MP to receive award from President for highest grain produce

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.

Hope for farmers: Biotech firm pulled up for crop losses

Zia HaqHindustan Times

New Delhi, March 31, 2012
A farm biotech company has been held accountable for losses from genetically modified (GM) crops for the first time in India, a move that could address the issue of farmer suicides in the country. The decision, however, is being legally challenged. Two-thirds of Indians depend on agricultural income for subsistence, and according to figures reported in Parliament, over 700 farmers had committed suicide in 2010-11 due to crop losses.

The Indian arm of German-origin Bayer Cropscience was ordered to pay Rs 45 lakh to 164 farmers in Maharashtra’s Dhule district after one of its BT cotton hybrids failed.

In Madhya Pradesh, the state’s consumer forum, which has the powers of a court, ordered Bayer Bio Science Private Limited to pay Rs 15,500 as compensation for each packet of BT cotton sold to 331 farmers.

“After investigations in Maharashtra, it was found that farmers suffered losses…of Rs 44,77, 672 and the competent authority directed Bayer Bio Science Private Limited to pay a compensation of a like amount,” farm minister Sharad Pawar told Parliament on Friday.

Although GM cotton, officially allowed in 2002, sharply raised yields in the initial years, productivity is now declining, according to a flagship paper presented by KR Kranthi, director of the Central Cotton Research Institute (CICR), the country’s BT referral lab.

The top scientist attributes part of the problem to a surfeit of BT hybrid variants that are showing new signs of vulnerability to pests.

Hybrid maize yields less than 50 % of Govt projection’ in Madhya Pradesh


INDORE: The state government’s ambitious plan to increase maize production through hybrid varieties appears to have come a cropper.

An umbrella group of voluntary organisations working to promote organic farming has reported that the actual increase is less than 50 per cent of governmental projections for maize yield using hybrid seeds. Incidentally, agriculture minister Ramkrishna Kusmariya has vociferously opposed Monsanto, which was awarded tenders for the pilot project, and has repeatedly exhorted the virtues of organic farming.
He has also written to Union science and technology minister Vilasrao Deshmukh expressing reservation over the draft BRAI Bill (Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India Bill). When contacted director, agriculture DN Singh said there was a difference between hybrid and Bt and added “the government is against Bt not hybrid”.
The group, Association of Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA), surveyed many farmers in Jhabua and Dhar– among the seven districts where subsidized hybrid seeds were distributed to tillers– under the state government’s pilot project, Hybrid Maize Promotion Project (HMPP), for the kharif season in 2011. The farmers were given a 90 per cent subsidy on seed purchase under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY). A fact-finding report prepared by ASHA, to be submitted to Kusmariya shortly, has raised questions about the increase in yield and, no less, the state government’s stand on organic farming. “Nowhere did we come across a single farmer who obtained 15.24 quintals per acre, as is being claimed in the project completion report. The yield differences at the most were reported to be one or two quintals more for hybrid seed. At least half of the people met actually reported equal or better yields with their own seed,” said Nilesh Desai, a member of the fact-finding team. ASHA took up a factfinding initiative in the state of MP in December 2011.

The villages visited includeDevli, Kalighati, Dabdi and Mata Pada villages of Petlawad block in Jhabua (in Petlawad block, 687 farmers were covered under the project, with 4,592 kg of DKC7074 seed of Monsanto company distributed) and Kanjrota, Ringnod and Kumariya Khedi villages of Sardarpur block of Dhar district. The 15-page report further revealed that the cost of cultivation of hybrid maize is higher by at least 40-50% on paid-out costs in terms of seeds, chemical fertilizers and chemical pesticides. Further, the real costs in such a highly subsidized project are not apparent to farmers.

3 soyabean farmers committed suicide in State last month

As many as three debt-ridden farmers have committed suicide in Hoshangabad district in the month of October, owing to damage of soybean crops due to rust, and yellow mosaic virus and no substantial help from the insurance companies to bear the loss.

