Oct 2, 2010

Monsanto takes over agriculture of semi-arid Rajasthan

There is trouble ahead for the semi-arid regions of Rajasthan. What is presently classified as semi-arid region will soon turn arid, and barren. In a region where water is a scarce commodity, water guzzling hybrids will now be promoted with impunity. Rajasthan has in fact invited the multi-national seed giant Monsanto to sow the seeds of destruction. Monsanto has been handed-over the reigns of Rajasthan's agriculture, and in other words its food security.

Rajasthan becomes India's first Monsantoland.

Monsanto has signed an agreement with the Rajasthan Government to engage in public-private partnership to develop and market hybrid seeds of maize, cotton and vegetables like hot pepper, tomato, cabbage, cucumber, cauliflower and water melon. The MoU has been signed on behalf of the State Government with Department of Agriculture, Department of Horticulture, Swami Keshavanand  Rajasthan Agriculture University, Maharana Pratap University of Agriculture and Technology, and Rajasthan University of Venterinary and Animal Sciences.

The MoU was signed in July 2010, and a copy of the confidential agreement was obtained using the Right to Information.

With Monsanto virtually taking over seed production and distribution, and at the same time being allowed to use the resarch and extension services of the State and the universities along with the Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) for disseminating the farm technologies, I wonder what role and task is left for the agricultural universities. If the universities have to be simply subservient to Monsanto, and be the executing agencies, isn't it time to close down these universities and save the tax-payers money? Why should the tax-payers bear the cost of providing supporting services which basically adds to the commercial gains of the private seed giant?

While the objectives include contributing to the agricultural economy through enhanced yields, encouraging cultivation of crops beneficial to farmers, the Rajasthan government has promised to bring in policies and programmes to make this possible by encouraging seed multiplication and distribution. Besides seed production and processing, Monsanto will engage in developing its proprietary germplasm in collaboration with the universities for which it will charge prescribed fee. Both the partners -- Monsanto and Rajasthan government -- will undertake feasibility studies and assessment to ensure that the hybrid seeds enter the seed value chain.

Interestingly, Monsanto will identify which hybrid seeds are to be cultivated, and will also evaluate cross-licencing agreement with the agricultural universities and the departments. To take cotton production to the next level, Monsanto has agreed to bring in mechanical harvesting equipment which will be made available to the universities at no additional cost. Students will also be provided with internships. The MoU provides a detailed list of activities to be conducted, which for all practical purposes means the virtual take-over of Rajasthan's agricultural research, education and extension infrastructure and services. Except that the State will pay for the staff salaries as well as maintenance cost for the infrastructure, universities and the two departments of agriculture and horticulture have been made redundant.

Hybrids are water guzzling crops. They consume roughly 1.5 times more water than the high-yielding varieties. At the same time, hybrids require increased application of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. At a time when across globe and also within India questions are being raised about sustainability of agriculture, I fail to understand the logic of large-scale introduction of hybrids of maize, cotton and vegetables. What is the use of extending the Green Revolution to the northeast parts of the country when the northwestern belt is being virtually turned unfit for food cultivation.

Common sense tells us that you need to cultivate crops that require less water in arid regions. I wonder where has common sense disappeared when it comes to developing suitable and appropriate agriculture technologies. How can anyone justify growing hybrid crops in water deficit regions? Why is the Rajasthan Government so determined to destroy Rajasthan's semi-arid agriculture for all times to come?

15 comments:

Devi said...

Monsanto has already got into Gujarat, for cultivating hybrid maize in the tribal districts along with the tribal development dept of the Gujarat State govt.They will be growing their Dekalb variety of hybrid maize. Dekalb is one of their most popular GM maize varieties in the US .
Even sources within the TDD are confused abt whether they are growing GM maize or just hybrid maize in the project( looking at seed prices seems like hybrid ). As per project reports the project is worth about 17 crores for 5 yrs from which Monsanto alone earns 7 crores for seeds and some technical services .....
Imagine inundating tribal economies with cash crops and making them market dependant ! We as a nation have given up our sovereignty I fear

devi

Devi said...

Monsanto has already got into Gujarat for cultivating hybrid maize in the tribal districts along with the tribal development dept of the Gujarat State govt. They are growing Monsato's Dekalb variety of hybrid maize. Dekalb is one of their most popular GM maize varieties in the US .
Even sources within the TDD are confused abt whether they are growing GM maize or just hybrid maize in the project( looking at seed prices it seems like hybrid ). As per project reports the project is worth about 17 crores for 5 yrs from which Monsanto alone earns 7 crores for seeds and some technical services .....
Imagine inundating tribal economies with cash crops and making them market dependant or Monsanto dependant! We as a nation have given up our sovereignty, I fear

devi

Ramesh Dubey said...

