Saturday, June 24, 2006

Vidarbha

This particular story hit me hard, and made me pause and wonder about the fact that in the three-odd months since I visited a couple of villages in Wardha and Yavatmal districts in Vidrabha trying to figure out why cotton farmers were killing themselves. I was terribly disturbed by what I saw and I wondered if India was seeing a wedge being driven through it - dividing it into the haves and have-nots. But because of the fact that I had gone of official work, I did not write about the cotton aspect - after all the blog doesn't pay me.
But since it has been three months, I just thought that I would write about what I feel is going wrong with India's cotton policy, a bit about Vidarbha and if there is any way we can salvage the situation. Almost 600 people have killed themselves and it seems that more and more farmers will continue to consume pesticide, if something is not not. Either that, or the government might as well admit that the life of a petty farmer in Vidarbha or Telengana really doesn't matter to them. And the mainstream English media should admit that the drug habits of the rich and famous make for better stories (and discuss hair straighteners at Press Conferences).
And I'm not bunging this line in to please my bosses, but one reason that I will stick with my current job is that they give me an opportunity to go visit parts of India that I would never have seen otherwise (for stories that most people would assume a publication such as ours would not do) and everytime I travel, this sickening feeling of helplessless hits me, and you realise that 60 years after independence our politicians haven't really done that much other than move to cities. OK, that was a very long sentence and would never get into print!
So what is happening in Vidarbha? The easy answer as the loony-lefties and environmentalists would say is that it is all Bt-Cotton's fault. Now, I won't get drawn into a discussion on Bt-Cotton and the fact that an American multinational is despoiling our environmental heritage by introducing genetically altered seeds. The fact of the matter is that in a time of immense population pressures - genetically modifying crops might be the only way forward. Loony environmentalists in Europe can argue otherwise, but they do not face the pressures that the land in India has to. I'm not advocating a free-for-all over here, no, thats just wrong! But, and no insult to anybody, basically its either genetically modified foods or forced sterilisation. Otherwise we'll hear of far more cases of malnutrition. And if you want your food prices to stay in check that is really a choice you have to make.
But that said - Monsanto in collaboration with a Maharashtra government PSU - Mahyco - sells Bt-Cotton in India. Now, one thing that did go disasterously wrong - as usual - was the rampant corruption in the organisation. Mansanto-Mahyco did not check the sale of illegitimate seeds across Vidarbha. Why did this happen? Two reasons. One, it is quite obvious that Monsanto charges a hand and a leg for its seeds - Rs 1300 per 450gram packet - they justified the price saying that it needs to be rewarded for its research yada, yada, but the fact is that they charge less for these seeds almost everywhere else in the world. Maybe what the company was trying to tell us is that it had to pay out a lot of money to politicians to get the seeds approved, so they need to make their money back - by the way the Union Agriculture Ministry did clear sales of the seeds. You need two-three packets of seeds per acre. Now to control rampant abuse, Monsanto sprayed Bt-Cotton seeds blue.
But really, what does to take to paint seeds blue. I can do that. So that is what unscrupulous characters in Vidarbha did (this did not happen across the border in Telengana - because seed right holders protected their investment). These folks obviously were local political leaders, or so I was told. Now the 'fake' un-altered seeds were sold for Rs 900 a pack, halfway between the price of altered seeds and actual Bt seeds. Farmers, who really didn't know better, and who though they could save a few bucks bought into it, but even 900 bucks is a lot of money. Especially when you consider that Bollworms went ahead and ate up their crop anyway!
Problem two comes from Monsanto-Mahyco. You see, while we sit here and complain about the misleading adverts placed by a certain dubious B-School, even the Ponytail would be put to shame by some of the advertising at district level newspapers. They promise the moon, and unlike cynicals f***** like some us, village people are rather trusting. Sadly. The promises included the fact that farmers would not need to use pesticide at all (and pesticide at Rs 5000 plus a litre is very expensive) and would get much increased yields of between 8-10 quinatls per acre instead of the 2-3 quintals they got from regular seeds. But the fine print, and there was fine print, said that they 'might' need to spray their crops and the increased yield yields would only happen if certain conditions were fulfilled - such as more intense watering.
Then, in Vidarbha, nature dealt a cruel blow, and this is important. There is a disease that afflicts cotton called lalya, which is a reddening of the leaves. This happens during unseasonal rain, which is what happened in late 2005. Now, since the fine print was in font-size one (a trick Monsanto-Mahyco picked up from Ponytail it seems) and warned famers to take special care of the crops in the event of unseasonal rain, our farmers who thought that Bt-Cotton was a superseed, it didn't need any special care. And the plants literally withered away and died.
