Thursday, August 13, 2009

Vidarbha risking another Bt cotton disaster-Gm Watch Reports.

Vidarbha risking another Bt cotton disaster

1.INDIA: Vidarbha risking another Bt cotton disaster
2.INDIA: Vidarbha staring at worst ever drought
3.PAKISTAN: Govt asked to stop corporate land grabbing and onslaught of bT cotton

The comments in item 1 relate to the news item in item 2. Vidarbha is the main cotton belt of the Indian state of Maharashtra - the state in India where there's been the biggest uptake of Bt cotton by farmers. Vidharbha Jan Andolan Samiti, the farmers' NGO on the ground in Vidharbha, has previously reported that it is Monsanto-Mahyco's Bt cotton that the majority of cotton farmer suicide victims in Vidarbha have been growing.

The terrible problems with Bt cotton have repeatedly been reported by the world-renowned Indian development journalist Palagummi Sainath, who was awarded the 2007 Ramon Magsaysay award (often considered Asia's Nobel Prize) for his journalism. P Sainath has described the impact of multinationals like Monsanto on debt-burdened farmers in Vidarbha as "devastating".

As well as the heavy promotion of BT cotton in Maharashtra by Monsanto, "One of the big headaches in Vidarbha is the state propagandised and favoured the promotion of Bt Cotton. Firstly, Bt Cotton technologies are themselves suspect in a number of ways. However, promoting them in a dry and un-irrigated area like Vidarbha was murderous. It was stupid, it was killing."
1.Vidarbha risking another Bt cotton disaster

COMMENT from Aruna Rodrigues: The sown cotton crop must be Bt cotton and this is a rain fed area. Bt is a cash crop usually requiring large amounts of water through irrigation. If the rain plays spoil sport, the fate of these farmers will be absolutely terrible. Kishore, they should stop planting Bt.

COMMENT from Kishore Tiwari of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti: You are absolutely right. Now in Maharashtra thanks to state owned promotion Bt cotton has already crossed 3.2 million hectares, covering West Vidarbha, East Vidarbha, Marathwada, North Maharashtra and Khandesh, and 80% of this area is rain fed and the condition of the crop can be seen here in the photos.
The days are not far away that once again the Maharashtra Govt. is likely to announce compensation for Bt. cotton failure as happened in December 2005. You are right farmers should stop planting Bt cotton seed but it's a fact that there is no option left for cottton growers of the region [ie only Bt cotton is being promoted and made available].
2.Vidarbha staring at worst ever drought: VJAS urged PMO to send central team for ground assessment
VJAS, 9 August 2009 [extracts]

Gloomy Response from Drought Hit farmers as Three more farm suicides in last 24 Hrs.: VJAS urged PMO to send central team for ground assessment

Nagpur-7th august 2009 - Vidarbha is staring at the worst ever drought this year with an unprecedented short fall in monsoon rain, pest epidamic destroying standing crop and steep decline in ground water level as the four-month (June-September) monsoon is the main source of water for irrigation in the country.

Nature seems to have turned against Vidarbha this year as with half of the kharif season over, the region has received less than 40% of the normal rainfall. If it does not rain in good measure in next five days, it could lead to a drought in the region. The situation is worse in western Vidarbha, a mainly cotton and soyabean growing area, which received a meagre 35% of the average rainfall this monsoon in the already distressed, farmers' suicide-hit Amravati division as well in eastern Vidarbha's Nagpur division for want of rains, sowing could take place in less than 80 per cent of the total cultivable land, Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti (VJAS) informed in a letter addressed to Indian prime minister Dr.Manmohan Singh urging him to send team of experts to make spot assessment of emerging severe drought like condition in farm suicide hit vidarbha.
3.Govt asked to stop land deals with foreigners
The News (Pakistan), August 9 2009

HYDERABAD: The government was asked on Saturday to immediately stop all land deals being negotiated with foreign governments, investors, US seed company Monsanto and other agro-chemical companies promoting genetically-modified crops, especially BT cotton.

Executive Director of Roots for Equity, Dr Azra Talat Syed, made this demand while speaking at a news conference at the Hyderabad Press Club along with Executive Director of Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific, Sarojeni Rengam and farmer leader Ghulam Mohammad.

She said past years have shown a constant onslaught of corporate agriculture on every aspect of agriculture and two most critical issues now being faced by millions of small farmers in Pakistan are corporate land grabbing and onslaught of BT cotton. She said nearly six million acres of land are said to be leased to foreign investors of Middle Eastern countries while corporate investors are now negotiating with provincial governments including Sindh to acquire land in Shikarpur, Larkana and Sukkur.

The government has also promised the investors of the Gulf at least 0.5 million hectares of land and promising investors that if they sign up it will provide a security force to protect their assets.

She said the government last year signed a memorandum of understanding with US company Monsanto to allow US seed company to introduce BT cotton to destroy the rich genetic heritage of farmers. She said BT cotton attracts several pest attacks, adding that farmers would also become vulnerable to diseases because of BT cotton seeds. She demanded that farmers should be provided with agricultural inputs at subsidised prices.


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