Survey of Current Issues for Agriculture Management in India


Prof. R.K. Gupta
Professor of Management & Consultant
Aravali Institute of Management
Jodhpur (Rajasthan)

'A killer bacteria that is killing farmers and not the insects '
<Bacillus thuringiensis> (Bt)

That is what Bt stands for. It is a naturally occurring rod shaped bacteria that produces toxin genes which when planted in DNA of Seeds produce such proteins that stick in stomach of some deadly insects (caterpillars, mostly) and kill them due to indigestion. It is alleged that these proteins don't harm mammals? How do we know for sure? Is the scientific trial carried out conclusive enough and absolutely understood?

Secondly, what is effect of introducing this gene in the seed structure?

It is now alleged that not only it reduces productivity of seeds but also creates unfavourable effects in output, that can cause cancer in human beings over long term use. No one has yet completed these trials.

In any case the crops based on 'Bt' seeds ( mainly Bt cotton till now) has failed in India already and farmers have gone down the drain and under the debt burden.

Farmers' suicides forebode serious mismanagement of agricultural practices and agro-economics management in country and the deteriorating quality of agriculture output.

India has already climbed down to 1.8% agriculture growth rate that can barely take care of population growth rate. Hence not only fruit, vegetables and cereals will keep increasing in price but domestic markets are already bearing the brunt of subsidized exports of several agro-commodities.

This is serious mismanagement of economics of country. Fact remains that despite tough fight given by Mr Kamal Nath in mini Ministerial meeting recently aborted in HQ of WTO, India is ill equipped to take advantage of subsidy withdrawal if ever done by EU and US. India hardly has any surplus agro-products. With little share in world trade(miniscule) India is surprisingly making rather too excessive noise for AoA and Doha Round issues as far as related to Agriculture products.

Now we are talking of next 'Bt Brinjal' trials in India as applied for by Monsanto.

India has to be very careful in proper genetic coding and field trials under their own control rather than of Monsanto or any other company and come to the truth.

Secondly, why this bacteria is not used externally in spray form on plants? That is much safer.

Instead of genetic modification why we don't mass produce bacteria containing dust and spray as pesticide on plant material?

These are some issues that we must address in national interest and to protect farmers and agro out put in country and protect human and animal health.

We have already seen the harmful effect of vaccines containing mercury preservatives, but Indian government is afraid to stop use and also because of high cost of alternative vaccines.

Meanhile, Narain Dutt Tiwari Government has banned GM seeds in Uttranchal Pradesh and Rajasthan Government is also close to do that.

Genetic modification means changing DNA structure of an Organism/cell by various techniques, for example, recombinant DNA, etc. to impart new characteristic to a seed ( fruit is a seed) or vegetable or cereal by way of improved yield, shape, taste, size or insect resistance.

But there are many unknown and half understood ill effects.

There is also dark side of technology like Terminator seeds that don't allow conversion of fresh out put into seeds for future sowing use.

Farmer has got to buy from companies, every time he plants the crop. And in liberalized system, price will be determined by seller as there is hardly any competition in GM seeds technology.

By reckless depletion of nutrients and quality of mother soil in India 'post Green-revolution', we have created a soil condition which can't produce enough any more and has been passivated by voluminous use of inorganic fertilizers and pesticides toxifying the soil and killing its reproduction power.

In some experiments in areas of cotton growing in Andhra Pradesh,

it has been established that using natural seeds, little pesticides (rather organic pesticides) and limited use of fertilizer after reclaiming the depleted soil, has restored cotton out put and quality.

So we come back to nature again?

Here lies the challenge for Agricultural scientists and Agro-management experts in India and big companies like HLL, ITC, Rallis India etc. to come forward and help Indian farmers restore Productivity of soil and prevent use of harmful genetic technology, as also to promote bio-fertilizers.

Secondly, wrong patterns of crop rotation for greed and under wrong advise have destroyed fertility of soil and its salinity Characteristics and micronutrients have been downgraded all over the country.

There is another issue of agro marketing where farm produce can be quickly and economically shifted to the markets and the agro processing units, eliminating middle men. Currently as much as 40% of fruit and vegetable is rendered unusable by the time it reaches consumer. The villagers simply can't afford to consume the produce in own areas where these are grown.

This is true for milk too.

Most of Dairy farmers are marginal farmers and can't afford to consume milk ,a good part of which gets spoiled.

India will have to invest heavily in roads, cold houses and cold chain with an efficient procurement and transportation system and quick lifting of fresh farm produce by procurement agencies eliminating brokers.

We are no where near even modest satisfactory levels.

India, therefore, has before it massive issues of agriculture management and proper use of scientific methods and controls to ensure high quality, high output yield that also ensures fair return to farming activity or else India will sure land into deep trouble soon.

More suicides will follow suit, farm productivity will further go down, irrigable water resources will diminish and India may turn into a big agro importer instead(dumping will in any case be helped by pro-WTO agro reforms).

Another significant point to note is that India is giving much lower subsidies in domestic sector as against the image created that our agro output is surviving on government subsidies. It is not. Politicians are misinforming people on this fact.

The last but not the least issue is of land consolidation and land reforms to protect agro land being converted to commercial use relentlessly and creating large mechanized farms if we have to keep production cost low enough to combat imports. A suitable new models needs to be developed for collective use of farm land for optimizing manual labor and modern technology and implements simultaneously.

It is time to streamline Political and Economic management in country. Warning alarms have already started ringing as we are at the thresh-hold of XI th Plan period.

Prof. R.K. Gupta
Professor of Management & Consultant
Aravali Institute of Management
Jodhpur (Rajasthan)

Source: E-mail July 2, 2006


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