So instead of getting double their yield, they got they got a similar yield if they actually used Bt-Cotton and worse if they used the fake seeds. Bt-Cotton actually did deliver increased yields in Telengana (where it must be pointed out the farmers were more literate) but then came another cruel blow. Cotton is priced according to the staple length, which the length of the raw cotton fibre. Bt-Cotton delivered a very poor length fibre (and we're talking a difference of millimeters, but it does count) which got a very poor price. So at the end of the day, farmers in Vidarbha actually lost money on the crop.
Of course, cloth procuders in India couldn't quite live with poor staple length cotton. So they imported bales and more bales of cotton. From the US. Where the US government pays their farmers nice subsidies (over and above everything else). Now, one can't force Indian cloth producers to buy inferior cotton, and the cloth industry is a major export revenue gererator so some farmers demand of increasing excise becomes a "Robbing Peter to Pay Paul" exercise - even though good ol' Chiddu is a master of that art.
So what is the solution? I don't know really. The land in Vidarbha is too poor to support too many other crops - not even maize grows here - but with a little more emphasis on irrigation that might be possible (as has happened in Telengana). Secondly, seed development by indigenous organisations should be encouraged, also there should be an organisaed crackdown on illegal seeds. And the third part - financing.
Now, this is tricky, while everybody blames money-lenders for being the worst part of the problem, not a single farmer actually cursed them. Why? Because banks don't give them any money. Once a farmer, or any member of a farming family defaults, no bank will give them loans, what do these guys do, they go to money-lenders. They also told me that money-lenders don't charge really usurious rates - because it is in their interest that the farmers stay afloat (barely). In fact the number I heard was bees-pachess takka (20-25%), that is better than those thieves running credit-card operations in India.
Also banks are not flexible with repayments - what do I mean here - farmers unlike salaried professionals do not have steady income, a point farmers told me, money-lenders understand. This means that some years they earn massive amounts of money, some years the monsoons fail and they get rogered. Now, I don't want to condone money-lenders, but when people say that they're nicer than the State Bank of India, there obviously is a problem. This can easily be addressed, the problem is that a lot of the red-tape around government-owned banks will need to go and I really feel that it will be a private bank that will address the issue first.
Solution, you can have flexi-payments (at higher interest rates) for middle-class people, why not for farmers? If you do that, they will not default in case the crops fail one year, banks should keep metereologists in their staff who should warn farmers of weather conditions (and keep the bank upto speed also) thus altering their lending and collection plans accordingly. If a bad monsoon is predicted, banks should go easy on loans and not start distributing motorcycle loans to every farmer who walks in with a '816' (the land record document - I think that is the number correct me if I'm wrong).
The solution is not to give one lakh rupees to farmers who kill themselves. The Indian Penal Code does not condone suicide, so why does the government of Maharashtra. The one lakh rupees that is given to the widow (and while I think it is charitable), give the money to the people who are living, not the people who die. Because if you give people a financial motive to kill themselves, after a few drinks, what are a couple of pegs of pesticide (and from what I saw, highly poisonous pesticides are just lying around in some of the huts). What you will create is a self-perpetuating culture of suicide. No wait, they already have.
Now, this is just the mad-cap suggestion of a 27-year old journalist, but one who has seen the utter devastation of the area. One who has seen how suicides of the primary earner can crush a family. Not much, just a few thousand bucks (ten thousand in some cases - sums that were petty cash for Rahul Mahajan), less than most of our monthly salaries, but enough for people to kill themselves.
Anyway, this has been a long rant, I'm not saying we can solve the problem overnight, but there has been no political will at all to resolve the problem (and I do feel that dividing Maharashtra will not work, it will create more bureaucracy). Our politicians are addicted to cities and their constituents illiteracy and lack of access to information. All they want is their white powder and their nice cars.
The picture is of a village called Bhadumri in Yavatmal district. Three farmers had committed suicide in this village to cover their losses (the biggest loss being Rs 35,000 - this while industrialists get away with hundreds of crores) and so that their families could get the one lakh compensation. The village had no primary health centre, but did have a primary school and it was around 150km south of Nagpur about 30km off NH-7. But, let me assure you of one thing it was desperately poor - not as bad as village in eastern UP or Bihar, but comparted to western Maharashtra (where Sharad Pawar, incidentally Union Agriculture Minister diverts his sugar money and Mumbai's taxes) this was pathetic. Oh, and those electricity lines barely carry any power, they only have power at best for six hours a day.

