Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Maharashtra wants ‘exploitative’ firms to fund research for non-Bt seeds-Indian Express

Maharashtra wants ‘exploitative’ firms to fund research for non-Bt seeds-Indian Express

Indian Express

State wants ‘exploitative’ firms to fund research for non-Bt seeds

Vivek Deshpande 
Nagpur-Wed Jul 25 2012,
Nagpur : Maharashtra Agriculture Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil wants Bt cotton companies to tie up with agriculture universities in the state and pump money into research to find an alternative to itself. Companies that refuse to cooperate will be banned, Vikhe-Patil said. “I had my serious reservations about Bt even in 1999. It hasn’t helped dry-land farmers, like those in Vidarbha. It takes care of only bollworm. But farmers still have to use pesticides for other pests like reddening of leaves (lalya),” the minister told The Indian Express.
“There is a clear mismatch between promised and actual benefits, especially in input costs and productivity.”
Patil, has ordered criminal proceedings against officials of Mahyco Seeds, a prime Bt cotton company, for allegedly “violating norms about advance booking and providing the government with wrong information about seeds availability”.
Mahyco has secured anticipatory bail for its officials from the Aurangabad bench of Bombay High Court.
“The companies are simply interested in selling seeds. They must come out in public domain with all data about their products and their actual utility. They are refusing to share it. Quality of seeds has also deteriorated,” Vikhe-Patil said. “Interest of dry-land farmers must be taken into account.”
The minister’s views notwithstanding, government data show cotton area and productivity in the state went up in post-Bt years. Despite predictions to the contrary, Vidarbha has not seen a significant drop in area under cultivation which went up by 2.5 lakh hectares in 2010. Cotton area last year was 15.3 lakh ha; it is 14.3 lakh ha this year, with sowing still on.
Vikhe-Patil said he wanted seed companies to tie up with state universities to find viable alternatives to Bt. “They were anyway supposed to do that for the first two years. They are not supposed to introduce their seeds directly into the market. Let them now have participatory research with us.
“Let’s develop such varieties that will not be controlled by external factors. Now what is happening is Monsanto has developed a product and others are simply following it. I will be convening a meeting of companies and state universities to take it forward,” the minister said.
He added, “Companies that do not come out in the public domain will be banned.”
Both Vikhe-Patil and Agriculture Commissioner Umakant Dangat have been speaking of going back to “traditional varieties suitable to agro-climatic conditions of regions like Vidarbha”. An expert pointed out that fully replacing Bt cotton would require seed production on a massive scale. “We will have to produce those seeds on a huge 40,000 hectares to serve the 40 lakh hectares of cotton area in the state. The whole process will take four-five years,” the expert said.
Patil agreed that “a big effort” was needed. He insisted he was not against new technology; however, “technology shouldn’t exploit farmers. Bt companies have done that.”
Responding to issues around its face-off with the government, Raju Barwale, managing director of Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company (Mahyco), said the company was “law-abiding”, and has “always engaged with ethical and credible distributors across districts in the state”.
Barwale refuted allegations made by the Beed zilla parishad agricultural development officer that it had supplied incorrect information about Bt cotton seeds, failed to supply seeds in promised quantities, and not cooperated with local authorities.
On the minister’s allegation that Mahyco had violated advance booking norms and fed him incorrect information on the availability of seeds, Barwale said “there are no norms that Mahyco is alleged to have violated”, and that the firm “has not defaulted on any government guidelines and has supplied in excess to the agreed seed packets”.
Barwale described the government’s announcement that it is considering banning Mahyco from selling Bt cotton seeds in Maharashtra as “unfortunate”. He said he welcomed the minister’s statement that private companies would be required to tie up with universities and fund research.
“Over the years, we have entered into collaborations with academia and industry to keep pace with new developments across the agri-business spectrum,” he said.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

महिको बीटी बियाण्यांवर बंदीच्या घोषनेचे स्वागत- महिकोचे राजू बारवाले यांच्यावर कारवाई करा-किशोर तिवारी यांची मागणी-तभा वृत्तसेवा

