Archive for the ‘news’ Category

Become a member today

Yes, cows are coming to the Rodale Institute! We know a diversified farm is a healthy farm, and after years of building our soil and our research with cropping-systems only, it is time to invite grazing livestock back to the farm. This important work is one of the many ways in which we work to improve organic farming and food production. But we need your help.
Your membership makes possible new projects–like our dairy cow initiative– and ensures the continuation of our many other Rodale Institute initiatives in research, outreach and education.
Right now we’re preparing our fields to incorporate our neighboring farm’s dairy herd of 125 cows into our crop rotation.
Lean over the fence with our members-only newsletter to share in the progress of the herd and keep up-to-date on all the projects happening around the farm you’ve helped support.
Together we can:
Reveal the core benefits—environmental and economical—of an integrated crop and livestock rotation.
Share with farmers the benefits and best practices of incorporating grazing livestock back onto their land.
Spread the word by sharing our experiences and research findings with scientists, policy-makers, gardeners and consumers.
Secure the future of a healthy food supply.
Become a member today.
Our health depends upon it!
Advertisements

Kisan Swaraj yatra – coming to Kerala – Can we join the campaign

Dear Friends,

I hope you remember that since the last year and earlier this year, we all joined the  campaign against G M crops in India.  The response was very encouraging and we were able to communicate message to the people, media as well as to state govt. Although with the active efforts of Minister of Environment and Forest Mr. Jaiam Ramesh Govt. of India and with active support of State Governments like Kerala, has temporarily stopped the commercial cultivation of GM Brinjal but many other issues are still there which needs strong discussion and advocacy. Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA), a network of individuals and organizations across the country that has grown out of this movement has decided to initiate these issues.

The Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA), has announced that a Kisan Swaraj Yatra would set off from Sabarmati Ashram on October 2nd 2010, to remind all Indians of our hard-won independence and the insidious ways in which agri-business corporations, supported by the State are taking this independence and sovereignty away, especially with regard to our food and farming. This Yatra is a call for joining forces to save Indian farming and farmers mired in deep distress and to forge a sustainable path forward for Indian farming.

The Yatra will highlight issues such as seeds sovereignty, land grab, climate change, food sovereignty and security, GE seeds, chemical pesticides, farm produce pricing, etc. that directly and indirectly affect small farmers in addition to bringing up a debate around the proposed Green Revolution in Eastern India, the tie-ups that several governments have with MNCs like Monsanto, the continuing saga of farmers suicides and so on.

The Yatra will also raise the concerns over free trade and bilateral agreements, the proposed food security and seeds laws, BRAI Bill, the handing over of public resources for private gains etc. The Kisan Swaraj Yatra will also draw in urban consumers into its fold and will raise issues of food safety, consumer choices etc. The Yatra will celebrate the conservation of diversity by farmers, farmers knowledge and will highlight the successes of ecological farming. The participants will develop concurrent events, programmes, campaigns in accordance with the needs and priorities in their respective states.

The Yatra will visit Kerala from 26th to 29th of October. A concept note in English is attached. We have to plan the programmes for Kerala.  The Yatra will travel through Kasaragod, Kannur, Kozhikode, Malappuram and Palakkad.

To plan this we are calling a meeting along with Jaiva Karshaka Samithi and One Earth One Life on 15th September 2010 at Kozhikode at 11.00 am.  Please ensure you are able to participate in this meeting.  Please call Sridhar ( 09995358205) for details of venue of this planning meeting.
Hope for an active participation, cooperation and involvement in the Kisan Swaraj Yatra. At the bottom  is the concept note, travel details and a press release.
Regards:

Usha S (9447022775)
Sridhar R (9995358205)
Thanal

H-3, Jawaharnagar, Kawdiar P.O. Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
India PIN 695 003
Tel / Fax: +91 471 2727150
Email: mail.thanal@gmail.com
www.thanal.co.in
www.save-our-rice.net
www.zerowastekovalam.org

Concept note, travel details and a press release.

swaraj yatra-concept note-aug.25

KSY anncmnt-PR-aug.25

Natural Rubber Prices

A letter send to Google Groups like FEC and Trivandrum Bloggers

Prices for the month of July 2010: http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=0AjJUDQUJ7CS-dG9jTldCTzVHbXlEbU50WFE1ZENUT0E&hl=en&gid=5

The average price of Latex 60% drc changed at a higher level of Rs. 20375/Quintal. Can anybody say how it happens?

