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GMOs and the Looting of India’s Agriculture

Industrialised farming is often devoted to cash crops that meet the needs of industry rather than for producing food for people to consume
Peoples Voice on August 4, 2015 - 8:13 pm in Economics
From Sharad Pawar to Narendra Modi the power establishment wants India’s small farmers to move from farmland and farming to urban centers to form a vast pool of cheap labour to feed spiral of urbanisation. The farmland thus vacated would be used for highly lucrative real estate development or for industrialised agriculture. It is the latter that is promoted to be more efficient and cost-effective by votaries of this model and that is unfortunately the notion popularly held my educated chattering classes, which is ignorant or apathetic or both. Though the popular adage says that man can’t live by food alone, he certainly can’t live without it. If this model is allowed to succeed it would mean perennial food shortages. This may sound counter intuitive, but serious studies backed by data collated from different national and international sources has time and again proved that small farms are not only more productive but meet major part of food requirement throughout the world. [One reason for this, an important one too I suspect, is that industrialised farming is often devoted to cash crops that meet the needs of industry rather than for producing food for people to consume]

The farmers suicides in India and elsewhere are often cited as prime examples as to why small farms cannot be farmed economically, see farmers are committing suicide because farming is not remunerative, and as to why there is rural distress in a kind of circular logic devoid of meaning. It is never acknowledged in official circles and by vested agricultural experts that it is precisely the government agricultural policies and practices that are proving nemesis of the small farmers. If small farmers continue to survive, it is despite government’s efforts to write their epitaph and due to their resilience.

I came across a site that bust this tragic lie and  popular myth about big farms/industrialised farming with solid facts. Some of its incontrovertible findings were:
  1. The vast majority of farms in the world today are small and getting smaller
  2. Small farms are currently squeezed onto less than a quarter of the world’s farmland
  3. We are fast losing farms and farmers in many places, while big farms are getting bigger
  4. Small farms continue to be the major food producers in the world
  5. Small farms are overall more productive than big farms
  6. Most small farmers are women
The Site address is:
Then I came across an article, whose title forms the subject line of this mail. It was taking the argument made by the earlier site forward to India specific issues. The industrial corridors, Smart cities, e-Governance, etc. are catch phrases that cast a hypnotic spell on India’s urban HAVES and Aspiring  sections of the populace. But, this article observes;

With GDP growth slowing and automation replacing human labour the world over in order to decrease labour costs and boost profit, where are the jobs going to come from to cater for hundreds of millions of agricultural workers who are to be displaced from the land or those whose livelihoods will be destroyed as transnational corporations move in and seek to capitalise industries that currently employ tens of millions?
India’s development is being hijacked by the country’s wealthy ruling class and the multinational vultures. Meanwhile, the entrepreneurs who work the fields and have been custodians of the land and seeds for centuries, are being sold out to corporate interests whose only concern is to how best loot the economy. (Over the past decade or so, Monsanto has appropriated $900 million from small farmers in India.)

Though share of agriculture in India’s GDP [oh, that godlike word of growth pundits] has fallen to 18%, still 45% of Indians make a living from it. The share of agriculture may even be brought down to 1% in some economic model, but can the man’s food intake be reduced by corresponding percentages. The full article can be accessed here:

 

Sadanand Patwardhan

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