महिको बीटी बियाण्यांवर बंदीच्या घोषनेचे स्वागत- महिकोचे राजू बारवाले यांच्यावर कारवाई करा-किशोर तिवारी यांची मागणी-तभा वृत्तसेवा
तभा वृत्तसेवा
यवतमाळ, २२ जुलै
राज्य शासनाने महिको मॉन्सेण्टो कंपनीच्या बीटी कापूस बियाण्यांवर बंदी घालण्याची घोषणा केली आहे. ही कारवाई बिनबुडाची असून, महिको कंपनी आता महाराष्ट्र सरकारवरच कायदेशीर कारवाई करेल, अशी धमकी महिको मॉन्सेण्टोचे कार्यकारी संचालक डॉ. राजू बारवाले यांनी दिली आहे. बारवालेंची ही धमकी म्हणजे ‘चोराच्या उलट्या बोम्ब्याच  असाच प्रकार असून, त्यांच्यावर महाराष्ट्र सरकारनेच फौजदारी स्वरूपाची कारवाई करावी, अशी मागणी शेतकरी नेते किशोर तिवारी यांनी केली आहे.
राज्याचे कृषिमंत्री राधाकृष्ण विखे यांनी गेल्या आठवड्यात विधानसभेत महिको मॉन्सेण्टो कंपनीच्या बीटी बियाणे विकण्याचा महाराष्ट्रातील परवाना रद्द करण्याची आणि त्यासाठी लागणारी कायदेशीर कारवाई पूर्ण करण्याची घोषणा केली होती. त्यानंतर सरकारने महाराष्ट्राच्या डायरेक्टर ऑफ इनपूट अ‍ॅण्ड क्वालिटी कंट्रोल यांच्याकडे महाराष्ट्र कापूस कायदा २००९ अंतर्गत महिको मॉन्सेण्टोचा बीटी बियाणे परवाना रद्द करण्यासाठी पुराव्यांनिशी तक्रार केली असल्याची माहिती विदर्भ जनआंदोलन समितीने दिली आहे.
राज्य शासनाने महिको मॉन्सेण्टो कंपनीच्या बीटी कापूस बियाण्यांवर बंदी घालण्याचा महाराष्ट्र सरकारचा प्रस्ताव शेवटच्या टप्प्यात असताना महिको मॉन्सेण्टोचे कार्यकारी संचालक डॉ. राजू बारवाले यांनी महाराष्ट्राच्या कृषिमंत्र्यांनी केलेले आरोप आणि सरकारने केलेली कारवाई बिनबुडाची असून, कंपनी सरकारवरच कायदेशीर कारवाई करणार असल्याची धमकी दिली आहे. डॉ. बारवाले यांचा हा पवित्रा धक्कादायकच असल्याचे समितीने म्हटले आहे. मुळात महाराष्ट्रात बीटी महिको मॉन्सेण्टोच्या बीटी बियाण्यांवर बंदी बियाण्यांचा काळाबाजार राजरोसपणे होत असून, महिको मॉन्सेण्टोच आपला कापूस एकाधिकार निर्माण करून, शेतकरयांना वेठीला धरून लुटत असल्याचाही आरोप समितीने केला आहे.
यापूर्वी कृषिमंत्री राधाकृष्ण विखे यांनी विधानसभेत महिको मॉन्सेण्टो कंपनी विदर्भ व मराठवाड्यात आपल्या वितरकांशी संगनमत करून बियाण्यांचा खुलेआम काळाबाजार करीत असल्याची माहिती दिली होती. कंपनीविरुद्ध १७ पोलिस तक्रारी असून, अनेक अधिकारयांनी अटकपूर्व जामीन घेतला आहे. अनेक न्यायालयांनी तर अटकपूर्व जामीनसुद्धा नाकारला आहे. गेल्या वर्षीसुद्धा महाराष्ट्र सरकारने महिको मॉन्सेण्टोविरुद्ध फौजदारी कारवाई केली होती, याकडे किशोर तिवारी यांनी लक्ष वेधले आहे. राजकीय संरक्षणामुळे महिको मॉन्सेण्टो कंपनी आपला बीटी कापूस बियाण्यांचा काळाबाजार राजरोसपणे करीत आहे आणि त्याचवेळी कंपनीचे मालक डॉ. राजू बारवाले सरकारला दोषी धरून सरकारवरच कायदेशीर कारवाई करण्याची धमकी देत आहेत. जालना येथील महिको कंपनीने अमेरिकेच्या मॉन्सेण्टो कंपनीचे समभाग विकत घेऊन बीटीसारखे जैविक बियाणे निर्माण करण्यासाठी २००२ मध्ये भारत सरकारकडून परवानगी घेतली होती, अशीही माहिती त्यांनी दिली आहे.
२००१  पासून  भारतात १ लखावर कापूस  उत्पादक शेतकरयांनी सतत नापिकी व कर्जबाजारीपणामुळे आत्महत्या केल्या असून, त्यासाठी महिको मॉन्सेण्टो कंपनीच जबाबदार आहे, असा स्पष्ट आरोप किशोर तिवारी यांनी केला आहे. यासाठी कंपनीचे कार्यकारी संचालक डॉ. राजू बारवालेवर सदोष मनुष्यवधाची कारवाई करण्याची मागणीही त्यांनी केली आहे.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Truant monsoon claims three more vidarbha farmers’ suicides in 48 hrs

Truant monsoon claims three more vidarbha farmers’ suicides in 48 hrs

Nagpur-21st July 2012
The erratic progress of the monsoon and failure second  times sowing of rain sensitive Bt.cotton seed has claimed three distressed farmers from Vidarbha commit suicide in the last 48 hours alone and ill fated farmers whose cases reported are identified as

1.Dhyaneshwar Golhar of village ashti in Yavatmal
2.Subhash Todase of village Mira in Yavatmal
3.Ravindra Hule of village Wadegoan in Akola

More than 3 million cotton farmers who are credit starved and delayed rain has already damaged more than 25%  kharif  yield and  rains are delayed further, there could be a sharp increase in the tally of farmers’ suicides in Vidarbha from 438 from January this year, Kishore Tiwari of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti informed in press release today

 “An arid Vidarbha has had erratic rains since 2010. This year, too, the second week of June saw very heavy rains in some blocks. This was followed by normal monsoon as forecast by the metrological department. On cue, farmers finished sowing, only to face a complete dry spell for 20 days then we got heavy rain in first week of July forcing  dry land cotton farmers second sowing but this time too, They were forced to watch the heat scorch both their freshly resown crop and recent dry spell and when their re-sowing has been lost ,debt trapped and distressed farmers are killing themselves ”Tiwari added.

