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.”
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.
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.
If you think farmers have suffered unknowingly, you are mistaken. It’s in fact part of a global design. For GDP to grow, the prescription is to reduce the dependency of a large proportion of the population on agriculture. The entire effort is to create conditions that force people to abandon farming and migrate to cities.
From The Better India: Ashok Sonule of Kolhapur has left his harvest-ready jowar crop remain on his land for birds to feed on. His logic is simple. “Birds and animals have suffered a lot this year, with lakes drying up and crops wilting. There are few fields in this area the birds can call home.”
From The Indian Express: According to Kishor Tiwari, chief of a Maharashtra government task force for the welfare of farmers, more than 40 farmers had died and at least 2,000 more hospitalised from pesticide inhalation in Vidarbha and Marathwada. He has termed the deaths of farmers from pesticide inhalation as “genocide committed by the state”.
From GGI News: In 1996, the World Bank directed India to move 400 million people out of agriculture. Former PM Manmohan Singh had repeatedly expressed the need to shift 70% farmers. Only then will cheap labour be available for infrastructure development. The economic design is well laid out. Agriculture is being killed for economic growth.
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.
From Jacobin Magazine: Increasingly, extreme weather events including the annual floods are being recognized as the new normal. Less commonly noted is how this “new normal” tends to disproportionately hit the underclasses—the urban poor, agriculturalists, coastal communities, and poor women. In short, the greatest victims of global warming will be those least responsible for it.
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.
From The Guardian: Chemicals and agribusiness giant Bayer has approached the European Union to approve its $65bn takeover of Monsanto, eliminating direct competition between two of the biggest players in the industry. If approved, the merger would be an extremely risky consolidation of corporate power, and a serious threat to food supplies and farmers worldwide.
From Live Mint: The protesting farmers demanded a waiver of loans and better prices for their harvest. They want a say in trade policy which they think have a pro-consumer bias. They’re aware of the bad debts of the industries. They also ask why farmers should bear the burden of keeping food inflation in check.
Colin Todhunter writes: At a time when India commemorates the end of British rule, it finds itself under siege from international capital. Its not only on course to become an even weaker and more hobbled state permanently beholden to US state-corporate interests, but it is heading towards environmental catastrophe much faster than many may think.
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.
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.
Down to Earth reports: Despite bumper production, volume of import of cereals like wheat and maize increased by 110 times between 2014 and 2017. Traders now find it cheaper to import from Australia than to procure locally. India’s already distressed farmers are the hardest hit by the fall in the prices caused by the rising imports.
Colin Todhunter writes in Countercurrents.org: A combination of debt, economic liberalisation, subsidised imports, rising input costs and a shift to cash crops (including GM-cotton) has caused massive financial distress to small farmers in India. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a trade deal now being negotiated by 16 countries across Asia-Pacific, could accelerate this process.