India'a bitter harvest (5/5/2007)

1.Bitter harvest
2.INDIA: AP govt holds introduction of Bollgard II cottonseed

EXTRACT: [World] Bank pressure enabled the entry of seed corporations like Monsanto. Today, most farmer suicides are precisely in those areas where Monsanto's seeds have spread.


1.Bitter harvest
Vandana Shiva
The Times of India, 4 May 2007

Farmers of India are facing a deep crisis - 150,000 have committed suicide in the last decade of trade liberalisation. Farmers' incomes are falling. India's anti-farmer policies are heavily influenced by the World Bank - a pity that the Bank's economists do not acknowledge this ('Produce And Perish', April 26).

The crisis of farmers' falling incomes has evolved in two phases. First came the Green Revolution (1965-1990). The second phase is the structural adjustment and trade liberalisation phase. First, the Bank pushed India on a monoculture path of chemical addiction. It provided credit to introduce a capital intensive agricultural model.

The Bank and USAID exerted pressure for favourable conditions for foreign investment in India's fertiliser industry, import liberalisation and elimination of domestic controls to import fertilisers, seeds and pesticides. The World Bank provided the credit.

The World Bank finances were an important element in the spread of a vast network needed for distribution of Green Revolution varieties. In 1963, the National Seed Corporation was established. In 1969, the Terai Seed Corporation was started with a World Bank loan of $13 million. This was followed by two National Seeds Project (NSP) loans.

The overall objective of the projects was to develop state institutions and create a new infrastructure for increasing the production of certified seeds. In 1988, the World Bank gave India a fourth loan for the seed sector to make India's seed industry more market-responsive.

The involvement of the private sector, including multinational corporations, in seed production is a special objective of NSP III ($150 million). This was viewed as necessary because sustained demand for seeds did not expand as expected. In self-pollinated crops, especially wheat and rice, farmer retention and farmer-to-farmer transfer accounted for much of the seed used. The Bank pressure enabled the entry of seed corporations like Monsanto. Today, most farmer suicides are precisely in those areas where Monsanto's seeds have spread.

Monsanto has been taken to court for its monopolistic practices. The hoarding and monopolistic practices of corporations like Cargill, Lever and ITC have pushed up the price of wheat. Farmers are earning less and the poor are paying more for food. The universal public distribution system was dismantled under World Bank pressure as have the APMC Acts. India's food security and sovereignty is being severely undermined by every policy intervention of the World Bank. Trade liberalisation and structural adjustment have added to the burden of Indian farmers.

Liberalisation under the structural adjustment programme of World Bank consists of the following elements: Liberalising fertiliser imports and deregulating domestic manufacturing and the distribution of fertilisers; removing land ceiling regulation, subsidies on irrigation, electricity and credit and creating conditions to facilitate the trading of canal irrigation water rights; deregulating the wheat, rice, sugarcane, cotton and edible oil and oilseed industries; dismantling the food security system; and removing controls on markets, traders, and processors, and subsidies to cooperatives.

Other elements are abolishing the Essential Commodities Act; the general ban on futures trading; inventory controls; and selective credit controls on inventory financing; treating farmers cooperatives on an equal footing with the private sector.

The Bank is recommending that India stops focusing on food grains and instead focus on export crop such as vegetables, shrimps and flowers. The World Bank's recent report only addresses horticulture for exports. This will not improve farmers' incomes; it will rob them of land and livelihoods. Export crops are at the root of the land conflicts in Barnala, Punjab. An Action Aid report shows how giant corporations drive down prices of agricultural produce. Hooking India's agriculture to Wal-Mart and TESCO will dispossess and deprive Indian farmers.

Our recent report on Corporate Hijack of Retail also shows how the model of corporate industrial globalised agriculture - that the World Bank is promoting - leads to falling prices for farmers and rising prices for consumers.


2.INDIA: AP govt holds introduction of Bollgard II cottonseed
Source: Agencies, May 3 2007

HYDERABAD: The State Government at a high-level meeting held here in the city has directed the Agriculture Department to hold the introduction of Bollgard-II variety of cottonseed in Andhra Pradesh, industry sources said here on May 02.

Mr N. Raghuveera Reddy, Minister for Agriculture who attend the meet commented that the introduction of Bollgard cottonseed at a higher rate at this juncture would only create confusion among farmers.

However, the decision to hold the introduction has hit a roadblock to the hopes of cottonseed companies to introduce Bollgard-II in Andhra Pradesh as the Agriculture Department officials has been directed not to be in a hurry to allow it.

Despite a high price of Rs 1850 for a packet of 450 gm, the Bt cotton acreage has gone up significantly in the last two years in the State; whereas on the other hand, seed manufacturers in the last year had agreed to reduce the price to Rs 750, following a legal conflict between the Andhra Pradesh Government and Mahyco-Monsanto Biotech Ltd (MMBL).

Further, MMBL announced introduction of Bollgard II technology even the companies agreed to sell Bollgard I seeds at Rs 750.

The price of Bollgard II cottonseed has been fixed at Rs 975, the price variation could trigger confusion as most of the farmers, who are not literate, don't distinguish between Bollgard I and Bolgard II.

The Bollgard I variety protects the cotton plant only from bollworm, while the Bollgard II offers a two-way protection against bollworm and heliothis.

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