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agrarian crisis

The precarious situation of India’s water problem

Hari Pulakkat writes: The country’s water data has been largely hidden from public view, and what was available was poor or untrustworthy. This brings up a question rarely asked by policymakers. If scientists find it difficult to analyse the country’s water resources at the moment, how valid are the reports that forecast India’s water future?

Devinder Sharma: Does the banking system really want to help farmers?

The total outstanding loans of public sector banks stands at Rs 6.8 lakh crores. Of this, 70%  belongs to the corporate sector, whereas only 1% of the defaulters are farmers. Why’s the banking system designed to favour the rich who already have many perks, while the poor pay a higher price to sustain their livelihoods?

Meat-eating and the environment: An open letter to Sunita Narain

Global Environmentalist writes: Your blog post has given every urban Indian a free pass to continue to devour animals as it pleases their taste buds, all in the name of ‘saving the farmers’. The question is, will these people be able to save themselves when we don’t have enough clean water, air and good health?

Commodity derivatives: Playground for speculators, graveyard for farmers?

In a major push to widen the scope of commodity derivatives market in India, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has recently allowed options trading on commodity exchanges. Kavaljit Singh argues that what’s good for financial investors and commodity speculators is not necessarily good for the already vulnerable Indian farmer and small entrepreneurs.

Climate change key suspect in the case of India’s vanishing groundwater

Mongabay reports: Since the Green Revolution, Indian farmers have depended on groundwater to grow enough crops to feed the country’s 1.3 billion people, but groundwater is vanishing in many parts of the country. This combination of overpumping and climate change– resulting in weaker monsoons– is partly what’s driving social disruption, including violent protests and suicides.

Sunita Narain: Why I would not advocate vegetarianism

Farmers need options to take care of animals that are not producing milk. Or they will be forced to let them stray, to eat the plastic cities throw away and die. By banning meat we are literally taking away half the potential income the livestock owner possesses. It is stealing from the poor, nothing less.

Pumped dry: India’s accelerating and invisible groundwater crisis

From Policy Forum: India is now facing a water situation that is significantly worse than anything previous generations ever faced. All water bodies near population centres are now grossly polluted. Interstate disputes over river water allocations are becoming increasingly intense. Surface water conditions in the country are bad. However, the groundwater situation is even worse.

This company is helping 50,000 farmers across 11 states grow and sell pesticide-free food

Safe Harvest is a conglomeration of eight civil society organisations that have been working towards and promoting non-pesticide management (NPM) practices among some of India’s poorest and most disenfranchised communities. Today, they work with a farmer base of close to 50,000 across 11 states, many of whom have seen a 20% rise in their income.

A documentary on India’s agrarian crisis, by an award-winning young filmmaker

This 27-year-old documentary filmmaker from Hyderabad has won 104 national and international awards. Anshul Sinha has spent more than a year now, studying and understanding the agrarian crisis that has affected the country. “The vision of the film is to save farmers in India,” says Anshul. Despite his credentials, Anshul’s new film has no takers.

The terrible truth behind the wave of farmer suicides in India

Nikita Sattiraju writes:  Farmer suicides in India have largely been attributed to debt, drought, crop failure or poor returns. However, farmers have been taking the drastic step regardless of a good rainfall year or bad, a good price year or a disappointing one. Why? Questions arise on the exact nature and reasons behind the deepening problem.

Why the 2017 Union Budget is deceptively ‘pro-farmer’

Kirankumar Vissa writes; Everyone in the media has been talking about the slew of pro-farmer measures included in Budget 2017, how it is a Budget for the ‘have nots’ and one that will give a big fillip to agriculture. It is time to call this Budget what it is–a big prank on India’s farming community.

Demonetisation, farmer suicides, and the Union budget

Live Mint reports: Agriculture is likely to be the worst affected by the note ban, because 1) The policy coincided with harvest of kharif crops, and farmers are facing difficulty selling it. 2) Lack of cash must have posed difficulty in sowing of rabi crops. 3) Unlike other sectors, farm output is perishable in nature.

Demonetisation and the silent suffering of Bharat

Milind Murugkar writes: ‘Why doesn’t the informal sector, supposedly badly hit by demonetisation, protest or scream in pain?’. Defenders of demonetisation often pose this question. If you want an answer to the question, please listen to Sachin Jadhav. His story takes us through the long chain of economic loss and suffering of the rural population.

Report: Farmer suicides spiked by 42% in 2015; debt leading cause

Samar writes: Indebtedness was behind 38.7% of farmer suicides in 2015; the corresponding figure for the same head in overall suicides in India is a mere 3.3%. Nearly 80% of those who killed themselves because of indebtedness had taken loans from “Financial Institutions like Bank/Registered Micro Financial Institutions”, and a mere 302 from “Money Lenders”.

Pope Francis slams biotech industry and GMOs on World Food Day

“Producing qualities that may give excellent results in the laboratory may be advantageous for some, but have ruinous effects for others. And the principle of caution is not enough, as very often it is limited to not allowing something to be done, whereas there is a need to act in a balanced and honest way.”

Appeal: Why we must act now to stop GM mustard in India

Gopi Sankarasubramani writes: The issue at hand is the impending approval of GM mustard in India. GMOs introduce irreversible, long term changes in the ecosystem that cannot be contained – any farm will be contaminated, because the farm next door has GMOs. With it, we risk permanently losing our 10,000 year-old inheritance of sustainable agriculture.

India’s organic rice revolution proves GMOs are unnecessary

Whitney Webb reports: Farmers in India’s poorest region are recording record rice yields by growing organically, debunking once and for all the myth that GMOs are necessary to feed the world’s growing population… In Bihar, Sumant Kumar and his family produced an astounding 22.4 tons of rice on only one hectare of land, in 2013.

Are we working harder to make India’s farmers suffer?

Suraj Kumar Thube writes: Much of the naturalisation of the suicides has also got to do with the urban perception of rural areas and rural lifestyles. The oriental imagination still does not cease to colonise our minds in terms of perceiving the rural as a stagnant and unchanging space characterised by divisive notions of caste-consciousness.

Debate: Can organic farming feed the world?

Bjorn Lomborg, long known as a ‘contrarian’ environmentalist, recently triggered a heated media debate when he claimed that organic farming cannot provide food security for the world, and even asserted that it is bad for the environment. Here we present Lomborg’s original column in USA Today and a selection of voices that counter his view.

A desert storm is engulfing India

Indira Khurana writes: A whopping 25 per cent of India’s total land (329 mn ha) is undergoing desertification while 32 per cent (105 mn ha) is facing degradation that has reduced productivity, critically affecting livelihoods and food security of millions across the country. Combating desertification brings together three interdependent natural resources: Land, water and biodiversity.

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