Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Is the Lean, Mean, Gene and Green Revolution good for Punjab and India? Jai Jawan Jai Kisan!

Here are some great articles and news stories that provide great insight on latest farming trends, WTO, farm subsidies in developed countries, monopolies controlling farming, food and chemicals, farming suicides and money management. May be the next purchase of a Punjabi farmer should be a computer instead of an expensive tractor or combine so he/she can get plugged into the web for latest farming trends and not get in more debt to pay for dowry. To me the farmers in Punjab that ask and give dowries during marriages actually have either forgotten message from great Sikh Gurus or they just don't care anymore and just want to join the rat race. May be being knowledgeable and making wise money decisions is the way to get out of debt instead of genetically modified Hyola farming hype, giving and taking dowry, alcohol, drugs, wheat-paddy cycles, owing the greedy arthiya, buying proprietary Monsanto seeds and letting others farming monopolies like Pepsico, Field Fresh, Reliance etc controlling their livelihood, by getting pushed to use their genetically modified (GM) crops like BT cotton, distribution, production, and everything else in between. Sounds like the imperialism of the new century but without using their own fire power but instead utilizing local corrupt leaders that control fire power. Is India or Punjab listening to the framers cries? I say, the answer to all this is India should keep allowing small farmers to sell at local sabzi mandis (Farmer's Market) just like local Farmer's Market here in America and other countries . Let the greedy ones go to monopolies and get used and abused by British owned companies like Field Fresh. Please read and pass it on to others. One life of Punjabi farmer saved is one good done. Afterall, it is all part of your good karma and dharma to live a Gursikh life as taught by our Sikh Gurus.

Field of greens
India is undergoing a second agricultural revolution - building the infrastructure that connects farm to supermarket.

By John Elliot, Fortune contributor
October 2 2006: 12:12 PM EDT
(Fortune Magazine) -- Here's a business-school case study waiting to be written: a national distribution system that guarantees that a third of its goods never make it to market. That has been the problem with agriculture in India - a place that likes to tell the world these days that it is as efficient and growth-oriented as China.
But consider the obstacles that have long been faced by farmers there. Until recently they were forced by law to sell their produce at mandis, a network of local markets originally introduced to protect poor farmers from exploitation but now controlled by cartels of traders, petty bureaucrats, and moneylenders. There they were paid the official minimum price or less for their produce, but no one told them what vegetable varieties sold well or showed any interest in improving quality. The produce was then sent via other middlemen on a slow and often hot journey to retail customers, where, according to estimates by agriculture expert Abhijit Sen, a member of India's planning commission, between 30% and 40% of it would rot before it got to market. With few refrigerated packing centers, no regional distribution network, and an inefficient fleet of trucks, India can't sustain large-scale vegetable production, let alone an export business.
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Now market pressure - the potential for export and a rapidly growing domestic demand for reliable produce from new supermarket chains-is driving change and opening up opportunities for investment by multinationals such as PepsiCo, which has been involved in Indian agriculture since the 1980s, and Britain's Tesco. "Organized supermarkets have to have an organized back end," says Lynn Forester de Rothschild, founder and CEO of E.L. Rothschild, a British investment firm owned by a branch of the Rothschild banking family. E.L. Rothschild is a fifty-fifty investor in FieldFresh with Bharti Enterprises, one of India's two biggest telecom operators, which is planning to set up a nationwide retail chain, probably with Tesco, as well as India's first large-scale fruit and vegetable export business. "There is a compelling case for India to feed the world, using inherent strengths that haven't been exploited at all," says Bharti chairman Sunil Mittal, some of whose produce already goes to Tesco.
