Step-by-step the agribusiness industry is strengthening control over agriculture. The industry knows that if it has to take complete control over Indian agriculture, before driving out Indian farmers from agriculture, it has to work towards removing all the impediments that comes in its way. I mean it has to ensure that all factors that dissuade farmers from following the corporate mantra have to be first removed. The first and foremost are the naturalists, the new emerging breed of organic practitioners, including the religious heads who talk and preach protection of the environment and promote sustainable farming methods. This is followed by numerous groups and organisations, including activists, who have been engaged in low-external input sustainable farming practices.
These are the people who have come in the way of corporate profits. And since their influence is gaining ground, and more and more farmers are realising their mistake, the folly they committed in blindly accepting the intensive farming technology that has played havoc with agriculture and pushed them deeper and deeper into a terrible agrarian crisis, these people must be barred from interacting with farmers.
Moreover with the dimnishing credibility of agricultural scientists, agricultural universities are becoming redundant and the demand for disinvesting these universities is also growing. The agricultural universities and the agribusiness industry have therefore joined hands to seek a ban on any 'outside' effort to influence farmers. The Tamil Nadu government (in southern India) has brought in a new draconian agriculture Bill that bars anyone who is not an agricultural graduate or an agricultural professional as recognised by the Tamil Nadu State Agricultural Council to render agriculture service within the State.
Only those who hold an agriculture degree granted by the University of Chennai, Annamalai University and the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University have been recognised under this legislation. Well, this means that even people like me who are qualified in agriculture (but not from Tamil Nadu) cannot address a training workshop for farmers in Tamil Nadu. Most of the scientists working with the ICAR institutes or agricultural universities outside the State would also be similarly barred.
Noted agricultural scientist Dr M S Swaminathan, who escapes the provisions of this legislation since he did his graduation from Coimbatore (at that time it was not an university), will have to redesign field activities of the M S Swaminathan Foundation in Chennai in a manner that only the staff members who have an agricultural degree from Tamil Nadu are sent to advise/interact with farmers. Othwerwise, as my colleague Ramasamy Selvam informs, anyone violating the provisions of this proposed legislation will attract a fine of Rs 10,000 or imprisonment for six months.
Here is the Indian Express report on the agricultural Bill when it was introduced in Tamil Nadu Assembly. On the last day of the State Assembly session yesterday, 30 Bills were passed without any discussion, and this Bill was one of them.
New agriculture Bill introduced.
CHENNAI: June 24: Agriculture Minister Veerapandi S Arumugam on Tuesday introduced in the State Assembly a Bill to regulate agriculture practice in Tamil Nadu. This legislation provides for establishing a council called Tamil Nadu State Agricultural Council (TNSAC).
The Bill said at present, there was no law to provide for the regulation of agricultural practice in the State. As per the Bill, every agricultural institution which grants a recognised agricultural qualification should furnish details about their courses of study and examinations to be undergone in order to obtain such qualification.
The TNSAC may, by regulation, specify the minimum standards of education required for granting agricultural qualifications by the agricultural institutions. The Council shall maintain a register by name The Tamil Nadu State Agricultural Practitioners Register which would have the names of all persons who possess agricultural qualifications.
The Bill further said no person other than a person whose name is borne on the register should practice as Agricultural consultant within the State or render agricultural services.
For preparing this register, the government shall, constitute a registration tribunal and appoint a Registrar.
The agricultural degrees granted by University of Chennai, Annamalai University and the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University have been listed as recognised agricultural qualifications under this legislation.