Friday, November 22, 2013

Gujarat govt's policies are "not in consonance with objectives of international family farming year"

By Our Representative
Three voluntary agencies, Paryavaran Mitra, Paryavaraniya Vikas Kendra and Millet Network of India, on the occasion of the International Family Farming Day (November 22) have sharply criticized the main thrust of the Gujarat government, of industrial growth, saying, for this it has “come up with many liberal policies for land acquisition”, putting forth “many circulars like acquisition of government and gauchar land for special economic zone (SEZ) projects and regarding use of wasteland for corporate farming.”
In a statement, they added, “It is important to understand that these types of policies are against family farming and sustainable agriculture. The rapid pace of approval of proposals on industrialization has put a great amount of pressure on land and on other livelihood options of communities. As per the survey of state Socio-Economic Review 2011-12, there is decrease in area under cultivation for food grain by 3.47 per cent and decrease in food grain production by 8.08 per cent between 2010-11 and 2011-12.”
The statement underlined, “Lack of crop production is due to decrease in agricultural land because of heavy industrialization and land acquisition. By encouraging family farming, the issue of food insecurity can be addressed as farmers can derive their own food from their farms.”
It added, “The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) in its report has pointed out that percentage of severely malnourished children in Gujarat had gone up from 0.85% (of total number of children weight) in 2006-07 to 4.56% in 2010-11. In the last five years in Gujarat, 26 farmers have committed suicide due to crop failure. Malnutrition and poverty are the issues which can also be dealt through family farming.”
The NGOs demanded:
* The Gujarat government should pursue the key objective of the International Year for Family Farming (IYFF), declared by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the UN for 2014, to promote policies in favour of the sustainable development though proper allocations in the budget. Some policies of the state government like acquisition of government and gauchar land for SEZ projects encourage the use of gauchar land for industrial use. This policy should be immediately withdrawn as it is against the concept of family farming.
* “Corporate farming” which is also one of the policies of the state government also needs to be withdrawn. Rather government wasteland on which rural livelihood is dependent should be used for family farming.

* The concept of 'animal hostels' to house cattle in a common facility in villages is being pursued vigorously in Gujarat. This concept is against family farming and should not be encouraged any further.
The statement explained, “The international year of family farming is an initiative promoted by the world rural forum and supported by over 360 civil society and farmers’ organizations. This celebration aims to become a tool to stimulate active policies for sustainable development of agricultural systems based farmer families, communal units, indigenous groups, cooperative and fishing families. All this work is being made from the perspective of effectively combating poverty and hunger and the search for a rural development based on the respect for environment and biodiversity.”
Among the key objectives of the programmes, it said, are, “support to the development of agricultural, environmental and social policies conducive to sustainable family farming; increase in knowledge, communication and public awareness; attainment of better understanding of family farming needs, potential and constraints and ensure technical support; and creation of synergies for sustainability.”
Coming to the thrust that India should take for this, the statement said, it “ought to focus on the key objectives of FAO. As agriculture is the backbone of the Indian economy and many Indians derive their livelihood from the agricultural sector, the idea of family farming should be encouraged.” It adds, “As family farming which has been culture in India for many years is recently shrinking and degrading, thus adversely affecting food production and livelihood of the people.”
Calling the National Food Security Act “historic”, the statement said, it is “an important milestone in India’s fight against hunger has given importance to millets like sorghum and pearl and has been included in public distribution system. Moreover, millets have the potential to adapt to climate change and thus growing millet is one of the best ways to mitigate climate change.”
“With the changing time, more Indians are eating distributed grains like rice and wheat with decrease in millet production in the country and curbed the diversity of Indian diets as well as biodiversity in nature. By consuming more millets, farmers in dry land areas will get encouragement to grow crops that are best suited for those regions”, the statement pointed out. The NGOs demand from the Government of India that:
* Millet production should be promoted by the way of family farming by incentivizing it through Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) programme.
* Family farming should be included in National Climate Change Action Plan to encourage sustainable agriculture.

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