Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Food grain Exports - Good or Bad ?

Many so called NGOs are demanding lifting the ban on Food grain exports - As an Organic farmer, Environmentalist, Development economist, Researcher in Vrukshayurveda my views.

Instead of increasing the MSP Government is trying to promote food grain Export which is actually anti-farmer and pro-corporate farming this policy will result in many dangerous consequences... some are stated below

1). Initially export will start with Rice and Wheat (this itself will increase the price in local market) then slowly the world would wants us to grow Corn (already 10% of wheat farms are converted GM Corn fields) because they want to import Corn (mainly as poultry feed) Canola, Soya, Oats and host of other food grains which are unsuitable to Indian weather conditions.

Note: These non-native crops need lot of fertilizer, herbicides (in the case of GM), huge amount of water etc., when grown in an unsuitable area. Posing as a saviour some chemical co. will come out with a patented GM seed claiming that their GM variety offers better yield ?! just to sell their seeds and herbicides - then sometime later when soil is spoiled after dumping their poisonous chemicals and synthetic seeds and when land became desert the business will move to Congo or Papua New Guinea and spoil the environment there - this kind of moving to a green patch and making it a desert is happening from 1900s

2). These export specific grains will be grown at the cost of Indian Vegetables and food products like Kootu, Barley, Ragi, Baajra, jowar, wheat, etc. - these may not fetch big money to farmers but they are the lifeline of many poor and most of them are rain-fed and Arid crops grown on wayside lands - India has wonderful varieties of these native species (Note if India didn't have these native germplasm wealth then the foreign giant ICRISAT won't be here to so called learning from us. (they are stealing our germplasms and patending our native seeds is another matter altogether)

3). many of the so called human food grains that are imported by foreign countries are for poultry feed - why we should sell our land's fertility, productivity, land's grain for the people of rich countries to eat Red meat - which by itself causes the largest global warming as well as poultry originated diseases - H1N1, SARS, Swine Flu, Bird Flu, Mad-cow disease, etc.

4). we can't equate everything with money - the poor farmer may not have big money but what is to be ensured is that he has food, water and other basic amenities and not money because money is a poor substitute for real goods with price rise money will just be another paper. Today the poor farmer may afford some with his money tomorrow when the prices rise that may not be the case

5). Already millions of acres of Indian agricultural land in the past 15 years have transferred hands from small and marginal farmers to large /corporate farmers - particularly in Maharashtra, Haryana and Punjab - many have Vine yards, Corn farms and export /sell to poultry corporates - this has in no way improved the life of poor farmers - 90% all farmer suicides post independence have taken place only in the past 15 years - this is due to wrong agricultural policies - let this also not become one among them

6). The big farm-corporates may have the muscle to play in the commodities market thus can control their losses (The fact is that 99.99% of all commodities trading is nothing to do with commodities buyers or sellers but by speculators and investors for hedging purpose - which is another dirty secret known to all in the Govt. but none want to talk about it )

7). Rice and wheat instead of being seen as food for the children of the country will be seen as money and whereever more money, there these will flow there thus will lead to price rise and scarcity in many places in rural India.

It appears that there is a lack of exposure to root cause by the NGOs who are demanding lifting of Foodgrain export ban (Root-cause and not superficial ones) of the problems faced by small and marginal farmers in many rural areas are out of sight for many of the City based power hungry NGOs - which goes by the demands of one small section of farmers and demanding changes to national policies - the sad part is that our Government is also listening to these big corporate funded NGOs.

People like Bhaskar Save, Nammaalvar, Vandana Shiva, Claude Al-wares, Subhash Palekar, Thanal, OFAI, Virendra Bhatt, SFA - many of these people are witness to the region specific damages of green revolution & chemical agriculture and its effects on health as well as rural economy and now in some regions the bigger danger of Transgenic agriculture. They all have written many valuable articles but those are not brought to limelight in a big way

If Government stops all food grains exports and stop all trading of food items in commodities exchange - we can witness a straight 60% drop in food prices and thus poor will have sufficient food items to eat - they may not have big money or be able to afford the lifestyle of the city dwellers - but there won't be single death health deterioration due to malnutrition.

But even in Cities 80% of people's life is not good, the population of downtrodden in cities are increasing day by day. Let the farmers live in peace in village itself instead we are making them as slum dwellers in cities with short sighted agricultural policies and stupid media which boasts city-life as superior!