"the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture is at one and the same time a model of everything the Indian President appears to be promoting and the victim of a government and a bureaucracy that gives preference to corporations and disdains NGOs and real societal transformation." (item 1)
1.Encouragement and disdain for "societal transformers" - GM Watch
2.Kalam wants NGOs to be rural-centric - Ashok B. Sharma
3.ECO-SAVVY VILLAGE SHOWS THE WAY - Kavitha Kuruganti
1.Encouragement and disdain for "societal transformers" - GM Watch
How ironic is this? At exactly the same time that two Indian NGOs (Gene Campaign and the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture) have written to protest their treatment by the India government's Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, and the way in which their input has been sidelined (with the GEAC chairman even saying he is "not answerable to NGOs"), the Indian President has been explaining why he reposes so much faith in NGOs, calling them "societal transformers" and urging them to work in rural areas.
That rural focus is exactly what marks out NGOs like Gene Campaign and the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, who have also pointed the way to societal transformation.
The Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA), for instance, has not only shown the failure of Bt Cotton via its carefully conducted research (as has Gene Campaign), it has also drawn attention to the Punukula village initiative in Andhra Pradesh, which has been so overwhelmingly successful in enabling the growing of cotton without GM or any pesticides that it is now being taken as a model to hundreds of other villages in the state. Andhra Pradesh is, of course, the same state in which farmers have gone on the rampage in fury at the disappointing results they've had from GM cotton.
The Punukula village initiative was prompted by the work of the NGO, SocioEconomic and Cultural Upliftment in Rural Environment (SECURE) with support from another NGO, the Centre for World Solidarity (CWS) and later from the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture. Both of these NGOs are based not in New Delhi but in Hyderabad. (see item 2)
In other words, the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture is at one and the same time a model of everything the Indian President appears to be promoting and the victim of a government and a bureaucracy that gives preference to corporations and disdains NGOs and real societal transformation.
2.Kalam wants NGOs to be rural-centric
Ashok B. Sharma
Financial Express, April 26, 2005
NEW DELHI, APRIL 25: - President APJ Abdul Kalam on Monday urged the voluntary organisations to be "innovative and transparent in performance" and find out new paths for development of rural India. He suggested that NGOs should take up challenging tasks in remote areas.
Dr Kalam said employment generation was the foundation for rural development and projected his often-repeated PURA (providing urban facilities in rural areas) concept as a viable alternative.
Inaugurating the national summit of rural NGOs here, the President said the motto of an NGO should be "what I should be remembered for." He said the study of nearly 12,300 NGOs spread across the country indicated that they were engaged in tasks like rural housing, sanitation, watershed development, irrigation and drinking water supply, organic farming and agriculture product development.
The President said there was a tendency amongst the NGOs to take up development works in relatively developed states or areas closer to urban centres. Such acitivities are "not real challenges," he said and asked them to take up works in Bihar, eastern UP and northeastern states where there was a crying need for development.
About 2500 rural NGOs attended the conclave organised by the Union rural development ministry and Council for Advancement of People's Action and Rural Technology (CAPART). CAPART, an autonomous body, finances NGOs in implementing their various schemes.
The President, however, said, "The name NGO does not sound well. They can be called as Societal Transformers or any other name you all can consider."
Regarding funding of NGOs for development programmes, the President noted that they received about Rs 500 crore from multiple ministries and departments on an annual basis. Apart from this, there are funding from foreign contributors.
He suggested that funding through CAPART alone could be enhanced to Rs 10,000 crore, including contributions from other countries. Government funds for development work to be executed by NGOs should be approved by empowered boards of different ministries to avoid duplication, he pointed out.
The President noted that the flow of benefits of different schemes comes to a grinding halt as soon as the NGOs or government functionaries leave the scene. This, he said, should not be the case. Sustainable mechanism should be created for continuous functioning of the scheme, Dr Kalam said.
3.Eco-savvy village shows the way
December 2004/January 2005
PUNUKULA - a small, predominantly tribal, village in the state of Andhra Pradesh (AP), India - declared itself pesticide-free in 2003, even for crops which are notorious for their high pesticide consumption. Village farmers claim that their ecological approach to pest management is saving them Rs 3 million (GBP36,500) a year.
In the past five years, AP has seen frequent spells of drought and thousands of farmer suicides: some 1,200 suicides in three months of 2004 alone. One reason has been the crushing burden of debt incurred to buy expensive seeds and pesticides.
Farmers who migrated from another district of AP brought the cotton crop to Punukula more than 15 years ago, and with it pesticides, which local farmers soon started using. Initially, the pesticides worked well and several pesticide shops opened in the nearby town, where farmers could buy on credit. But gradually the pests became resistant and the ill farmers had to spend more and more on greater quantities of pesticides.
In addition to supplying seeds, fertilisers and pesticides, the dealers started extending loans to the farmers at high interest rates. As pest damage rose, and the debt trap closed in, farmers in Punukula started committing suicide.
The high use of pesticides also led to health problems. Women, who did most of the spraying, complained of skin problems, blurred vision and body pains. Srinu, the son of farmer Hemla Nayak, suffered acute pesticide poisoning and his treatment cost GBP200, a huge sum for his family to find.
In 1999, a local NGO, the SocioEconomic and Cultural Upliftment in Rural Environment (SECURE), suggested that the farmers try out ecological methods, based on the pestsÄô life-cycle. Support for this project was obtained initially from the Centre for World Solidarity (CWS) and later from the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA), both based in Hyderabad. Five selfhelp groups run by village women provided the determination and support to help make this shift possible.
SECURE began work with 20 farmers, including a few women. Earla Dhanamma, whose husband represented the interests of several pesticide companies, also joined in. Instead of chemical sprays, the farmers began preparing sprays made with inexpensive local materials such as neem seed powder and green chilli-garlic extract. The sprays were supplemented by hormone traps to attract the moths and destroy the
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