These facts were revealed in a detailed report prepared by Sunil, an activist working in the district, which was released in the State capital on Sunday.

Sunil, citing the report further informed that Central Government with the help of State Government started Mausam Beema Yojna in the district but it was implemented in the district without consent of farmers. He further said that most of the farmers are not even aware of the insurance schemes.

Notably, Madhya Pradesh is the largest producer of Soybean in India and the State records highest deaths of farmers after Maharashtra.

“Till now no farmers suicide had occurred owing to the loss in soybean crops and these deaths have proved that an important cash crop is now causing deaths in the State,” Sunil said.

Commenting over the ineffective insurance scheme initiated for the soybean farmers, he said, “The insurance scheme was started by IFFCI-Tokya and ICICI Lombard. These companies collected Rs 22.20 crore as premium, from the farmers but have paid only 17 crore against the claims.

The farmers have been cheated in the name of insurance policy.” Claiming that the total estimated loss of the farmers is about 20,000 crore, Sunil further informed that these domestic and foreign insurance companies have benefited from the scheme and earned a profit of Rs 5 crore from the district. Even the collector and his subordinates had no idea about the Mausam Beema Yojna and yet they implemented the scheme in the district. He further demanded that State Government should take cognizance over the issue and provide relief to the farmers.

Country’s first agri cabinet in MP meets on June 18

The first agricultural cabinet in the country, formed by the Madhya Pradesh government under chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, will hold its first meeting on June 18. Coincidentally, monsoon would have arrived in the state by then. In the first effort of its kind, Chouhan has carved out a cabinet specially focused on agriculture from the existing cabinet, enjoying the cabinet’s powers.

The chief minister will head the agricultural cabinet, and principal secretaries of 10 farming-related departments will assist him.

“Agriculture will continue to be the lifeline of the country. We have created this cabinet to strongly underline its importance,” Chouhan said. Besides being a soyabean hub, MP is third in the country’s wheat production after Punjab and Haryana.

The first meeting of the state’s agricultural cabinet in Jabalpur will discuss steps to prevent farmer suicides, save the fertility of land, etc .

“MP is in far better a situation as compared to Punjab, Haryana and western UP, where the disillusionment from Green Revolution is for all to see. The land there has lost fertility. Village after village are up for sale,” said former director of agriculture department GS Kaushal.

“Farmers from these states are coming down to Madhya Pradesh, buying land for farming. In Raisen, Hoshangabad and certain other districts, a good number of farmers are settled now.”

Agriculture minister Ramkrishna Kusmaria said decisions taken at the cabinet meet would involve all the departments related to agriculture, hence, there would be speedy implementation of the projects and disposal of files.


Govt moots organic farm policy to promote cultivation

Organic Farming Policy (Hindi version) download
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has said that farmers of organic farming products should get proper prices. There should be a proper arrangement for branding and marketing or organic farming products and efforts are being made in this connection. These views were expressed by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan while addressing a State-level symposium on ‘Role of youth in making agriculture profitable through organic farming’ at Samanvay Bhavan here on Thursday.

Those present on the occasion included Farmers’ Welfare and Agriculture Development Minister Ramkrishna Kusmaria, agricultural scientist Piyush Bhargava, journalist Devendra Sharma, environmentalist Vandana Shiva and Bharat Pathak of Deendayal Shodh Sansthan.

The Chief Minister said that Madhya Pradesh has a rich tradition of organic farming. The cultivation is undertaken in tribal and hilly areas mainly through organic method. He said that an Organic Farming Policy is being chalked out with a view to attract farmers towards organic farming and making proper arrangements for providing assistance and cooperation.

Chouhan said that the State Government is making efforts to ensure coordination and contact with the experts from various regions. Suggestions have been invited from agricultural experts, researchers and farmers to be incorporated in the organic policy.