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On another note - it will be one year (tomorrow) since I installed Statcounter - almost 77,000 pageloads and over 45,000 unique hits to this blog in under a year. I'm rather impressed with those numbers. Anyway, have a great weekend, and be sure to pray for the families of those farmers who killed themselves.
And best of luck to the last 16 teams in the WC Finals.

Technorati Tags : India Maharashtra Vidarbha Farmer Agriculture Suicide Cotton Bt-Cotton

24 comments:

thalassa_mikra said...

K, this was the best post I've ever read on any blog, and certainly I've read some really fine ones. I do hope you would publish this in your magazine, for this is an excellent work of journalism, incisively identifying the problem and suggesting very robust, feasible solutions.

Your suggestion regarding the banks is spot on, and an entity similar to Grameen Bank (a private, profit-making entity) would do wonders. Also an institution providing insurance for crop failure at nominal rates, and better procurement policies and prices.

I get incredibly frustrated when people talk about the farmers of Western UP, Haryana and Punjab and the many privileges available to them as if that was typical of farmers everywhere in the industry. Not every farmer enjoys unlimited electricity and free water. Some are lucky to get any income from their land.

These same folks would be astounded to realize the extent of subsidies that the Americans provide to their farm sector. The corn lobby is one of the most powerful lobbies in the country. Ditto the Japanese, and just about any developed nation in the world. Only we Indians are foolish enough to think that we can progress by squeezing the life out of our farmers.

Vikas said...

i don't think indians think that they can progress by squeezing the life out of our farmers.. Its probably what you think or may be the thought where you come from. Remem, charity begins at home? again, as the author says, such things don't need to be published.. coz media is a consumer industry like HLL products...they need to be shiny. people don't buy for reading about a farmer suicide in a village in yavatmal in vidharbha and I'm not talking about you. i haven't even heard of yavatmal except long back in a movie prolly 2 aankhen 12 haath.. anyways, my point is the post being excellent, please let us knw the other fine blogs u have read so that we can compare.. just on the offside, are you anyhow close to media mikra?

Alok said...

K, thanks man. I like the way you've been putting up stories about Vidarbha and whats going on there. Most Indian bloggers were far more worried about New Orleans and bombings in London than they were about the shit that goes on within the country. Kind of tells you what strata of society the bloggers may represent.

I will try to add some points here to help clarify some aspects.

1. The thieves at Monsanto charge a *lot* more royalty in India than they do even in China. I really hope the company and its top honchos gets screwed over like Enron. It is very much like Enron - follows pretty much the same business practices. Could they be charging less in China because the Chinese think nothing of stealing Intellectual Property? They've done it many times. Ofcourse the Indian ministers were bribed. The royalties are ridiculously but it is funny how this never is highlighted by the politicians - proving their complicity.