आदरणीय देवेंद्र जी आपने अर्द्धशुष्‍क राजस्‍थान की खेती-किसानी के बहुराष्‍ट्रीय कंपनी मोनसेंटों द्वारा अधिग्रहण का सटीक विश्‍लेषण किया । दरअसल बहुराष्‍ट्रीय एग्रीबिजनेस कंपनियां लाभ का लोभ दिखाकर दुनिया भर की सरकारों, सरकारी अनुसंधान केंद्रों को अपने जाल में उलझा रही हैं । जब राष्‍ट्रीय स्‍तर के आईसीएआर जैसे संस्‍थान मोनसेंटो जैसी कंपनियों के आउटसोर्सिंग केंद्र बनकर रह गए हैं तो राज्‍य स्‍तर के कृषि विश्‍वविद्यालय कैसे अछूते बने रह सकते हैं । अब खेती भुखमरी निवारण का हथियार की जगह लाभ कमाने का जरिया बनती जा रही है । इसी का परिणाम है कि भारत के अन्‍न भंडार कहे जाने वाला पंजाब राज्‍य कुपोषण के मामले में अफ्रीका के सबसे निचली पायदान के देश से भी नीचे है । लाभ कमाने के क्रम में भूजल, मिट्टी, हवा आदि की उपेक्षा होना स्‍वाभाविक ही है । यही पूरी दुनिया में हो रहा है ।
रमेश दुबे, दिल्‍ली

Dr J K Nigam said...

Dear sir,
Thanks for keeping close eye over Indian agriculture and Big gaints. I agree that country tax money should not go to any corporate (especialy not to MNCs) who are just involeved in making money anyhow with his monopoly. One MNC East India ruled over us for more than 200 years. At present 40 MNCs working in India, we don't know our and our generation future.
Obama saying that Be American, By American and we are following to him blindly.
Where is Gandhi Followers?
Regards, Dr J K Nigam, CEO, Qualitas Crop Sciences Pvt Ltd Hydarabad

Anonymous said...

Shri Devendra ji,

Is there any way that the Monster company Monsanto be kicked out of the country..

pls show some light.

Madhusudan

Anonymous said...

The march of corporate capitalism goes on. It cannot be halted. Soon, it will rule the world and USA will be crowned Emperor. Then history will end ... along with life and the final mastery/destruction of the biosphere. Everyone will be happy.

David Kennedy
(from CounterCurrent.org)

Anonymous said...

Really I get mad after reading this.


Usha

INDIAN FIRST said...

really sir politicians ki mati mari gayi hai.

robot said...

This is precisely what Ag and drug giants want, giving them full control over the nation's food, drugs, and dietary supplements.

Atrazine

Prerna said...

Respected Devi Sir,

On the onset, I would like to thank you for your informative blog. As by going through the newspaper I was not able to understand this issue, what I understood was that this was signed secretly and it is affecting our farmers, but after going through this I have improved my information on the subject.

This is not the only issue where Government is instead of supporting and strengthening our farmers but is making them dependent and in pity state. I would like to know that do you have any idea/information on Free Trade Agreements which India has signed/is signing/will sign soon. Just like Japan-India, EU-India FTA and others, which we are expecting to be concluded by this year end. There are many issues viz., agriculture sector, intellectual property provisions, others on which negotiation will take place. And these negotiations (as per predictions & estimates) will be affecting common man. The negotiation text of these agreements is also not available. It will be great help to me if you can provide any kind of information on the same.

Regards
Prerna

Prerna said...

Respected Devi Sir,

On the onset, I would like to thank you for your informative blog. As by going through the newspaper I was not able to understand this issue, what I understood was that this was signed secretly and it is affecting our farmers, but after going through this I have improved my information on the subject.

This is not the only issue where Government is instead of supporting and strengthening our farmers but is making them dependent and in pity state. I would like to know that do you have any idea/information on Free Trade Agreements which India has signed/is signing/will sign soon. Just like Japan-India, EU-India FTA and others, which we are expecting to be concluded by this year end. There are many issues viz., agriculture sector, intellectual property provisions, others on which negotiation will take place. And these negotiations (as per predictions & estimates) will be affecting common man. The negotiation text of these agreements is also not available. It will be great help to me if you can provide any kind of information on the same.

Regards
Prerna

Anonymous said...

I would like to ask you a simple question and I hope to hear back from you. From where do you come to know that "hybrids" suck more water than normal plants?

As far I know, Monsanto manufactures seeds who take lesser water, than normal naturally evolved seeds.

Mrs. Nisha said...

Sir,
your information on the ground realities of India are eye opening. The column appearing in Rajasthan Patrika also makes us worry about the future of agriculture in India.
I would like to quote J A Voelcker, a British Agricultural chemist brought to India as an expert to recommend improvements to be made in Indian Agriculture stated in his report in 1893:
“Nowhere would one find better instances of keeping land scrupulously clean from weeds, of ingenuity in device of water raising appliances, of knowledge of soils and their capabilities, as well as the exact time to sow and to reap as one would in Indian agriculture; and this is not at its best alone, but at its ordinary level. It is wonderful too, how much is known of rotation, the system of mixed crops and of fallowing. Certain it is that I, at least have never seen a more perfect picture of careful cultivation combined with hard labour, perseverance, and fertility of resource, than I have seen at many of the halting places in my tour”
As on now, where are we heading?

Nisha,
consultant
Aryan Sanrakshan, Jaipur

Anonymous said...

As an agriculture student in rajasthan, i can see the terrible state of affairs regarding the role of agricultural institutions. When it comes to providing quality education, the universities just seem to be sitting ducks. And as your article in my opinion rightly points towards the government's clear lack of focus, i am not sure if it feels any responsibility at all. In the fierce global nip and tuck, what all companies seek is profit and the governmental policies are supposed to be the wall of protection, they are all instead an epic failure.
Your article is much appreciated.
RUCHIR PAREEK.

Jack said...

There are certainly a lot of details like that to take into consideration. That’s a great point to bring up.