He further said that agriculture is the backbone of economy. Making agriculture profitable is one of the seven resolves of the State Government. Madhya Pradesh is the only State in the country where Rs 100 per quintal bonus is being given to farmers on wheat procurement on support price. Farmers will get loans at the rate of only one per cent from this year. An arrangement for fixing minimum support price for the purchase of lac and chironji has been made so that collectors of forest produce get proper prices. Initially, two forest products have been covered under the scheme and their number will be increased.

Chouhan said that besides agriculture, efforts are also being made to increase the production in auxiliary trades like animal husbandry, horticulture etc. Chief Minister asked the Agriculture Minister to include the meaningful suggestions that come up at the symposium in the draft of the organic policy.

Regional organising secretary of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad Vishnu Dutt Sharma threw light on the objectives of the symposium. At the programme, a book on Nanaji Model for Making Agriculture Profitable was also released.



मध्य प्रदेश सर्कार की जैविक कृषि नीति

  • जैविक खेती क्यों ?ह्ण मृदा स्वास्थ्य व पर्यावरण – आज यह तथ्य निर्विवाद हो चुका हैं कि रसायनिक उर्वरकों तथा पेस्टीसाइडों के लगातार तथा अविवेकपूर्ण उपयोग के चलते मिट्‌टी के स्वास्थ्य मे गिरावट तथा पर्यावरण प्रदूषित हो चुका हैह्ण रसायनों के उपयोग से पैदा होने वाले खाद्यान्न, फल और सब्जियॉं विषैले होकर इनमें स्वभाविक स्वाद नहीं रहा हैं ।
  • ह्ण मनुष्य स्वास्थ्य – रसायनों के उपयोग से मनुष्यों में तरह-तरह की बीमारियों देखने में आ रही हैं।
  • ह्ण अधिक उत्पादन लागत – रसायनों के मॅंहगें तथा अत्यधिक उपयोग के कारण खेती की लागत बढ़ रही हैं जिसके कारण कृषकों का खेती से मोहभंग हो रहा हैं।ह्ण विषरहित खाद्यान्न के प्रति बढ ती वैद्गिवक एवं स्थानीय जागृति के कारण जैविक कृषि पद्धति से उत्पादित खाद्यान्नों, फल तथा सब्जियों की मॉंग स्थानीय एवं अन्तर्राष्ट्रीय बाजारों में बढ  रही हैं। ह्ण स्थायी कृषि विकास ;ैन्ैज्।प्छ।ठस्म् ।ळत्प्ब्न्स्ज्न्त्म् क्म्टम्स्व्च्डम्छज्द्ध हेतु जैविक कृषि ही एक मात्र एवं समुचित समाधान प्रतीत होता है।ह्ण प्रदेद्गा में जैविक कृषि की असीम सम्भावनाएं एवं अनुकुल वातावरण उपलब्ध है।ह्ण जैविक कृषि हेतु राज्य के प्रयासों को उचित दिद्गाा, गति एवं नवीन उर्जा के संचार हेतु राज्य में एक समग्र जैविक कृषि नीति की आवद्गयकता को सभी वर्गो द्वारा महसूस किया गया है।
  • २. जैविक खेती से आशय :-
