 36 crore for drilling borewells in drought-hit areas.

Mr. Gowda said as on October end, the crop loss was to the tune of Rs 4,544.84 crore, adding, as per the Central norms, a memorandum has been submitted to the Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar seeking additional relief funds of Rs 723.24 crore.

The Chief Minister listed various steps taken by the Government from early October towards drought-relief works.

“Funds are available with Deputy Commissioners in districts to take up relief works. There is no shortage of fodder anywhere in the State,” Mr. Gowda said, rejecting the Opposition Congress and JDS charge that the Government lacked seriousness in tackling the scarcity situation.

Mr. Gowda said 956 farmers have killed themselves in the State since 2008 but added such suicides have come down “significantly” in recent months. He gave farmers’ suicide figures of the neighbouring Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh to suggest that such numbers were lower in Karnataka.

Countering Mr. Gowda’s claim, leader of the opposition Siddaramaiah (Congress), citing a magazine report that quoted figures of the national and state crime records bureau, said 6,000 farmers had committed suicide in the state in the past three years.

Farmers’ suicides are counted only if they have land-holding, have taken loans from cooperation sector or commercial banks and it is proved they ended their lives because of the loans they have taken, he said, asserting many deaths don’t fall in this category.

“If you have funds, why have you not paid money to farmers who suffered crop loss,” Mr. Siddaramaiah asked.

He demanded that the government fund the crop insurance premiums of small and marginal farmers as well as those belonging to SCs and STs.

The Congress staged a walk-out from the House, with Mr. Siddaramaiah saying the opposition members were unhappy with the Chief Minister’s reply and the government lacked seriousness in dealing with the drought situation.

956 farmers committed suicide in past three years, says Karnataka Govt

PTI

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Farmer Bore Gowda participating with IT professionals at a Candle Light Vigil to protest against farmers sucide in the State at Town Hall in Bangalore. A file photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy
The HinduFarmer Bore Gowda participating with IT professionals at a Candle Light Vigil to protest against farmers sucide in the State at Town Hall in Bangalore. A file photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

As many as 956 farmers committed suicide in Karnataka in the past 44 months, the Government informed the Legislative Council on Tuesday.

“It has been reported that during the last three years (2008—09, 2009—10, 2010—11 and 2011—12 (up to 30.11.2011) 956 farmers have committed suicide”, Agriculture Minister Umesh V Katti told Veeranna Mathikatti (Congress) in reply to an unstarred question.

He said the Government has implemented several initiatives to ensure that farmers got proper prices for their produce and regular income.

These include minimum support price, as declared by Government of India and additional support by the State government, availability of credit at one per cent interest and subsidies for inputs like fertilisers, seeds, pesticides, implements and micro irrigation.

In addition, the Government has taken up new initiatives like “Bhoochetana” and “Suvarna Bhoomi Yojane” programmes, Mr. Katti added.

Besides, the Government is implementing the MNREGA scheme during the off-seasons for employment purpose, the Minister said, adding regular monitoring and testing of fertilisers and seeds is done so that they are available to farmers at MRP and of good quality.

Double standards on organic cotton in State?

The unbridled promotion of genetically modified (GM) cotton in the State, including Mysore district, has left organic farmers peeved due to the absence of an institutional mechanism to supply non-Bt cotton seeds in the market.

The cotton seed scarcity that plagued the district and other parts of the State in May mainly pertained to Bt cotton seeds which is used by over 90 per cent of growers in H.D. Kote and other cotton-growing areas of the district.

According to statistics available with the Department of Agriculture here, nearly 40,000 hectares of land was brought under cotton cultivation in 2010. The area is expected to increase to 54,000 hectares this year.

Of the 40,000 hectares under cotton cultivation in the district, the area under organic cotton is around 4,000 hectares. But in the absence of non-Bt cotton seeds, farmers using eco-friendly and organic methods may be forced to switch to chemical farming.

Vivek Cariappa, organic farmer from H.D. Kote, told The Hindu that a large number of farmers shifted from cereals and pulses to cotton, anticipating a good price. As a result, the area under maize, ragi and banana declined. He said that the Government was catering to their requirements by ensuring supply of Bt cotton seeds.

