Sunday, January 15, 2012

SMALL AND MARGINAL FARMERS CAN FEED THE WORLD / KleinbäuerInnen können die Welt ernähren

S. Kannaiyan
Green Revolution is the term for the promotion of a corporate led and fossil fuel based capital intensive agriculture which was introduced in India in the 1960s to attain self-sufficiency in food production. The Green Revolution was introduced in two crops: wheat and rice. Another hidden objective of Green revolution was  the United States’ attempt to control the politics of Asia by controlling the wheat and Rice. These two important grains are the main staple food of most Asian countries. International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) was established in Manila, Philippines, by Rockefeller and Ford Foundations to facilitate the American Agenda in the name of Green Revolution and its pretention to help countries to attain self-sufficiency by producing more.  The green revolution facilitated by the government of India was promoted selected few varieties of rice and wheat and propagated the same. The result of the Green Revolution is that hundreds of thousands of different location specific high nutritional Rice and Wheat varieties disappeared and reduced to just 50 cross breed varieties. At the same time, India heavily subsidized Rice and Wheat through its Public Distribution System (PDS)[1]. Hundreds of thousands of different millets which are suitable for rain fed farming also disappeared without any state support.
India has been witnessing starvation and death of people during the last 3-4 decades, while the Food Corporations of India’s (FCI)[2] warehouses were overflowing with grains and 50% of the grains finished rotten by pests and rats. The Supreme Court of India has been intervening to ensure the right to food for children, pregnant mothers, aged, and poor[3].
The solution for hunger, starvation and food crisis is not lying in the corporations’ agricultural technologies and agribusiness models. In fact, the small and marginal peasants can feed themselves and feed the world. Agriculture based on biodiversity, self-reliance, and control over key resources like land, water, seeds and knowledge based on thousands of years of tradition will be the food sovereignty model for the world. Food sovereignty is self-respect coming from self-reliance. The world is mad and not learning any lessons from the greedy corporations and capitalism which is the root cause for the present day crisis. Instead, it is continuing to find solution to poverty and hunger through the ultra modern technologies like genetic engineering, as well as the exploitative and distructive corporate led trade in food and agriculture. People of the world should say a definite No to the corporatization of agriculture, land grabbing and free trade, and say Yes to food sovereignty.                                                                                                                                                                                 

[1] The Public Distribution System (PDS) makes available to consumers rationed quantities of basic products like rice, wheat, sugar, kerosene) at below market prices.

German version of the article.
Translated by Sophie Schaffernicht.

KleinbäuerInnen können die Welt ernähren
S. Kannaiyan
Der Begriff “Grüne Revolution” steht für die Förderung einer - von Konzernen bestimmten und auf fossilen Brennstoffen basierenden - kapitalintensiven Landwirtschaft, welche in Indien in den 1960er Jahren verbreitet wurde, um eine Selbstversorgung mit Nahrungsmitteln zu ermöglichen.
Die Grüne Revolution wurde bei zwei Kulturpflanzen eingeführt: Weizen und Reis. Ein anderes – weniger offensichtliches - Motiv hinter der Grünen Revolution war der Versuch der USA die Politik Asiens zu kontrollieren, indem sie Weizen und Reis kontrollierten. Diese beiden wichtigen Getreidesorten zählen zu den wichtigsten Grundnahrungsmittel der meisten asiatischen Länder. Das „International Rice Research Institute“ (IRRI) wurde in Manila, Philippinen, von der Rockefeller und der Ford Stiftung eingerichtet, um die amerikanische Agenda im Namen der Grünen Revolution zu erleichtern: Es sollte den Ländern geholfen werden ihr Selbstversorgung durch eine erhöhte Produktion zu ermöglichen. Im Rahmen der Grünen Revolution, welche von Indiens Regierung propagiert wurde, wurden nur einige wenige Reis- und Weizensorten ausgewählt und gefördert. Das Ergebnis der Grünen Revolution ist, dass hunderttausende verschiedene standortspezifische Reis- und Getreidesorten mit hohen Nährwerten verschwunden sind und auf nur fünfzig Kreuzzüchtungen reduziert wurden. Zur gleichen Zeit, subventionierte Indien Reis und Weizen durch das „Public Distribution System“ (PDS).[1] Hunderttausende verschiedene Hirsesorten, die sich für die indische Landwirtschaft eignen würden, sind ebenfalls verschwunden, da es keine staatlichen Unterstützungen gab.
In den letzten dreißig bis vierzig Jahren wurde Indien Zeuge von Hunger und Tod von vielen Menschen, während die Lager der Nahrungsmittelkonzerne (Food Corporations of India)[2] mit Getreide überfüllt waren und 50% des Getreides durch Schädlinge und Ratten sogar faul wurde. Der Oberste Gerichtshof Indiens griff ein, um das Recht auf Nahrung für Kinder, Schwangere, alte und arme Menschen umsetzen zu können.[3]
Die Lösung für Hunger, Hungertote und die Lebensmittelkrise liegt nicht in den landwirtschaftlichen Technologien und den Agrobusiness-Modellen der Konzerne, denn KleinbäuerInnen und marginale BäuerInnen können sich selbst und die Welt ernähren. Landwirtschaft, die auf biologischer Vielfalt basiert, Selbständigkeit und Zugang zu wichtigen Ressourcen wie Land, Wasser, Saatgut und Wissen, welches auf über tausend Jahre alten Traditionen basiert, wird das Ernährungssouveränitäts-Modell für die Welt sein. Ernährungssouveränität ist Selbstrespekt, welcher aus Eigenständigkeit entsteht. Die Welt ist verrückt und zieht keine Lehren aus den Fehlern der gierigen Konzerne und des Kapitalismus, der die Ursache für die heutige Krise ist. Stattdessen wird weiterhin nach Lösungen für Armut und Hunger durch hochmoderne Technologien wie der Gentechnik und dem  - durch Konzerne gesteuerten ausbeuterischen und zerstörerischen - Handel mit Nahrungsmitteln gesucht. Die Menschen der Welt sollten ein klares „Nein“ zur Korporatisierung der Landwirtschaft, dem Landraub und dem freien Handel aussprechen und „Ja“ zur Ernährungssouveränität sagen.                                                                                                                                                                                    

