Friday, August 17, 2007

Pesticides cocktail by neighbours

When a village woman in UK discovered that her health problems were coming from pesticides spraying happening next door, she immediately raised an alarm.However,surprise news-In UK farmers are under no obligation to reveal what chemicals they spray or affect on human health.
Is this reason enough to switch to organic farming?
Pesticide Nun
Jonathan Leake meets Georgina Downs, the one-woman whirlwind who’s holding the pesticide industry and politicians to account
Date:01/04/2006 Author:Jonathan Leake

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Impact of reduction of bio diversity in India

Many of us remember the crucial failure of the WTO's Fifth Ministerial Conference in Cancun, Mexico in 2003. It was on this day that Lee Kyung Hae, leader of the Korean Federation of Advanced Farmers, discovered that his loudest voice was in death.

Wearing a sandwich board that read, "The WTO kills farmers!"- Lee took a knife and stabbed himself in the chest. His death was ignored by the WTO and the mainstream media. Given the lack of attention, many argue that his violent end was in vain. Sadly, his dishonored death is one of thousands being ignored by corporate mainstream media.

In 2003, 17,107 farmers committed suicide. In the last few years, the number of documented suicides in India's rural areas has skyrocketed. These suicides have become so commonplace that they are mystifying a nation and polarizing the debate over biotechnology.

On the surface, the massive numbers of farmer suicides lack the social unity and revolutionary opposition other revolutions employ. In fact, the local Indian government refuses to address the correlation between agrarian suicides and economic exploitation, making it difficult for the international public to apply real social forces to these farmers' actions.

However, research shows the massive numbers of farmer suicides are linked not only with economic disparity, but with corporate exploitation by multinational agribusinesses.

Whether addressed as "agrarian martyrs" or merely desperate peasantry, exploited Indian farmers, like Lee Kyung Hae, have found that their loudest voice is in death.

In a religiously and ethnically segmented nation, their actions have founded a cultural unity that confronts the evils of globalization. Thus, the insanely high volume of farmer suicides serves as a shockingly unique medium of proletarian outcry.

The Republic of India is one of the top twelve nations in the world in terms of biodiversity. Featuring nearly 8% of all recorded species on Earth, this subcontinent is home to 47,000 plant species and 81,000 animal species. Simultaneously, India is home to the largest network of indigenous farmers in the world. Yet biotechnology has led to extreme environmental degradation in the region, threatening to replace its diverse ecology with corporate hybrid monoculture. The original Green Revolution was supposed to save 58 million Indian hectares. Today, 120 million of the 142 million cultivable hectares is degraded- over twice the magnitude that the Green Revolution attempted to save! In the Indian state of Punjab, 84 of the 138 developmental blocks are recorded as having 98% ground water exploitation. The critical limit is 80%. The result has had devastating impacts on the agricultural community, leaving exploited farmers with little choice of action. In the past six years, more than three thousand farmers have committed suicide in Andrha Pradesh, that is six to ten farmers everyday! When did this start? Why is this occurring?

And why have such little media attention been given to this crisis?

There are three potential causes for the onset of these self-inflicted massacres:

1) exploitation by multinational agribusinesses

2) severe economic disparity and

3) a means of resistance by exposing the abuse of the agrarian sphere.

In 1998, around the inception of mass farmer suicides, the World Bank imposed regulations that opened up India's seed market to corporate multinationals like Monsanto. Non-renewable GM crops now replaced a self-sustainable farming system that had been perfected over thousands of years.

While corporate agribusinesses impose their hybrid monoculture on peasant farmers, they refuse to consider the biodiversity that is desired to maintain traditional practices.

For example, 75% of cultivable Indian land exists in dry zones. Non GM rice utilizes 3,000 liters of water in order to produce one kilo, while non-renewable hybrid rice requires 5,000 liters per kilo! Cotton, largely considered the "pesticide treadmill," makes India the third largest cotton grower in the world, accounting for 1/3 of its export earnings.

Continuous GM cotton crop failures resulted in the state of Andrha Pradesh, the seed capital of India, prohibiting the sales of Bt cotton varieties by Monsanto. This perpetual poverty is sustained by the bourgeois pursuit of maximizing production at the lowest possible expense!!!!!

Last year the Indian government forced Monsanto to cut the royalties they receive from the patented seeds in India- but Monsanto has appealed to the Indian Supreme Court. The economic disparity of Indian farmers only increases as they try to keep up with the lowest import prices. It is estimated that they are losing $26 billion annually.

In fact, non Indian farmers receive six times the amount of GDP that Indian farmers get, requiring an exorbitant amount of loans to be taken out. While 90% of farm loans come from money lenders, they are charged anywhere from 36-50% interest, placing them in a cyclical mode of poverty. Surely poverty alone cannot be responsible for such massive amounts of bloodshed! After all, poverty has always existed, so what is it about current conditions that have led to all this bloodshed? The fact is that mass suicides have transformed these farmers into agrarian martyrs for peasants everywhere. Their deaths are inspiring significant social forces both by the government and among its citizens. In response to the crisis, the government has implemented compensation laws in which the victim's family receives free electricity and $3,500. In response to economic disparity, the Indian government imposed a one year suspension for all agriculture loans while waiving interest.

However, monetary compensation laws only provide more economic incentive for suicide, thus the citizens of India are forced to devise alternative solutions to the problem. Arguably, the mass suicides can be seen as a revolutionary tactic... Dr. R. Raghuarami, an Indian psychologist, argues that many of the farmers are takingtheir lives with direct intent of addressing attention to the agrarian struggle. He argues that "suicide by one farmer is inviting others to do the same." The All Indian

Kisan Sabha (AIKS), or peasants front of the Communist Party in India view this agrarian crisis as a direct result of proletarian exploitation. S. Ramachandran Pillai, AIKS president, "called for a united movement of the peasantry to fight the neo-liberal imperialist offensive looming large all over the country." AIKS has formed allies with other social groups like the Agricultural Workers Union, Adivasi Kshema Samithi, Center for Indian Trade Unions and the Democratic Youth Federation of India to combat neoliberalism and to voice demands for proletariat justice.

The nation is calling upon cultural unification to combat the imperialist offensive and the corrupt bourgeois government. The debate on the true reasons for the uproar of suicides and the effects of GM crops remains heated... but, unfortunately, it is very likely that the rest of the world would not have been aware of this current crisis if it were not for these intense disputes. With each passing day, an estimated seven more farmers die.... the question remains, are you listening?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Harvard says Vegetariniasm is ok

But of course, we already knew that. A diet based on plants,grains,nuts,milk is perfectly adequate for human being.Here is complete source.

content by:

But what about deficiencies?

