Jul 24, 2009

Tamil Nadu introduces a draconian Bill to bar non-agricultural graduates from advising farmers

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.


Anonymous said...

this is really horrible. i think we should take up some legal course.
when no agriculture scientist was ever held responsible for the
crisis this kind of initiative will kill all the organic farming
initiatives. i think in the govt has gone mad.

Anonymous said...

This is a way to kill Organic/Natural/Traditional farming itself. None of the Agri Universities, I am sure, offer any courses on sustainable agriculture, ie., agriculture without the use of chemicals. Which means that, only people who can become consultants and trainers are those who are “trained in the modern agriculture”. This is one master stroke to kill alternative sustainable agriculture and opposition to modern agriculture including GM movement.

Sahaja Samrudha

Anonymous said...

This is a terrible move. The organic farmers , farmers organisations and consumers of Tamilnadu should come together to protest . Even in the health sector registrations are still given to traditional practioners .


Anonymous said...

This type of law should be enacted for whole of India to cover all of the ICAR institute/ICAR recognised institute. This might some what evoke some professionalism. But this law has to be dynamic and accomadative.

Anonymous said...

This might evoke strong emotions from NGO who work for upliftment of agriculture.THis act should be reformed to accomodate any informally/practically learnt persons who have already proven thier committment in practising agriculture by providing gudiance to farming community. This act also should also enforce liability clause to protect farmers interstes from the default agriculture council memebers. As just getting the degree doesnot mean that consultncy provided by them is not to be questioned and they would be protected. Till now number of agriculture council eligible default memebers are advocating balnketly farmers to use Dimecron/Polydol/B.H.C./ even with out caring to update their knowledge level(still recommending banned chemicals).

Anonymous said...

This is the right act that can take the agriculture to new heights. Most of the farmers are now cheated by many agro-retailers who not even know what agriculture is.

The people who have commented against the act should realise that the things went wrong in agriculture were due to the advices provided by many agro retailers who were not agriculturists.

All the available technologies like,

Water lifting devices,
Implements, tools and machineries,
Drip and sprinkler irrigation,
varieties and hybrids of different crops,
Bio fertilizers and Bio control agents,
value addition and food processing,
conservation and dissemination of several traditional agricultural practices,
creating awareness to lakhs of farmers etc etc etc

Were brought out by the agricultue scientists.

The traditional maize yielded 12 qntls/acre where as improved latest hybrids ylds 55 qntls/acre.
Traditional system of irrigation can do 1 acre (for eg). Where as the improved drip system can irrigate 4 acre with the same water.
Traditional mango yields after 8 yrs of planting where as the grafts starts yld from 4th yr of planting.
Like this I can give thousands of examples.
All these improvements and results were brought by the agriculture scientists only.

More over in the prevailing economic crisis agriculture is need to be given more importance and follow-up. And the farmers need to be guided in all aspects from crop selection, improved cropping practices, marketing strategy, value addition etc. All of these are are possible only if the well educated agri-graduates are given the task of looking after the agro industry.

I finally belive that this act will defenitely sustain the farmer and farming for ever.

DJEB said...

Really disturbing news. I designed and oversaw the implementation of a water-harvesting system on an organic farm in Andhra Pradesh this year at the invitation of the farmer and a local NGO. They would like to have me back to do more, but does this mean that, were the project in Tamil Nadu, it would be illegal for me to do so?

Anonymous said...

I would be delighted to see comments if peoples visiting your blog could know what bill actually means. The bill is available at following link http://www.tn.gov.in/stationeryprinting/extraordinary/2009/150-Ex-IV-1.pdf . I hope that organic movement are being totally mislead about the content of this act.

Anonymous said...

The motivation for this Act is not known. For all practical purposes it is a strange Act and I wonder what purpose it would serve except in enriching a few more corrupt people who can issue certificates and enlarging the scope of privileges enjoyed by govt. sector at the cost of public exchequer. Can the TN govt. guarantee that the quality and quantity of agricultural products and services will go up after this Act??

RG said...

Just as one thought that there is a ray of hope for agriculture in India with the more progressive nature of agriculture policies in States like Karnataka and Kerala, Tamil Nadu Government seems bent upon taking the State through another 'green revolution'. This completely compromises any efforts at establishing long-term food security in the State.

S Krishnan said...

It is a shocking that Government, instead of serving the people with proper Governanace, tries to interefere in each and every activity of its citizen. A country known for agricultural intelligence, bumper crops, medicinal crops to cure any illness, has to become a pauper in intelligence by looking through books written by who have no idea what happens on the field. Armchair farming has taken over hands-on farming. Basically none have understaood that plants, given the natural atmosphere, communicate between themselves and protect themselves. I have hundreds of incidence where plants themselves play a major role to protect themselves and give a very good yield when properly and minimally tended to by the farmer. These are field experiences that are more empirical than proving mathematically by scientific records. Each square feet of soil has its own history and its own life. Generlisation will only kill farming.

Looking closely, the recent Act is only to encourage Chemical usage, and the efforts to revive chemical fertilzers industry - like SPIC- only points out the direction where monies could be made. The recent incident of diversion of ships laden with Muriates of phosphates is one great example.

Also imagine a country where the cost of bacic input - sugarcane is only Rs. 1800 per ton, while the finished product sugar costs Rs. 26000 to 40000 per tonne. Can anybody tell where all these money go ? For Jaggery making the final costs are only 7000 to 10000 per ton.

Even in the case of Organic Farming, today we have hundreds of Inputs suppliers who target only the money that could be made. Only very few like us advise that except labor no purchase of any input is necessary for Organic Farming. But soon people like us will be debarred from improving the Agriculture in India.

Who could voice against the Government which pays least heade to the voice of the real farmers ?