2. One of the biggest problems in Vidarbha is not money lenders. Those exist everywhere. The problem is Irrigation. Over the last 30 years, Vidarbha was regularly shortchanged where funds for irrigation are concerned. The backlog today compared to Western Maharashtra is around 30,000 crore if my figures are correct. Because politicians from Western Maharashtra have an overwhelming influence on the Maharashtra Govt, Vidarbha would simply be ignored.

3. Funds are released for Vidarbha and then not spent under many pretexts - this can be easily cross checked. These funds are then used by the Govt in other parts of Maharashtra. This sham has been working for quite a while now. So when there is no irrigation to ensure supply of water, how is one going to get better yeilds, genetically engineered seeds or not? There was an excellent story (one of the very few) on NDTV about how Vidarbha's farmers were commiting suicide and Kolhapur had a Merc dealership and the largest number of Mercs in the country - including Maybachs.

I may have mentioned this in an earlier post of yours: 80% or more of irrigated through irrigation in Maharashtra is fed to fields that produce only about 4% of Maharashtra's farm output. What area is that? You guessed it - Western Maharashtra. Since Maharashtra is a Congress (and now Cong/NCP) bastion, you won't find many speaking out against it because they have a better grassroots organisation than anyone else. So moneylenders are targetted as the biggest problem to divert attention. But they are not. Politicians are. People in Akola recently lynched a moneylender. I wish they would do the same with some politicians. Perhaps the rest would get back in line.

4. Sugar co-operatives in Western Maharashtra have duped their members of hundreds of crores of rupees. These co operatives have always been dominated by politicians - in whose mattresses the money has naturally disappeared. The government was then made to reimburse the duped members. The co operatives now owe the government that money. We all know it is never going to be returned. That is money which could have been put to better use.

5. Electricity. Vidarbha produces more than 40% of the state's electricity and produces a huge amount of coal for its power plants, yet the hottest part of the state gets the lowest share of electricity. So while the Mumbai based media was crying hoarse about an hour's worth of loadshedding in Mumbai becuase people would miss their ACs, Vidarbha would reel under 12 hour power cuts in 46 degree celcius heat. Nagpur would be hit with 4 hour power cuts while Pune and other Western maharashtra areas saw only 2 hour cuts despite dealing with lower temperatures.

Also, 12 hour powercuts have caused huge problems to farmers and small industrial units that lack captive power plants. So a region already hit by political neglect would be kicked in the stomach again - thanks to powercuts. Whats more, when the government buys power from other states or the NTPC, it does so at high rates during peak demand periods such as summer. So while most of the power is fed to Mumbai, Pune and surrounding areas, Vidarbha customers also get hit with huge electricity tariffs in the shape of Fuel Adjustment Charges despite not seeing any major advantage of the state buying power from other states - because loadshedding is reduced only in Mumbai and Pune. Funny how it works, eh?

One would think I am prejudiced against Western Maharashtra. But I've lived in Mumbai for 15 out of my 27 years of age and love that place. But the sorry state of farmers, Nagpur and Vidarbha in general is truly shocking. Every reporter I know and who has visited this place from elsewhere has gone away dazed and in shock. And all this while, the home minsiter is jerking off with his bar girls and Chagan Bhujbal and the rest of motley morons are busy rooting for reservations. Tell the starving farmer how reservations are going to help them.

I must say I have not done much for the cause myself. I feel rather ashamed that I've not done much besides posting comments about this matter everywhere. 5 more farmers killed themselves yesterday. The PM is about to visit Vidarbha to see the conditions firsthand. How much does anyone want to bet that he isn't going to be shown the true story?

Alok said...

I think I forgot using spellcheck and grammar check on the comment above. ;-). I suppose I got pretty riled up!

dancewithshadows said...

