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by Kavitha

Programme & Logistics Note: Kisan Swaraj Sammelan

6:36 am in News by Kavitha

PROGRAMME SCHEDULE

Day 1: April 1st 2016

9 am onwards: Registration
10.30 am to 12.30 pm * Welcome by Rythu Swarajya Vedika: Dr Rukmini Rao

 

* Welcome on behalf of Reception Committee: Shri Vadde Sobhanadreeswara Rao & Prof. Kodandaram

 

* Sharing about the ASHA journey so far: Representatives from each State

 

* Rythu Swarajya Vedika experience:  Shri Kiran Vissa

 

* Telangana Rythu JAC experience: Dr G V Ramanjaneyulu

 

* Sammelan Plan & Schedule: Ms Ashalatha

Session Coordinators: Kavitha Kuruganti and Pankaj Bhushan

On the dais: Reception Committee

- Prof. Kodandaram

- Shri. Vadde Sobhanadreeswara Rao

- Prof. Rama Melkote

- Shri. S.Jeevan Kumar

- Prof. A.Prasad Rao

- Shri. Mallepalli Lakshmaiah

- Prof. K.R.Chowdry

- Shri. B.Ramakrishnam Raju

- Shri. K.Ramachandra Murthy

- Shri. K.Srinivas

12.30 pm to 12.45 pm

Inauguration of Biodiversity Festival & Exhibition by Prof. K.R. Chowdry, Prof. Rama Melkote, Prof A Prasada Rao

Coordinator: Krishna Prasad

12.45 pm to 02.00 pm: LUNCH

02.00 pm to 05.00 pm

6 Parallel Sessions of 1.5 hours each[i]

Themes:

  1. Ecological Agriculture (spl focus on rainfed farming)
  2. Trade & Agriculture;
  3. Women Farmers’ Rights;
  4. Seed Sovereignty & Seed Diversity Revival;
  5. Land Rights & Security;
  6. Income Security of Farming Households
  7. GMOs & Pesticides
Lead Discussants

  1. Kapil Shah, Ramanjaneyulu, Ashish Gupta, Sridhar Radhakrishnan
  2. Afsar Jafri, Shalini Bhutani, Biraj Patnaik, Sridhar Radhakrishnan
  3. Rukmini Rao, Usha Seethalakshmi, Ashalatha
  4. Shalini Bhutani, Krishna Prasad, Jacob Nellithanam, Saroj Mohanty, Ramanjaneyulu
  5. P S Ajay, Madhuresh, Ravi Kumar, Usha Seethalakshmi, Ravi K
  6. Kiran Vissa, Ramanjaneyulu, Kavitha Kuruganti
  7. Rajesh Krishnan, Usha S, L. Sreedevi Dilnavaz Variava, Umendra Dutt

05.30 pm to 07.30 pm

Evening Public Meeting:

SPEAKERS

- Shri Vadde Sobhanadreeswara Rao on Sustaining Small-holder Agriculture

- Dr. Claude Alvares on Organic Farming;

- Dr. Rukmini Rao on Women Farmers’ Rights;

- Prof Yogendra Yadav on State response to Agrarian Distress and Disasters

- Prof. Kodandram on Strengthening the Voice of Farmers in the Political System

Chair: Prof. D. Narasimha Reddy

07.30 pm to 09.00 pm

DINNER & Cultural Program

Day 2: April 2nd 2016 (Saturday)

9.30 am to 2.00 pm

Parallel Sessions (See Endnote)

Themes:

  1. Ecological Agriculture (spl. focus on rainfed farming);
  2. Trade & Agriculture;
  3. Women Farmers’ Rights;
  4. Seed Sovereignty & Seed Diversity Revival;
  5. Land Rights & Security;
  6. Income Security for Farming Households;
  7. GMOs & Pesticides
Lead Discussants:

  1. Kapil Shah, Ramanjaneyulu, Ashish Gupta, Sridhar Radhakrishnan
  2. Afsar Jafri, Shalini Bhutani, Biraj Patnaik, Sridhar Radhakrishnan
  3. Rukmini Rao, Usha Seethalakshmi, Ashalatha
  4. Shalini Bhutani, Krishna Prasad, Jacob Nellithanam, Saroj Mohanty, Ramanjaneyulu
  5. P S Ajay, Madhuresh, Ravi Kumar, Usha, Ravi Kanneganti
  6. Kiran Vissa, Ramanjaneyulu, Kavitha Kuruganti
  7. Rajesh Krishnan, Usha S, Sreedevi Lakshmi Kutty, Dilnavaz Variava, Umendra Dutt
2.00 pm to 03.00 pm