The leaders of Political Parties are against Import of Natural Rubber of One Lakh Tonnes at 7.5% Import Duty. But this import will be a reason for the price hike of International Price. The Domestic prices were higher at earlier month with a difference approximately Rs. 30/Kg when Indian Rubber Board Published the highest month end stocks. The Price difference between RSS 4 and Vyaapari Vila of Manorama (Which is not covered by the Board or on any Govt records) is varying according to their plans of the Biggest Manufacturer in India. Eg. Prices of June 2010 with a difference approximately Rs. 5 per Kg and Aug 2010 with a difference above Rs. 15 per Kg on many days of the month. If a manufacturer can play a game on prices where grading under the pretext of visual grading system we can imagine what will happen.

My conclusion: If the month end stock published by the Rubber Board is higher through continuous Missing Figures and import in front of the season of peak production to bring the prices down to export on lower prices (by the co-operative societies to reduce the profit share to the Govt of Kerala) to bring down the International prices can’t fulfill.  Because RTI Act 2005 is available for us to get the details of Export which is controlled by the Rubber Board.

Sorry for my poor English.

WTO was a failure to reduce the prices of Agricultural Commodities and now the time is for ASEAN. Just wait and see what will happen.

See the compiled study by a farmer on Indian Rubber Statistics Click here >>>>

A Report Submitted before the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices

I like to bring the following statistics to the kind notice of the commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices.

Price Indices of Coconut and some of its products with base year 1983

YEAR Coconut (WOH) Price Index Copra (Mill) Price Index Coconut oil Price Index
1983 1653 1362 2089
1984 2885 174.53 2186 160.50 3344 160.08
1985 1652 99.94 1299 95.37 2011 96.27
1986 1850 111.92 1404 103.08 2202 105.41
1987 2488 150.51 1966 144.35 3030 145.05
1988 2718 164.43 2099 154.11 3191 152.75
1989 2115 127.95 1595 117.11 2465 118.00
1990 2410 145.80 1802 132.31 2722 130.30
1991 3246 196.37 2682 196.92 4147 198.52
1992 3928 237.63 3055 224.30 4642 222.21
1993 3590 217.18 26.45 194.20 4033 193.06
1994 2939 177.80 2188 160.65 3329 159.36
1995 3104 187.78 2341 171.88 3555 170.18
1996 3384 234.97 3007 220.78 4542 217.42
1997 4707 284.75 3572 262.26 5387 257.87
1998 3989 241.32 3021 221.81 4537 217.19
1999 4933 298.43 3653 268.21 5558 266.06
2000 3357 203.09 2477 181.86 3669 175.63
2001 3050 184.51 2044 150.07 3100 148.40
2002 3783 228.86 2858 209.84 4340 207.75
2003 4666 282.27 3866 283.85 58.64 280.71
2004 5525 334.24 4353 319.60 6559 313.98
2005 5198 314.46 3774 277.09 5621 269.08
2006 4516 273.14 3360 246.70 5038 241.17
2007 3976 240.53 3322 243.91 4982 238.49
2008 5590 338.17 4183 307.12 6234 298.42

From the above table of price indices it is clear to note that when we take 1983 as the base year, for 1000 nuts WOH the price index for the current year is 338 indicating that the price increase noted on coconut for the current year is 3.38 times the price of their product for 1983. Similarly the price increase noticed on a quintal of milling copra for the current year is 307 indicating that the price increase for copra for the current year is 3.07 times the price of copra for 1983. The price increase noticed on one quintal of coconut oil for current year is 2.98 times the price of coconut oil for 1983.

Now we look with the wage/salary index category of Govt. servants and other workers. From office records one can easily observe that an Assistant in any university of Kerala would draw an initial basic pay of Rs. 675 carrying a DA of Rs. 112 with a total of Rs. 797 (excluding other allowances such as HRA, CCA which vary from place to place) during 1983 where as initial starting basic pay for the same post is Rs. 7990 carrying a DA of Rs. 3036 with a total of Rs. 11,026 during 2008. Thus the salary index of the salary of an Assistant who will enter in service during 2008 is 1383. Thus the salary increase noticed on the initial appointment as Assistant in an University during 2008 is 13.83 times that of 1983. From the diary records one could observe that the wage given to an agricultural labourer during 1983 would be Rs. 20 where as the wage given today is Rs. 250 which is around 12.5 tines the wage of 1983.

Look on the plight of the poor coconut farmers whose coconut products have shown a price growth of about 3 times over a period of 25 years whereas those of Govt. servants and other labourers attained a growth of 12.5 to 13.8 times. At this rate the economic condition of farmers who depend on coconut farms will only push them to suicidal point.  The Govt. is appeasing very much its employees by giving revised salaries, DA’s and reducing the tax burden year after year.The agricultural and other labourers also by their trade union power get a reasonable growth in their wages., while the poor coconut farmers toil in the soil, shed their sweat and blood without getting reasonable price for their products.