No wonder Emann Singh Mann is a happy farmer-a rare commodity in India's northern state of Punjab, where overfarming and a falling water table have affected productivity on the broad plains that gave rise to India's first green revolution in the 1960s, a U.S.-led effort that helped feed India's starving millions by introducing high-yield varieties of wheat and rice. FieldFresh has leased 90 acres of Mann's land to grow vegetables that need less water than the wheat, rice, and sugarcane he used to grow. It will pay him slightly more than the $30,000 a year he was getting, and it hires his tractors as well as pays his workers. "I might have got out of agriculture," says Mann, 35, the son of a prominent local politician, who opened a computer-design school in nearby Chandigarh 18 months ago as a hedge. Now okra and chilies grown on Mann's land go to a warehouse for cooling, then travel 125 miles by road in a refrigerated truck to Amritsar, where they're put on a flight to Britain.
FieldFresh has 78 farms with 4,200 acres on lease in Punjab producing beans, snow peas, carrots, okra, baby corn, and other vegetables for export to Europe and the Middle East. In other parts of India it is buying produce on contract from farmers, guaranteeing to pay market prices, though farmers are free to sell elsewhere. This contract system will probably become FieldFresh's main business model once farmers have learned to produce consistently high-quality crops using new seeds, fertilizers, and techniques the company provides. The benefits are already visible: "It has had an astounding impact on my village," says Mann, "with more employment and higher family earnings, alleviating a lot of social problems-and I'm learning new ways of doing things."
With low wages of $1 to $3 a day in a labor-intensive business, India has a clear cost advantage over many producing countries. But FieldFresh's initial export attempts last year proved disastrous: 15 out of 20 containers of grapes, as well as shipments of mushrooms and okra, were wasted because of bruised skins, pest attacks, and airport delays. "It was a learning phase," says Mittal, who has persuaded the government to set up India's first perishable-produce centers at airports in Delhi and Amritsar, and to relax lengthy and often corrupt customs procedures. But even though Tesco is among FieldFresh's overseas buyers, the produce company is still finding it difficult to break into foreign markets and to achieve the required levels of quality and rapid delivery. FieldFresh hopes its exports will grow this year to $15 million, after an initial investment of $50 million.
Reliance Industries, one of India's two largest industrial groups, has even bigger plans. In June its chairman, Mukesh Ambani, announced a $5.6 billion multiyear investment in agriculture and retail. He aims to make a new company, Reliance Retail, the sector's dominant player. Links are being established with farms on several thousand acres in Punjab, West Bengal, Maharashtra, and elsewhere, with rural centers providing goods for farmers and handling their produce. A supply chain is planned from these hubs to Reliance Retail's outlets as well as to foreign buyers. Ambani says he aims to deliver "better returns for the Indian farmer and producer by connecting them directly to Indian and global consumers, and lower prices and better product quality for consumers." He is already growing mangoes on land adjacent to Reliance's oil refinery at Jamnagar and plans to become India's biggest exporter, selling 3,600 tons annually within five years.
With 77% of India's population relying on agriculture for a living, improvements in efficiency and new markets have the potential to benefit large numbers of people. The initiatives by Bharti, Reliance, and other companies will undoubtedly bring advantages of scale that have largely been missing in a nation where the average land holding is only 2½ acres and 60% of agricultural output is consumed by farmers' families. But anything that might lead to consolidation or to farmers' being displaced from their land is politically sensitive-especially at a time when crop failures and bankruptcy have led to an average of 15,000 farmer suicides annually over the past five years, according to official records. Even Mann's father, Simranjit Singh Mann, who heads a Sikh political party in Punjab, has found it politically expedient to attack the state government for providing low-priced agricultural land to Reliance for a rural farming center.
India Agriculture Secretary Radha Singh is backing the big companies' entry into vegetables and fruits because of the obvious growth potential and the impact they can have on other farmers' performance. She is also encouraging states to change laws to relax the mandis' monopoly and improve infrastructure, and slowly they are beginning to do so. "Until recently," Singh says, "the government has never looked at linkages beyond basic food production because the focus has been on self-sufficiency."