Iron. Studies have shown that in Western countries, meat eaters and vegetarians get about the same amount of iron. But meat, particularly red meat, contains heme iron, which is much more readily absorbed than the non-heme form in plant foods. Other dietary factors affect the absorption of non-heme iron. Enhancers include vitamin C. Inhibitors include phytic acid in whole grains, legumes, lentils, and nuts; polyphenols in tea, red wine, and other food; and possibly soy protein. In the West, vegetarians do tend to have lower iron "stores" in their bodies. Some studies also indicate lower levels of hemoglobin. But vegetarians don’t have higher rates of iron-deficiency anemia, and some studies suggest that their lower iron stores may have health benefits.

Protein. Studies show that most vegetarians get the 50 grams of protein per day recommended by the FDA as part of a standard 2,000-calorie diet. Beans, dairy products, eggs, nuts, and soy have plenty of protein. Vegetarians used to be told that they needed to be careful about getting complementary proteins because plant-based proteins don’t come with all the amino acids contained in meat protein. Because most vegetarians in developed countries eat an ample supply of protein, they end up getting the full set of amino acids, so juggling foods to get complementary proteins isn’t necessary.

Vitamin B12. Dairy foods and eggs are good sources, so many vegetarians get plenty of vitamin B12. The stricter vegan diet, which doesn’t include any animal-based foods, could theoretically lead to a shortage of B12. The vitamin is added to several brands of breakfast cereal (Total, for example) as well as some brands of soy milk. Note, though, that many "natural" health-food cereals are not fortified with any vitamins, including B12.

Monday, July 30, 2007

US Farm Bill 2007 debate

Here are some more resources on US Farm Bill debate 2007
Here are some key groups working on reforms of the Farm Bill—many offer ways to sign
up for emailed updates. Another great resource is the book Food Fight: The Citizen's Guide to a Food and Farm Bill, by Dan Imhoff.

  • Public Health Action on the Farm Bill: .
  • National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture: .
  • Environmental Working Group: .
  • National Family Farm Coalition: .
  • Slow Food USA: .
  • Om Organics: .
  • Community Alliance with Family Farmers: .
  • .
  • Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy: . .
  • Community Food Security Coalition: .
  • Farm and Food Policy Project: .
  • American Farmland Trust: .

Thursday, July 26, 2007

US should end agricultural payments

US- the great messiah of free trade should stop subsidizing its agriculture, handing out farm payment to its odd 25,000 cotton farmers and let real world cotton price surface
In last 5 years, US govt has handed out $70 billion in payments to its farmers.
Don't believe me? Check out these databases
US Farm Subsidy database link
The bill would perpetuate an outdated and hugely expensive — $70 billion over the last five years — system of price supports and direct payments that disproportionately rewards big growers of row crops like corn, wheat and soybeans. More than half of this spending is concentrated in about 20 Congressional districts.

Incredibly, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, touts the bill as a big step toward reform. Ms. Pelosi seems especially proud of a new means test under which farmers with adjusted gross incomes of $1 million or more would no longer receive subsidies, down from the present cap of $2.5 million.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Gluten less wondrous Amaranth Seed

Ever noticed bright red leaves of Chaulai or Amaranth plant? Totakoora in Telugu.
It used to come in winters of Delhi, place where I grew up and always hated it. It turns out its seed are gluten less and more nutritious than wheat.
Read on more about this wonder grain-Amaranth or Rajageera

Amaranth has a "sticky" texture that contrasts with the fluffier texture of most grains and care should be taken not to overcook it as it can become "gummy." Amaranth flavor is mild, sweet, nutty, and malt like, with a variance in flavor according to the variety being used.

Amaranth keeps best if stored in a tightly sealed container, such as a glass jar, in the refrigerator. This will protect the fatty acids it contains from becoming rancid. The seeds should be used within 3 to 6 months.

The leaves of the amaranth plant taste much like spinach and are used in the same manner that spinach is used. They are best if consumed when the plant is young and tender.

Amaranth seed is high in protein (15-18%) and contains respectable amounts of lysine and methionine, two essential amino acids that are not frequently found in grains. It is high in fiber and contains calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamins A and C.

The fiber content of amaranth is three times that of wheat and its iron content, five times more than wheat. It contains two times more calcium than milk. Using amaranth in combination with wheat, corn or brown rice results in a complete protein as high in food value as fish, red meat or poultry.

Amaranth also contains tocotrienols (a form of vitamin E) which have cholesterol-lowering activity in humans. Cooked amaranth is 90% digestible and because of this ease of digestion, it has traditionally been given to those recovering from an illness or ending a fasting period. Amaranth consists of 6-10% oil, which is found mostly within the germ. The oil is predominantly unsaturated and is high in linoleic acid, which is important in human nutrition.

The amaranth seeds have a unique quality in that the nutrients are concentrated in a natural "nutrient ring" that surrounds the center, which is the starch section. For this reason the nutrients are protected during processing. The amaranth leaf is nutritious as well containing higher calcium, iron, and phosphorus levels than spinach.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Spices from middle ages

If we can believe a favorite myth of the Assyrians, whose chiseled stone tablets represent the earliest written records yet discovered, at least one spice was known before our world was created! These early peoples, who lived thousands of years before Christ, claimed that their gods were drinking sesame seed wine at a gathering held just before they made the Earth.

From the hieroglyphics on the walls of the pyramids, to the scriptures of the Bible, we find constant mention of the important part spices played in the lives of the ancients. Some of the spices, herbs and seeds we know today, were cultivated by the early peoples of the western world, our word, "aroma" was the ancient Greek word for "spice".

Along the trade routes of antiquity went caravans with as many as 4,000 camels bearing spices and the rich merchandise of the East, plodding along from Goa, Calicut and the Orient to spice markets in Nineveh and Babylon; Carthage, Alexandria and Rome. Joseph, of the coat of many colors, was sold to spice traders by his envious older brothers: "And behold, a company of Ishmaelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt."

The route from Gilead to Egypt was part of the "golden road to Samarkand" traveled for hundreds, almost thousands of years, bringing pepper and cloves from India, cinnamon and nutmeg from the Spice Islands (or Moluccas), ginger from China.

For hundreds of years frail ships clawed their way along the Indian coast, past the pirate-infested Persian Gulf, along the coast of South Arabia and through the Red Sea to Egypt. Those were typical ways of bringing spices from the Orient to the Western world in ancient tunes. As early as the days of Tiberius Caesar they discovered that ships scud-ding before the blast of the monsoon - the seasonal wind from the Indian Ocean, blowing east in summer, west in winter - could bring their spice cargoes to market in record time. Shipwrecks and storms brought large losses and there were constant robberies, but the risks were outweighed by the eventual profits for, as might be expected during the highly developed Greek and Roman eras, spices were in great demand.

So costly that only the wealthy could afford them, spices nevertheless were used in every conceivable way. Many and varied were the aromatics, which seasoned the delicacies served at Roman banquets. Medicines required great quantities of spices and herbs, as witness the writings of Hippocrates, Theophrastcs, Dioscorides and Pliny. Bay leaves (or laurel) were woven into crowns for Olympic heroes; spice-scented balms were used after baths; spice-flavored wines were popular; incense made of spice was burned in temples and even along the roads.