Tiwari takes umbrage at Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar’s comment who is busy in power sharing and protecting the corrupt NCP Ministers, that the delay in monsoon is not a matter of concern. “Coming on the heels of the National Crime Records Bureau’s announcement that Maharashtra saw the largest number of farmers’ suicides in 2011, this seems not only insensitive, but is also a mockery of the farmers’ distress.”

Official figures show that less than 25% of the over three million cotton farmers are covered by institutional banks and that crop loan disbursement target is less than 40% of Nabard’s (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) credit outlay to the region. “The government knows credit crunch is the real issue and credit-starved, debt-trapped farmers are being pushed to end their lives, but we haven’t seen the government being pro-active in this regard,” alleges Tiwari. “At least now, it should intervene and restructure crop loans.”

“The water in dams and reservoirs is fast depleting. Ground water levels have dropped due to over-exploitation. Those moving away from cotton and soya, which ruin both the ecosystem and their lives, to traditional crops which require less water, like pulses, groundnut, jowar and bajra, should be given incentives,” he urges.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Mahyco Monsanto challenges Maharashtra Govt .on Bt.cotton Ban-Farmers Demands Stern Action

Mahyco Monsanto challenges Maharashtra Govt .on Bt.cotton Ban-Farmers Demands Stern Action
Dated- 18 Jul , 2012 - India
The issue Complaints that Mahyco Monsanto  is exploiting farmers, promoting black marketing and ignoring rules have led the Maharashtra government to call in to cancel the agri biotechnology company’s licence to produce and supply the 73-51 seed variety of Genetically Modified (Bt) cotton in the state, has forced the defaulting Mahyco Monsanto co. to challenge  authority of state .
 ‘The clarification of Mr Raju Barwale, Managing Director of Mahyco Monsanto co. is misleading and unfortunate as black marketing of innocent farmers is till continue in Maharashtra and having crated the monopoly in cotton seed now Mahyco Monsanto is ignoring Govt. orders and criminal prosecution hence we demand stern action against Mr Raju Barwale, Managing Director of Mahyco Monsanto co. and complete ban on Mahyco Monsanto co. bt cotton seed including in sub- licence 32 companies, Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti chief Kishore Tiwari informed today.
The Director of Inputs and Quality Control (DIQC), the licensing authority, has served the 1964-founded company a notice under the provisions of the Maharashtra Cotton Act, 2009 which was announced Agriculture Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil had indicated revocation of the company’s licence has been openly challenged first time  Mr Raju Barwale, Managing Director of Mahyco who has refuted allegations, leveled against it by the Maharashtra Government, of selling its own cotton seeds in the black market and violating the Seed Act.
 Earlier Agriculture Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil informed that In Beed, Nashik, Jalna and Aurangabad districts, the company, in “close nexus” with dealers and sub-dealers, supplied seeds that did not match the declared quantity, keeping the agriculture department in the dark, he claimed.

“This amounted to forgery and encouragement of black marketing by the company and its officials and therefore, offences were registered against the official. Some of them have got anticipatory bail, while in one case the court has rejected plea for anticipatory bail.” Minister added.

The minister admitted that the Jalna-based company’s behaviour had adversely impacted sowing in the state’s cotton-growing belt and he justified DIQC move, saying Mahyco had, during the current kharif season, supplied 73-51 variety of Bt cotton below the assured quantity, leading to unrest among farmers.The DIQC had, during the 2011-12 kharif season, registered 18 cases against Mahyco for “serious lapses” in the supply of the 73-51 seed variety of BT cotton, he recalled.
Maharashtra cotton farmers strongly condemn the statement of Mr Raju Barwale, Managing Director of Mahyco co is consider taking the legal option against Maharashtra Govt.
“Mahyco Monsanto  is completely responsible for introducing and crating monopoly of Bt.cotton seed  in India and is responsible for mass genocide of cotton farmers since 2002  and this has happened due to political protection to this company that is reflected in today’s statement of Raju Barwale needs to answer very strongly by Indian law makers” Tiwari added.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

NRI Krishnakumar Taori facilitates computer lessons for Vidarbha farmers- IANS

NRI Krishnakumar Taori facilitates computer lessons for Vidarbha farmers- IANS

Nagpur, July 15 (IANS) Over 120 farmers, farmers' widows and youth have enrolled for a free computer training centre set up by a non-resident Indian from Oman in a Maharashtra village.
Krishnakumar Taori, the group managing director of a construction company in Oman, is a native of the Ghuikhed village on the Yavatmal-Amravati border in the farmers' suicide-hit Vidarbha region.
"With more than 120 registrations, including farmers, widows and youth, they will be provided basic to advanced computer courses absolutely free of cost here," said Sanjay S. Dhotre, a BJP MP from Akola, at the centre's inauguration in Saturday. Taori was also present at the function.
Dhotre admitted that though MPs received funds for development works in their constituency, "such an idea to set up a computer centre did not strike me."
With 10 computers and an internet connection, this is the first such training centre in the region containing nearly 100 villages.
The courses will be taught in three shifts daily.
In April, Taori, who was born to a cotton farmer in Ghuikhed, decided to set up the centre after a visit to Pandharkavada village to distribute saris and blankets to 200 women, whose husbands had committed suicide due to debt, said an activist.
"At that time, he (Taori) had expressed a desire to set up computer training centre and industrial training institutes. Land acquisition for the institutes has been done," Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti chief Kishore Tiwari, who helped in Taori's efforts, told IANS Sunday.
He said that for the last five years, Taori, the group managing director of Hasan Juma Backer Trading and Contracting Co. LLC, has been engaged in providing free education to tribal children of the backward Melghat region in Amravati district.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Mahyco -Monsanto Bt cotton ban :Announcement Agriculture Minister is Likely to be Short-lived

