Thursday, 10 November 2005

Rural disaster due to blind aping of World Bank: Study

November 2005
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Nov 10: The State government's "blind aping" of the World Bank model of agriculture is leading to "rural disaster" and severe crisis in the farming community.
According to a study presented at the third international conference on "Rural India", organised by two voluntary organisations in partnership with the Andhra Pradesh State government her on Thursday, the government pumped in huge finances to push an "industry-driven" agriculture which has finally led to "farmers' distress". Agriculture Minister N Raghuveera Reddy was the chief guest at the conference.
"Blindly aping the World Bank model of agriculture, Andhra Pradesh has pumped in huge finances to push an industry-driven agriculture that has not only exacerbated the crisis leading to an environment catastrophe but also destroyed millions of rural livelihoods, which echoes to "rural disaster".
As a result the State has turned into capital of shame for farmers' distress,
visible more through the increasing rate of suicides in the rural areas," point
out social scientists K Anand Sagar and Vijayanand Kommaluri.
In their report, "Rural Tsunami: A famine in 21st century", they took pot-shots at the State government accusing it of "rhetoric and statistics that have bred immunity against compassion".
The ground realities are far removed from the rhetoric, they pointed out adding that the statistics being rolled out by the government are immune against compassion. "We are all part of a global food system, which perpetuates poverty and deprivation. The claims of improved technology for agriculture ignore the stark realities like increasing indebtedness, growing poverty, resulting in human suffering and hunger," the study says.
Pointing out that farmers' suicides were due to man-made disaster (famine) rather than natural disaster (drought) due to failure of the State and its machinery, they said the State government should be aware of the fact that while drought conditions are caused by the vagaries of nature, a famine is not a natural phenomenon.
Most of the agricultural labourers have lost opportunities for gainful employment and small and medium farmers have been forced to leave their land fallow for want of water. They took Kalidindi mandal in Krishna district as a case study.
Kalidindi mandal is affected by coastal pollution and loses their total crop or
end up with poor growth of the cultivated organisms due to the poor quality of water. Increased siltation and sedimentation of coastal water is consequence of deforestation, mining and inappropriate agricultural practices in this area causes to degradation of soil, depletion of water level, which reflects the drought conditions in this mandal.
The state government insists on using the term "drought conditions" not famine. The provided solutions are really the causes for the problems in the first place and behaving like an ostrich is not going to eclipse hunger and death from politico-economic radar screens, the study observes.
"Unless the state government realises the facts and figures regarding rainfall, losses in terms of damage to crops and the extent of land left uncultivated and thrive to formulate the strategies for rural empowerment, the state economic polices like free electricity and enhancing bank credit will remain as proverbial Emperor's clothes," Anand and Vijaynand warns.
They suggest that the government should keep away from the idea of industrial farming since the majority of the population in India makes their livelihood with small portions of land and gainful employment from agricultural sector.

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