[1] Das “Public Distribution System” (PDS) macht KonsumentInnen gewisse Mengen an Grundnahrungsmitteln (Reis, Weizen, Zucker) unter den Marktpreisen verfügbar.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

On Turmeric farming and collapsed Market.

Srilatha Menon spoke to me over phone about Turmeric farming and collapsed market.She has quoted my views,

Sreelatha Menon: Invoking the snake god
Turmeric growers caught between plummeting prices and an indifferent government
Sreelatha Menon / New Delhi January 01, 2012, 0:13 IST

The roots of turmeric spread through the earth like veins of gold, offering the growers the value for their sweat. But the year 2011 has not proven to be that lucky for the 15 lakh turmeric cultivators in the country like Devasikamani, who grows turmeric every year on his seven-acre land in Erode, Tamil Nadu. For, there has been a 40 per cent increase in production, say government officials, but the prices have plunged like never before.
Turmeric has seldom let down farmers. The cultivation is confined to a few districts in five states, accounting for 78 per cent of the global output. The imports from some African and Asian countries don’t pose much of a threat either.
Last year, the crop fetched an unprecedented Rs 18,000 per quintal, more than double the usual price. However, in 2011 it was a mere Rs 3,500 per quintal.
Devasikamani has stored his crop, over 140 quintals at home, waiting for the time the prices would improve. But not all could wait. Even he couldn’t for long. The desperation was showing. Now, farmers are pawning their produce with grasping commission agents for interest rates as high as 30 per cent, says S Kannaiyyan of the South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements. This helps them store and at the same time get credit. But they are also forced to sell at a low price offered by the agents, he says.
Ditto is the case for farmers in Erode, Coimbatore, Salem and Karur in Tamil Nadu. Outsiders don’t even store it in the Erode market. They just leave with the price they get, Kannaiyyan says.
The farmers are a few in numbers but the government has not been able to reach out to them. The Spices Board washes its hands off turmeric and ginger saying the state agriculture departments must intervene.
The Board admits it has a mandate for post-harvest activities, but it has no ‘schemes’, and hence won’t do anything.
"We have provided them turmeric boilers in the past. Now we are asking for new schemes for processing and product development under the next Five Year Plan,’’ says Spices Board Secretary Suresh Kumar.
As for the present crisis of low prices, Kumar says the Board could explore export possibilities in new markets. But that would mean a long wait.
Last month, Devashikamani and fellow farmers from Orissa, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh met at Sangli in Maharashtra to form a national turmeric growers association.
They want a say in the price of the commodity. They are meeting again in January to announce a new price based on MS Swaminathan's formula of cost of production and 50 per cent profit. Since there is no procurement or support price, the farmers have decided to take the matter in their hands.
The association says it has got an assurance from Minister of state for commerce and industry Jyotiradiya Scindia that imports would be banned. But Kannaiyyan fears the worst if the government doesn’t intervene. Turmeric growers may also follow the same path as the ginger growers in Wayanad where ten suicides have been reported in 2011, he says. The handful of districts that grow turmeric and the 15 lakh farmers need bank loans on their produce and also storage facilities. When farmer organisations recently met Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, they asked him to study the turmeric growers’ needs for godowns and processing units. Nothing happened so far, says Kannaiyyan.
While departments of spices and agriculture turn their back on ginger, cardamom and turmeric growers, the latter at least can invoke the snake gods… anantham, vasukeem, shesham, padmanabham, kambalam, shankapalam, dhartharashtram, takshakam, kaliyam…and hope that the food for the gods can't ever be enough. Nor their intervention.