I can't understand one thing - why aren't the politicians afraid of the people and try and fix the situation? I come from Kerala, so may appear a bit naive on how local Maharashtrian politics operate, please bear with me. And Maharashtra has more politically aware people, doesn't it - its not UP yet. So then why doesnt anything happen?

GBO said...

Good output,, K. Yhe more I read the more I like what I read , , , here's a suggestion , , , get an alternate core competency to keep body and soul together and then some , , , and keep writing for whatever your truths are.

Option?

Best/GBO

terah745 said...

The soul starts to scream.

A distinct noise.

Always heard.

Never owned.

Never tried.

Once in a while.

The soul screams.

It does.

To prove its existence.

To disown the body.

Cotton seeds you talk about.

Cotton seeds they talk about.

History repeats so do you.

So does everyone.

Cotton cotton everywhere.

Not a cotton for the shroud.

(Thanks K)

Anonymous said...

The best post i have ever read...
K ..more of such articles need from u for the sake of Indian farmer m8...They r being ripped apart.. i come from telengana region .. i know wht those farmers r going through.. and these days even multinationals r ripping them apart.
I am forwading the post to many other blogs..
Thanks
S

UP ka bhayya said...

its not UP yet.

dancewithshadows: what makes you think UPites are not politically aware? And no, I'm not taking this personally :-)

K said...

Hey everybody, thanks for your comments - I've been a bit busy trying to understand why on earth my name got into the entire WFN thingie. Stupid vela TV people!
India's problem is that our agricultural focus is so skewed and it stems from some politicians wanting to protect their vote banks (and their purses). Of course, that just adds to the other proeblems that our farmers face from poor soil, monsoon dependancy and worst of all subsidised western crops. Anyway, I'll post a bit more on this when I have the time someday!

Sublime Thoughts said...

Excellent post K.The haves and the have-nots point just cut thru.
Makes me ponder bout my profession which is responsible for perpetrating rampant consumerism(ie advertisng)

Sigh!

Anyways..More power to you!

K said...

Yesterday, I didn't have the time to post a decent answer, but let me get to one issue which has been brought up in the comments. Should Vidarbha be separated from the rest of Maharashtra so as to spur its development?
I'm iffy on this front. I do not like the fact that political geography in India is being changed all the time, when I started school there were 24 states and 7 UT's, now I've given up counting. I'm sure I would not be able to name all the states and their capitals anymore. The division of Indias into even smaller units has created even more corruption and more bureaucracy - and the possibility for more failed states.
Anyway, Vidarbha's villagers are also to blame for some of their problems - they've constantly been voting for idiots. Their currfent MP's are all from the BJP (because of caste) and don't venture back too often. Another former MP is Praful Patel who wants to make Nagpur an aviation hub (particularly for cargo, like Memphis in the US) but other than inaugurating new flights from Ambedkar Airport, he doesn't venture much into Nagpur.
There is no easy solution to the cotton crisis - but a solution can be found. Maybe Micro-Finance is the answer (look how it helped in Andhara - even though that state has a mad IAS Officer who wants it stopped) but an answer can only be found if people take time to think about the problem. And that is not happening.
If splitting Maharashtra be the answer that people think will provide the best solution (because I doubt any one answer will solve every problem) then so be it. However, if Maharashtra has to split, please free Bombay from the state as well.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
K said...

