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Sunita Narain: Old answers for ‘new’ monsoon

From Down to Earth: India’s vicious cycle of crippling drought and then devastating floods, which happens every year, is getting a new normal. First, floods and droughts come together. Secondly, rainfall is not only variable but also extreme.  There’s only one answer: obsessive attention to building millions and millions of connected and living water structures.

What’s causing so many changes to India’s monsoons?

From The Third Pole: For the third year in a row, India’s monsoon season has produced floods in the northwest/northeast, while south India has a rainfall deficit. The key question right now is whether we’re headed towards increased monsoon extremes, or whether global warming is causing shifts in the duration, intensity and frequency of rainfall.

How to grow a food forest that will feed you everyday

From Down to Earth Magazine: What does it take to design a permaculture kitchen garden? In this video, permaculture practitioners Rosie and Peter Fernandes, based in Assagaon, Goa, recount their experience of growing a food forest designed to meet their cooking needs round the year. They are now taking their model to the wider community.

Microbes will feed the world, or why real farmers grow soil, not crops

From Modern Farmer: On the horizon of agriculture’s future, a 40,000-strong army is marching towards a shimmering goal. They see the potential for a global food system where pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers are but relics of a faded age. A peek into a treasure trove of latest research released by The American Society of Microbiologists.

Interview: Subhash Palekar and the holy cows of natural farming

From The Wire: Spurred by his firsthand observation of the havoc wrought by chemical fertilisers and pesticides, Subhash Palekar developed his own alternative method of farming, dubbed ‘Zero Budget Natural Farming’. The widely influential Padma Shri awardee tells Manas Roshan about his methods and the agrarian crisis, also expressing his controversial views on cow slaughter.

The domestication of humankind

From Pragati: Why did humans abandon hunting and gathering for sedentary communities dependent on livestock and cereal grains, governed by precursors of today’s states? Anirudh Kanisetti reviews James Scott’s lucid Against The Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States, which provides surprising new evidence that refutes mainstream narratives of how civilization came into being.

Nivedita Khandekar: Why floods in Assam and Bihar are worsening over time

From Daily O: Two important things stand out: lack of information at the grassroots level and the attitude of policymakers, and to some extent people too, towards dealing with floods. Assam’s information network has improved, but population explosion forces people to risk lives for a few weeks of floods by living at the river bank.

Sabarmati riverfront, inland waterways, Mahanadi dispute, are all newer forms of onslaught on rivers

From Counterview.org: The Sabarmati River Front has been in the news lately as a model of “river beautification”. When in reality, it is a dead river, filled with effluents and sewage. It was “rejuvenated” with Narmada water, which came at a great cost of the displacement of lakhs of people and destruction of the environment.

GMOs: It’s your food stupid, its your fight!

From Eartha Mag: The game of migrating farmers to GM seeds has a familiar marketing line: We cannot feed the millions without GMOs – the exact line they fed us in the 50s during the Green Revolution. With the government’s adamant attempts to introduce them without public consultation or scientific debate, Sandeep Anirudhan raises some basic questions.

T.S.R. Subramanian: Say no to GM mustard

Former Union Cabinet-Secretary T.S.R. Subramanian writes:  The promises of higher yield and lower pesticide usage which induced many, including myself as the then Textile Secretary, to welcome Bt cotton have now been belied… The main advantage now trotted out in favour of GM mustard is increased yield—there’s sufficient evidence that this claim is a myth.

How the disastrous Ken-Betwa link project endangers India’s tigers, rivers and mountains

Ken-Betwa river-linking project, if realised, will destroy livelihoods and ecology, including a portion of the Panna Tiger Reserve. Curiously enough, ground reports show that farmers in the project area are themselves not keen on it. Also included is a documentary, ‘Links of a Broken Chain’, as well as a detailed technical analysis of the project.

Obituary: U. Subbaraju – A life lived from first principles

Ajit Ranade writes: Mahatma Gandhi famously said that the world has enough for everybody’s need, but not for everybody’s greed. U. Subbaraju, a person who actually lived this principle in his own quiet life, who always carried a gentle smile and a helping hand, passed away earlier this month. He was just 50 years old.

How Bidar beat back the drought

From The Hindu: Bidar’s Naubad karez, or tunnel wells, are an ancient engineering marvel. It’s a complex system, which works inversely underground to leverage gravity — that is, the plateau’s natural gradient ascends from the mouth to the mother well but the tunnel underneath has been cut to descend from the mother well to the mouth.

GM Mustard in India: Five unanswered questions

From The Indian Express: Each time with the GM debate, agro-business and biotech industry puts huge pressure on the Indian government to destroy food culture and replace many old nutritious-rich foods with by patented toxic monocultures. By threatening India with the GM Mustard, corporations are destroying the centre of diversity of mustard for the world.

The devastating reality of Somalia on the brink of famine

Vice News reports: Drought has devastated vegetation and water supplies, and hunger is soaring. More than half the country — 6.2 million people — are in need of emergency aid to avoid starvation. And around 1.4 million children will risk acute malnutrition in 2017, according to UNICEF — 50 percent more than what the charity

Debal Deb: ‘We have more hardy, nutritious grains than GM can offer’

From India Water Portal: Records show there were 1.10 lakh varieties of rice in India in 1965. After the Green Revolution, which pushed for hybrid varieties, less than 7,000 remain. Debal Deb, who has conserved 1,200 climate-resilient rice varieties, speaks on the need to conserve traditional seeds and why we don’t need genetically modified ones.

Are farmers ‘collateral damage’ of India’s economic growth?

People living in villages, who are migrating in large numbers to cities, could be victims of our economic development or perhaps the dismal income growth of farm households is semi-deliberate to keep labour costs low… Are our rural brothers victims or collateral damage of economic development, of a deliberate though unstated strategy, asks Sanjiv Phansalkar.

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.

Learning from the past: A new protocol for agricultural education and research in India

We scientists, each one of us, should ask ourselves what the agricultural establishment needs to do in order effectively to address our current agricultural crisis. Given our present mechanistic scientific paradigm, we are part of the problem, and thus cannot, be part of its solution. Our first task, therefore, is to change our outlook fundamentally.

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.

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