“However, there are scores of farmers who have rejected Bt technology, shifted focus from conventional chemical-intensive practices and are practitioners of organic farming. These farmers have been left to fend for themselves,” Mr. Cariappa said.

He pointed out that though the State’s policy was to promote organic farming, it was encouraging Bt technology.

Contamination

Mr. Cariappa and other organic farmers expressed the view that the germplasm of the non-Bt variety of seeds had been contaminated and that the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Dharwad, was the only place in the country where the germplasm of the non-Bt variety of cotton was not contaminated.

Hence, Mr. Cariappa suggested that the State Government be pro-active in funding the UAS to produce non-Bt varieties of cotton seeds. He said that even indigenous cotton varieties such as Jayadhar cotton, which was cultivated extensively in Hubli and Gadag, were not available and it was imperative for the State to intervene and ensure that the germplasm of these indigenous varieties were produced, preserved and made available to farmers.

The Organic Farmers’ Association of H.D. Kote pointed out that each packet of Bt cotton seeds contained a small pouch of non-Bt cotton seeds because it was mandatory for farmers to plant them in the periphery of their fields to prevent contamination of transgenic plants with non-transgenic plants through pollination.

However, Mr. Cariappa said there was no independent laboratory or agency to certify that these pouches indeed contained non-Bt cotton seeds.

The onus was on the Government to establish or appoint an agency to check the seeds and ensure that non-Bt cotton seeds were supplied to farmers.

There is no institutional mechanism to supply non-Bt cotton seeds in the market
‘Farmers using organic methods may be forced to switch to chemical farming’

Farmers told not to depend on MNCs for seeds, fertilizers

 

‘ The native varieties of seeds are better suited to Indian conditions’

 

‘Form network to exchange information’

Dependence on MNCs has pushed farmers to brink

Steps towards liberation:Kadidal Shamanna handing over a packet of native variety of seeds to a farmer in Shimoga on Thursday.

Shimoga: Kadidal Shamanna, farmers’ leader, has urged farmers not to depend on multi-national corporations for seeds and fertilizers.

He was speaking at a programme organised here on Thursday under the aegis of Sahaja Samrudha organisation to distribute native varieties of seeds among farmers.

High yield

He said farmers should exchange the native varieties of seeds and free themselves from the clutches of MNCs. The native varieties of seeds had the capacity to deliver high yield by braving vagaries of weather. Research had proved that some native strains had medicinal quality. The practice of exchanging seeds had been prevalent prior to the green revolution. The system needed to be revived and farmers should develop a network to exchange seeds and share knowledge of farming, he said.

The excessive dependence on MNCs for seeds and fertilizers had pushed farmers to dire straits.

Referring to the incident of the police firing on farmers who were protesting for fertilizers in Haveri, he said that such a situation could be avoided by promoting farmers to become self-reliant.

Imbalance

The nationwide campaign against Bt brinjal proved that farmers were against genetic engineering. He said genetic engineering would create serious imbalance in the nature.

Agriculture expert Krishnaprasad said farmers who grow cotton, maize, and sunflower had lost the freedom to select seeds. MNCs engaged in seed business were trying to deceive farmers by creating myths in the name of genetic engineering. The high-yielding varieties introduced by MNCs had failed in Indian conditions, he said.

Native seeds

Chikkaswamy of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha said farmers should collect, process, and exchange the high-yield varieties of native seeds.

Progressive farmer Revanasiddappa of Sindhanur spoke on how the native varieties of seeds became popular in Sindhanur region.

Leaders of Raitha Sangha H.R. Basavarajappa and Joint Director of Agriculture Dr. Shivamurthappa were present.

Seeds of strife

http://www.downtoearth.org.in/node/1737

Author(s): Latha Jishnu

Issue: Aug 31, 2010

The Seed Bill takes away states’ power to regulate seed prices, could lead to Centre-state confrontation

Photos: Surya Sen

IT WAS yet another meeting in a series that began six years ago.