    फसलोत्पादन के लिये उर्वरकों और कीटनाद्गाकों के रुप में उपयोग में लाये जाने वाले रसायनों के स्थान पर गोबर की खाद, कम्पोस्ट, हरी खाद तथा बायोपेस्टीसाइड्‌स आदि का उपयोग करना ही सरल भाषा में जैविक खेती है।
    ३. रसायनिक उर्वरकों तथा पेस्टीसाइड्‌स का उपयोग क्यों बढ़ा ? वर्ष १९६६-६७ में देश में हरित क्रान्ति आने के पूर्व हमारे देश के कृषकों के समक्ष सिंचाई के साधन, उन्नत बीज, रसायनिक उर्वरकों /पेस्टीसाइड्‌स की उपलब्धता तथा खेती की उन्नत विधियॉं नहीं थी। हरित क्रान्ति के माध्यम से उक्त चारों घटकों पर कृषि उत्पादन बढाने के लिये कार्य किया गया जिसके परिणामस्वरूप हमारे देश का उत्पादन बढ ता गया और हम खाद्यान्न उत्पादन में आत्मनिर्भर हुये परन्तु यह ग्रीन रिव्योलूशन एवरग्रीन साबित नहीं हुयी ।
  • ४. इसके दुष्प्रभावों के चलते हमारी -ह्ण देद्गा के कई क्षेत्रों की मृदा अम्लीय तथा क्षारीय हो गयी और अभी भी मृदा स्वास्थ्य में लगातार गिरावट हो रहा है। ह्ण रसायनों के कारण पानी की गुणवत्ता खराब हुयी तालाब /नदियों का जल भी प्रदूषित हो रहा है।ह्ण मिट्‌टी की जल-धारण क्षमता कम हुयी है। ह्ण फ्‌लोरा और फौना नष्ट हो रहे हैं। ह्ण हमारा खाद्यान्न उत्पादन बढोत्तरी का भी ग्राफ स्थिर हो चुका है।ह्ण रसायन मॅंहगे होने कारण खेती की लागत लगातार बढ रही है।
    ५. जैविक कृषि नीति के मुखय विशेषता- इस नीति के माध्यम से हम कृषि के उत्पादन के लिये जिम्मेदार चार बाह्‌य घटक क्रमद्गाः जल के साधन, उन्नत बीज, रसायनिक उर्वरक व पेस्टीसाइड्‌स तथा गुड एग्रीकल्चर प्रेक्टीस में से सिर्फ रसायनिक उर्वरक/ पेस्टीसाइड्‌स को ही गोबर की खाद /कम्पोस्ट/ हरी खाद तथा बायो-पेस्टीसाइड्‌स से प्रतिस्थापित करने पर जोर दे रहे हैं। नीति में गौ-वंश आधारित कृषि को अपनाने पर बल दिया हैं जैसा सर्वविदित हैं ।हतपबनसजनतम ूपजीवनज ंदपउंसे पे बतपउम ूपजी दंजनतमण्
  • ६. जैविक कृषि के लागू करने में सरकार की चिन्ता तथा चुनौतियां  ह्ण मुखय प्रश्न यह हैं कि रसायनिक उर्वरक तथा पेस्टीसाइड्‌स के उपयोग से पर्यावरण / मृदा स्वास्थ्य/ मनुष्य का स्वास्थ्य गिर रहा हैं उससे आम कृषक का कोई सरोकार नहीं हैं यह प्रश्न सरकार के लिये विचारणीय हो सकता हैं। कृषक तो वही करेगा जिसमें उसे अधिक आर्थिक लाभ मिले। वह रसायनिक उर्वरकों/ पेस्टीसाइड्‌स को न अपनाकर अपने खेत के उत्पादन को कम होने के खतरे को क्यों मोल लेगा ? अर्थात हम कृषकों को जैविक खेती अपनाने के लिये कैसे प्रोत्साहित करें।ह्ण जैविक खेती हेतु रसायनिक रसायनों के विकल्प के रूप में समुचित मात्रा में कम्पोस्ट/गोबर खाद/ हरी खाद तथा बायो-पेस्टीसाइड्‌स कैसे उपलब्ध हों।ह्ण जैविक पद्धति द्वारा उत्पादित खाद्यान्न, फल तथा सब्जियों के लिये बेहतर मार्केट के अवसर कैसे उपलब्ध कराये जाये जिससे कृषक जैविक खेती के अपनाने से हुए कम उत्पादन का अधिक मूल्य प्राप्त कर हानि की भरपाई कर सकें।