For centuries, since 950 B.C. (or earlier), the Arabs were the masters of this dangerous but lucrative trade. In the Old Testament of the Bible, Ezekiel 27-22, it is recorded: "The traders of Sheba and Raamah traded with you; they exchanged for your wares the best of all kinds of spices, and all precious stones and gold". The Arabs kept Europe completely in the dark as to the source of many of the Oriental spices.

Actually, they bought their spices from the Indians and from Chinese and Javanese merchants who put into Indian ports. But when questioned by would-be rivals from Europe, they would tell shuddery tales of the dangers they faced in gathering the spices in mysterious far-off lands.

Islam gave great impetus to the Arabs' activities in the spice trade. Mohammed, born about 570 A.D., married a wealthy spice-trading widow and as his Islamic missionaries made their way throughout Asia they spread their faith at the same time that they gathered up spices.

To understand the amazing prestige of spices in ancient times we must remember for one thing that food was neither good nor palatable. There was no cattle fodder that could be stored, so beef was killed in the autumn and salted. There were no potatoes; no corn, tea, coffee or chocolate. There were no lemons with which to prepare refreshingly acid beverages, and neither was there sugar with which to sweeten them. However, a dash of pepper, a little cinnamon or ginger, mixed with even the coarsest dishes, could make them palatable. The demand for spices spread like a wave over Europe - even beyond the fringes of civilization. As ransom, when he lay siege to Rome, Alaric the Visigoth demanded 3,000 pounds of pepper and later, an additional tribute of 300 pounds annually. The barbarians from the north were quick to learn that spices kept their meat fresher and thus lessened the supply problem during their constant forays.

Whether spices came by sea or by land, they had to come by way of Cairo, Egypt. "Whoever is lord of Cairo," said the merchant pilot, "may call himself lord and master of (Christendom. . . and. . . of all the islands and places where the spices grow), since of necessity all merchandise of spicery from whatever direction can come and he sold only in the land of the Sultan."
From Cairo the spices were shipped to Alexandria and there they were bought and shipped by the Venetians, and the Genoese, who rode the crest of swelling demand for spices to fabulous wealth. The spice trade, calculated to supply the demands of medieval trans-Alpine cookery, was great not only in volume but in value, it has been assessed as worth, at the very least a million ducats annually. A single big Venetian galeasse returning from Alexandria with her holds full of spice-sacks would carry cargo to the value of 200,000 ducats.*

During the Middle Ages in Europe, a pound of ginger was worth the price of a sheep; a pound of mace would buy three sheep or half cow; cloves cost the equivalent of about $20 a pound. Pepper, always the greatest prize, was counted out peppercorn by peppercorn. The guards on London docks even down to Elizabethan times, had to have their pockets sewn up to make sure they didn't steal any spices. In the 11th Century, many towns kept their accounts in pepper; taxes and rents were assessed and paid in this spice and a sack of. pepper was worth a man's life.

One day, in the year 1271, a young Venetian set out with his father and uncle on a 24-year journey which was to take them all over Asia, as far as fabled Cathay, or China. His name was Marco Polo and his book of traveler's tales was to lead to the downfall of Venice, the destruction of the Arabian Empire, the discovery of the New World and the opening of trade with the Orient.

Not only had the Polos' wanderings taken them to the rich court of Kublai Khan, "Zipangu" and the land of the Tartars, but Marco Polo was able to tell of the hot countries where he'd seen spices grown. He wrote of Java, "from thence also is obtained the greatest part of the spices that are distributed throughout the world." He told of the door to India, Ormus, "Whose port is frequented by traders from all parts of India, who bring spices and drugs. . . These they dispose to a different set of traders, by whom they are dispersed throughout the world." He described the kingdom of Dely as a place that "produced large quantities of pepper and ginger, with many other articles of spicery."

Suddenly European merchants realized these places could be reached by ship. Much of the mystery had had been removed from the lands of spicery, and Europe was awakened to a new quest. First Portugal, then Spain and England, then Holland and eventually even the newly founded United States entered one of history's most exciting contests. During nearly four centuries, the major western powers
raced each other to the Orient and battled each other for control of the spice-producing lands.

The little seafaring country of Portugal now claimed Ceylon, the East Indies and finally the Spice Islands themselves and became for a time one of the richest nations of Europe.

Meantime, spices contributed their most important gift to western peoples. They lured men into the discovery of a great New World. Christopher Columbus, Genoese mapmaker and day-dreamer, carrying Spain's colors into the drive for spices, made his famous voyage across the Atlantic and discovered America. The only aromatic plants he found in the Western World, however were capsicums, "plenty of aji, which is their pepper, which is more valuable than pepper, and ‘allspice or pimenta,’ a tree whose leaf had the finest smell of cloves that I ever met with." Thus wrote Dr. Chanca of Columbus's expedition.

Spain's delayed entry into the spice race was speeded up not only by Columbus, but five years later by the navigator-explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who was successful in making the first trip to the east by heading west across the Atlantic in 1519. Although Magellan himself was killed in the Philippines two years later and four of the five ships of the expedition lost, the remaining ship, the Victoria, returned to Spain with enough spices to pay for the entire expedition. Nevertheless, Spain continued the spice quest only briefly, King Charles of Spain selling his rights to the Spice Islands to his brother-in-law, John III of Portugal. The gold of the Incas proved a stronger attraction to the Spaniards.

Portugal remained dominant in the Far Eastern spice lands until the end of the 16th Century, when the Dutch entered the competition in earnest. Van Houtman and Van Neck, each in command of expeditions to the Indies, made friends with native sultans, and organized trading posts which eventually gave their country a monopoly in the early 17th Century. With the Dutch conquest of Malacca in 1641 the Malay Peninsula and northern Sumatra canie under their control.
In 1650 they took over the cinnamon trade in Ceylon; in 1663 the best pepper ports of the Malabar Coast were theirs. Before the end of the 17th Century Macassar on the Island of Celebes and Bantam in Java were added to make the Dutch complete masters of the immensely profitable spice trade.

The Dutch ruled the market with a rod of iron. If the price of cinnamon fell too low in Amsterdam, they burned the spice. They soaked their nutmegs in milk of lime, a process which did not affect flavor, but supposedly killed the germ of the nut. This was to prevent nutmegs from being planted elsewhere.

France's role in spice trading was generally a minor one, not backed by its government. French sea captains out of Dieppe had quietly made their way down along the coast of Africa by 1365, some 50 years before the Portuguese got there. They did not manage to create a rnonopoly as did the Arabs, Venetians, Genoese, Portuguese and later the Dutch, They did, however, help destroy the century-old Dutch spice monopoly when, in 1770, the French contrived to "kidnap" enough cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg plants from Dutch possessions to begin spice-growing in the French islands of Reunion, Mauritius and Seychelles in the Indian Ocean and in French Guiana on the north coast of South America.