Mahyco -Monsanto Bt cotton ban :Announcement Agriculture Minister is Likely to be Short-lived

Nagpur –13th July 2012
The Maharashtra Government’s move to ban Mahyco Monsanto Bt cotton seeds which have created many problems for the agricultural community is likely to be eyewash due to very strong pro-MNC stand of Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan as Agriculture secretary Dr.Sudhir Goyal has been informing the media that the such announcement on floor of house  are not the actual ban  and Govt. can defer the move to ban and blacklist the  Mahyco Monsanto in the state which is very unfortunate and showing the power of US MNCs in the decision making procedure,   Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti chief Kishore Tiwari informed today.

‘As the  move ban Mahyco  was announced in the Maharashtra legislature by Agriculture Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil Wednesday after company was caught in rampant black marketing its seeds and according to  Maharashtra’s Minister for Agriculture, Mr Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, that the State Government was left with no other option but to cancel the company’s licence, given the nature of the complaint. He charged that the company was involved in black marketing of Bt (Bacillus Theringuesis) cotton seeds and added that an FIR was lodged against certain company officials. A few arrests have already been made, The minister further noted that the company allegedly was indulging in this “illegal business” for sometime and that the State Government “could not tolerate it any further”. But interference CMO in the matter will defer decision on 18 July meeting  hence we will move against Maharashtra Govt. move protect MNCs manufacturing and marketing Bt.cotton  cotton seed
“Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan is very strong supporter of  all genetically modified technology and last year wrote very long letter to Indian Prime Minister urging him give official permission to Bt. brinjal  for food security and he was instrumental in Bt.cotton commercial trial permission in Maharashtra as MOS PMO hence we are having little hope to move of  Agriculture Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil to ban Mahyco-Monsanto  will be enforced this year” Tiwari added.
The matter came to light in May, when cotton farmers in Beed district were forced to pay significantly higher prices for Bt cotton seeds that Beed is a major cotton producing district. For the Kharif season, over 47,700 packets (of 450 gms each) of Mahyco 7341 Kanak variety (Bt cotton) was distributed amongst 11 distributors in the district. However, these distributors did not supply the seeds to the sub-distributors, as is the norm. Instead, they raised bogus bills on the farmers’ name and sold the seeds at a higher price to others, Accordingly, a complaint has been filed at the city police station at Beed.

MMB is a joint venture between Mahyco, Maharashtra, and Monsanto Holdings Pvt. Ltd., USA which has sub-licensed Bollgard II and Bollgard technologies to 28 Indian seed companies since 2005.

Tiwari claimed that after the commercial trials of the genetically modified seeds were started, it triggered a spate of suicides among cotton farmers, which continues unabated till date.

He alleged that the monopolistic US multinational corporation has been duping innocent farmers and demanded a ban on all the other 28 sub-licensed companies in the country.

Tiwari pointed out that though the minister has announced the ban on Mahyco-Monsanto, there is no clarity on the situation of their 28 sub-licences, and urged the government to make its stand on the issue clear immediately.

The Bt cotton seeds should be replaced by traditional Indian cotton seeds as they are much more cost-effective than the Bt varieties, are ready for plucking in just 150-160 days compared to Bt's 180-200 days, thus reducing the need for additional inputs like fertilizers, pesticides and other nutrients.

Presently, India ranks at the top in Bt.Cotton cultivation covering 126 lakh hectares, up from just four lakh hectares in the past decade or so.

However, in view of the general disadvantages plus health issues associated, we are in favour of a complete ban on all genetically modified technology in India, Tiwari said.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Vidarbha Cotton Farmers Welcome Maharashtra Govt. decision to Ban Mahyco-Monsanto Biotech (MMB) Bt.Cotton Seed

Vidarbha Cotton Farmers Welcome Maharashtra Govt. decision to Ban Mahyco-Monsanto Biotech (MMB) Bt.Cotton Seed

Nagpur -12 July, 2012
Maharashtra Agriculture Minister Radhakrishnna Vikhe Patil has informed Maharashtra legislative assembly yesterday which reported in the media today(copy attached)  that the basis of  number complaints from cotton farmers and reports of agriculture officers that Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (MMB) company has been cheating the innocent cotton farmers by supplying sub-standard seeds ,Involved in black-marketing of seed by creating official short supply and ignoring earlier notices of all unfair trade practices ,Govt. has ban sale of Bt.cotton supplied by Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (MMB) as company failed to supply good quality seed even after taking huge amount of advances from debt trapped dying cotton farmers Maharashtra ,minister informed house.

“Vidarbha cotton farmers have welcomed the decision as Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (MMB) - a 50:50 joint venture between  Mahyco and Monsanto Holdings Pvt. Ltd. has sub-licensed the Bollgard II and Bollgard technologies to 28 Indian seed companies mainly responsible mass farmers suicides which triggered after June 2005 –year of permission of commercial trials killer seed in Maharashtra informed today vidarbha cotton farmers’ advocacy group Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti (VJAS) convener Kishore Tiwari  who is  demanding the complete ban of genetically modified Bt.cotton seed in vidarbha and documenting cotton farmers suicides since 2002 .

