Can we have the pesticide menu, please?

http://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/column_can-we-have-the-pesticide-menu-please_1634428

G Sampath | Saturday, January 7, 2012

G Sampath

I’m not very adventurous in my drinking habits. I generally stick to wine. And while I’ve had whiskey, brandy, feni, cognac, chang, gin and arrack, besides several other region and country-specific spirits and sub-spirits whose names I don’t remember now, I’d never tasted pesticide.

So when I was invited by Pesti Cola, a leading MNC pesticide manufacturer, to attend a pesticide-tasting workshop, I accepted immediately.

The venue of the workshop was a luxurious resort in the heart of Vidarbha. As you would know, pesticide is a really popular drink in these parts, and people run up huge debts to indulge their weakness for this beverage. The resort was situated in the middle of a cotton farm, where the very air was redolent with the rich aroma of freshly brewed pesticide.

I found myself at a table with five different glasses of vintage pesticides. Also present were Mr Arsenic, the COO of Pesti Cola, Mr BT Gene, COO of the agri-business giant Consanto, Mr Terminator, COO of the seed company Maha-Seedy, and Mr Squeeze, COO of Vile-Mart.

Mr Arsenic handed me a glass to taste. The label said, ‘2006 Coudoulet de Vidarbh Nitrobenzene’. It was a bright, juicy and delicious pesticide with a cyanide flavor that leaves you with a subtle aftertaste of death even after you spit it out, as I did.
“Try the 2007 Domaine de la Yavatmal Heptachlore. It’s my favourite,” said Mr Terminator, offering me the glass. “It is a well-balanced pesticide that pairs well with small loans at usurious interest rates. Farmers who don’t get a decent price for their produce love this pesticide, as it has the power to transport you to another world altogether, far away from debts and terminator seeds.”

“But you have to check out the 2008 Chateau de la Wardha Mercury Chloride,” said Mr BT Gene, handing me another glass. “From the great Chateau de la Wardha, it is a sexy, full-bodied pesticide that turns you into a body in nine seconds flat. Consanto offers a 250 ml can of this drink free with every 500 seeds of Bt Cotton.”

The COOs exchanged glances as I picked up a glass that said ‘2003 Domaine de Amaravati Nickel Chloride Vieilles.’ They looked at me expectantly as I took a sip. “This polished, mineral-driven, understated pesticide will develop even greater complexity as you gargle your mouth with it,” I said, spitting it out. “While it is not as strong as Cabernet Endosulfan Bhuldana, it is better endowed than Pinot Noire Washim Ethyl Parathion.”

But the vintage drink I really liked was the 2001 Yavatmal Chardonnay Sodium Methane Arsonate. Ripe, lush and incredibly concentrated, this limited-production pesticide, which can be consumed even if you are not a farmer, is definitely one of the best Arsenic-based drinks ever.

I asked the COO of Pesti Cola about the pesticide market in India. “Well, India is the fastest growing market,” he said. “There are 650 million farmers in India, of which only 250,000 have committed suicide till date. And of these, only 179,000 had consumed pesticide. Just imagine how many million gallons of pesticides we’d sell if we can persuade all of India’s surviving farmers to commit suicide! Obviously, we have a huge market to tap!”
“Right,” I said, spitting out a mouthful of the well-balanced and curvaceous Cabernet Kelzara Nitrofen Blanc. “But how do you ensure that the demand keeps growing?”

“What do you mean?” said Mr BT Gene. “What makes you think the demand for pesticides won’t grow?”

“Well, you know, with so many people switching to organic farming and all that — do pesticides have a future, really?”

All the COOs burst out laughing. “Are you really this naive or are you joking?” and they laughed some more when they realised I was serious. “Nobody makes pesticides for crops anymore,” explained Mr Arsenic. “It’s an open secret that they are hardly effective. Our real target is the farmer — they are the real pests, after all, don’t you agree?”

“That’s self-evident,” said Mr Squeeze, the Vile-Mart COO, who had been sitting quietly in a corner all this while. “Farmers are unnecessary middlemen between the food and the consumer. If we eliminate them, we will be able to reach the food to the consumer at a much cheaper price — that’s how Vile-Mart became the world’s largest retailer.”

“In fact, I was just telling Mr Arsenic,” said Mr Terminator, “They should launch an ad campaign, selling the concept of how pesticide IS the coolest drink for the Indian farmer. You have Coke and Pepsi for urban India, and Pesti for rural India — that should be the brand positioning.”

