OPINION: FOOD SECURITY
TRADE IN AGRICULTURE
Outsourcing food production
The political economy of food is being rewritten, with countries and companies moving to acquire large tracts of farmland and secure their interests.
Trade in Agriculture | Food security
Pause before you eat
The Bt gene in brinjal does not increase productivity. But what it is surely about to do is bring India's first genetically altered food grop to your dining table.
US FARM BILL 2007
Protection at home, preaching abroad
In clear disregard for the ongoing multilateral negotiations, the United States is attempting to protect its already heavily fortified agriculture further.
Weeding out wheat
US participation in India's wheat procurement cannot be at the cost of India softening quarantine standards.
Growing credibility gap
Purdue University and the World Bank are cleverly using economic models and simulated 'welfare gains' to push for market access in developing nations.
TEXTILES AND COTTON
Lessons from the cotton debacle
For 40 years, nearly 17 million cotton growers have been subsidising the textile industry. If only these farmers had got the right price for the cotton they produced, the number of their suicides would have been far less. Instead, cotton prices have been on a steady decline thereby acerbating the farm crisis.
WTO DOHA ROUND
Under pressure, India makes U-turn
At a two-day international seminar on "Saving Doha and delivering on development" that concluded at New Delhi on 13 March, India's Commerce Minister Kamal Nath provided ample evidence of India's willingness to go along with the rich and industrialised countries.
FDI IN RETAIL
Big box retail will boost poverty
The Prime Minister, citing no credible evidence, says small shopkeepers will not be hurt by the entry of large foreign retailiers into the country. His party president, on the other hand, is asking him to go slow on this front. Will this lead to a different course in the government's thinking, or is this simply a smoke-screen.
The new Maharajas
What is it like to be a modern-day Indian prince? With the proliferation of Special Economic Zones everywhere, the laws of the land are being redefined to bring in the reality of the royal tag for the rich and beautiful. For the rest of the country, sub-Saharan Africa is the only comparison.
In what appears to be a desperate move to prop up agriculture growth, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called for reversing the declining trend in investment in agriculture. But his approach may end up compounding the already existing crisis, writes Devinder Sharma.
Has the Bt cotton bubble burst?
Cotton farmers around the country are following Andhra Pradesh's lead in skipping both pesticides and Bt seeds. And there are no pests. Why? There are 28 predators of the American bollworm, cotton's main enemy. If you stop spraying pesticides, these beneficial insects devour the bollworm, notes Devinder Sharma.
GLOBALISATION AFTER 9/11
The 'Free trade' explosion
With the World Trade talks in limbo, the focus remains on aggressively pushing on the bilateral front. What could not be achieved through a multilateral trade regime, is now being pursued by the US through bilateral and regional deals. Devinder Sharma connects the dots.
Trade | Devinder Sharma
WTO HONG KONG MINISTERIAL
Much ado about nothing
For the sixth time in a row, the trade ministers of the developing world have been duped to believe that agricultural trade is for development. Despite making loud noises and fuming over injustice, the faulty framework that underlies the WTO remains very much in place, says Devinder Sharma.
WTO NEGOTIATIONS ON AGRICULTURE
Theatre of the absurd
How can 'drastic cuts' in trade subsidies lead to no reduction? Simple: fudge the language. Economic jugglery and clever wording cannot, however, conceal the horrible effects of US and EU subsidies on livelihoods and food security in the developing world. The G-20 must simplify the terms of trade.
The politics of farm technologies
Much of the agrarian crisis is the result of unwanted and cost-intensive technologies that have been forced on the farmers. Scientists were unknowingly trying to promote the commercial interests of the seed, tractor and the pesticides industry. And we don't need to repeat this error.
Rice in a private grip
Swiss biotech corporation Syngenta has tightened its monopoly control over rice. Seeking global patents over thousands of genes in rice, the multinational based in a country that produces no rice itself, is set to own the world's most important staple food crop.
Who will make hunger history?
With an estimated 24,000 people succumbing globally to hunger every day, more than 120 million people could perish by the year 2015 from this shameful scourge. In Gleneagles, however, the leaders of the world's richest economies did not even provide lip-service to the hungry and malnourished.