US base multinational company who has almost developed monopoly of it’s brand  Monsanto Bollgard® Bt cotton has been taking innocent cotton farmers on ride and such stern action was needed much earlier now we demand all other 28 companies sub-lised by MMB should be ban and replaced by traditional Indian cotton seed as the cost of seeds of straight varieties is much lower than Bt varieties, besides which these varieties become ready for plucking in just 150-160 days whereas BT varieties take around 180-200 days, which reduces the need for fertilizers, pesticides and other nutrients substantially and unlike Bt cotton desi varieties there is no need to provide in-built protection for cotton against destructive American Bollworm Heliothis which is not the case with desi seed, Tiwari added.

Now India is largest cotton cultivator of Bt.cotton seed in 126 lakhs hector  jumped from 4 lakhs hector when first it was approved for commercialization in India in 2002, followed by Bollgard® II – double-gene technology in mid-2006, by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), the Indian regulatory body for biotech crops which has was objected by leading environmental activist and now questioned by Indian parliament . the much more disputed genetic technology Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Bollgard® II contains a superior double-gene technology - Cry1Ac and Cry 2Ab which provides protection against bollworms but is matter of concern due to it’s toxicity damaging environment and public health care hence we demand complete ban on GM technology in India, Tiwari urged.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Bt cotton kills pests or farmers-Tehelka

Bt cotton kills pests or farmers-Tehelka
Neha Saigal says the lives of farmers are more important than the profits of MNCs

IN THE 1920s, the freedom struggle was marked by Mahatma Gandhi promoting handspun khadi (cotton) and initiating a movement to boycott foreign cloth. I choose to remember this part of our struggle for independence as I feel it becomes significant and symbolic in the fight against Bt cotton. Then, it was about challenging the takeover of British imperialistic forces of our textile market, now it is about an American multinational seed giant taking control over the very basis of our cotton sector, the seed, using the tool of genetic engineering.

Bt cotton was controversial at the time it was introduced in 2002 and a decade later the controversy still remains, though you can hear many a time the biotech seed industry ranting falsely about its success.

Bt cotton is created by inserting the Cry protein (endotoxin) gene from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis into the cotton plant which will then make every cell of the plant produce this bacterial endotoxin, rendering the plant poisonous to a class of insects called leptidopterans which includes the bollworm, which is the primary pest of cotton.

The complete failure of synthetic pesticides to control this pest along with aggressive marketing by the biotech seed companies lured many a farmers into the neverending trap of Bt cotton. It is to be remembered here that Bt cotton is nothing but a continuation of the treadmill technologies that synthetic pesticides are also a part of.

What we saw in the last 10 years was a well thought out plan by Monsanto and its cronies in India, of monopolising the cotton seed market. Today, approximately 90 percent of the total cotton cultivation in the country of 11.14 million hectares is covered by Bt cotton. This seems to be the basis on which our policymakers have come to the conclusion that Bt cotton is a success story. But that’s only half the picture, the other half which comprises of dirty tricks used by the companies to first lure desperate farmers using advertisements promising high yields and reduced use of synthetic chemicals along with systematic removal of non Bt seeds from the market is hardly seen by the policymaker. The tragedy is that our policymakers continue to ignore this at the cost of lives of thousands of cotton farmers in our country.

Cotton is cultivated in 11.14 million hectares of land in the country, which has made India the largest producer of cotton in the world after China. Among cotton farmers, 85 percent of them are in rainfed areas or marginal farmers with less than 1 acre of land. If you were to ask one of them about Bt cotton’s success, you will not get the same shining picture that the industry paints.

I had the opportunity to be part of a national conference which reviewed the 10 years of Bt cotton in India. The conference held at New Delhi jointly hosted by Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, Hyderabad, Centre for Environmental Education, Ahmedabad and Council for Social Development, New Delhi saw various stakeholders including agriculture scientists from various universities, private seed sector representatives, socio-economists, farmer union and civil society representatives sharing their experiences on Bt cotton (

While arguments and counter-arguments were made relentlessly on the success of Bt cotton, one thing which everyone seems to agree to and something that study after study documented is that the cost of cultivation is high for Bt cotton. There is an increased usage of chemical fertiliser, irrigation and surprisingly pesticides. The last one is because of an increased attack of secondary pests. Some of the studies also talked about bollworms getting resistant to Bt cotton. There was also an agreement that Bt cotton probably is not right for non-irrigated regions. Well, this means that Bt cotton is not suitable for 65 percent of cotton area in the country.

The macro-economic studies showed another interesting factor. If we take the 10 years of Bt cotton in India, the rate of growth of cotton yields was highest in the period 2002-07 when Bt cotton area grew from zero to 41 percent of the total cotton area. In the next five-year period, when the area under Bt cotton increased to almost 90 percent. The growth in yield has stagnated and even slumped. So it proves that Bt cotton adoption alone is not the reason for increase in growth.

AS MANY of the speakers at the conference including Jairam Ramesh, the Union Minister for Rural Development, who chaired the concluding session, said, “The growth in cotton production cannot be solely attributed to Bt cotton.” It seems like other factors like increased adoption of hybrids, increased irrigation and low bollworm instances seemed to have played a role in it.