What is the role of Govt. in the Country? It is sharing the major portion of its resorces among its functionaries? In the Gross State Domestic product of Kerala (at constant prices) data provided in ‘Statistics of planning 2005’ published by the department of Economics and Statistics, Govt. of Kerala the contribution from agricultural sector over the years 1998-99 to 2003-04 are as given below.

YEAR 1998-99 1999-00 2000-01 2001-02 2002-03 2003-04
GSDP Rs. in lakhs (Agriculture) 721098 733584 576701 562236 569124 547472

The coconut  farmers are really the most troubled lot in the farming sector. Their crop being a crop meant for 50 or more number of years, they cannot switch over easily to other crops. they cannot nurture their farms because of insufficient   return. So the farm remain more and more unproductive contributing much of lower GDP. As rightly pointed out by Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, the MSP should be atleast  50% more than the weighted average cost of production so that the net take home income of farmers will be comparable to some extent of those in civil servants and other labourers. Hence I strongly feel that MSP for milling copra should be rised to a more reasonable level than Rs. 4900/qtl so as to make a kick start of retarded farm sector of Kerala.

By

P. Yageen Thomas

Professor & head

Dept. of Statistics

University of Kerala

Farm cost panel moots minimum remunerative price for crops

Suggests Rs 1,000 a quintal for paddy, Rs 2,100 for groundnut

New Delhi, Feb. 16 Forget minimum support price (MSP), it is minimum remunerative price (MRP) that seems to be the new official mantra for crops.

The Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) has recommended unprecedented increases in the MSPs of crops to be sown during the ensuing kharif season from May-June.

These range from 34-35 per cent for paddy and maize, 40-53 per cent for other coarse cereals (jowar, bajra, ragi), 25-40 per cent for pulses, 32-94 per cent for oilseeds, 39-48 per cent for cotton and 34-36 per cent for cigarette-grade Virginia flue cured (VFC) tobacco.

The CACP’s proposals — which are not binding on the Centre — are partly in response to the tight domestic supply situation in most agri-commodities and soaring international prices (especially for edible oils and rice) that render imports unfeasible. But more than that, they appear to have been heavily influenced by the report of the National Commission on Farmers, headed by Dr M.S. Swaminathan.

The Commission’s report had called for making the CACP an autonomous statutory organisation with its primary mandate being the recommendation of “remunerative prices” for all farm commodities.

Further, the MSP should be “at least 50 per cent more than the weighted average cost of production”, so that “the net take home income of farmers should be comparable to those of civil servants”.

An Agriculture Ministry official, when contacted, confirmed that “the CACP has basically adopted the Swaminathan formula of ensuring a minimum 50 per cent return over costs to farmers”.

new scenario

He said that in the new scenario, where rising non-farm incomes were creating disparities vis-À-vis the agriculture sector while simultaneously boosting demand for all foods, there was no point in just guaranteeing a basic “support” price to farmers.

“The latest official data for 2006-07 shows that while the country’s overall investment rate (gross capital formation as a proportion of gross domestic product) touched almost 36 per cent, it was barely 12 per cent within agriculture.

“Unless we change the focus to remunerative prices there will be no incentive for farmers to farm, leave alone invest in productive capacity”, he told Business Line.

The result: An across-the-board increase in MSPs recommended for all crops.

If accepted, it would practically reverse the situation prevailing till a couple of years ago, when official procurement prices were raised by a meagreRs 10 per quintal annually or not revised at all (soybean and VFC tobacco).

This time, even Virginia tobacco has not been spared, with the MSP of F2 (Black soil) grades being hiked from Rs 32 to Rs 43.5 a kg and that of L2 (Light soil) from Rs 34 to Rs 45.5 a kg.

Courtesy- Hindubusinessline

Buddha for Red Book rewrite to fight anti-industry lobby

Kolkata, January 3: Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has sought a change in CPI(M)’s tactical line to combat anti-industry lobby within the party and Left circles as well.

In the run up to the party’s state conference and party congress beginning January 13, Bhattacharjee on Thursday called for changes in Party Programme & Tactics, the Red Book for every CPI(M) cardholder. “In our party programe, land and agricultural questions have been addressed properly, earlier. But, in the changed context, a right tactical line should be adopted,” said Bhattacharjee. The changed context, he said, was the imperative need to industrialise the state to ease the burden on agriculture.

“There is no alternative to industrialisation without capitalism, even though we know that socialism is the best structure,” he said on the occasion of the 42nd anniversary of Ganashakti, the party organ.