“We’re working on it,” said Mr Arsenic. “We want to raise awareness on this issue. People wrongly assume that you have to be a farmer to commit suicide by drinking pesticide. We want to make pesticide the top-of-mind option for anyone contemplating suicide. Hopefully, in the years to come, even bureaucrats, politicians and CEOs will want to commit suicide by drinking pesticide. But for now, we’re happy to focus on farmers.”

The COOs decided to raise a toast. “To the great Indian farmer,” we said, clinking our glasses.

Agriculture, food security and nutrition in Vidarbha: Household level analysis – A special article in EPW


By Amita Bhaduri, India Water Portal

This special article in Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) is based on an assessment of agricultural practices and livelihoods of people in Vidarbha, one of the most distressed regions in India. Using the data generated from a baseline survey on a sample of 6,990 households covering six districts, this paper attempts to assess the relationships between agriculture, food security and nutrition for children, adolescents and married women of reproductive age.

The study indicates that
  • Overall under-nutrition amongst children, adolescents and married women in the study area is substantial and it does not differ significantly between different socio-economic groups. Severe under-nutrition amongst all the groups is only moderate.
  • Households with large cultivated holding (medium and large farmers with more than 10 acres) are no better than households with small or marginal cultivated holding or even landless households in containing under-nutrition among children, adolescents and ever married women.
  • Religion and caste-class also do not show any relationship with nutritional status of children. Per capita income of households shows the same pattern of relationship with nutritional status.
  • A consistent relationship was observed between the per capita expenditure on food items and the nutritional status of children, adolescents and ever married women. The relationship is that other things being equal, the higher the expenditure on food items, lower the proportion of children, adolescents and ever married women undernourished.
  • The public distribution system contributes significantly to the food security of poor families and it must be extended to include families above the poverty line as well.
  • With respect to the relationship between agriculture and nutrition the data indicates that the higher the food crop production, lower the under-nutrition. It must be noted, that food crop diversity is very limited and is confined to a small proportion of farmers. A large proportion of farmers opting for commercial (cash) crops instead of food crops but still facing malnutrition implies that this visible change in agricultural patterns as such cannot be taken as an indicator of better nutritional status of household members.
  • It also indicates a need for greater research on the role of whether the adoption of food crops in areas facing nutrition problems is advisable, how price effects in production and consumption are affected by changing agricultural patterns.
  • There is also a need to interrogate whether increased production of food crops at the local level will mitigate price effects, and whether this will in turn benefit the general populace.
  • Finally, a gendered analysis of access to productive resources, decision-making powers and intra-household allocation of work responsibilities is also needed to draw clearer linkages.

Download the paper here –

Vidharba: Farmers get Rs 2k-cr aid package

NAGPUR: Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Wednesday announced a Rs 2,000 crore relief package for farmers growing cotton, soyabean and paddy. He claimed the compensation was highest in the state’s history and unprecedented for Vidarbha farmers. However, the Opposition rejected the package, saying it was too little too late.

Over 85 lakh farmers of Vidarbha, Marathwada and northern Maharashtra have been in crisis for over two months. They had hoped to get at least Rs 5,000 a hectare. But the relief announced by the CM may be about Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000 a hectare for cotton and even less for soya and paddy growers.

After discussions with political parties, farmers, NGOs and department officials, the relief amount was fixed, said Chavan. He announced short and long-term measures in the package, including weather-based crop insurance schemes, availing of big ticket loans from Asian Development Bank to speed up irrigation projects, setting up of an expert panel to suggest reduction of expenses in dry land farming situation.

“This is the biggest aid package for particular categories of farmers. Last year, we had announced a Rs 1,000 crore package for farmers all over Maharashtra. This package would benefit farmers in Vidarbha, Marathwada and north Maharashtra,” Chavan told the House. He agreed to members’ demand of reconstituting the State Agriculture Pricing Commission.

In the Upper House, Opposition members staged a walkout over the “meagre” compensation (they claimed it would work out to less than Rs 1,000 an acre) and failure to spell out details. The Opposition warned they wouldn’t allow the House to function till the government provides justice to farmers in the region. After the CM’s speech, members from the Shiv Sena and ruling party almost came to blows. Sena MLC Diwakar Raote and Congress MLC S Q Zama abused each other. Deputy CM Ajit Pawar allowed members of the Opposition to speak on the issue.

The Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti called the government’s package paltry. “It is like handing out alms. Vidarbha farmers will not tolerate such an insult,” VJAS president Kishore Tiwari said.

Chavan said there are about 1.5 crore farmers in the state, of whom 70 lakh need help. “Cotton growers need help. With packages from the PM and state, the number of suicides has come down,” he said.

Taking a dig at the Opposition for accusing the government of favouring sugarcane farmers, the CM said sugarcane earned huge tax revenue. “We provided Rs 122 crore to them this year and last year, it was Rs 470 crore. The state was richer by Rs 3,000 crore in the form of Customs and excise duties on the byproducts of sugarcane,” he said.

Disappointed with farmer’s Package 4 more vidarbha killed themselves :farm widows blockade NationalHighway protesting the relief package

Nagpur-15th dcmber2011

The shocks of rejection of farmers main demand to give hike to support price in cotton ,soya and paddy has reported four suicides in vidarbha ,identified as

1.Ankush Raut of Wadki in Yavatmal

2Ashok Bhongale of Bhamada in Yavatmal

3.Ramrao Kamble of Gaul in Wardha

4.Shayram Thege of Kesarwada in Bhandara

As per media reports published here taking toll to 722 in year 2011 alone,Kishor Tiwari, president of Nagpur-based Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, (VJAS), activist group working for cotton farmer rights in a Press release today.

Most of major cotton centre town are completely closed to support ‘Bandh’ called giving by opposition parties and hundreds of farm widows blockade N.H. Tuljaput –Nagpur highway at Arjuna 160 k.m. away from Nagpur .there are violent protest of farmers reported all round vidarbha .farmers of vidarbha region are demanding hike in cotton procurement price to @ Rs.6000/- in order to compensate the losses incurred by them and cash compensation @ Rs.20,000 per hector but state has announced Rs.2000 crore for nearly 90 lakh hector which will peanut hence there is demand to revised the relief package ,tiwari added.

Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, (VJAS), has welcomed initiative taken by Maharashtra DF Govt. to appoint committee to sort out issue of dry land farmers which are victims of Agrarian crisis and needs income base incentive to stop their on going suicides and such steps are must and should taken without delay,Tiwari said

Maharashtra DF Govt. today most waited announcement of giving Rs.2000 crore relief package for 40 lakhs hector crop loss compensation is another eyewash as earlier vidarbha farmer packages of year 2005 and 2006 has dashed hopes of more than 5 million farmers who are facing severe economical crisis due to massive crop failure who are demanding the bailout package and hike in MSP of cotton ,soybean and paddy as this will trigger another spiral of farmer suicides having failed to address the basic issue of price and future sustainability of dying agrarian community ,Kishor Tiwari, president of Nagpur-based Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, (VJAS), activist group working for cotton farmer rights in a Press release today.

‘It was most expected that after CM indicated earlier that bankrupt financial condition of Maharashtra can’t even give Rs.1000/- per hector to 5 millions farmers against the demand of Rs.10,000/- and the cotton farmers of western vidarbha will get nothing as administration has shown minimum crop failure in this region and now out 70 lakh hector area under cultivation of cotton, soya and paddy whop will get what that god know?. Farmers and all parties including congress NCP that MRP hike in cotton ,soya and paddy and cash compensation in line with sugarcane growers of western Maharashtra but once again Govt. has mad mockery of agrarian crisis and announced such penny relief which is nothing but hoax’Tiwari added.

‘we are demanding long term solution to agrarian crisis not any package which are mostly contractor driven and designed to rehabilitation of the ill managed politician runs cooperative banks. our farmers are working for handful MNCs who are manufacturing Gm seed, fertilizer and pesticides and revival of own agriculture is must which is not being done ’ Tiwari said.

The vidarbha agrarian is result of wrong policies promoted by state and situation of cotton growers in west Vidarbha has worsened when ban of cotton export imposed last year and massive crop failure this year .

“There is a need for state government’s intervention in this regard. The government should provide at least Rs 6,000 per quintal. The chief minister Prithviraj Chavan had promised that he would talk with the union government for better support price for the raw cotton. However, nothing has been done in this regard,” Tiwari alleged.

