Read your note on the film 'Dying Fields' depicting the continuing
tragedy in Vidarbha, a region of Maharashtra admeasuring 45000
sq km. Nagpur on the east side of Maharashtra is treated as
Maharashtra's second capital after Mumbai.
Obsessed with the commitment tof root out the use of synthetic
fertilisers, hazardous pesticides and hybrid seeds from farming
operations and improve the soil fertility we in Prakruti launched a
programme for organic cultivation in 1994-96. Vidarbh was
selected as as a cotton growing region consumed maximum
pesticides. Pesticides acoount for about 58% of the cost of
cultivation of cotton, the highest amongst cultivation of all
food and fibre items. The response was dramatic for us in
Prakruti as we were hardly known in hte region. 135 farmers
joined the campaign with 1200 ha of their land. The produce
was inspected and certified by IFOAM approved German
Agency as organic reducing substantally the farmer cost of
cultivation. The International Cotton body headquartered in
the US declared the Vidarbh project as the world's largest
organic cotton cutlivation programme for the year 1995-96. .
Distressed by farner suicides, Prakruti organised a
Sadbhavana Yatra to Vidarbha in June-July 2006 to meet
families who had lost their only bread earner, students of
agriculture. government and official instirutions. Prakruti
report "Continuing FarmerSuicides in Vidarbha" covers
the entire field of agriculture as well as governmental and
societal responses to farmers and farming. I believe one
You may find the Report comprehensive.
Nobody, neither the government nor the community, has cared or
cares for the toiler of the soil though his toil sustains the entire
Suicides are continuing unabated. Governmental policies and
citizen disdain to farming are the underlying reasons. You may
find it exhaustive covering all issues.
REferring to your earlier note, neither 'contract farming' nor
'private public or raher private private partnership' where big
business work out schemes for taking over land or the crops
from famrers is good for farmers or the country. What we
need to evolve, through voluntary organisations farmer,
grass root formal and informal cooperatives where mobilised
farmers can insist on their minimum while facing the market
forces. Models like 'Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)'
coming up with the support extended by suistainable
agriculture promoters like biodynamicagriculture and
permaculture in the US and on the Continent where local
communitysupport farmers in exchange of advance
assistance extended to farmers can be considered in
the present situation. Mandies have failed to create
that atmosphere as well.
Realisng that agriculture contributes only 1.5% to GNP/GDP,
the authorites have started diverting cultivable lands through
'Special Economic Zones' and other activities through land
acquisiitons. This is posing another danger. India is already
short of cultivable land. Against nromal need of 0.2 ha per
capita, we are already at precarious 0.14 ha. Diversion of
land to other activities would cut down this average furher.
We need to look to land and protector of land from an angle
different from economic. Best wishes.
Kisan Mehta Priya Salvi
Save Bombay Committee and Prakruti
102, Mausam, Plot 285, Sector 28, Vashi
Navi Mumbai 400705
Cell Kisan Mehta 9223448857
Peiya Salvi 9324027494
On 9/1/07, Mohan Jain <m.jain@...
Dear IDCA Members and Friends,
Yesterday, I saw the following program on PBS channel. It was a big eye opener for me. I have saved the one hour film and would be happy to show at one of our monthly forums or on October 6-7 at IDCA's Fifth International Conference in Chicago. Please read the attached interview of Prof. Bhagwati and the following information about the issue and the film. I can watch an overview of the film at the following link:
Please forward this email to all the concerned people.
We will appreciate hearing your thoughts on this issue.
Mohan L. Jain, Ph.D.
Trustee and past President,
India Development Coalition of America
"Working Together to Accelerate Sustainable Development in India"
The Dying Fields---Vidharbha Farmers Suicides
India has increasingly embraced free trade and, since 2002, has had one of the world's fastest growing economies. But only images of this new prosperity have reached the impoverished rural areas where two thirds of India's
1.1 billion people live. Left behind by India's soaring economic boom is Vidarbha, a region of hilly forests in the middle of India. It used to be known as India's cotton belt - but now captures headlines as its suicide belt. In 2006, 1,044 suicides were reported in Vidarbha alone - that's one suicide every eight hours.
Vidarbha farmers face a grim reality of crop failures, sinking global cotton prices and crushing debts. Farmers in default at the bank frequently resort to illegal moneylenders who charge up to 100 percent interest. And, the government safety net - that once kept cotton prices closer to the cost of production - has all but disappeared. Under India's new free trade policies, Vidarbha's
3.2 million cotton farmers - most of them small landholders - must compete in a global market that includes formidable, often subsidized rivals, including American cotton farmers.
At a moment when India is enjoying record economic growth, THE DYING FIELDS turns to Vidarbha's four million cotton farmers who have been left behind, struggling to survive on less than two dollars a day. WIDE ANGLE cameras follow Kishor Tiwari, former businessman turned farmer advocate, whose tiny office in the heart of this cotton-growing region functions as the archive and watchdog for the suicide epidemic; traveling salesmen hawking genetically modified - and costly - cotton seeds that require irrigation that few Vidarbha farmers have; the last rites of a farmer who couldn't pay his debts; a tour of the poison ward at the local hospital, where beds are always filled; and a visit by then-president of India,
A.J.P. Abdul Kalam, whom the farming widows beseech for help in convincing the government to forgive their debts.
Kisan Mehta Priya Salvi
Save Bombay Committee and Prakruti
102, Mausam, Plot 285, Sector 28, Vashi,
Navi Mumbai 400705, India.
Cell: Kisan Mehta 0091 9223448857
Priya Salvi 0091 9324027494