In a village in India’s poorest state, Bihar, farmers are growing world record amounts of rice – with no GM, and no herbicide. Is this one solution to world food shortages?
Sumant Kumar was overjoyed when he harvested his rice last year. There had been good rains in his village of Darveshpura in north-east India and he knew he could improve on the four or five tonnes per hectare that he usually managed. But every stalk he cut on his paddy field near the bank of the Sakri river seemed to weigh heavier than usual, every grain of rice was bigger and when his crop was weighed on the old village scales, even Kumar was shocked.
This was not six or even 10 or 20 tonnes. Kumar, a shy young farmer in Nalanda district of India’s poorest state Bihar, had – using only farmyard manure and without any herbicides – grown an astonishing 22.4 tonnes of rice on one hectare of land. This was a world record and with rice the staple food of more than half the world’s population of seven billion, big news.
It beat not just the 19.4 tonnes achieved by the “father of rice”, the Chinese agricultural scientist Yuan Longping, but the World Bank-funded scientists at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, and anything achieved by the biggest European and American seed and GM companies. And it was not just Sumant Kumar. Krishna, Nitish, Sanjay and Bijay, his friends and rivals in Darveshpura, all recorded over 17 tonnes, and many others in the villages around claimed to have more than doubled their usual yields. Continue reading 'India’s rice revolution'»
After farming, retailing is India’s major occupation. It employs 40 million people. A sizeable majority of owner/employees are in the business because of lack of other opportunities.
The decade of liberalisation has so far been one of jobless growth. It is no wonder that retail has become the refuge of these millions. Lopsided economic development is transforming India from an agrarian economy directly to a service oriented post-industrial society.
The Indian retail industry is highly fragmented. According to AC Nielsen and KSA Technopak, India has the highest shop density in the world. In 2001, it was estimated that there were 11 outlets for every 1000 people. Since the agriculture sector is over-crowded and the manufacturing sector stagnant, millions of young Indians are virtually forced into the service sector.
The presence of more than one retailer for every hundred persons is indicative of how many people are being forced into this form of self employment, despite limitations of capital and space.
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Say NO to the principles of “responsible” agro-enterprise investment promoted by the World Bank
State and private investors, from Citadel Capital to Goldman Sachs, are leasing or buying up tens of millions of hectares of farmlands in Asia, Africa and Latin America for food and fuel production. This land grabbing is a serious threat for the food sovereignty of our peoples and the right to food of our rural communities.
In response to this new wave of land grabbing, the World Bank (WB) is promoting a set of seven principles to guide such investments and make them successful. The FAO, IFAD and UNCTAD have agreed to join the WB in collectively pushing these principles. Their starting point is the fact that the current rush of private sector interest to buy up farmland is risky. After all, the WB has just finalised a study showing the magnitude of this trend and its central focus on transferring rights over agricultural land in developing countries to foreign investors. Continue reading 'Stop Land Grabbing Now!'»
The government of India was forced by an overwhelming public opinion to declare a moratorium on the release of the transgenic Brinjal (Aubergines/Egg plant) hybrid developed by Mahyco, a subsidiary of American seed giant Monsanto.
Bt brinjal is created by inserting a gene from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis into the brinjal cell. Monsanto claims the transgenic variety they have developed has resistance against pests such as Shoot Borer and Fruit Borer. Continue reading 'India’s democratic battle for safe food'»