Meanwhile, the great sea-faring English people were not idle. They, too, were looking for routes to the riches of the East. In 1527 British merchant Robert Thorne wrote to Henry VIII suggesting a search for the "Northwest passage" to India and the Indies: "The Spaniards hold the westward route, by the Straits of Magellan; the Portuguese the eastward, by the Cape of Good Hope. The English have left to them but one way to discover- and that is by the North." These attempts led them to important discoveries in North America, but not to the lands of spices. Yet, navigators such as Lancaster, Cabot, Cavendish, Raleigh, Drake and the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, made England a power at sea. In 1600 the British East India Company was chartered by Queen Elizabeth, with spice cargoes as its big objective. Where the Dutch controlled the East Indies, the English were gaining supremacy on the mainland of India itself. In 1780, the Dutch and the English fought a war, which was to be ruinously costly to the Dutch East India Company. In 1795 the English took Malacca and a year later all Dutch property and trading centers except Java. The Dutch East India Company had to be dissolved in 1799.

On June 23, 1672, the first colonial American took an active part in spice-trading: Boston-born Elihu Yale - later to give his money and name to the great. university - arrived in Madras, India, as a clerk of the British East India Company. There he established contacts on which he built afortune in spices.
It was not until a century later that America entered the spice trade in a big way. Father of the American spice trade was a dashing Yankee sea captain named Jonathan Carnes. Sailing on one of the early American trading voyages out of Salem in 1778, he discovered places in the Orient, principally in Sumatra, where he could deal directly with the natives, thus circumventing the Dutch monopoly. He convinced the Peele family of Salem to back him and in 1795 made a voyage, which yielded 700% profit in spices.

This sent America into the spice competition so actively that between 1784 and 1873, about a thousand vessels made the 24,000 mile-long trip to Sumatra and back. In 1818, when the pepper trade was very brisk indeed, 35 vessels made the long and dangerous trip. It isn't at all surprising to learn that the pepper trade furnished a great part of the import duties collected in Salem (which at one point were enough to pay five per cent of expenses of the entire U.S. government).

Pirates finally put America out of the oriental trade. Our merchant ships were raided and destroyed time and again. The idealistic young United States government decided it would be improper to back the spice trade with naval protection in foreign waters.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

US Health Market

Tuberculosis: Extracting Value From a Stagnant Market

Brief No.

30 Sep 2002

Buy Now $ 1,500

Product BrochureSummary of Contents


The TB treatment and prophylaxis market has experienced limited growth and activity over the last 40 years, as companies have perceived TB as primarily a "poor disease". However, the market now looks to hold greater potential, with rising incidence in the US, and improved diagnostics creating a renewed demand for both vaccination and therapeutics.

Scope of this report

  • Overview of TB pathology and epidemiology

  • Review of current TB diagnostic technologies and areas of unmet need in the diagnostics market

  • Assessment of current TB treatment, highlighting areas of unmet need and potential market opportunity

  • Analysis of the prophylaxis market providing strategic insight into clinical trial design and strategies for market penetration

  • Report Highlights

    There are three key areas within the TB market with high levels of unmet need, namely diagnostics, therapeutics, and prophylaxis.

    TB vaccines with higher efficacy and longevity will help to persuade governments in the developed world to reconsider including TB prophylaxis in immunization schedules.

    Improvements in the rapidity and accuracy of diagnostic technologies will drive patient potential and market growth. The development of second line treatment options for resistant infection will increase the value of the TB treatment market.

    Key reasons to buy this report

  • Identify the areas of the TB market which offer the highest potential for new market entrants

  • Understand the changing competitive dynamics in the TB market

  • Identify the key epidemiological trends for TB in the major markets

  • Wednesday, June 13, 2007

    Water Harvesting Benefits

    From editorial of Down to Earth Magazine.
    By Sunita Narain

    Some innovations change lives. A favourite of mine is the village milk
    collection system, a cooperative model. There's a dairy in the village,
    people bring in milk, the dairy in-charge places a sample on an
    instrument, checks the fat content, prints a receipt that tells the
    seller the fat content and the price. Once a week, the milk-seller
    encashes receipts. As most villages do not have electricity, instruments
    and computers work on diesel generators. Every day the co-operative's
    van arrives to take the milk for sale in the nearby town.

    In villages I visited last week, in arid Rajasthan, I saw this system at
    work. In the evening young girls, women and men streamed into the dairy.
    Their milk was checked, they collected their receipt. I asked them if
    they could read the numbers, written in English. They did not know the
    language, but could read their receipts. Just consider the economics:
    one buffalo gives roughly 5 litres of milk each day; people earn,
    depending on the fat content, Rs 15 to Rs 25 per litre. Even the
    poorest-one-buffalo owners-earn. The money reaches them directly, in
    their village.

    Consider also that this village, Laporiya, has seen a back-breaking
    drought for the past nine years. Meteorological data shows the last good
    monsoon was in 1997; it rained 700 mm. Since then rainfall has varied
    from 300-400 mm, it comes in a few cloudbursts. It is in this situation
    animals become the mainstay of the economy. Animal care is much less
    risk-averse than agriculture. The dairy is the vital link in
    adversity-it links people to the market. It helps them cope with scarcity.

    Market and retail proponents must understand this system is simple but
    not simplistic. It provides for the poorest and most marginalised, by
    investing in improving the productivity of common grazing lands. A
    critical move, for livestock need fodder, usually desperately short
    during -peak droughts. Lesser the fodder, lesser the milk. This is
    investment in hard-core infrastructure, critical for markets to function.

    But today, across India, fodder is desperately short. Where there is
    land but no water for irrigation, farmers cannot cultivate crops, and so
    cannot use the bonus of residues for animals. The common lands-village
    grazing lands and forest lands-are over-exploited and under-productive.
    In most regions, villagers have told me they spend Rs 12,000 to Rs
    20,000 per year of their meagre earnings, on an average, to buy fodder.
    But this economy is underground. There is no fodder policy in India, no
    intervention to protect the grazing lands or improve the productivity of
    forestland for food for our livestock. This is the 'other' food crisis.

    It must be understood that livestock is not wasted or inefficient. It
    plays a critical role in the village agricultural and livelihood
    economy-from manure to enhancing soil productivity and nutrition. But
    its food is nobody's priority. The pastures-reserved for animal
    grazing-have shrunk over the years; forestlands are the only remaining
    commons. Foresters say animals are biotic pressures; they suppress
    regeneration of forests. They want domestic livestock out of these
    lands. Their concerns may be valid. But it is equally important to note
    that domestic animals will need forests, as much as wildlife. We need an
    explicit policy for this food crisis. We need to find answers.

    For instance, the dairy in Laporiya works even in severe drought because
    it is connected to the common grazing land. In this village and its
    vicinity, the NGO Gram Vikas Navyuvak Mandal has spent huge energies to
    vacate encroachments from common grazing lands. These lands are
    administratively under the gram panchayat, but over the years most have
    been taken over-not by the poor but by the powerful. It is a tense
    battle within the village to reclaim the commons. Laws to protect such
    lands are weak, the administration helpless. But without the supportive
    common pasture, there can be little private gain, particularly for the

    Reclaiming the commons is the first step towards regenerating these
    lands. In these villages a fascinating technique has been evolved,
    called the 'chauka' system, to trap the little rainfall they get and
    improve the grasslands. The villagers dig rectangular trenches-less than
    1 feet deep-to temporarily hold rainwater before it flows into the next
    trench and then the next and so into the tank. With this system in
    place, the village common land has become a grand water collection area.