“The Government does not have the capital (to invest)…. the reality has compelled me to invite private capital and there is no alternative to this,” said Bhattacharjee, who has found himself under siege in his second term after his grand plans to invite big industry and set up SEZs called for the acquisition of farmland.

Party sources said Bhattacharjee’s comments should be read to mean that the party had to make some changes in its basic thinking to allow for the acquisition of farmland and induction of private capital. The Government has made it clear on earlier occasions that the state has very little barren land, amounting to just one per cent of available land area, and large projects cannot do without some farmland.

“The state conference and the party Congress will debate these issues, since there are two lines of thought,” a senior party leader said. “One school—the old leaders based on land movement—are against farmland acquisition and the entry of private capital. The other is the changing face led by Bhattacharjee, which appreciates reality.”

The Chief Minister said: “Of the total available land, 23 per cent is occupied by industry and urban areas. Those who oppose our programme want us to stay within this. But we need at least another two or three per cent.”

A wiser Bhattacharjee also called for a proper rehabilitation policy, proper valuation and identification of land.

Courtesy: IndianExpress.com – 04-01-08

POISON EARTH

Dear friends,

I know it is a great new year. But I thought you should read this news, about the State of Affairs of our Food, Environment and Blood. Punjab, the land that showed the way forward in Grain production in India through the Green Revolution is today a state possibly irreparably damaged. The worst that many of us feared and have been fighting against has come true – Human DNA has been found to be mutated and worst every possible source of life contaminated.

And our regions may not be too far away.

This needs a generations concerted effort to correct and allow life to continue…

love and regards


For Thanal

Sridhar

Poison Earth
graphic
Courtesy an overzealous Green Revolution, Punjab has poison in its water and a cancer epidemic on its hands
graphic
CHANDER SUTA DOGRA
The Curse Is Spreading

* The Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh has conducted a study over two years in five villages along Punjab’s major rivulets in Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Amritsar districts
* 88 per cent ground water samples showed alarming levels of mercury, over 50 per cent samples of ground and tap water contaminated by arsenic
* Lady’s fingers, carrots, gourds, cauliflower and chillies found to have toxic levels of lead, cadmium, mercury; cadmium, arsenic, mercury are known carcinogens; mercury also affects the nervous system
* Pesticides beyond permissible limit found in vegetables, fodder, human and bovine milk, as well as blood samples
* 65 per cent blood samples showed DNA mutation; there has been a sharp increase in cancer, neurological disorders, liver and kidney diseases, congenital defects, miscarriages
* This health crisis has been caused by the overuse of pesticides and the dumping of industrial effluents, which have made soil and water toxic

Though it constitutes 2.5% of the country’s area, Punjab accounts for 18% of pesticide used in the country
***
Baljeet Kaur of Giana village in Punjab’s cotton belt has been battling cancer for the last 10 years. First it was her husband who died of colon cancer, now she has cancer of the oesophagus. Her neighbour Mukhtiar Kaur is being treated for breast cancer. The family had a hand pump at home which provided them water for their daily needs but abandoned it after health officials told them its water was toxic. Now they get raw canal water for drinking and cooking. “Who knows if it is the water which has brought this disease on me?” she says. “All I know is that scores of people in our village are dying of cancer.” In neighbouring Jajjal, the word cancer only evokes deja vu. Karnail Singh and his wife Balbir Kaur both have cancer, live in adjoining houses, each with one of their sons. “This village is cursed,” says their brother Jarnail Singh.
graphic
On death row: Jajjal’s Karnail Singh and his wife both have cancer, live in adjoining houses, each with a son
In Ghaunzpur in Ludhiana district, a good 200 km away, Manjit and Gurjit Singh lost both their parents to hepatitis; an uncle is afflicted with the same. The water from the hand pump in the courtyard turns foamy when heated, so they have dug a submersible pump which pumps out water from 300 ft below. Other households in the village cannot afford to do so.

For Punjab’s prosperous farming households and lush green fields, the famed Green Revolution is beginning to turn bilious from within. Its gushing tubewells, the cattle heavy with milk, the trolleys laden with vegetables destined for urban markets—all are likely to be contaminated with toxins. The state is sitting on an environmental crisis and few of have any idea of how to tackle it.

Some two years ago, when reports of increased cancer deaths first started coming in from the state’s cotton belt, the Chandigarh-based Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) decided to investigate. A preliminary study it conducted found a much higher prevalence of cancer in the Talwandi Sabo block and the presence of heavy metals and pesticides in drinking water in the area. It recommended a comprehensive study of the status of environmental health in Punjab’s other cotton-growing areas, the setting up of a cancer registry in the state, and regular monitoring of the drinking water. Of course, intense pressure from the pesticides lobby ensured none of this came to pass and the report was ignored.

