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Food Security

{jacomment off}Backgrounders

Agriculture And Food Security : Background & Perspective

By Devinder Sharma

 Pre-Independence India suffered repeated famines, drought and food shortages. But following the Green Revolution in the '60s, yields and foodstocks rose manifold. Now, 30 years later, Indian farmers have realised the follies of their tryst with intensive agriculture. Despite 70 per cent of the population being engaged in agriculture and allied activities, declining foodgrain production and access to food remain the two biggest problems confronting the country. Liberalisation has made things worse: commercial crops are eating into the fertile land tracts meant for essential foodgrains. And six years after the World Trade Organisation came into existence, the anticipated gains for India from the trade liberalisation process in agriculture are practically zero.

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Analysis

'Depriving the poor in the name of corruption is not a solution': Aruna Roy

By Diva Arora

Giving all households -- priority and general -- a common entitlement of not less than 25 kg at Rs 3/2/1 for rice/wheat/millets will solve the problem of identifying the poor who deserve to be subsidised under the Food Security Act, says RTI and right to food campaigner Aruna Roy, dismissing various criticisms of the Bill

Food Security Bill Aruna Roy

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'The days of cheap food are over': M S Swaminathan

By Rashme Sehgal

M S Swaminathan analyses the global food crisis

 A plant geneticist by training, Professor M S Swaminathan's contributions to the agricultural renaissance of India have caused him to be referred to as the scientific leader of the green revolution movement. His advocacy of sustainable agriculture leading to an ever-green revolution makes him a leader in the field of sustainable food security. But in the last decade, the Green Revolution has faltered, agriculture is in crisis, and thousands of debt-ridden farmers have committed suicide. In this interview, Swaminathan analyses the global food crisis and feels there is no easy solution. Instead, a long-term strategy has to be thought out to ensure increased production and a better deal for Indian farmers.

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Features

'Ragi over Rice!'

By Ananda Siddhartha

As in the rest of India, in Pavagada taluka of Karnataka, ragi is losing out to rice, groundnut and other cash crops. Until 15 years ago, it was the reverse. What are the market and policy pressures that have caused this reversal, and what are its consequences on health and nutrition, productivity and drought-proofing?

Ragi growing in H D Kote taluka

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'Stealing from the mouth of babes'

By Kathyayini Chamaraj

A chronicle of the civil society action that exposed the shocking scam in Karnataka which saw government functionaries colluding with industry to supply inedible food packets to children in anganwadis, regardless of the fact that children are dying of malnutrition and starvation in the state

Hunger Starvation

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Books & Reports

Vertical Farms

By Sudhirendar Sharma

A new book by Dickson Despommier posits the farm of the future as a vertical farm over 30 floors in any city centre. Powered by renewable energies a vertical farm could meet the food needs of 50,000 people, consume 70-95% less water, restrict the use of harmful agro-chemicals and ward off weather-related crop failures

 

UN report urges Asian nations to re-focus on agriculture

The UNDP's ‘Asia-Pacific Human Development Report 2006: Trade on Human Terms’ is an effort to look at trade in the region from a human development angle. Analysing the position of different countries in the region, with regard to food imports and exports, the report finds that the poorest countries in Asia have become the most dependent on agricultural imports for their basic food supply


Punjab Series

Nation's food bowl in crisis

By Anosh Malekar

When the state that was the country's biggest agricultural success story in the 1970s tops the list of indebted farmers, it is obvious that there is something very rotten in the state of agriculture in the country. A three-part series that looks at the agriculture crisis in India's food bowl, Punjab

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The killing fields

By Anosh Malekar

Rani Kaur's husband committed suicide in 2003. Before that her eldest brother-in-law, Aloo Singh, took his own life in 1993, followed by another brother-in-law, Gurutej Singh, in 1996. In 2004, Gurutej's son, Kala Singh, ended his life. There have been 81 farmer suicides in Balran village alone in Punjab's Sangrur district, but the government still has no policy to deal with the worsening situation

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News

1.5 lakh workers protest food inflation on Delhi's streets

Trade unions organised a march to Parliament and a rally to protest food inflation which stands at 11.05%

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Acute food scarcity by 2020 warn reports

An international and national report both warn that climate change and current policies could lead to acute food scarcity by 2020

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17,000 farmers committed suicide in 2009: NCRB

The number of suicides by farmers continues to rise countrywide with Maharashtra topping the list for the tenth consecutive year

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Stories of Change

Nalbari farmers resume cultivation after 25 years

By Ratna Bharali Taukdar

Thousands of farmers in Borigog-Barbhag block, in lower Assam’s Nalbari district, joined hands to dredge a 15-km stretch of a water channel that had blocked and flooded farmlands across 50 villages. For 25 years, farmers had abandoned work on their waterlogged lands. Now they are back in business and busy planning two crops a year

Masraf (extreme right) and Jiyaur (second from the right) with two other villagers.

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Organic farming brings hope to Vidarbha's distressed farmers

By Bharat Dogra

Low-cost, sustainable and environment-friendly farm technologies are helping boost the confidence and self-reliance of farmers in the drought-prone Vidarbha region of Maharashtra

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Umra takes up 'non-violent' farming

For the last four years, a team from the civil society organisation Ugam Gram Vikas Sanstha in Umra, Hingoli district, Maharashtra, has been successfully propagating the advantages of organic farming in this drought-prone district

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Changemakers

Pat Mooney vs The Terminator 

By Rashme Sehgal

Seventy-five per cent of the biological diversity of this world has already been wiped out, says Pat Mooney, conservationist and crusader against food patenting, in this interview

Pat Mooney, executive director of the Canadian NGO Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI)

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Working with nature, in suicide country

By Aparna Pallavi

Twenty years after the glory days of the Green Revolution, the yield from Subhash Sharma's farm plummeted, even as input costs increased. He switched to organic farming as a last-ditch effort. Thirteen years on, his farm in Yavatmal is flourishing, and has become a model for hundreds of other farmers

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'We must have revised standards for pesticide use in food and water' : M S Swaminathan

By Lalitha Sridhar

As the M S Swaminathan Foundation turns 12, its founder-director Professor M S Swaminathan says that even before the term 'green revolution' was coined, he had warned that overexploitation of soil and water and overuse of pesticides would have terrible consequences

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Statistics

Allocation of Foodgrains (rice + wheat) under Welfare Schemes

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Foodgrains Allocation and Offtake under Public Distribution System (in million tonnes)

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Central Government Foodgrain Stocks and Minimum Buffer Norms

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Urban poverty & the food crisis

A grain in an empty bowl: Government services in the urban context

By Maheen Mirza

Anganwadis, ICDS and PDS are huge government programmes meant to cater to the health and nutritional requirements of the poor. Yet 72.4% of urban poor children in Madhya Pradesh are underweight, 60.4% are undernourished and almost nine out of 10 are anaemic. The fifth and final part of this series on food security of the urban poor finds out just where these schemes are going wrong

A common complaint that people have is the amount of cleaning that the grain from the ration shop requires

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Eat less, work more

By Maheen Mirza

The entire burden of working, earning and providing food security to the family seems to be on women in urban slums. And yet the nutritional status of women is abysmal. The fourth in our series on food security of the urban poor

Limited space forces people to prepare food in conditions that are unclean and unhygienic

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