July 11, 2010
July 11, 2010
[On July 8, the following memorandum was submitted today to the West Bengal Agriculture Minister on behalf of FAMA by a group of Scientists including Kalyan Rudra, Abhee Dutt-Mazumder, Partha Sarathi Roy, Arun Kanti Biswas et al. in view of the meeting reported to be held during 9th-10th July to discuss about the second green revolution]
Forum Against Monopolistic Aggression (FAMA)
The Hon’ble Minister-in-Charge,
Agriculture and Consumer Affairs,
Government of West Bengal.
Date: 8th July 2010
We express our serious concern and strong reservation regarding the agenda of second green revolution which has been proposed and promoted by the central government as part of the liberalization program in the field of agriculture. We understand this to be in pursuance with the US-India Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture, Education, Teaching, Research, Service and Commercial Linkages (AKI) signed between India and United States, an agreement whose expanse can be judged from the title of the agreement itself. In fact, AKI agreement has been dubbed as the “harbinger of second green revolution” which exposes the interconnectedness between the second green revolution and the AKI in bold relief.
That the state government is also moving in this direction becomes evident from the measures taken already, like
· giving licenses to various big corporate entities so that they participate in the local market or,
· allowing them to source their product from here or,
· amending the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee Act (APMC) that enables companies like Metro Cash & Carry to engage in contract farming.
We realize that the aim of the second green revolution is more to promote the interests of the corporate world than to advance the interests of the people, particularly the farmers, retailers, and small traders. It also aims to promote the cultivation of genetically modified food like BT-crops, which, according to reports published in various scientific journals of international repute, can have serious consequences going beyond the domain of economics, and involving public health and environment. Furthermore, it aims to promote trade and cultivation of export crops, supposedly to help the country develop. But history teaches us the opposite: the experience of indigo cultivation can be cited as a classic example.
We understand that the country has been facing a serious agrarian crisis in terms of insufficient growth and declining productivity, loss of bio-diversity, soil degradation, chemical pollution, depletion of underground water, all mostly due to the failure of the first green revolution. Increasing number of suicides by farmers in several states and the current ecological crisis in the Punjab surely stand out as glaring examples revealing the gravity of the situation. It is to be noted that the first green revolution could neither end the problem of hunger nor could it eliminate poverty of the larger agricultural community. Even the per capita food availability has now started showing signs of steady decline. The growth, that was seen initially, could not even be sustained for more than one decade. The farmers have been further marginalized due to the increased cost of production and declining profit.That the regions of the country where most farmers are taking their lives are also the areas where the penetration of the corporate farming techniques have taken place the most, indicating that corporization is an enemy of our farmers.
Therefore, we believe that the proposed revolution, instead of curing, will only add to the injury and will enhance the agrarian crisis further. In fact the current crisis of the third world countries is more of a socio-economic problem than a technological one, which requires serious discussion and debate. We find that the AKI document has been drafted with undue weight given to big business and trade, and without caring much about other issues like the interests of the small farmers and traders, the environment and public health.
Evidently, unlike the first green revolution the second green revolution proposes to extend itself from the input to the production, processing and distribution of the agricultural produce and will thereby promote the monopolization of the agri-food system. In the backdrop of above we express unequivocally:-
(i) That under no circumstances should contract farming be introduced in India or West Bengal as proposed in the second green revolution and envisaged in the agreement under Indo-US Agricultural Knowledge Initiative and Indo-US Economic and Strategic Partnership.
(ii) That we oppose any move that harms the interest of the farmers, like introduction of the seed bill which attempts to curtail the fundamental right of the farmers to preserve and exchange seeds.
(iii) That, Genetically Modified crops should never be introduced for large scale farming except in cases where it might be required for the purpose of carrying out our own indigenous research under the absolute control of the national laboratories or agricultural universities.
We believe that the current agrarian crisis can only be solved by taking pro-farmer policies to reduce and eventually eliminate the landlessness of farmers and through the promotion of sustainable agriculture where the choice of crop should take into account the local climate and preserve local bio-diversity.
We have full confidence in you and would request you kindly to consider the abovementioned points in the forthcoming meeting on the second green revolution reported to be held on 9th and 10th July 2010. We shall appreciate if you could take personal initiative to organize well publicized public meetings to seek the opinion of the larger community about the pros and cons of the matter.