LUNCH

03.00 pm to 06.00 pm

Parallel Sessions (Continued)

 
06.00 pm to 07.30 pm

PUBLIC MEETING

PANEL

- Dr. Devinder Sharma on Ensuring Income Security to Farmers;

- Dr. Debal Deb on Seed Sovereignty & Diversity;

- Shri Debjeet Sarangi on Adivasi Agriculture;

- Dr G V Ramanjaneyulu on Re-imagining Farmer Producer Organisations;

- Shri Ananthasayanan on Engaging Urban Consumers in Support of Farmers

Chair: Shri Mallepalli Lakshmaiah

 

07.30 pm to 09.00 pm

CULTURAL PROGRAM (& Dinner)

Facilitators: Dilnavaz Variava and Umendra Dutt

 

 


 

Day 3: April 3rd 2016 (Sunday)

8.30 am to 10.30 am: Smaller Group work, to look at Draft Declaration and Networking possibilities
10.30 am to 01.30 pm Closing Plenary: Farmer Union Leaders & Network Leaders/Convenors:

  • Dr Devinder Sharma
  • Ms Medha Patkar
  • Dr K Sunilam
  • Shri Lingaraj Pradhan
  • Shri K T Gangadhar
  • Shri Avtar Singh Gill
  • Shri Ajayvir Jakhar
  • Shri Dharmendra Malik
  • Dr Vijoo Krishnan
  • Shri Chellamuthu
  • Ms Mangamma
  • Adv. Pradeep
  • Shri Subhash Sharma
  • Shri Yerneni Nagendranath
  • Shri P Chennaiah
  • Shri Ravi Kanneganti

Session Coordinators:

Kiran Vissa, Nilesh Desai, Saroj Mohanty

01.30 pm to 01.45 pm: Closing Plenary: Summing up & Declaration: Kavitha Kuruganti and Kapil Shah
01.45 pm to 02.00 pm: Vote of Thanks: Rajkrishna Mukherjee and Naveen Ramisetti
02.15 pm to 03.00 pm: LUNCH
03.00 pm to 05.30 pm: Campaign Planning & Exhibition Stall Visits
05.30 pm onwards: Departures
07.30 pm to 09.00 pm: DINNER

 



[i] The thematic distribution would be as follows:

  Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4 Group 5 Group 6
April 1 (Fri)

2.00 – 3.20 pm

Ecological Agriculture Trade & Agriculture Women Farmers’ Rights GMOs & Pesticides Income Security Seed Sovereignty
April 1 (Fri)

3.30 – 5.00 pm

Trade & Agriculture Ecological Agriculture Seed Sovereignty Women Farmers’ Rights Land Rights Income Security
April 2 (Sat)

9.30 – 10.50 am

Women Farmers’ Rights Seed Sovereignty Ecological Agriculture Income Security GMOs & Pesticides Land Rights
April 2 (Sat)

11.00–12.20pm

Land Rights Women Farmers’ Rights Trade & Agriculture Ecological Agriculture Seed Sovereignty GMOs & Pesticides
April 2 (Sat)

12.30 –1.50pm

Income Security Land Rights GMOs & Pesticides Trade & Agriculture Ecological Agriculture Women Farmers’ Rights
April 2 (Sat)

3.00 – 4.20pm

GMOs & Pesticides Income Security Land Rights Seed Sovereignty Trade & Agriculture Ecological Agriculture
April 2 (Sat)

4.30 – 5.50pm

Seed Sovereignty GMOs & Pesticides Income Security Land Rights Women Farmers’ Rights Trade & Agriculture

 

Logistics Note for Kisan Swaraj Sammelan – 1st to 3rd April 2016, Hyderabad

Welcome to all the delegates attending the 3-day Kisan Swaraj Sammelan in Hyderabad. By now, you must have booked your tickets to reach Hyderabad. Here are some details about the logistics for the sammelan and we request you to kindly read this note completely:

Venue: The Sammelan is being held at Distance Education Centre (Lecture Hall Complex), Between Mekaster Auditorium/IETE and Cycling Complex, Osmania University, Tarnaka, Hyderabad. (Clicking here will take you to a picture of the venue and also give you a map with directions to the venue from Secunderabad Railway Station). Kindly note that this is not where accommodation for delegates has been arranged. However, for those who are coming directly to the Convention, this information should help.

How to reach: The venue is 5km away from Secunderabad Railway station and 10 kms from Hyderabad (Nampally) Railway station and Mahatma Gandhi Bus Station (called Imlivan bus station).