On July 28, close to 40 members of Parliament and state leaders met in Room 124 of Krishi Bhavan, the Delhi headquarters of the Ministry of Agriculture, in what seemed a last-ditch attempt to thrash out the contested points in a proposed law to regulate the seeds trade. The meeting was called by Minister for Agriculture Shared Pawar, who had put together the first draft of the Seed Bill in 2004, and is set on getting it passed during the current session of Parliament.

The amended Seed Bill, 2004, is a critical piece of legislation and could underpin the success—or failure—of Indian farming. The preamble says the bill aims “to provide for regulating the quality of seeds for sale, import and export and to facilitate production and supply of seeds of quality”, but its stated objective has not found favour with farmers, several state governments and the Left parties. The reason is simple: missing in this law is any mention of price regulation. That is the core issue, although there are other concerns, ranging from the amount and method of compensating farmers who incur losses on account of poor quality seeds to the bill’s conflict with other pieces of legislation.

The July 28 meeting addressed most of the ‘other concerns’, with Pawar listing out the various amendments that the government would incorporate in the amended bill to be presented to Parliament. But on the question of price regulation, the minister was unwilling to budge. A note circulated by the agriculture ministry at the meeting is categorical that the bill does not envisage any “provision for price control” and is intended purely to regulate the quality of seeds. According to several invitees to the meeting, the agriculture minister told them that “the prime minister is against any price control”. This leaves a big question mark hanging over the Seed Bill since opposition to it shows no signs of a let-up.

Leading farmers’ organisations accuse the UPA government of Manmohan Singh of selling out the farmer to multinationals. Krishan Bir Chaudhary, president of the Bharatiya Krishak Samaj, believes the bill “is to protect the interests of multinational seed companies like Monsanto”, which, he insists, are trying to capture the seed market in India. There are other outfits like the All India Kisan Sabha which voice similar worries—and accusations.

Congress-ruled Andhra Pradesh is the biggest opponent of the bill and its agriculture minister N Raghuveera Reddy has been campaigning ceaselessly for significant changes in the proposed law. Reddy, who participated in the July meeting, told Down to Earth that “states must have the power to fix the price of seed and trait value (the royalty paid on patented seeds) whenever necessary.”

As he sees it the system should involve both the Centre and the states. “We would like an independent body similar to CERC (the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission fixes tariffs and other issues related to the power sector), which oversees state regulatory commissions. Otherwise, the seed companies will squeeze the farmer.”

Raghuveera Reddy, who has the full backing of his chief minister K Rosiah, points out, “You simply cannot have a free market without a statutory regulator.”

This is the quandary that the UPA government finds itself in. Not only is the farm lobby and the Left against the bill but so is a major state ruled by the Congress. Andhra Pradesh’s role, in fact, is central to the fight for regulated seed prices in the country. Since 2006, it has been taking on the US biotech giant Monsanto on the trait fees it charges for its genetically engineered cotton seeds (sold as Bollgard and Bollgard II). The state says the trait fees charged by Monsanto’s marketing arm in India, Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India) Limited, are predatory and monopolistic.

But it is a course that has led to a long legal challenge—and a new state law to control prices. Gujarat and Maharashtra, apart from Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, quickly followed Andhra Pradesh’s example. It was a revolt by the states but the Centre did its best to thwart it by deploying the Essential Commodities Act or ECA strategically (see box: Games the Centre plays).

While this backdrop is essential to understand the politics of the Seed Bill, there is another factor: the differences within the Congress high command on the issue of price regulation. The reser- vations of Congress Party chief Sonia Gandhi are said to be instrumental in putting the proposed law in cold storage for the past four years. As chairperson of the National Advisory Committee, Gandhi had, in an October 2005 letter, warned, “There is a growing perception that the Seed Bill, 2004, is anti-farmer and that it favours the seed industry and large seed breeders, including MNCs.