    The aim is to make the entire village a rain collection system, to
    recharge the aquifer, withstand drought. In neighbouring Sihalsagar
    village, every bit of land has been re-crafted for water-villagers have
    dug three big nadis (ponds), 25 small ponds and made chauka in their
    grazing land. Every field has a bund; every drop of rain is trapped and
    harvested. As a result, the village has water even as its neighbours do
    not. Since work began on water conservation, the village has never seen
    bountiful rain. But it still has some water.

    In other words, even meagre rain, if harvested, can provide sustenance.
    The issue then is to increase the productivity of each raindrop. If that
    scarce water is used for crops, it will benefit some and not all. It
    will also deplete the groundwater table, for farmers will dig deeper to
    get water for their fields. The economy will not be sustainable. On the
    other hand, if that water is used to turn it into milk, it will add
    value to that scarce resource. If that milk is processed locally, so
    that more value is added, it will make the economy prosper. The market
    will work, but only if this politics of scarcity is understood.

    In the dingy dairy of Laporiya I learnt: last year, after nine years of
    persistent drought, when it rained less than 300 mm, the village of 300
    households sold milk worth Rs 17.5 lakh. It was a valuable lesson. I
    will not forget it easily.

    Thursday, June 7, 2007

    To homogenise or not homogenise

    I don't if anyone noticed or not, but non homogenised milk tastes far better than homogenised milk. In fact , drinking non homongenized milk for 23 years in India, my system just couldn't digest this artificially processed milk. It turns out, apart from having horrible taste, homogenized milk is extremely bad for human health. (I for one, can not digest normal homogenized milk). Organic or non organic.
    For me, organic means-closest to nature,minimal processing, way nature/God intended different species to co-exist with each other.
    Read Further Here..

    Here is further report on homogenisation
    But, you ask, "homogenising was developed for the benefit of consumers, surely?" Not true. Homogenising was developed to reduce the fat particles to such a fine extent they no longer separate out, so that the milk lasts longer on the shelf. It is only one of many processes food is now subjected to entirely for commercial purposes. Consumers have to contend with foods being irradiated, genetically engineered, homogenised and processed using any other novel method that will benefit the corporations producing it. Homogenising extends milk shelf-life to 11 days or so. It has no beneficial food value; in fact, the very opposite.
    Dr Kurt Oster, head of cardiology in Connecticut, has been researching and gathering evidence about homogenised milk for over 20 years. This questionable process began being introduced by dairy companies as far back as 1932. Most of the milk consumed in the US is now homogenised. Dr Oster's findings conclusively show that in the process of extending shelf life and stopping the cream separating out of milk, medicine has a clear culprit for increased arteriosclerosis. Dr Oster's findings link the formation of the plaque which clogs arteries directly to ingesting homogenised milk.

    According to Dr Oster, with Dr Donald Ross of Fairfield University and Dr John Zikakis of the University of Delaware, homogenising allows the enzyme xanthine oxidase (XO) to pass intact into the blood stream. There it attacks the plasmologen tissue of the artery walls and parts of the heart muscle. This causes lesions that the body tries to heal by laying down a protective layer of cholesterol. The end result is scar tissue and calcified plaques with a build-up of cholesterol and other fatty deposits. We call these arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis. According to these experts, dietary cholesterol is not the main cause of heart attacks; it is homogenised milk.
    Homogenisation could also be one of the major reasons for allergies to milk. As Dr Oski said in the finish of his disturbing book, Don't Drink Your Milk, 4 "Milk has no valid claim as the perfect food. As nutrition, it produces allergies in infants, diarrhoea and cramps in the older child and adult, and may be a factor in the development of heart attacks and strokes."

    Thursday, May 17, 2007

    Power of Cooperative.

    Never underestimated power of masses. It will be great if all farmers of world unite to form their own organic cooperatives.
    See here for power of Amul-Largest milk cooperative in world.

    This is the story of Amul. A folk song plays to clips from the movie Manthan that talks about the economic hardships rural women in india faced after independence, a new co-operative called amul (anand milk union ltd) was formed to help them. Today, Amul has grown to become Asia's biggest dairy company, which is still owned by these farmers.

    "mare ghar jhanjar laxmi ke baje"(in my house, the bells of wealth ring) was a line that was added replacing the original line, as a symbol of the success of amul.

    Wednesday, May 9, 2007

    Steps I took for greener living

    Removed all processed foods from refrigerator.Food composes of following items
    • Organic non homogenized Strauss cow's milk. (Cream floats on the top,better for digestion)
    • Organic Yogurt without animal fat gelatin ,containing acidophillus etc. bacteria
    • Basmati white Rice (Ayurveda prohibits brown rice, so I am staying away from it)
    • Wheat flour imported from India
    • Pulses
    • Fresh local produce-Cabbage,Potatoes,Onions,green onions, etc.etc.
    • Fruits
    • Whole Spices which are freshly grinded in a coffee bean grinder.
    • Cheerios Breakfast cereals
    • Maggie Ketchup,Mango pickle,Pineapple Jam imported from India (doesn't contain HFCS)
    • THAT's IT.
    Household cleaning stuff
    Baking Soda ,Vinegar.

    I planted my organic backyard garden.It was in big shamples.
    I don't throw away all the packing material like cardboard boxes,peanuts,air bags etc.Instead save them all, and recycle at one go.
    No normal bulbs for me-All CFL tubes.
    House doesn't have AC-it has luxury of cross ventilation to create tunnel affect.
    Recycle all electronic/paper junk
    Wear only cotton /natural fabric clothes (including Silk)
    Things I want to do...
    • Compost all organic waste.This can be useful feriliser for my backyard garden. Currently I buy organic manure from Homedepot. (No chemical pesticides/fertilizers for me.)
    • Use only herbal home made tooth paste,soap,shampoo.
    • Carpool to work.
    • Use public transportation as much
    • Wear custom stitched,vegetably dyed ,natural fabrics
    • Reduce plastic bag consumption by taking a big jute bag for grocery shopping everytime.
    • Carry handkerchief all the time
    • Reduce paper towels for kitchen cleaning stuff.
    • Wash clothes in regular washing machine but dry them in natural sunlight.Apartment regulaion prohibits me.:-(
    • Shift completely to Yoga instead of gym.
    I have long long way to go..let's see how much it take me

    Non Toxic housekeeping

    Interesting points from one of the books I recently read. I hope I am not violating any copyrights here.Book is by Ellen Sandbeck-Organic Housekeeping"
    Many common foods can double as cleaning products.Vinegar,salt,baking soda,lemons,olive oil,vodka etc.
    Use discarded cotton clothes as rags
    Don't use sponges for dishwashing.These harbour bacteria.
    Harmful effects of Dish washing liquids
    The American Medical Association (AMA) release a report in 2000 which stated that bacteria are developing resistance to the antimicrobials which are being added to consumer products such as dish soaps,soaps,hand soaps,tooth paste,and hand lotions
    It is not just bacteria which is problem-in 2002, US Geological survey published a list of chemicals detected in US surface waters.Triclosan,the most commonly used antibacterial,was found in 58 percent of the water bodies tested.When researchers exposed Triclosan laced river water to UV light,they discovered that the triclosan degraded into a form of dioxin,

    Tuesday, March 20, 2007

    Nothing unscientific about organic farming

    Taken from

    The scientific establishment remains highly sceptical about organic methods. But Dr Tarak Kate and his colleagues at a Wardha-based NGO
    have collected data systematically, to negate the charge that this alternative is unscientific and unproven. Darryl D'Monte reports.