KALAM AND SWADES
Conflict of approaches
President Kalam's vision for rural development is at odds with Ashutosh Gowariker's Swades where Shah Rukh Khan charts a simple location-specific path to village development. The two different routes to achieving the same objective bring out the conflict in our understanding of the rural crisis.
Hold economists accountable too
Eight months before the upcoming WTO ministerial of December 2005, prominent economists are closing ranks to dwarf sustained criticism of agricultural subsidies in developed nations. Devinder Sharma asserts that the continued undermining of food self-sufficiency in developing nations is economic lunacy.
Trade in agriculture
EU AGRICULTURE SUBSIDIES
Entitled to subsidies!
According to the European Union's plans for agricultural reforms, subsidies received by farmers will now become their entitlement until 2013. The big businesses that get most of these subsidies are quite happy; meanwhile the subsidies continue to create starvation and death in the developing world, notes Devinder Sharma.
Trade in Agriculture
Against the grain
Every time new procurement prices are set, an impression is generated that the increase in prices will send the economy into a spin. But compare the cost of agriculture subsidies to government salaries or the cost of trade policies that favour imports over domestic produce, and one sees a different picture, says Devinder Sharma.
Faulty frame, savage reality
If you raise the price of your product and offer a discount on the higher price, some people will get taken in by such 'sales'. The WTO has just pulled off this kind of scheme, and negotiators from developing countries, India included, have much to answer for. Devinder Sharma dissects the newest deal on trade in agriculture.
Trade in Agriculture
Tax India, fail Bharat
The agriculture sector requires massive public investments. But to say that such investments have to be made through credit reforms alone is step-motherly treatment. Devinder Sharma points out the deeper flaws in the thinking behind Budget 2004-5.
Opinions | Devinder Sharma
The policy has no clothes
Farmers' suicides will end when policy makers, agricultural scientists, academicians and even the civil society groups first accept the fundamental flaw that forces farmers to their deaths - their misplaced faith in inudstrial farming. Devinder Sharma says the proposed relief measures won't have the desired effect.
Once again, fooling the world
Removal of agricultural subsidies should be a pre-requisite to further movement on the WTO agricultural negotiations. The current proposals from negotiators in the developed countries completely sidesteps this, and instead tries to cement their personal legacies.
Trade in agriculture
India becoming a GM trash bin?
A casual approach to regulate the most-controversial technology is seeing India becoming a favoured destination for the biotechnology industry that is virtually on the run from the US, European Union and Australia. Devinder Sharma on the recent approval given for commercial growth of another Bt cotton variety.
Rural poor to pay for urban elite
New Delhi's policy-makers are busy bartering the millions of jobs in agriculture for the far fewer ones with outsourcing firms in the cities. Devinder Sharma is dismayed that the government of India doesn't protect the economic interests of its own citizens.
|Devinder Sharma is an award-winning journalist, writer, thinker and researcher respected for his views on food and trade policy. His writings focus on the links between biotechnology, intellectual property rights, food trade and poverty. He is a regular contributor to leading national print publications.|
Rice is now Oryza syngenta
- Turning farmers into brokers
- Towards a grey revolution?
- Not much to feel good about
- Busy exploiting hunger for GM
- Charity in the name of science
- Flogging a dead horse
- Rigged results, failed promises
- No GM please, we are British
- WTO: End of the road?
- The great trade robbery
- Man and cow - a new equality of species
- Disquiet before Cancun
- 34 universities, 81 institutes, failure
- Abandoning agriculture
- From Pomato to Protato
- Eliminating hunger or the hungry?
- Pests, pesticides and science
- Making agriculture attractive
- A scientific fairytale
- Supressing criticism
- Zero Tolerance to Farm Subsidies
- The GM potato hoax
- Feeding the farmers
- Produce and Perish
- More food, more hunger
- Patently absurd - atta's turn
- Fighting hunger
- It's mustard, this time
- ICAR lapses into a coma
- Drought - lessons from America
- Famine as commerce
- Drought - a case of mistaken priorities
- The great genetic scandal
- The hungry will have to wait
- Another tool for biopiracy
- A tale of two dons
- The stains of a revolution
- Budgeting against the farmer
- The algebra of poverty
- UNenthical behaviour?
- Clash of civilisations
- WTO (We Take Over)
- Stepping on a booby trap
- Free and fair trade?
- Starving the world of good sense
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