Tiwari continued, “The government did not concede our demand of providing food security to desperate, distressed and marginal farmers even. The government needs to behave sensibly and responsibly to address farmers’ woes and prevent the prevailing spate of suicide in the killing fields of Vidarbha.” If the cotton growers do not get better price this season, the situation will assume drastic proportions, he cautioned.

VJAS has urged Govt. of India to send team of expert to assess the Bt. Cotton crop damage in Maharashtra and west vidarbha in particular where cotton farmers are killing themselves .VJAS has been demanding hike in cotton MSP Rs.6000/- per quintal and relief package to dying cotton farmers of region, Tiwari added.

11 more Vidarbha Farmers Suicides reported in December

11 more Vidarbha Farmers Suicides reported in December: Farmers Demands Policy Driven Relief Package not ‘Contractor or Bank Driven’

Nagpur -12th December ,2011
The suicide spiral of debt trapped vidarbha farmer who are deep grip of agrarian crisis since 2005 due successive crop failure and volatile market prices of cotton has added 11 more victims as these 11 farmers suicides cases surfaced in first 10days of December 2011 when they failed to get any rlief from state due to technical hurdles created by state election which has administration to announce any relief to 5 million dying farmers of Maharashtra on the pretext of so called code of conduct enforced due on going local body election Maharashtra taking toll to 715 in year 2011, ill feted farmers are
1.Mahadev Sapkal of Talked in Buldhana
2.Bhimrao Kulsange of Dhanoliin wardha
3.Bhattu Padalwar of Itgoan in bhandara
4.Shankar Katkar of Dadhipidhiin amaravati
5.Bhagwan Meshram of Kelzarain yavamal
6.Gajanan Bhongale of Belora in yaatmal
7.Balabhau Rathode of Uamardari in washiml
8.Kishor Talmale of Umaripathar in Yavatmal
9.Sanddep Khadase of Kkolpakhindi in Yavatmal
10.Tukaram Satpute of Kenwadin washim
11.Devidas Sarodkar of Thad in Buldhana
Kishor Tiwari, president of Nagpur-based Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, (VJAS), activist group working for cotton farmer rights who are documenting these farm suicides since 1997 informed in a Press release today.
‘we are demanding long term solution to agrarian crisis not any package which are mostly contractor driven and designed to rehabilitation of the ill managed politician runs cooperative banks. our farmers are working for handful MNCs who are manufacturing Gm seed, fertilizer and pesticides and revival od own agriculture is mustwhich is not being done ’ Tiwari said.
The vidarbha agrarian is result of wrong policies promoted by state and situation of cotton growers in west Vidarbha has worsened when ban of cotton export imposed last year and massive crop failure this year .
“There is a need for state government’s intervention in this regard. The government should provide at least Rs 6,000 per quintal. The chief minister Prithviraj Chavan had promised that he would talk with the union government for better support price for the raw cotton. However, nothing has been done in this regard,” Tiwari alleged.
Tiwari continued, “The government did not concede our demand of providing food security to desperate, distressed and marginal farmers even. The government needs to behave sensibly and responsibly to address farmers’ woes and prevent the prevailing spate of suicide in the killing fields of Vidarbha.” If the cotton growers do not get better price this season, the situation will assume drastic proportions, he cautioned.
VJAS has urged Govt. of India to send team of expert to assess the Bt. Cotton crop damage in Maharashtra and west vidarbha in particular where cotton farmers are killing themselves ।VJAS has been demanding hike in cotton MSP Rs.6000/- per quintal and relief package to dying cotton farmers of region, Tiwari added.

Cotton MSP, farmers’ suicides likely to dominate Maha session

PTI | 01:12 PM,Dec 11,2011

Nagpur, Dec 11 (PTI) The ongoing demand and agitation by farmers over hike in MSP for cotton and unabated suicides by farmers in Vidarbha region are likely to dominate the proceedings of the Winter Session of the Maharashtra Legislature, beginning in the vice capital here from tomorrow. Though the Congress-led Democratic Front (DF) government, citing the code of conduct in place for the municipal council elections, has not increased the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for cotton but has indicated to provide some relief by announcing financial assistance to the cotton growers from Vidarbha, Khandesh and Marathwada regions per hectare. Shiv Sena launched statewide agitation for better prices to the produce and its executive president Uddhav Thackeray had led the agitation in Vidarbha. Though Congress leaders, a majority of them cotton growers, have also mounted pressure on the ruling alliance but are waiting anxiously to hear from the Government on the floor of the House on the hike in MSP. BJP, along with Shetkari Sanghatana, is also on the warpath over the issue. Uddhav even announced that all Sena floor leaders will boycott the customary Tea party to be hosted by chief minister on the eve of commencement of the session. The issue of unabated suicides by farmers in Vidarbha region is also likely to haunt the government again. Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), working for the cause of farmers, led by Kishore Tiwari has sought appointment with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and has even met other central leaders to press for the demands including hike in cotton. The VJAS has contended that crop failure and inadequate price to the produce are pushing farmers to take the extreme step.