PepsiCo (Charts) began working with Punjab farmers on pulping tomatoes in return for obtaining government permission to produce and sell its drinks in India. It introduced new varieties that have helped boost the state's tomato crop from 18,000 tons in 1988 to 300,000 tons this year. Although no longer involved with tomatoes, Pepsi has a five-year program with the Punjab government to provide several hundred farmers with four million sweet-orange trees by 2008 for its Tropicana juices. It is also developing a seaweed crop for a food-gelling agent on 4,000 rafts off the southern coast of India. And it has introduced Punjab farmers to high-yielding varieties of other crops, such as basmati rice, mangoes, potatoes, chilies, peanuts, and barley, that it uses for its Frito-Lay snacks and sells to domestic and foreign buyers. Last year its agriculture exports totaled $40 million. Pepsi (along with Coca-Cola) has recently been accused in India of having unsafe levels of pesticides in its cola beverage, which it denies. But that has not affected the agriculture initiatives. "This started off as a government obligation," says Abhiram Seth, Pepsi's exports director, "then became corporate social responsibility, and is now a business."
From the October 2, 2006 issue

Indian GM cotton farmers continue to suicide (does not include Punjab and other States)

Last night 5 more cotton farmers committed suicide in Maharashtra's cotton growing region of Vidharba, taking the total to 443 farmers in the growing season since June 2005.The majority grew Bt cotton which was promoted to poor farmers in India using false and misleading claims as well as unethical practices. (see EVERY TRICK IN THE BOOK - THE MARKETING OF BT COTTON IN INDIA) http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=5741Just how disastrous Bt cotton proved for Vidharba's desperate farmers was revealed by a recent study in Maharashtra which showed the incomes of Bt cotton farmers were 68% lower than the incomes of non-Bt cotton growers.http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=6444 Meanwhile, a statutory body investigating charges of monopoly practices filed against Mahyco-Monsanto has found the company guilty of illegal practices and found that the monopolistic and exorbitant rates charged by the company for their Bt cotton varieties was a significant factor in farmer distress.http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=6435Here are the names of the more than 200 farmers in Vidharba who have taken their lives since the beginning of January 2006. As many again suffered a similar fate in the period from June 2005. As already noted, the vast majority of the victims cultivated Bt cotton.List of Vidharbha Farmer suicides since JANUARY 2006Taken from a list provided by Vidharbha Jan Andolan SamitiName of FarmersSahebrao Bhimrao WankhedeNandkumar WataneChabutai Shrikrushna NikhadeMadhukar Shriram ShikareRamkrushna Sheku MeshramMangesh Ambadas SableBhimrao natthuji BophadeLonkaran Tukundrao DongreSuresh Pandharinath NagrePandit Raibhan UmbarkarDayal Raghoji BadkalManohar Sampat PawdeRama Namaji KshirsagarBaldeo Atmaram WarkhadeGajanan Aknath JawjalRamesh Devidas JadhavKamalabai ChavhanDevicharan Jagnnath GaikwadRamrao Pancham PatilAshok Yashavant GujjarVijay Bhaurao TekamKisan Ganapat AkdeSunanda Babarao EngoleYamuna Ramdas AdeSubhash Shankarrao ShevtkarBabulal Savalya BhilawekarMahadeo NakatheRambhau Marotrao ShahadeRamdas Saduji PatilSakharam Kashiram KukareAnandrao laxman MotghareDadarao BhoyarShrirang Surybhan MeshramSheshrao lalji RathodHemanth Vishwath BhasmeManoj manohar Waghamaresudam Gopalrao KandalkarSahebrao MohodBabarao Natthuji SableVilas Narayan DhaleRaju Vasantrao NakhatePanjabrao KhuteAjabrao Atmaram GavandeBaliram Govindrao KutemarePravin RautBhavsing Mithya jadhavNanaji Sitaram BatteYamunabai umaleLaxman Dattuji AdhavDnyneshwar Laxman BhendareRaju Vishwash VidhateTulshiram Pandurang MarotkarPralhad Laxman KirtaneRamdas rajaram GillariBablu Girdhari Brahmankarnilesh Vishwasrao NagmotheGulsing Ramdhan RathodNamdev Amarsing RathodBala Arjun WasekarSudhakar Mahadeo ChaudhariNagorao DupareAshok JadhavBhumanna Iranna AnnamwarMohan Harising RathodGovind Narayan LandgeGanesh Jayram NikamePochu