Bt cotton is not the success it is made out to be and conclusions from the conference brought this to light. Once again it has been established that the performance and impact of the Bt technology is variable and depends critically on a wide range of climatic, social, institutional, economic and agronomic factors.

The government needs to take a serious step to assess the 10 years of Bt cotton from a scientific, social, economic, environmental point of view. This becomes especially important as we do not want to repeat the bitter mistakes of the Green Revolution and adopt a technology for short-term gain of a few companies.

Cotton farmers in our country have been pushed into vicious cycles, first the chemical intensive agriculture and now Bt cotton. There is a way out and the government needs to see this. There are ecological and socially sustainable alternatives like the non-pesticide management practiced in Andhra Pradesh which has been successful and fast spreading. Most importantly as a farmer pointed out, ‘those organic farmers do not commit suicide’.

So before policymakers jump to any conclusions about Bt cotton by looking at the experiences of a few irrigated pockets in Gujarat or Punjab, let’s listen to the experiences of the larger section of the cotton farmers in our country, those poor rainfed, small and marginal ones in Vidarbha, Warrangal or Jhabua. As the Mahatma himself said you have to measure progress in the country by the poorest of poor.

So this is a fight for independence and our sovereignty. Any complacence on our side will leave our farming and food security at the mercy of the multinational seed companies.

Neha Saigal is a campaigner for sustainable agriculture with Greenpeace India. The views expressed here are personal.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

यवतमाळ जिल्ह्यात १ लाखावर कुटुंब शिधापत्रिकेपासून वंचित-विदर्भ जनआंदोलन समितीचे १५ पासून जनआंदोलन

यवतमाळ जिल्ह्यात १ लाखावर कुटुंब शिधापत्रिकेपासून वंचित-विदर्भ जनआंदोलन समितीचे १५ पासून जनआंदोलन
यवतमाळ : सर्वोच्च न्यायालयाने दिलेल्या आदेशानंतरही जिल्ह्यातील १ लाख कुटुंब पिवळय़ा शिधावाटप पत्रिकेपासून वंचित आहेत. न्यायमर्ती वाधवा समिती जिल्ह्याच्या दौर्‍यावर आली असता लोकसंख्येच्या प्रमाणात अन्नाच्या अधिकारापासून वंचित असलेल्या ३0 हजार कुटुंबाना शिधापत्रिका देण्याचे आदेश दिले होते. मात्र सोळा महिन्यांचा कालावधी लोटूनही त्यांच्या आदेशाची पूर्तता जिल्हा प्रशासनाने केली नाही. सर्व बीपीएल. कार्डधारकांना कमी दराने अन्न मिळावे, या प्रमुख मागणीसाठी विदर्भ जन आंदोलन समिती १५ जुलैपासून जनआंदोलन सुरू करणार असल्याची घोषणा शेतकरी नेते किशोर तिवारी यांनी केली आहे.
केंद्र सरकारने सर्व शिधावाटपधारकांना बीपीएल. च्या दराने अन्न पुरवठा करण्याची घोषणा केली आहे. त्यासाठी राज्य सरकारने अन्नाची मागणी करावी, अशा सूचना योजना आयोगाने केल्या आहे. मात्र महाराष्ट्र सरकारने बीपीएल.च्या शिधावाटप पत्रिका वाढविण्याऐवजी लाखो शिधावाटप पत्रिका कमी करण्याचा सपाटा लावला आहे. यामुळे राज्यात ५0 लाखांवर कुटुंब दारिद्रय़रेषेच्या खाली असूनही पिवळय़ा शिधावाटप पत्रिकेपासून वंचित आहेत.
यात यवतमाळ जिल्हा सर्वात आघाडीवर आहे. यवतमाळ जिल्ह्याच्या जिल्हाधिकार्‍यांनी २00६ मध्ये उच्च न्यायालयात शपथपत्र देऊन केंद्र सरकारच्या अन्न नियंत्रण कायदा २00१ प्रमाणे प्रत्येक वर्षी गरिबांची ओळख करून शिधावाटप पत्रिका नव्याने देत असल्याचे शपथपत्र दिले होते. मात्र मागील ५ वर्षात शिधावाटप पत्रिका नसलेल्या गरिबांना नव्या पिवळय़ा शिधावाटप पत्रिका देण्याची कोणतीही मोहीम जिल्हाधिकारी कार्यालयाने सुरू केलेली नाही.
जिल्ह्यात नगरपालिका क्षेत्रात २0 टक्के गरिबांजवळच बीपीएल. कार्ड असून या मधील फारच कमी लोकांजवळ पिवळय़ा शिधावाटप पत्रिका आहे. मागील १0 वर्षात सरकारने जास्तीत जास्त गरिबांना अन्नापासून वंचित करण्याचे धोरण स्विकारले असल्याचा आरोप विदर्भ जन आंदोलन समितीने केला आहे.
एकीकडे सरकार अन्नाचा साठा जास्त झाल्यामुळे गहू आणि तांदूळ पडेल त्या किमतीत देशाबाहेर विकत आहे. मात्र अन्नापासून वंचित असलेल्या व उपासमारीला तोंड देत असलेल्या आदिवासी, दलित व नगदी पिकाची शेती करणार्‍या कोरडवाहू शेतकर्‍यांना अन्नापासून वंचित ठेवण्याचा घाट घालत आहे.
विदर्भ जनआंदोलन समितीतर्फे आंदोलनाचा पहिला टप्पा म्हणून अन्न नियंत्रण कायदा २00१ च्या नियमाप्रमाणे अर्ज भरून घेण्यात येईल. हे सर्व अर्ज प्रत्यक्ष पडताळणी करून त्यांच्या याद्या तयार करून प्रत्येक तालुक्याच्या ठिकाणी सत्याग्रह करून तहसीलदारांना देण्यात येईल. याकडे दुर्लक्ष केल्यास १५ ऑगस्ट रोजी जिल्हाधिकारी कार्यालयावर मोर्चा काढण्यात येईल,असा इशारा मोहन जाधव, सुरेश बोलेनवार, अंकीत नैताम, मोरेश्‍वर वातीले, भीमराव नैताम यांनी दिला आहे.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