    It is symptomatic of an event-driven media that there is now a great deal of attention paid to farmers' suicides in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, but hardly any focus on the alternatives to the high-input farming that is driving farmers to desperation. As is now
    well known, most farmers have committed suicide because they are steeped in debt, from loans taken to sow improved seeds or use better fertilizer or pesticide, or most likely a combination of all three.
    The perils of those choices are now starkly before us, and the need of the hour is to look hard for alternatives, and adopt them rapidly.

    The Rural Development Committee of the Rotary Club of Bombay, in association with the Forum of Environmental Journalists of India (of which this author is the Chairperson), recently organised a presentation by three experts and farmers from Vidarbha who have opted
    for organic methods. Unfortunately, it was sparsely attended, except for a few of the already converted and some enthusiastic vendors of organic produce.

    Overcoming scepticism

    Dr Tarak Kate, from Dharamitra, an NGO in Wardha, has extensive experience in research on agriculture which employs no external inputs. His work in Vidarbha covered two phases. In the first, between 1988 and 2001, seven NGOs worked with 400 small and marginal farmers
    in 22 villages in four districts. In the second phase, he concentrated with what these alternative proponents term "resource-poor" farmers - to carefully differentiate them from standard notions of poverty - in one block in Yavatmal district. According to Dr Kate, the scientific
    establishment, including some of the world's top agricultural scientists, are sceptical about organic methods. Norman Borlaug, the Nobel Laureate and father of the Green Revolution, says: "We cannot
    feed 6 billion people with organic farming; if we tried to do so we will level most of our forests...." John Emslay, a senior Cambridge (UK) chemist puts it more bluntly. He says that the greatest
    catastrophe that the human race will face this century is not global warming but a global conversion to organic farming - an estimated 2 billion people would perish.

    Such scepticism is why Kate and his colleagues in Dharamitra have collected data systematically, to negate the charge that this alternative is "unscientific" and "unproven". The data relates to each farmer and covers the cropping pattern, yield and income per year.

    In Vidarbha - now repeatedly in the news over its mounting suicides, and historically neglected by the government of Maharashtra which has pampered the sugar farmers in the western part of the state instead -subsistence farmers are left to the vagaries of nature: as is evident
    from this monsoon itself, rainfall is getting increasingly erratic.
    But Dr Kate and his colleague Madhukar Khadse are more concerned about what they term the "over-dependence on the market for external inputs". The acreage devoted to pulses - which add nitrogen to the soil - has declined, which also means that the people lack a balanced
    diet. And there are no additional opportunities to earn income:
    Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, who has championed the cause of cane and grape growers, has suggested that Vidarbha take up dairy farming, but where will the fodder come from, in this parched area?

    The true picture is presented by the current cropping pattern. After the introduction of high-yielding varieties, cotton accounts for two-thirds of the produce in the region. Pigeon pea comprises 17% and the remainder is accounted for by sorghum and soyabean. Under the
    circumstances, it is not surprising that this excessive reliance on cotton as a monoculture has literally killed farmers. As much as 60%
    of the pesticide in the country is for growing cotton.

    According to a survey by Dharamitra, in a typical village in the region, Rs.1500 to Rs.1700 is spent per acre on hybrid seeds, chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Additionally, up to Rs.700 per acre constitutes interest against loans taken from moneylenders for the capital investment required, at 5% per month, for the seven months from sowing to harvest. Hence the total capital expenditure works out to between Rs.2700 and Rs.3240 per acre, once labour charges are also
    added. With an average output of 2.5 quintals of cotton per acre, and the price of Rs.2000 per quintal, the gross income works out to Rs.5000 per acre. Hence the net income is only Rs.1760-Rs.2300. Prior to the introduction of high-yielding varieties, when farmers relied on
    local and inputs which were not chemical-based, the yield was lower at 1.5 to 2 quintals per acre but the profit greater at Rs.3000. Hence the conclusion: "This shows that enhancement of productivity does not necessarily mean increase in profits."

    This underlines the crisis in arid regions of the peninsula with what Dr Kate terms "high input, high output, high risk" farming.Dharamitra's calculations further show that between Rs.2200 and Rs.2450 per acre of cotton - excluding the labour involved in applying chemicals - goes out of the village "in the name of external inputs and interest needed to be paid on cash capital borrowed from money lenders". The NGO cites Umari village, with 75 families, which grows
    cotton over 250 acres. A staggering Rs.7.5 lakhs flows out of the village each year in this manner. As Dr Kate says: "There is need to stop this outflow and ensure that this money remains in the village."

    Dharamitra has organised farmers' study groups to demonstrate how organic farming can prove profitable. "Seeing is believing," he says. This was tried out at Saidapur, a small tribal village in Wardha
    district, for two years. Moreover, everything was pain-stakingly documented. One of the innovations was to create a grain bank, which provided 15-20 kg of foodgrain per head in a village as a safety net in times of extreme distress. Any needy person could access this bank
    but had to return it the following year with an additional 20% of grain. Inevitably, female self-help groups proved more successful than their male counterparts in using this.

    Dr Kate is at pains to emphasise that organic farming is not a simple switch-over to different inputs - or, rather, a return to traditional practices - but involves a "bundle" of measures. It is most necessary to monitor the health of the soil. Samples randomly collected from 8% of the villages covered have shown a clear improvement in the nitrogen content and level of beneficial microbial activity. "If you save the soil, you save the nutrient," he points out. There is extensive use of nutrients which are available in situ, like leaf litter and cattle urine.

    Despite these gains, Dharamitra is aware of the obstacles to wide-spread adoption of this alternative. Farmers need to undergo a major change in mindset to apply contour bunding and composting,techniques which require constant monitoring and regular maintenance.As Dr Kate admits candidly: "Although crop productivity under the non-chemical system has been brought almost at par with that of the chemical system, the overall productivity is still quite low.
    Similarly, even if a noteworthy increase has been registered in the net incomes of the farmers under the non-chemical system, the total income is still very low to meet their livelihood needs."

