Louis Proyect writes: As a rentier state, Iran’s economy was based on handouts rather than the production of manufactured goods. Cheap oil and subsidies made the massive use of pumps feasible just as was the case in neighbouring Syria. Groundwater extraction nearly quadrupled between the 1970s and 2000 while the number of wells rose five-fold.
This series of videos feature farmers – many of them from remote villages – from Assam to Andhra Pradesh, expressing their views, concerns and apprehensions about the future. Produced by farmer support organisation I4Farmers, they confirm once again what we know well – the agrarian crisis that has gripped rural India is only getting worse
Displacing pastoralists, displacing smallholder farmers, arresting and charging them as terrorists if they protest–and the land is given away to foreign investors to grow what? Sugar and cotton. Imagine trucks full of food aid coming into Ethiopia, while trucks full of cotton and sugar are leaving the country. Hunger in Africa is a political problem.
From The Guardian: A series of fast-moving global megatrends, spurred by trillion-dollar investments, indicates that humanity might be able to avert the worst impacts of global warming. From those already at full steam, including renewable energy, to those just emerging, such as plant-based alternatives to meat, global trends show that greenhouse-gas emissions can be halted.
Sneha Vakharia reports: Gujarat’s chronic floods, underreported and devastating, tell the story of Narendra Modi’s failure to deliver the state from water scarcity, and the onset of a new kind of problem, with crucial political implications. Since the state began its battle to control its water, increasingly and unforgivingly, the water has started fighting back.
From McSweeney’s: Nikolay Ivanovich Vavilov collected more seeds from around the world than any other person in history. Yet the plant explorer, who endeavoured to end famine, starved to death in one of Stalin’s gulags. A tribute to a scientific pioneer who foresaw the need for preserving the world’s seed heritage almost a century ago.
From Rediff.com: In the recent elections, the Congress made stunning gains over rivals BJP in rural Gujarat, winning 62 of 109 seats. According to food policy analyst and activist Devinder Sharma, this is a direct result of Gujarat’s prolonged and acute agrarian crisis being ignored by the ruling party, the urban-centric media and pollsters alike.
From National Geographic: Already battered by decades of shoddy environmental policies, which had hobbled agriculture and impoverished its inhabitants, villages across rural Iraq and Syria were in no state to navigate the extra challenges of climate change. When ISIS came along, many of them quickly emerged as some of the deep-pocketed jihadists’ foremost recruiting grounds.
Devinder Sharma writes: In the 12-year period between 2004-05 and 2015-16, total tax concessions given by the Indian government to industry almost equals a whopping Rs 50-lakh crore. If these tax concessions were eliminated and the additional revenue generated was instead used effectively for social betterment programmes, India could have made hunger and poverty history.
Recently, a powerful feature by The Guardian reported on the US’ accelerating farmer suicide crisis, part of a global farmer suicide crisis, which most acutely manifests in India. Layton Ehmke, farmer-turned-journalist, writes on how there’s no way to make a living growing food in America, and how poverty and shame are driving some to suicide.
From The Indian Express: Yogendra Yadav, who is part of a platform of over 180 farmers’ organisations that have come together to raise key demands, says: “(One of the things) I have seen, which cuts across all farmers, is anger against government. This all-round disenchantment is more so against the current government at the Centre.”
Colin Todhunter writes: Despite four high level government reports that have advised against adopting Genetically Modified crops in India, there are alarming reports of GM okra, soyabean & brinjal being cultivated illegally in thousands of acres. The industry’s strategy is to flood the country with illegal GMOs so that there’s nothing you can do about it.
Narsanna Koppula, a pioneer of permaculture in India, founded Aranya Agricultural Alternatives, with an aim to provide alternate solutions to the present chemical agricultural practices. Later this month, Aranya, which has impacted thousands of farmers in Telangana and Andhra, is playing host to the International Permaculture Convergence, the biggest event on the permaculture calendar globally.
Set in a village in Bundelkhand, which hasn’t seen rain in the last 15 years, the soon-to-be-released Hindi film Kadvi Hawa is a stark story about how climate change affects us all. Instead of capturing the socio-economic impact, director Nila Madhab Panda says, he is interested in looking at the emotional impact of climate change.
Moin Qazi writes: The Indian film celebrity Aamir Khan is shepherding a very revolutionary campaign–making Maharashtra drought-free in five years. Khan’s Paani Foundation is galvanising the rural population to go back to fundamental lessons of water management taught by their ancestors. Many Maharashtra villages are seeing water in their parched lands after consecutive dry years.
As their growth slows in the wealthiest countries, multinational food companies like Nestlé and PepsiCo have been aggressively expanding their presence in developing nations, unleashing a marketing juggernaut that is upending traditional diets from Brazil to Ghana to India. A detailed expose of the politics and economics of junk food, by The New York Times.
From The Guardian: Insects are multitudinous beyond our imagining, and have triumphed for hundreds of millions of years, in every habitat. This makes all the more alarming the great truth now dawning upon us: insects as a group are in terrible trouble and the remorselessly expanding human enterprise has become too much, even for them.
Billions in Change, the brainchild of Indian-American entrepreneur Manoj Bhargava, shows how simple but life-changing inventions provide clean water, electricity, and improve rural lives. The innovations include a RainMaker device that can turn dirty water clean, a low-cost, portable solar-based power generator and a ‘cost-free fertilizer’ that is made by gathering whatever is laying around.
Industrial farming, which gets all the attention (and most of the land), accounts for more than 80% of fossil fuel emissions and uses over 70% of the water supply in agriculture, actually produces only about 30% of the world’s food. It’s the diverse network of small-scale producers-the ‘Peasant Food Web’-that feeds 70% of the world.
From The Citizen: “Hitler used organophosphate gases to execute thousands in his gas chambers, we are now using the same to kill our farmers in the open fields,” said Kishor Tiwari on the recent deaths of more than 40 farmers from pesticide poisoning in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal. Tiwari heads a government task force for farmers’ welfare.