The last comment was a spamment - I thought Blogspot had managed to keep that in check.
I was just watching Sudhi Ranjan Sen's report on Vidarbha on UndieTV. It seemed to impassionate, too far removed from reality - sure they showed the cursory widow but what got them excited was the PM's visit to Vidarbha.
Anyway, in a nutshell, this is what Raghav and Madhav's gradfather will do when he hits Vidarbha.
The PM will go there and annpunce a massive debt relief package and Rs 3 lakhs worth of relief. The PM will be shown some select villages - which his security apparatus and the local administration feels fit. People will have their photographs clicked with him. He will visit the cursory widow hold her hand and empathise. And then return to Delhi with all sorts of positive media coverage in the 'national English media' (save The Pioneer which for political reasons will attack the visit) and Sanjaya Baru will pat himself roundly on the back as he did when he was in charge of India's most inconsequential newspaper.
The Rs 3 lakh relief package and debt relief will affect very few people. State-run banks will find enough loopholes not to give the money to the people who really need it and even if they do get the money you know the vultures will start circling around for the money before you can say 'teen lakh'. The solution isn't cheap subsidised loans - people don't want subsidised loans on which they have to pay certain amounts every month - they want rational loan planning - flexible repayment schemes where they can pay back more if the crops are good and maybe skip a payment here or there if the crops fail.
This is not the sort of Banking the state-run banks can provide because they're caught in red tape. A village-level financial institution needs to be encouraged. Trust me, adapting the methods of money-lenders into a micro-finance model (ie : flexible repayment but lower interest rates) will work a lot better than doling out free money. Stopping the suicides for a few months is not the solution.
Anyway, its a good thing Sharad Pawar isn't going because he would lynched in Vidarbha. And then what would happen to Indian cricket - we might actually win!

TTG said...

K - Just wanted to add my compliments for what is, in my humble opinion, a great analysis of the situation.

Just wanted to point out one thing. I have a friend who works for a private bank in India. The bank wanted to lend money to 'other markets', and was willing to do so at higher rates than those offered to 'regular' customers. It was unable to do so, because of two reasons - the NGOs, and the Government/local politico/goonda. The NGOs accused the bank of lending money at 'usurious rates', i.e. how dare the bank charge (far) higher rates to these poor people when it is allowing rich people to borrow at cheaper rates? And in one of the regions where they tried this, the local politician started fighting with them tooth & nail for the same usurious rates. When a private bank lends money at a high rate, it's usury, but it's ok if it's an unofficial moneylender (who is usually the local goonda's cousin...)

rachana said...

thanks for provoding the fine analysis. i was searching for that..politician are just busy with thier own intersts...

GBO said...

And anybody who disagrees with the media reports on Vidarbha will soon be called a Maoist guerilla with Rightwing Hindoo tendencies.

And a spam inside your blog is often a way to figure out what happens inside your computer, my fine friend, like wrong numbers from 0251 and similar prefixes . . .

Alok said...

K, there has been a lot of debate about separating Vidarbha from Maharashtra. The way people look at it, Vidarbha has no shortage of natural resources. Infrastructure to build a capital already exists in Nagpur since it is the second capital of the state and was the capital of Central Provinces before being merged with Maharashtra. So there would not be a major issue there. Vidarbha would be pretty self sufficient in terms of all the inputs it needs.

Look at Chattisgarh. After being separated from MP, it has really begun to progress while MP continues to rot. Chattisgarh has been using its resources to good effect. The industrialised belt between Durg and Bilaspur contributes the most to Chattisgarh's economy. And such a belt is fast developing in Vidarbha - only it will be larger.

Frankly, I'd prefer that Maharashtra stays a single unit. There are plenty of arguments for and against this. But if the disintegration has to happen, then yes, Mumbai should also be separated and given a status like Delhi. Morons are running the city (and the state) now and are worried more about their rural constituencies - screwing Mumbai in the process.

PK said...

Best post ihave read in last one year.Unfortunatelly we know the problem but where is the solution? Who will take the initiative? You have suggested few solutions but who will implement them? Will they be effective andwill halt these suicides?Farmars in Vidarbha and A.P. are commiting suicides for more than 5 yrs, when will we initiate some measures to help them? For Maharastra Govt. it should be priority# 1.Finally how can we help them? just ranting and blogging is of no use---PK

Prasanna said...

