1.Government advises not growing Bt-cotton in Vidarbha
2.Critics branded 'Naxalites'!
NOTE: The significance of item 1 is that in no part of India was the take up of Bt cotton as great as in Maharashtra's main cotton growing belt of Vidarbha, and the State Government, as well as the national Governmenta and Monsanto, played a massive role in hyping it to poor farmers there. As a result, farmer suicides went through the roof.
EXTRACT: The government has suggested that the Vidarbha farmers switch over to an alternative crop for a better livelihood, as the Bt cotton cultivation has long become unviable with huge investments and unsatisfactory output. Bt cotton requires expensive fertilisers and seeds and offers low returns which is forcing farmers to run to money-lenders and banks for loans. (item 1)
1.INDIA: Soyabean may replace Bt-cotton in Vidarbha
Bharat Textile, Dec 24 2007
MUMBAI: The protein-rich soyabean which gives a return of Rs 2000 per quintal is the new cash crop the government is prescribing to the distressed cotton farmers of Vidarbha. Unlike Bt-cotton, soyabean crop requires no major investment. Soyabean is the most lucrative cash crop as both the investment and the care required for soyabean farming are on the lower side.
It is now clear that, even a complete loan-waiver or revised package of Rs 5,890-crore would not solve the plight of over ten lakh small farmers.
The government has suggested that the Vidarbha farmers switch over to an alternative crop for a better livelihood, as the Bt cotton cultivation has long become unviable with huge investments and unsatisfactory output. Bt cotton requires expensive fertilisers and seeds and offers low returns which is forcing farmers to run to money-lenders and banks for loans.
Soyabean is in great demand in domestic and international markets. Moreover, soyabean cultivation requires no extra water or fertilisers. In fact, when the soya pods ripen the plant sheds its leaves which turn into organic mature with time and enrich the soil. Thus, it helps in preparing the soil for a cotton crop.
2.Critics branded 'Naxalites'
NOTE: Devinder Sharma is an Indian food and trade policy analyst and founder of the Forum for Biotechnology & Food Security. Naxalites are Indian Maoist guerrillas. The MSEZ referred to here is the Mangalore special economic zone (SEZ) - about 2,450 acres of agricultural land being acquired for petrochems/corporate India.
COMMENT from Bhaskar Goswami: After tags like eco-terrorists, dooms-day prophets and luddites, activists and civil society members opposing displacement and marginalization of farmers can now look forward to a fresh label - Naxalite. This assumes importance following Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's unequivocal call on 20 December 2007: 'Naxalism continues to be the single biggest challenge to the Indian state and we cannot rest in peace till we have eliminated this virus'.
See the following news report where Devinder Sharma has been labeled as a naxalite for opposing land acquisition to set up the Mangalore SEZ: a convenient label for the state to deal with voices of dissent.
Inciting Banners Irk Farmers
New Indian Express, Mangalore, Dec 19 2007
Vested interest opposing the Farmers' Day celebrations have put up inciting banners accusing farmers and leaders as naxalites on Wednesday
The farmers who are opposing the acquisition of land for MSEZ in the district were gathered at the Scouts Bhavan to celebrate Indian Farmers' Day. Banners accusing environmentalists, individuals, distinguished food policy analyst Devinder Sharma as naxalites, were seen near the venue before the inauguration of the programme.One of the banners in Kannada read 'Beware of naxalites orators who put farmers into more trouble Devinder Sharma'. Banners like 'Beware of those naxalites who prevent farmers from getting benefits' and 'Naxalism is a curse on coastal Karnataka' were also seen.
Members of the Krishi Bhoomi Samrakshana Samiti (KBSS) and the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRSS) main organizers of the programme removed the banners before the inaugural ceremony.
Another attempt by a group in favour of MSEZ to distribute brochures containing details of MSEZ's package for evacuees also backfired as organizers stopped the coolie worker, Paramasha from Bhadravati, an illiterate and never heard about MSEZ, was paid Rs. 50 for distributing brochures near the venue of celebrations.
KBSS members suspect that those who were promoting MSEZ were behind the acts of erecting banners and distributing brochures.