ह्ण जैविक कृषि पद्धति से ही उत्पादित खाद्यान्नों, फल व सब्जियों को कैसे प्रमाणित किया जाये ! उपरोक्त चुनौतियों का समाधान तथा सरकार की चिन्ता का निराकरण इस नीति के माध्यम से रणनीतिक सोच को एक प्रखर वैज्ञानिक दृष्टिकोण के साथ अत्यन्त व्यवहारिक एवं व्यवसायिक रूप में प्रस्तुत किया गया है। ७.  इस नीति के सफल क्रियान्वयन के पश्चात्‌ हम :-ह्ण खेती की लागत कम कर सकेंगे उत्पादन में स्थिरता एवं स्थाई वृद्धि दर प्राप्त होकर खेती टिकाउ होगी।ह्ण स्वादिष्ट तथा विष रहित खाद्यान्न, फल, सब्जियॉं, दूध, साग, रेद्गाा आदि उत्पादित कर इनकी मूल्य श्रंखला विकसित कर सकेगें।ह्ण मृदा स्वास्थ्य के गिरते स्तर को संवारकर मृदा कार्बनिक पदार्थ को यथोचित स्तर पर लाकर, विषैले एवं अति हानिकारक रसायनों का प्रयोग कम कर पर्यावरण को स्वच्छ तथा विष-रहित कर सकेगे।
  • ह्ण प्रदेद्गा के सीमांत व लघु किसान जैविक पद्धति से खाद्यान्न उत्पादित कर उच्च दरों पर विक्रय कर अधिक मुनाफा कमा सकेगा।ह्ण ग्रामीण युवाओं को गॉवं में ही रोजगार के अवसर मुहैया किये जा सकेंगे। ह्ण कृषक अपनी उपज को अपनी मर्जी से अपने मन-माफिक भाव में बेच सकेगा जिससे उसकी उपज का उसे अधिक से अधिक मूल्य तो मिलेगा ही तथा उपभोक्ता को भी स्वादिष्ट तथा विषरहित ताजा खाद्यान्न/फल/सब्जियॉं प्राप्त होगी।ह्ण द्गाहरी तथा ग्रामीण कचरा आज की गंभीर समस्या बन चुका है इस कचरे को बहुमूल्य कम्पोस्ट खाद में परिवर्तित कर खेती हेतु उपलबध कराकर प्रदेशवासियों को कचरे की समस्या से निजात दिलाई जा सकेगी। ह्ण कृषकों को अपना उत्पाद मंडियों तक लाने में परिवहन लागत वहन करनी पडती हैं और बिचौलिये भी कृषकों का मण्डी में शोषण करते हैं। इससे कृषकों को शनैःद्गानैः मुक्ति मिलेगी। ह्ण नीति के अनुमोदन एवं क्रियान्वयन पर प्रदेद्गा का राष्ट्र में गौरव बढेगा। ह्ण प्रदेद्गा राष्ट्र का प्रथम जैविक राज्य होने का सम्मान अर्जित कर अन्तर्राष्ट्रीय स्तर पर एक विद्गोष छवि बना सकेगा।
  • ८. मध्यप्रदेद्गा सरकार तथा भारतीय जनता पार्टी की पहल- ह्ण आधुनिक रसायन आधारित खेती के दुष्परिणामों के दृष्टिगत रखते हुये दूरदद्गर्िाता का परिचय देते हुये भारतीय जनता पार्टी ने वर्ष २००८ में प्रदेद्गा में जैविक कृषि पद्धति से खेती करने को प्रोत्साहित करने हेतु जनता से वायदा किया अर्थात जन संकल्प ०८ के जैविक कृषि को बढाबा देना, प्रदेद्गा को जैविक प्रदेद्गा बनाना तथा प्रदेद्गा में जैविक कृषि विद्गवविद्यालय की स्थापना करना महत्वपूर्ण बिषय हैं।ह्ण मध्यप्रदेद्गा सरकार, माननीय मुखयमंत्री जी के योग्य एवं उर्जावान मार्गदर्द्गान में ”कृषि को लाभकारी ” बनाने हेतु कृतसंकल्पित है। सरकार व पार्टी की प्रतिवद्वता तथा सच्चेधरापुत्र के नाते जैविक कृषि के क्रियान्वयन के पुनीत कार्य को पूर्ण करने के क्रम में यह नीति तैयार की हैं।