This month, the PGIMER’s department of community medicine has submitted a comprehensive epidemiological study (see box) in areas along the state’s five major rivulets to the State Pollution Control Board. The results are so shocking that the board has put it under wraps and is having second thoughts about releasing it. Says Dr J.S. Thakur, an assistant professor at PGIMER, who conducted the study, “Our two studies show that all of Punjab is toxic and people do not have safe water to drink. Both agricultural and industrial malpractices are to be blamed for this.”

The worst affected is the southeastern Malwa region, better known these days as the ‘cancer belt’. To counter increasingly resistant pests, farmers here spray their fields with pesticide doses far above those recommended—often cocktailing two or more chemicals. As the former sarpanch of Jajjal, Najar Singh, told Outlook, “Although the recommended dose is about five sprays per season, we sometimes spray our fields 25 to 30 times. Almost every third day!” Punjab, which makes up for just 2.5 per cent of the country’s area, accounts for 18 per cent of the pesticides used in the country.
graphic
The state’s problem is their unregulated use, say experts, with most farmers unaware of how to use or dispose of the empty pesticide cans. So, in the last four decades pesticides have seeped into the underground water aquifers, as also in the state’s water bodies. And in the last 10 years, more and more well- off households along the drains have begun setting up submersible pumps to get water from deep aquifers, as water from taps and handpumps is unfit for human use.

Punjab’s finance minister Manpreet Badal is a legislator from Muktsar district’s Gidderbaha, located in the cancer belt. “In the 50 villages in my constituency,” he says, “there’d be a thousand-odd cancer cases. I’ve lost count of the funerals of cancer victims I’ve attended in my area since the beginning of this year. It is an epidemic here.” A train leaving from Bhatinda to Bikaner has been dubbed ‘cancer express’ as most patients from here go to Bikaner’s cancer hospital for treatment. Even a child in these parts knows what chemotherapy is about. “Our neighbour used to take hot injections before she died last year,” says little Kiranjot at Chandbaja village in Faridkot district. “Many others in our village have taken them.”

graphic
Giana’s Baljeet Kaur has cancer of the oesophagus
Dr G.P.I. Singh, who heads the department of community medicine in Ludhiana’s Dayanand Medical College, has recently begun studying, along with other private doctors across the state and NGO Kheti Virasat Mission (KVM), the impact of heavy metals and pesticides on reproductive health in Punjab. “One of the things worrying us,” he says, “is that the skewed sex ratio in both Punjab and Haryana could also be due to chemical exposure, as the female foetus is more vulnerable. We notice an increase in spontaneous abortions, infertility, distorted menarche and foetuses with neural tube defects.” There is also a high incidence of grey hair among children and young adults in this area. Ask for one, and most villages throw up several.

Not just pesticides, but unchecked effluent flow from industries into the rivers and drains too has contaminated underground water in Punjab. At Ghaunzpur, for instance, five paper mills dump their entire effluent unchecked into the Buddha Nullah. However, the state pollution board which is supposed to check industries such as these from polluting water bodies couldn’t be bothered. This is evident from the response of the board’s chairman, Yogesh Goel, when queried about the PGIMER report.”I’m busy right now. You can ask the secretary of the board about it,” he told Outlook. Quite predictably, the secretary too made himself unavailable. KVM director Umendra Dutt, who has been most active in raising the issue of cancer deaths in Punjab, feels that agricultural scientists in cahoots with pesticide manufacturing mncs have led to this health crisis. “All these years agricultural scientists have been advocating heavy doses of pesticides without informing farmers of the damage improper usage causes,” he says.

Meanwhile, though officials are aware of the problem, the state is yet to evolve a concrete water policy to address the problem. Says J.R. Kundal, Punjab’s secretary for water supply and sanitation, “Ideally, there should be an umbrella task force to deal with the problem in its entirety,” he says. “Presently, different agencies are conducting overlapping studies which will take us nowhere. I am heading a task force to study arsenic in water, while the state planning board is looking into drinking water and allied issues. Although 90 per cent of the underground water is used for irrigation and just 10 per cent for drinking water, we realise that this 10 per cent is crucial for the health of our people.”

With the government unsure of what to do, Manpreet Badal has installed four distribution points supplying Reverse Osmosis water in his constituency. “Till a statewide water supply scheme comes up,” says he, “I’ve taken this interim measure.” His people are lucky. Others in the state are condemned to drinking polluted water and suffer from deadly diseases, reaping the poisoned fruit of a Green Revolution gone unchecked.