Hi

Excellent .Remarkably written

This posting from you conclusively proves that blog is the place to go if you want a perceptive and incisive analysis on issues

I was seeing a program on Vidarbha on the sick commie run newschannel called NDTV.Disgusting piece anchored by that Srinivasan Jain.The programme was called "Suicide Tourism" ane this idiotic anchor came up with some stupid phrases like suicide sensex etc

No new insights ,no root cause analysis.Just overdramatisation.i dont know what relevance it had-Jain contrasted a group of inarticulate small city youngsters sipping coffee in Barrista with the sober scenes in Vidarbha.Typical commie propaganda trying to show that urban middle classs in poor light.Does it mean that one should desist visiting coffee shop to express solidarity with the grieving families.


I once read someone write this about NDTV-its more apt now

"If you get Prannoy Roy's NDTV (Star News) where you live, please watch it some time. You will see a plush, high-tech studio. You'll note that the newscasters, including women, are attired in clothing that Saville Row would approve with satisfaction. And you'll hear them affect an accent that BBC might certify to be a good imitation of the original. You'll see a plethora of leftwingers (including Brinda Karat, Roy's sis-in-law) troop in and out of their studios, in much larger numbers than people of any other ideological persuasion. You'll witness their fellow-travellers -- academics, print journalists, activists, alleged social workers -- dominate their chat shows, often as, in NDTV's lingo, "independent voices". You will listen to a smartly-dressed Barkha Dutt, Roy's foster daughter, speak in a distinctly leftwing idiom. You'll watch concern-oozing news stories on the AIDS-affected (the voice-over is soft, moving, almost choking on emotion) interrupted by commercials selling luxury cars"

Apollo said...

A very excellent article. very thoughtful and informative and i'am sorry that someone plagiarised ur article without giving u due credit.

Hope our sick journos and the media at large learn how to make a incisive analysis of a situation from ur fine example.

keep up the good work!!

gaddeswarup said...

I have been trying to follow this issue. Here are reports which seem to say that BT cotton is fine and the contoversy is due to misunderstanding and bad implementation:
http://www.indiatogether.org/2006/ju:/ivw-herring.htm
http://www.indiatogether.org/2006/jun/agr-btkarnatk.htm
The next reporty which seems to by a knowledgeable person, perhaps a scientist suggests that there are still problems with BT:
http://www.deccanherald.com/deccanherald/jun202006/snt1025402006619.asp
I posted this query in another site and was referred to the book "The seeds of contention" and I have read a review of the book. A.P. Govt. seems to have a court battle with Mosanto on the high prices they are charging in India. Monsanto contention is that Indian soil is more fertile than Chinese soil and they are charging according to the expected yields. Monanto is ( I think) is now in the advisory board for agriculture in the current Indo-US co-operation effort. They seem very powerful in USA; some of their chemicals which are banned in Canda and Europe are still being sold in USA.
I believe in the use of technology but some of the above stories are worrying. Since you have studied the problem in some depth, I would like to hear more of your comments if you have the time. Regards,
Swarup

AMAR said...

what thalassa_mikra said way back on june 2006 is now quoted by the prime minister himself that "Farming is now unviable means more and more people should opt for financial and other ITES sectors ".As of now india is facing the problem of food scarcity and statments like these will only encourage to more problems by the stature like prime minister .i would like to thank K for bringing these post to people like us .I was very moved by these post and willing to help these people .I m from yavatmal myself .Thanks for the post

S said...

"Now, I won't get drawn into a discussion on Bt-Cotton and the fact that an American multinational is despoiling our environmental heritage by introducing genetically altered seeds. The fact of the matter is that in a time of immense population pressures - genetically modifying crops might be the only way forward."

You are assuming GM-crops do increase the yield. I'm not so sure they do..

http://www.countercurrents.org/sharma210309.htm

"The increases in crop yields that Monsanto has shown in Mexico, Romania, the Philippines, Hawaii and India are actually not yield increases at all. In scientific terms these are called crop losses, which have been very cleverly masqueraded as yield increases. By indulging in a jugglery of scientific terminologies that take advantage of the layman’s ignorance, Monsanto has made claims based on evidence that does not exist.