Every 8 hours a farmer commits suicide in Madhya Pradesh

Every 8 hours a farmer commits suicide in Madhya Pradesh

Bhopal: Every day, three farmers committed suicide in Madhya Pradesh — that is one death every eight hours — during the past five years, the state’s home minister told the Assembly.

Home Minister Uma Shankar Gupta said as many as 5,838 farmers ended their lives during the period from 2006 to 2010.

Surprisingly, the minister maintained that only six of the 5,838 farmers killed themselves due to being overburdened with debt.

Prior to this, replying to Congress legislator Ramnivas Rawat’s query, the home minister said that 89 farmers had committed suicide in 87 days since Nov 6, 2010.

However, Gupta added that only three of them took the extreme step due to debt.

The Shivraj Singh Chouhan government faced violent protests in December last year when thousands of farmers converged on state capital Bhopal to protest against the lack of irrigation and power in rural areas and accused the government of ignoring their problems.

Seeds of strife

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.

1,232 farmers committed suicide in MP

Bhopal, Dec 16: Though Maharashtra has once against toped the list of suicides by farmers in the country with the state recording 4,238 such cases last year, the situation in Madhya Pradesh on this front is also turning out to be grim with the state recording 1,232 cases of suicides by farmers last year, as per the latest report of the National Crimes Record Bureau.

In terms of suicides by farmers in the country, Madhya Pradesh ranks fifth. The states which are ahead of Madhya Pradesh in this regard include Maharashtra (4,238), Karnataka (2,135), Andhra Pradesh (1,797) and Chhattisgarh with 1,593 cases of suicides by farmers. However, if the figures of Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh are clubbed together, the total number of suicide cases by farmers in both these states will only be next to Maharashtra.

A study by the Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS), as quoted in The Hindu last year, also puts the number of farmer suicides in the two states at well over 2,000 a year from 1997 onwards when the Institute began documenting suicide figures. According to its data, 2,390 farmers committed suicide in the two states in 1997; 2,278 in 1998; 2,654 in 1999; 2,660 in 2000; 2,824 in 2001; 2,578 in 2002; 2,511 in 2003; 3,033 in 2004; and 2,660 in 2005 respectively.

On the other hand, the state has ranked third in terms of statistics of family members committing suicides jointly under a common suicide pact. As per the National Crimes Records Bureau report, out of 264 deaths (which included 118 males and 146 females) reported under this category last year, Madhya Pradesh ranked third with a total of 12 persons committing suicides under a common pact. In this category, Kerala attained top position with 39 such cases followed by Andhra Pradesh (34).

Among 35 Indian cities, Bhopal has turned out to be family suicide capital of the country from where the highest number family suicides (8) were reported. It was followed by Surat (6) and Rajkot with 5 family suicide cases respectively. The suicide rate in cities (13.3) was higher as compared to All-India suicide rate (10.8). As per the NCRB report, while Bangalore and Chennai recorded the highest suicide rates of 42.7 and 36 respectively, the same was found to be the lowest in Indore (the commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh) and Kolkata with the suicide rates of 2.0 and 1.5 respectively.

As far as reasons of suicides in Indian cities are concerned, Allahabad has taken the lead with almost 50% of the people committing suicide due to family reasons. It was followed by Indore and Amritsar with 43.8% and 42.3% of the people committing suicides for the same reasons. `Dowry dispute’ took lives of 37.5% of suicide victims in Indore. Of total suicides in Indore, 56.3% suicides were committed by house wives, while 68.8% of the victims committed suicides by consuming insecticides.

In Bhopal, `death of a dear person’ drove 8.3% victims towards suicide, while 11.4% suicide victims were engaged in farming/agriculture activity.

Krishna K Jha

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