Bira ChittawarAmbadas Jagan MundaleKamalabai Mansing SolankiDilip Bhimrao BambalMangusing Ramji RathodRamdas Tukaram AhirPrabhakar Zanzat Devram Sakharam BhandarkarDomodhar Dajiba WaghadeRashtrapal Shankar MeshramDigambar Bhaurao ZadeShriram Tulshiram TinturkarMahadeo Mangluji GopaleSuresh Sheshrao PatheNanaji Vistari ShendeKashiram Gulab RathodAyya Behru AtramRamdas Mansing PawarPandurang Kawadu salameRameshwar Bhimrao SurosheDama Kawadu LanjewarBhaurao Devrao KaleHaridas Parasram MukaleManohar Maroti PimpalkarBhanudas sakharam kakadTulshiram Tukaram ZimteMadan Suryabhan GavhaleNarayan Ramji GoreNur kha Tane Kha PathanSahebrao Amrutrao NarnawareShaligram Waghaji ShelkeGulabrao Rambhau BhiseChunnilal Pandurang RahagadleMegharaj Sambhaji GovarkarSmt. Suman Amrutrao SarodeSahadev Digambar PuriShrikrishna Baliram HinganeVitthal Nandu GajabePurushottam Haribhau BhuteSanjay Rambhau LikharJajbharat Narayan WankhedeVilas Keshave MadaviKawadu Anandrao PetkarDattu Mahadeo LondeDnyneshwar marotrao GargateBikhu Yamunadas PawarRamchandra Tarachandra ChandakMahadeo Pundlik LokhandePrabhakar Sadashiv RodeVishwasrao Vyankati chavreDadarao Turerao DeshmukhJairam Bhikaji GiteNamdeo Natthuji TaideAshok BhoyarMurlidhar uttam HahareDigambar Sukhadev VekteRamchandra Phakira VaidhyDilip Raghoba ThakareDipak laxman chavalkarmaroti Namdeo TaideShamsundar Pandhe PawarSantosh Shankarrao TapreNamdeo Bhimrao MahalleManik Shivram Pusdekarkisan maniram RathodArvind Madhav KalmedhRaju Shyamrao DholeGanesh Sevakram ThakareGovind Anandrao WaghamareSubhash Punjaram ChincholkarDnyneshwar Ambadas BhagatRatiram Ragho DhudseJageshwar Sampat AjwaleArun Madhav KajeSantosh Sopan RautGajanan Shrikrishna SarodeNagorao Laxman BhavneSanjay Parasram DadmalKashirram Sheru RathodSanjay Balawantrao RalekarShanta Vinayak JadhavVitthal Shaligram AmbulkarPandit Govinda ManwarPramod Bhagvantrao LakdeShamkar Vyankatrao BhaisagarGanapat Govinda DevhareGajanan Pandurang NevareGangadhar Wamanrao RautNetram Dattuji DhobleSurlu Pandurang KalalkarGovinda Dattaji VarhadeAnil Dnyneshwar BahurupeShriram Kashiram KawadeShashikala Ramkrishna BhatkarPurnaji jagtrao KordeGajanan Kacharu EngleKailas Shravan AtramGajanan Ukunda MantureRamkisan Baliram EnagleKishor Rambhau SolankeAshok Vasant KoradeSubhash Dnyaneshwar KenheRamu Punaji AdeSharavan haribhau wakhadeSudhakar gulab khadasePrakash shankar pawarDhanraj chintaman chaphaleChandrabhan gudghaneVishanu shivlala jadhavRajendra babanrao bhujbalAnil ramrao gawandeSayyad yakub sayyad immam nathu bhiwa salwebhayya sitaram palrahul mahadev bothadeprahlad kisan rathodsukhadev namdev sarodeshankar bhagwan thakaregajanan ataram nimkhandemukund pandurang gadhawearun narayan pathadechhagan devidas kharadmohan shivram patingebharatram keshorao topaleran hari vasuedo istapevasuev mahadev rautpudlik devaji madaleshivdas kisan thakarearun mahadev jawakedhanraj nathuji raikwarsudhakar baburao dandekargajanan vasudeo dholeraju udaybhan dhurvedigamber shayrao bahalechandrabhan bapurao gurnuledasaru goma atramvasant mahadev thakarekishor shayrao kadujayvant vithal sheteraju nathuji tagdehirishchandra jairam koredeorao keshaorao rautprakash dattuji nanoreanil bapu kedartejram dayaram raghorpeshranivas madhukar virulkarmohan ramchandra goradearjun sadashiv palgajanan uttam talekialas dhanraj zadeashru janji bajadrahul sahebrao wankhedepurshottam parasram vaidyaanil kisan kataleshantaram ramchandra bhogalarun ganpat thakaredattu shankar rautsandep uttam sabe
Source: GMWatch



Selling suicide - farming, false promises and genetic engineering in developing countries /05.99

• Genetically modified crops - Christian Aid's concerns /06.02
A battle is beginning to rage for control of farming in poor countries. In Brazil, farmers, landless people and officials are joining together to reject genetically modified (GM) crops. In India, where poor farmers are already vulnerable and some are driven to suicide, farming increasingly dominated by large corporations, will leave the poor further marginalised. Centuries-old ways of farming on which the poor depend are also threatened by new seed technologies. Ethiopia, a country virtually ignored by the giant agrochemical companies, contradicts the view that GM crops are anything to do with ending hunger.Are GM crops the next in a long line of inappropriate products to be dumped on poor countries? Glibly promoted before international controls are in place as an answer to world hunger, few have paused to consider whether in fact the latest products of a long agricultural revolution will stop hundreds of millions going without enough to eat. Or whether, in practice, the newest offerings from corporate laboratories might, for largely unconsidered reasons, make matters worse. Christian Aid believes:
GM crops are irrelevant to ending hunger
the new technology puts too much power over food into too few hands
too little is done to help small farmers grow food in sustainable and organic ways
Mistakes in managing the world's food supply will carry a serious cost. Farmers in developing countries are already vulnerable to disasters and changes in price for what they grow and what they must pay to farm. Firstly, in 1998, as a foretaste of what might become increasingly common, a mixture of economic causes and poorly chosen modern plant varieties led to hundreds of farmers committing suicide in India. Secondly, one of the newest products of genetic engineering in agriculture, the 'terminator technology' or 'suicide seed', grows plants with infertile seed and is predicted by planners in the United States to be set to dominate world farming.Christian Aid believes it will undermine hundreds of millions of farmers in poor countries who depend on saving seeds to plant the following season. Thirdly, the spread of intensive farming has presided over the mass extinction of plants and animals - the rich diversity of life which is the earth's life support system. Early planting of GM crops follows the same intensive model of commercial farming.Hunger is a daily reality for over 800 million people in the world, yet its prime cause is poverty not food shortage. There is more than enough food to keep us all healthy. Yet, false promises about ending hunger mean a fundamentally flawed approach to farming could rapidly take hold around the world, because of the lobbying and marketing power of the companies involved. The new direction could be a one way road. Just a few years' planting of GM crops could knock more sustainable farming off track for good. An uncontainable GM system, once released, denies the right to choose other courses.While companies claim GM crops will feed the world in fact they are largely irrelevant to ending hunger: around the world they are driven by commercial interests, not a concern to 'feed the world' or raise productivity. The real challenge is poverty eradication; land reform; water conservation; and increasing production by promoting mixed, low chemical-use farming which favours naturally improved and locally adapted plants.People go hungry because they are poor and cannot afford food or because they do not have land on which to grow it: the last farming revolution failed the poorest and left many hungry because of rising gaps between rich and poor, and due to increasing control of land and the new seeds and chemicals by wealthier farmers and corporations.A reckless concentration of ownership is taking place over how the world feeds itself, leaving the poor more vulnerable: no effective means exist to control emerging international monopolies: among many mergers and take-overs, Monsanto has bought into the major national seed companies of both India and Brazil; just 10 companies control 85 per cent of the global agrochemical market; industry is also integrating - Du Pont, one of the world's largest chemical companies, announced plans to buy the world's largest seed company, Hi-Bred International. (1)Major corporations are planning to introduce the 'terminator technology' worldwide: every relevant major multinational now has, or is developing, 'genetically sterilised or chemical dependent seed' which fosters a farmer's dependence on agrochemical multinationals and ends their own vital ability to develop new crops; a dozen institutions have already obtained such patents - Monsanto is seeking patents in 89 countries, Astra/Zeneca in 77 countries. (2)Biopiracy of poor country plants and animals could increase under the evolving international legal framework: designed to