    Manohar Parchure, who is the moving spirit behind the Maharashtra Organic Farmers Association - the state is the leader in this respect - cites how 5 lakh farmers have turned to this practice. However, none of the universities have done any work in this area and therefore
    there is no academic data available. The average loan, with current farming methods, is Rs.40,000 per family. "Earlier, we imported wheat," he observes. "Now we import fertilizer." ⊕

    Darryl D'Monte
    12 Aug2006
    Darryl D'Monte, former Resident Editor of The Times of India in Mumbai, is Chairperson of the Forum of Environmental Journalists of India and founder President of the International Federation of Environmental Journalists. For Planning Commission policy on organic

    Monday, March 19, 2007

    भारत एक कृषी pradhan देश

    भारत एक कृषी प्रधान देष है ।इसका matlab है कि यहाँ कि आम जनता agriculture पेर depend करती है.ओह..Google is soo I can write in hinglish. One word hindi, one word english-पक्की देल्ही कि भाषा

    Backyard composting

    I plan to start composting in my backyard. Had no idea that kitchen waste doesn't decompose fast in a land fill. Better my back yard plants get all nitrogen and carbon than neighbor garbage collecting company.
    But, problem is -from where to start. No idea on where to start,Which type of bin to put in place, how much will it cost.Will composting cause a yuck odor in my backyard? Hmm..simple stuff takes lots of courage.Wish some of fellow netizens can throw a light on this.

    Tuesday, March 13, 2007

    blog in hindi

    Now, we can blog in hindi too.! Cool.
    आज कल चील काफी कम हो गए हैं ।

    99% Vultures died in India

    If you have ever lived in North India-you would have noticed omnipresent vultures , also called "Gidhhs". Unfortunately they are in decline since last decade.Smithsonian reports about vulture decline in its February issue.

    These much hated, but must for enviornment are now in extinction danger.These birds eat on rotting carcasses. Just 15 years ago-these birds were in abundance.
    99% of existing vultures have died in Indian subcontinent.All my early childhood memories contain this "giddh" bird in it.
    As many as 100 vultures may feed on a single cow carcass, stripping it clean in 30 minutes. Two thousand, 3,000, even 10,000 vultures swarmed the larger dumps in the early 1990s, the huge birds lapping at carcasses with their leathery tongues, thrusting their narrow heads neck-deep to reach internal organs, tussling over choice gobbets of meat. Year after year, Rahmani says, five million to ten million cow, camel and buffalo carcasses disappeared neatly down the gullets of India's vultures.
    Veterinary pain killer drug diclofenac given to cattle, caused kidney failures in these vulture. Only 0.8% of cattle needs to have heavier dose of diclofenac in it. Vulture eat carcasses of these cattles and quickly develop kidney failure and die.Diclofenac doesn't hurt dogs.
    Even though now diclofenac is now banned for veterniary use, it is too late for vultures.Their probability of surviving is extremely low.
    Without vultures, dogs have increased, as these dogs are eating rotting flesh of cows.

    Sunday, March 11, 2007

    Save farmers from cancer

    Does cancer afflicts only affluents in India or reverse is true-that poorest people get affected by Cancer?
    It is well known that eating pesticides laden food will increase risk of cancer. But what about farmers spraying them and resulting contamination in nearby environment?
    A village in Punjab,called "Jajjal" with 500 odd households and population of 3500 ,is near Bhatinda and belongs to region "Malwa",cotton growing area.
    Cancer statistics in Jajjal in 2002
    -20 cancer deaths reported in village.
    -CSE reported that six to 13 pesticides were present in blood of villagers. CSE also found organochlorines and residues of the newer and so-called 'non-persistent' pesticides – organophosphates in blood. Organophosphates are far more toxic than the older organochlorines.
    -Post Graduate Institute of Medical Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh linked increased level of pesticides to higher than average rate of cancer in farmers.
    Premature aging,joint pain, and spinal problems are making the youth of the village older than their age.
    -Other ailments like h
    eart ailments, paralysis, skin problems, asthma and arthritis have become too common.
    Report compiled by Kheti Virasat Mission's Jarnail Singh.
    Detailed original report is here-

    Choices for sustainable lifestyle

    Why not changes in lifestyle itself-to be more sustainable than just organic agriculture. Here are some tips for Western audiences.
    -Get Fair Trade Coffee
    -Buy CFL tubelights,bulbs
    -Take showers instead of a soak in bath tub.
    -Use recycled paper
    -10 million pounds of pesticides are consumed every year.If everyone adapts to organic agriculture,think of all $$ saved
    -14 million number of trees annually used to produce paper shopping bags.Alternative-Take a jute or cotton bag next time going shopping
    -Use biodegradable cleaning products. In India, I used to use plain mud for cleaning sink and kitchen counter top. It worked better than chemical cleansers (less effort to clean,thickest layer of mold etc cleaned rt. away
    -Unplug electric appliances when not in use.
    Open dishwasher after final rinse.Let dishes dry in the air on their own.
    -Don't throw away bubble wraps from internet shipping boxes. Instead,recycle them

    Greg Horn in his latest book writes more tips in his book-Living Green:A Practical guide to simple sustainability

    Next tip is more for indian women. I don't understand why we go for "branded" stuff these days.
    Is Levi's, DKNY jeans better than a plain cotton sari? Cotton Sari is made up of complete natural stuff.Only vegetable based dyes are used. And not to mention,benefit sari weavers also.
    Choice is upto indian women of course.

    Some tips to de-toxify home
    -Leave shoes at home
    -Starve dust mites-clean bedding once a week in hot water cycle
    -Use ghee candles instead of paraffin wax ones.
    -Use natural cleaning products like, Dr Bronners Sal Suds.More products and companies can be found at

    Friday, March 9, 2007

    MBA in Organic Agriculture!

    I was pleasantly surprised to know about a MBA in Organic Agriculture offered by Amity Management school in Noida. Excellent News-Hope that Organic and sustainable lifestyle becomes more mainstream. Even if these 30 odd graduates get a career as regular Food technologists, they will spread the organic knowledge in their community.I did my bachelors from Kanpur ,which also has Chandrashekhar Azad Agriculture Universities.Students from neighboring rural place would come there. In mid 90's , studying agriculture was done only by farmers children.
    Fast forward 2007-MBA in Organic. I still can't overcome my excitement.More details are available here-
    Amity Institute of Organic Agriculture at Sector 125,Noida ,Uttar Pradesh,India

    All 24 students were placed. Definitely, other B.Sc students should take a look at this career.

    MBA (Organic Agriculture & Food Business)

    Graduation in Agriculture, Life Sciences, Biotechnology & Allied areas including Food Science

    M Sc (Organic Agriculture & Resource Biotechnology)

    Graduation in Agriculture, Life Sciences, Biotechnology & Allied Areas

    Thursday, March 8, 2007

    Organic Statistics for India

    I promised to do some research on organic market in India -for entrepreneurs. It is still work in progress but here are some details I found on internet.