गृहमंत्रालयाच्या आकडेवारीनुसार २०११ मध्ये शेतकरी आत्महत्येत महाराष्ट्र अव्वल -शरद पवारांनी या शेतकरयांच्या आत्महत्येची जबाबदारी घेत राजीनामा द्यावा

गृहमंत्रालयाच्या आकडेवारीनुसार २०११ मध्ये शेतकरी आत्महत्येत महाराष्ट्र अव्वल -शरद पवारांनी या शेतकरयांच्या आत्महत्येची जबाबदारी घेत राजीनामा द्यावा

गृहमंत्रालयाच्या आकडेवारीनुसार २०११ मध्ये शेतकरी आत्महत्येत महाराष्ट्र अव्वल -विदर्भात चारदिवसांत दुबार पेरणीचे संकट-पिककर्ज नाकारलेल्या शेतकरयांच्या आत्महत्या-तरुण भारत
तभा वृत्तसेवा
यवतमाळ, ३ जुलै
विदर्भात जून महिन्याच्या दुसरया आठवड्यात आलेल्या दडप्या पावसाने पेरणी केलेल्या व नंतर सतत २० दिवस उघाड व कडक उन्हामुळे सर्व पेरणी मोडल्यामुळे दुबार पेरणीचे संकट ओढवले आहे. सरकारी व सहकारी बँकांनी पीककर्ज नाकारल्यामुळे सावकाराच्या दारावर चकरा मारणारया आणखी
शेतकरयांच्या आत्महत्या मागील चार दिवसांत समोर आल्याची माहिती विदर्भ जनआंदोलन समितीचे अध्यक्ष किशोर तिवारी यांनी दिली आहे. या दुर्दैवी शेतकरयांमध्ये यवतमाळ जिल्ह्यातील तीन शेतकरी आहेत. विजय पिपळशेंडे, रा. सोनुर्ली, अंबादास हांतगावकर, रा. कोंघारा, बाबुलाल राठोड, रा. देऊरवाडी, अशी त्यांची नावे आहेत तर वर्धा येथील हिवारयाचे विथल जुगनाके व वाधोन्याचे सुरेश ठोकले  यांच्या समावेश  आहे  . रामदास हिगवे, रा. नारा, जि. वर्धा, राजेंद्र वाढई, रा. सुपलीपार, जि. गोंदिया, ज्ञानेश्वर तायडे, रा. तेल्हारा, जि. अकोला, राजू भांडेकर, रा. शिवणी, जि. वाशीम या विदर्भातील शेतकरयांनी मृत्यूला कवटाळले आहे. २०१२ मध्ये आत्महत्या करणारया शेतकरयांचा आकडा आता ४२५ वर पोहचला  असल्याचे किशोर तिवारी यांनी म्हटले आहे.
संपूर्ण विदर्भात पाण्याचे प्रचंड संकट समोर येत आहे. निसर्गाचा लहरीपणा या संकटाला कारणीभूत आहे. पावसाचा फटका बसण्याचे हे तिसरे वर्ष आहे. बी. टी. कापसाचा पेरा करणे शेतकरयांना घातक सिद्ध होणार आहे. विदर्भाच्या कोरडवाहू शेतकरयांना कापूस व ऊस या सारख्या अती पावसाच्या पिकांपासून वंचित ठेवण्यासाठी सरकारने तूर, ज्वारी व मूग यासारख्या भरड धान्यांच्या शेतीसाठी प्रती एकरी १० हजार संपूर्ण रुपये अनुदान द्यावे, हे भरड धान्य घेण्यासाठी बियाण्यांचा मोफत पुरवठा करावा, हे धान्य सार्वजनिक वितरण प्रणालीमध्ये वाटण्यासाठी सरकारने विशेष बोनस देऊन विकत घ्यावे, अशी कळकळची मागणी विदर्भ जनआंदोलन समितीने केली आहे.
गृह मंत्रालयाच्या राष्ट्रीय गुन्हे नोंदची (नॅशलन क्राईम रेकॉर्ड ब्युरोने) २०११ शेतकरी आत्महत्येची अधिकृत आकडेवारी जाहीर केली असून, संपूर्ण भारतात २०११ मध्ये १४००४ शेतकरयांनी आत्महत्या केल्या आहेत. त्यामध्ये पुरोगामी महाराष्ट्रात सर्वाधिक ३३३७ शेतकरयांनी आत्महत्या केल्याची अधिकृत कबुली भारत सरकारने दिली असल्याचे तिवारी यांनी म्हटले आहे. मागील वर्षी हा आकडा ३१४१ होता. महाराष्ट्रात ज्या ३३३७ शेतकरयांनी आत्महत्या केल्या आहे त्यामध्ये विदर्भ व मराठवाडा येथील कोरडवाहू शेतकरयांची संख्या ७० टक्के असून, या दुष्काळग्रस्त भागात मागील ५ वर्षांपासून सरकारने पॅकेजच्या नावावर १० हजार कोटी रुपयांच्यावर खर्च केले असून, ही सारी रक्कम राजकीय नेते व कंत्राटदारांनी चोरल्यामुळे शेतकरयांच्या आत्महत्या सुरूच असल्याचा आरोप किशोर तिवारी यांनी केला आहे. मागील लोकसभेच्या अधिवेशनात भारताचे कृषिमंत्री शरद पवार यांनी महाराष्ट्रात २०११ मध्ये फक्त ३३७ आत्महत्या झाल्याची\ कबुली दिली होती. मात्र, आता भारत सरकारच्या गृहमंत्रालयाने महाराष्ट्राच्या शेतकरयांच्या आत्महत्येचा आकडा ३३३७ असल्याची धक्कादायक माहिती दिल्यावर भारताच्या कृषिमंत्र्यांनी जाणून बुजून आत्महत्येच्या आकड्यातील ३३३७ मधील ३ चा आकडा कमी करून लोकसभा व देशाची दिशाभूल केल्याचा आरोप किशोर तिवारी यांनी केला आहे. शरद पवारांनी या शेतकरयांच्या आत्महत्येची जबाबदारी घेत आपल्या पदाचा राजीनामा द्यावा, अशी मागणीसुद्धा किशोर तिवारी यांनी केली आहे.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Farm suicides rise in Maharashtra, State still leads the list-P. Sainath