protect the products of United States biotech corporations, a modern form of the 'enclosures' is under way with the poorest left out, or forced to accept foreign control over their own living plant and animal heritage.Farming based on GM crops threatens the world's genetic storehouse on which we all depend: at least three quarters of the world's food plant varieties have been lost, mostly due to commercial farming. (3) Common GM crops - the focus of huge expansion plans - work with herbicides designed to wipe out a wide range of plants. The only plants to adapt and survive will be superweeds.GM crops currently not grown commercially in the UK are being promoted in developing countries: as early as 2001-2002, more land is projected to be planted with GM crops in the South than the North, while the crops are still banned in the UK for precaution. (4)The recent international trade dispute over bananas could be a prelude to forcing GM crops on poor countries: disagreements could see international trade rules used to force poor countries to accept GM crops and food, taking away their right to choose.Plans to expand the planting of GM soya in Brazil threatens one of the last major sources of the non-modified plant for the UK: consumers could be left with no choice but to have GM soya. Also, according to official government documents pressure from conventional soya plantations, is squeezing already threatened rainforest - the home of life-supporting genetic resources.GM crops are taking us down a dangerous farm track creating classic preconditions for hunger and famine: ownership of resources concentrated in too few hands - inherent in farming based on patented proprietary products - and a food supply based on too few varieties of crops widely planted, are the worst option for food security. The new techniques also leave untouched growing gaps between rich and poor.The five-year freeze campaign: Christian Aid has joined the call for a five-year freeze on genetic engineering in food and farming. The freeze campaign has the support of over 40 organisations ranging from the Iceland Foods retail chain to the Townswomen's Guilds. The call for a moratorium is based on the scale of public opposition, the inadequacy of current environmental and health and safety regulations, and the potential for negative effects on agriculture and food production in poor countries.Debate over genetic engineering in our food system exposes an artificial ecosystem of power and private interest, dominated by rich countries, where the poor stand no chance to compete. Cautionary approaches, written into international agreements since the Earth Summit in 1992, should form the basis of our approach to the new technology. Unless care is taken we could end up selling suicide.

SummaryCan biotechnology feed the world?

the two revolutions: green and gene
the death of diversity The field of play
Ethiopia Food and genetic engineering
what's new?
the risks of GM crops
food safety: debate in Europe and the US A farmer's future - victims of the revolution?
contracts and deskilling
local knowledge
small farmer efficiency When two traders meet: transnationals in the food chain PR wars
the lobby
public relations
products in search of a market Hidden in the genes: biopiracy and the cost of technology Tripping up: reviewing world trade rules Let nature's harvest continue
recommendations Conclusion
Select bibliography
This report was compiled and written by Andrew Simms.The editor was Angela Burton. Additional research was carried out by Dulce Maltez, Jane Spence and Liz Orton of Christian Aid. Case study material was also researched and provided by Grace N. Dallapria Pereira and CETAP (Brazil); the Institute for Sustainable Development (Ethiopia); and the Deccan Development Society (Hyderabad) and Development Research Communication and Service Centre (Calcutta) for India.Comments and suggestions were provided by: Karen Oon-Buffin, David Buffin (Pesticides Trust), Kevan Bundell, John Harriss (LSE), Matthew Lockwood, Patrick Mulvany (Intermediate Technology Development Group), Liz Orton, Jagdish Patel (UK Food Group), Kate Phillips, Clive Robinson, Sarah Stewart, Roger Williamson.


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