    • According to the Indian Competence Centre for Organic Agriculture, the global market for organically produced foods is $26 billion and is estimated to increase to $102 billion by 2020.
    • Around 50 percent of India's organic crops go to export, with only 1 percent remaining for home consumption.
    • Total acres under organic farming: From 17,230 acres in 2004 to 30,164 acres in 2006
    • In 10th Five Year Plan (2002-07), government has earmarked Rs 100 crore for the promotion of sustainable agriculture in the country, mainly in exports.
    • NPOP (National Programme for Organic Production), and APEDA (Agricultural and Processed Food Export Development Authority) promote exports opportunities.
    • Current Entrants into Organic Retail
      • Navdanya at Hauz Khas,New Delhi
      • FabIndia
      • Conscious Foods
      • Godrej AgroVet's retail product, Nature's Basket
      • IITC Organic
      • Dilli Haat has organic restaurants
      • "Meer Organic and Agro Products
      • Swasa
      • Morarka Foundatin
      • Lifeline
      • Navbharat Enterprises,
      • Fresh Health
      • Atik
      • Pure Life Diet India Ltd
    People initially focussed on exports, but now turning to domestic demand (Finally!)
    Main problem is organised supply chain and organised marketing and retailing for organic produce.

    Wednesday, March 7, 2007

    Another 100 farmer suicide

    Just came in today at Times Of India.
    Even as policymakers and the media exult in India's growth story, it was left for the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to bare a few skeletons, literally speaking.

    According to NHRC, there have been 100 suicides and hunger deaths in just two of Bundelkhand's seven districts (Jhansi, Jalaun, Lalitpur, Banda, Chitra-koot, Mahoba and Hamirpur) over the last four years.

    One can safely assume that 400 people have lost their lives in the entire region over this period. Yet, it has
    taken the Uttar Pradesh government all this while to declare four districts drought-prone. Is this another Vidarbha?

    NHRC blamed the crisis on a malfunctioning PDS and cancellation of ration cards of poor people. In addition, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), which was introduced in six of Bundelkhand's seven districts in its first year, did not deliver the expected results.

    The Union Budget, which extends NREGS to another 130 districts from the present number of 200, has only increased the allocation by another Rs 700 crore to Rs 12,000 crore. A reduction in per district allocations cannot do regions like Bundelkhand much good.

    A district is declared drought-prone when crop loss is over 50 per cent. Apart from Jhansi district, 80 per cent of the population lives in rural areas.

    Social activists in the area point out kharif loss of over 50 per cent was the norm. The rabi crop is no better;
    hence drought-relief work should be started without delay and NREGS implemented in its proper spirit.

    According to Bhagwat Prasad, director of Akhil Bharatiya Samaj Seva Sansthan (ABSSS), "Despite the existence of employment guarantee, very large-scale distress migration is taking place in most villages".

    Abishek of Arunodaya points out that in Bharha village in Mahoba district, a farmer with 27 bighas committed suicide. He could not pay back a loan taken for buying a tractor due to the recent crop failures.

    In Nahri village, Banda district, where five starvation deaths occurred in the last two years, people were so fed up with official apathy that they announced a mass suicide in July 2006.

    A recent visit to the Dalit basti of this village revealed that conditions of extreme distress are widespread.

    In Padui village of the same district, eight suicides linked to poverty and indebtedness have taken place in the last six years. In addition, nine Dalits died due to desperate efforts to earn a little income in highly hazardous conditions.

    The overwhelming majority of villagers are indebted to private moneylenders or banks or both. Recovery notices
    have been sent to several of them.

    Several farmers run the risk of being reduced to landlessness if their land is auctioned for loan recovery.

    Abid Ali of ABSSS points out, "On the one hand, people suffer from hunger, and on the other a two years old payment of 74 quintals of grain has not been made to 45 workers in Tikariya. In many villages, anganwadis appear to be non-existent".

    Meenu from ABSSS says, "Ration shops are supposed to be near villages, but people of Amchur Nerava have to travel 20 km to get their ration — a full day to go there by shuttle train and return. There is no guarantee they will get the ration".

    ICDS and mid-day meals are in poor shape. Children said the quality of mid-day meals was so poor that they preferred to eat at home.

    As for genuinely poor people not being provided Antyodaya cards, an investigation team visited the region three months back and carried away the existing cards.

    People have had no access to ration since then. The Annapurna scheme for free grain, meant in particular for the old and infirm who cannot earn their livelihood, has been discontinued.

    This area has several vulnerable groups such as Kol tribals, Sahariya tribals, Kabutras, Bansors, Bedni and Saperas.
    A special effort needs to be made to strengthen their rights.

    But all is not lost. Bundelkhand has a rich tradition of constructing tanks. This can be seen in Mahoba, Charkhari and numerous other places.

    These have been damaged due to encroachment and lack of maintenance. Priority should be accorded to restore these structures.

    Efforts to maintain an adequate level of farm productivity should be linked to land reforms which make available more land to the landless and marginal peasants.

    Tuesday, March 6, 2007

    Thank you from Indian farmer

    Why switch to organic? Why indeed? Apart from selfish reason of eating healthy food.

    Actually-it is not the health of consumer I worried most-It is health of poor pesticide spraying farmer.Did you know that cancer is almost non-existent in India compared to western society?
    Only prevalent areas are those where pesticides are sprayed.These chemicals enter groundwater and farmers get most affected .They spray pesticides and then drink contaminated water too. has a story about high incidence of cancer among farmers in Punjab.

    Another reason is to bring the suicide rate or errrr..debt rate of farmers low.Recent spate of suicides didn't happen in Vidharbha bPublishecause of lack of rains.But because high priced seeds (another story which I will touch later) AND, increased cost of fertilizers and pesticides.Quality of soil has become so low that higher qty of fertilizers and pesticides are required for same yield.

    Think indian agriculture is profitable-One acre yields Rs 20,000( USD $500) per annum after all costs (excluding labor). Growth of agriculture-meager 2% per year.How will all software engineers in India feel if they get 2% salary hike every year?? Not good..right.This is what 60% of Indian population is getting.Inflation is 7% every year.So effectively, -5% decline . food is wholesome meal..healthier.blah..blah..but before Reliances and Tatas and Mittals..make it their next money making venture.We have to think about our poor farmers first.
    I speak only in Indian context as this is the place where most people are affected by policies in agriculture.Is FDI answer to create jobs and remove this dependence on agriculture?
    I don't think so.
    Out of 20 crore childrSave as Draften entering primary school only 1 crore finish class XIIth.
    For 1 crore XIIth passout-we have only 7 lakh science/engineering/technical college seats.
    From number of jobs India currently produces, it's need are met by these 7 lakh graduates.It will have to go to next level to engage 19 crore left out.
    Till then,fixing indian agriculture is the answer. And we , as simple consumer can affect this change without government intervention.Simply switch to Organic.Farmers profitability will automatically increase and he will be a happier person.

    What is your favourite grain

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