Government has no mechanism to control prices… Seed suppliers are under no obligation to ensure reasonable seed supply to farmers.” That concern, however, has not been addressed in India so far, although elsewhere, notably in the US, the runaway price of seeds is inviting judicial scrutiny. Simultaneously, seeds giant Monsanto, a big player in the Indian market, is also being investigated across seven American states for unfair or deceptive practices (see: Prices under the scanner on p12). Sometime back, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food had warned that the increasing dependence on commercial seed varieties, “controlled by a handful of very powerful multinational companies”, could have a severe impact on small farmers in developing countries.

Farmers will not benefit from new technology if prices are not controlledMany of the recommendations of the Standing Committee of Parliament, which gave its report in 2006, have been incorporated in the 2010 version of the Seed Bill, but price stubbornly stays out of its ambit. The agriculture ministry’s stance is clear. “A free and competitive market environment will spur the growth of the seeds industry. Therefore, price is better left to market forces rather than to artificial controls.”

Noted agriculture scientist M S Swaminathan said: “I hope better counsel will prevail.” Now a member of the Rajya Sabha, Swaminathan, too, has been demanding price regulation in the bill. “I have said there should be price regulation where appropriate, not everywhere. The government should have the authority to use price controls in certain situations, but not to usurp the role of the market.”

The scientist, who is referred to as the Father of India’s Green Revolution, worries that lack of price control could have disastrous consequences for the Indian farmer in accessing new technology. “High seed prices and trait fees,” he warned, “will come in the way of social inclusion on technology access—and social inclusion is fundamental to growth of the sector.”

The government’s point that the earlier law—Seed Control Order, 1983, which the Seed Bill will replace—did not have any provision for price control either is specious, said G V Ramanjaneyulu, executive director of the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture in Hyderabad. “It is clear that the government’s objective now is to encourage private trade.”

There are concerns, too, about the opening of other doors to private companies, local and foreign. For instance, Swaminathan and CPI leader D Raja say that seed certification issued by foreign agencies should be recognised only if the seed is tested on Indian soil. However, the ministry argues that Clause 30, which allows the Centre to authorise any foreign certification agency working outside India, is intended to allow global trade in seeds, and would come within the scope of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements.

But Ramanjaneyulu says there is a contradiction on the role of foreign agencies. At one level the ministry has assured the Andhra MPs that their demand that “certification should be carried only by government and semigovernment agencies” would be incorporated in the amendments. Yet, in another instance, it said foreign and foreign- based agencies would be allowed to do so under foreign trade pacts.

“In place of truthful labelling of seed, the government is making certification compulsory, but this is geared to letting in private and foreign seed certification agencies into the business,” pointed out Ramanjaneyulu, former ICAR scientist. Besides, it would also permit multi-location trials to be carried out by private agencies on foreign soil. The ministry’s justification is that seed imported into India would be subjected to multi-location trials under the rules to be framed under the seed Act.

As for that most vexing issue of compensation to farmers in case of seed failure, an issue that exercises most critics of the bill, the ministry says the quantum of compensation and the mechanism to recover it will also be prescribed under the rules.

The demand for “a role for panchayats, state and district level committees can be considered at that stage,” according to the official note. Have the opponents of the bill been assuaged by such promises? Raghuveera Reddy, for one, is mobilising more support from the states. Last week, he wrote to all state agriculture ministers inviting them to Hyderabad for talks. “We should rise to the challenge since our farmers’ interests are at stake. I have also asked them to mobilise opinion among their MPs and political leaders.”

Whether this seasoned campaigner succeeds in getting like-minded states on board—like he did on the BT cotton issue in 2006—or not, Pawar and the Centre know that the battle could turn bitter. Agriculture is a state subject, and the passage of the bill, which would repeal all other seed laws, including the applicability of ECA and the special ordinances passed by state governments on price regulation, is bound to ruffle constitutional feathers.

In the latest memorandum sent to the prime minister and the agriculture minister, the Andhra Pradesh chief minister has demanded the inclusion of a separate chapter on seed pricing and royalty fees which would give equal powers to the states and the central government. He has also detailed the mechanism for this procedure.

In a telling remark, Andhra Pradesh points out that the power to fix royalty rates is available with member-states of WTO under its TRIPS Agreement on intellectual property issues. It remains to be seen if the Centre can be persuaded by such arguments.