Govt. is misleading the Nation on Farmer suicides: VJAS

NAGPUR: November 30th 2011

The claim of Indian Govt. that farmers Suicide by farmers have dropped drastically in the current year due to government initiatives is misleading as country is under severe agrarian crisis due to crop failure in major state suicide prone states Maharashtra,Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka as there is severe cotton ,soybean  and paddy crop failure reported and farm suicide spiral has restarted  and ground situation very grim  as debt and distress are forcing innocent farmers kill themselves, ,Kishor Tiwari of Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti informed in press note today.
“We have been documenting farmers suicides reported in vidarbha since 1997 and The National Crime Records Bureau –NCRB officially published actual figures of farmers suicides and we have noted that NCRB figure is three times our recorded figure but Minister of State for Agriculture Harish Rawat said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha has completely contradicted NCRB own record of farmers suicides and mislead nation this is very rubbish and unfortunate’ Tiwari added..
Here is official link of NCRB which gives official figure
STATE
2010
2004
MAHARASHTRA
NCRB figure is 3141Agri.Mimistry fig. 454
NCRB figure is 4147Agri.Mimistry fig. 347
ANDHRA PRADESH
NCRB figure is 2525
Agri.Mimistry fig. 152
NCRB figure is 2666
Agri.Mimistry fig.1181
KARNATAKA
NCRB figure is 2585
Agri.Mimistry fig.138
NCRB figure is 1963
Agri.Mimistry fig. 114
It’s official. The country has seen over a quarter of a million farmers’ suicides between 1995 and 2010. The National Crime Records Bureau’s latest report on ‘Accidental Deaths & Suicides in India’ places the number for 2010 at 15,964 even after Govt. informs  Indian parliament that in India during 2010, 657 farmers had taken their lives on this count, while in 2004 the toll was as high as .Agrarian at it’s peak and NCRB exposes that  brings the cumulative 16-year total from 1995 — when the NCRB started recording farm suicide data — to 2,56,913, the worst-ever recorded wave of suicides of this kind in human history.,
As Andhra Pradesh Govt. is also misleading when they report that  42 farmers’ suicide in 2011 in comparison to 1,181 in 2004 and 152 in 2010,in fact In Andhra Pradesh, 95 farmers committed suicides in just six districts in one month during Oct – Nov 2011, as per compilation of news reports by Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA). ASHA conducted fact-finding visits to 20 families and found that all of them were due to agricultural reasons. “It is highly objectionable that the Government classifies suicides as ‘genuine’ and ‘not genuine’! In 2010, while Crime Records Bureau shows 2525 suicides of farmers, the AP Government has classified only 158 as “genuine”! When it comes to implementing the relief package meant for families of suicides victims, the Government machinery is geared towards ignoring or not supporting the families with designated ex-gratia, under political compulsions , Kiran Vissa of Association for India’s Development  added from Hyderabad (Kiran Vissa, AID: 09701705743)
“Farm suicide is only figure that indicates serious agrarian crisis needs long term solution as it is apparent that the existing model of agriculture cannot continue. The current high-external-input model of farming has been one of the root causes for the increasing burden on farmers, given its unviable economics with spiraling costs, unmatched by adequate returns. This model of farming has also resulted in erosion and degradation of the natural resource base on which production has to rest for all time to come! The Government has to promote sustainable agriculture that will reduce costs of cultivation for farmers and reduce risks through diversity-based, agro-ecological approaches. A programmatic thrust along with appropriate and adequate support systems is required to spread sustainable agriculture like the CMSA programme in Andhra Pradesh is required immediately. In this context, the importance of grassroots farmers’ institutions, to make farming a collective enterprise in many ways, cannot be over-emphasized”, Kavitha Kuruganti, Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) informed from Bangalore .