Farm suicides rise in Maharashtra, State still leads the list-P. Sainath

It accounted for well over a fifth of the total of 14,027 deaths in 2011
With a figure of at least 14,027 in 2011, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the total number of farm suicides since 1995 has touched 2,70, 940. The State of Maharashtra shows a rise in numbers yet again, logging 3,337 against 3,141 farmers’ suicides the previous year (and 2,872 in 2009). This, despite heavy massaging of data at the State level for years now, even re-defining of the term “farmer” itself. And despite an orchestrated (and expensive) campaign in the media and other forums by governments and major seed corporations to show that their efforts had made things a lot better. Maharashtra remains the worst single State for farm suicides for over a decade now.
The total number of farmers who have taken their own lives in Maharashtra since 1995 is closing in on 54,000. Of these 33,752 have occurred in nine years since 2003, at an annual average of 3,750. The figure for 1995-2002 was 20,066 at an average of 2,508. Significantly, the rise is occurring even as the farm population is shrinking a fact broadly true across the country. And more so in Maharashtra which has been urbanising more rapidly than most. The rising-suicides-shrinking-population equation suggests a major intensification of the pressures on the community. A better understanding of that, though, awaits the new farm population figures of the 2011 Census — not expected for many months from now. At present both national and State-wise farm suicide ratios (the number of farmers committing suicide per 100,000 farmers) are based on very outdated 2001 Census numbers.
Big five States
The 2011 total gets dicey with Chhattisgarh’s posting a figure of zero farm suicides. A zero figure should be great news. Except that Chhattisgarh had 7,777 farm suicides in the preceding five years, including 1,126 in 2010. It has been amongst the very worst States for such deaths for several years. The share of the worst (Big 5) states (Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh) as a percentage of total farm suicides, is now around 64 per cent. Even with Chhattisgarh showing a ‘zero’ figure, that is not much lower than the preceding five-year average for the Big 5 of close to 66 per cent. It could be that Chhattisgarh’s figures have simply not made it to the NCRB in time. Otherwise, it means that the State is in fact a late entrant to the numbers massage parlour. Others have been doing it for years. Maharashtra since 2007, following the Prime Minister’s visit to Vidarbha. Union Minister for Agriculture Sharad Pawar has strictly avoided using NCRB farm data in Parliament since 2008 because the data are unpleasant. (The union government however quotes the NCRB for all other categories). Now, governments are deep into fiddling the data that goes from the States to the NCRB.
With the Big 5 also staring drought in the face, what numbers the coming season will throw up is most worrying. Within Maharashtra, Vidarbha and Marathwada have already been under great stress (which in turn pushes officials to step up data fiddles). If the numbers are re-calculated using the annual average of Chhattisgarh in the past five years, the national total of farm suicides for 2011 would be 15,582. And the share of the Big 5 (at 10,524) would be nearly 68 per cent. That’s higher than the five-year average for those States, too. In 1995, the first time the NCRB tabulated farm suicide data, the Big 5 accounted for 56.04 per cent of all farm suicides.
In 2011, five States showed increases of over 50 farm suicides compared to 2010. These included Gujarat (55), Haryana (87), Madhya Pradesh (89), Tamil Nadu (82). Maharashtra alone showed a rise of 196. Nine States showed declines exceeding 50 farm suicides, of which Karnataka (485) and Andhra Pradesh (319) and West Bengal (186) claimed the biggest falls. That, of course, after Chhattisgarh, which claimed a decline of 1,126, with its zero farm suicides figure in 2011.