Accommodation facility: Accommodation for the delegates is being arranged at various places on sharing basis, within 5 kms’ distance from the venue. Accommodation will be simple, on a shared basis and in many locations, in dormitories. We will be sending your respective accommodation details shortly along with a map (to team leaders in case a large contingent is traveling together). All meals consisting of organic food, including breakfast will be provided at the meeting venue. The delegates are therefore requested to get ready by 7 am every day to be picked up by buses. In case you cannot get into the bus at the time it leaves for the venue, you are requested to make your own arrangements to reach the venue.

Weather: The temperatures in Hyderabad are above 400C – we request the delegates to come prepared with a cap or cloth to cover your head, your water bottle and light cotton clothes.

Arrival-Departure details: Those delegates who have not sent their arrival departure details should send them immediately including date and time. This will help us arrange accommodation and food facilities properly.

Kindly note that accommodation has been booked from 31st March 2016 evening to 3rd April 2016 evening. In case you are coming ahead of this time, or staying on beyond this, kindly do take care to pay for your additional days of stay directly. We hope you will appreciate that we are organizing this convention through crowd-funding and are running this on a shoestring budget and would not mind us gently prodding you on this.

Things to bring with you: While it will be hot during the days and warm during the nights, if you wish to carry your own clean bed sheet and pillow cover, kindly do so. Also please bring your personal medicines along with you though we are making arrangements for a first-aid kit, and emergency medical help at the venue.

BEFORE YOU SET OFF ON YOUR JOURNEY:

 

We would like to request all participants or teams of participants to please bring cloth banners with the name of your organizations and slogans for display. You could use your vernacular language for the same. Mind you, we are not looking for flex banners and we are actually attempting our best to make this convention a plastic-free and if possible, litter-free event!

 

For any queries, contact:

Nishanth: 09493403572; Naveen: 09160309301.

 

DIRECTIONS TO VENUE:

View directions from Secunderabad Junction to Distance Education Centre, Adikmet Main Rd, Osmania University, Amberpet to in Google Maps.

VIEW IN GOOGLE MAPS

You requested this link using “send to device” in Google Maps

 

 

We look forward to hosting you here in Hyderabad, and are glad that you have decided to take part in this Convention. Have a safe trip, and we will see you soon here in Hyderabad!

 

 

 

by Kavitha

ASHA Letter to PM Narendra Modi: Fulfilling the BJP promise of according highest priority to agricultural growth, increase in farmers’ income and rural development

2:35 pm in News by Kavitha

To:                                                                                                                   May 28, 2014

Shri Narendra Modi,

Prime Minister,

Government of India.

 

Dear Sir,


Sub: Fulfilling the BJP promise of according highest priority to agricultural growth, increase in farmers’ income and rural development – reg.

 

Greetings! ASHA (Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture) is a large, nation-wide informal network of more than 400 organisations drawn from 20 states of India, that have come together in 2010 to organise a Kisan Swaraj Yatra, a nation-wide mobilisation to draw attention to issues pertaining to our FOOD, FARMERS, FREEDOM. The network consists of farmers’ organisations, consumer groups, women’s organisations, environmental organisations, organic farming collectives, individual citizens and experts who are committed to the cause of sustainable and viable farm livelihoods in rural India including by ensuring that productive resources are in the control of farming communities and thereby, safe, nutritious, diverse and adequate food for all Indians. From the dialogues that emerged during the Kisan Swaraj Yatra and subsequent work, ASHA articulates a 4-pillared Kisan Swaraj Neeti and calls on governments to adopt the same. This policy articulation provides a framework for a forward-looking agricultural policy approach for India. The four pillars of Kisan Swaraj are (1) income security for farm households; (2) ecological sustainability of agriculture; (3) people’s control over agricultural resources like land, water and seed; and (4) access to safe, healthy, nutritious and sufficient food for all.

 

Before India walked into the general elections, more than hundred farmers’ organizations, representing lakhs of farmers had come up with a Charter of Demands (http://www.kisanswaraj.in/2014/03/06/farmer-unions-demand-income-guarantee-and-ecological-sustainability-in-farming/ and http://www.kisanswaraj.in/2014/03/06/towards-rural-rejuvenation-our-charter-of-demands/) and several of these demands have found a resonance in the commitments that BJP made to the nation.

 

Sir, we welcome the emphasis that Bharatiya Janata Party has placed on Agriculture in its 2014 Election Manifesto.

 


1. Profitability and Income Security for dignity in farming

 

One of the first things that BJP promises is to “take steps to enhance the profitability in agriculture, by ensuring a minimum of 50% profits over the cost of production, cheaper agriculture inputs and credit, introducing latest technologies for farming and high yielding seeds and linking MGNREGA to agriculture”.

 

Getting at least a 50% margin over the cost of production is something that many farmers’ organizations including ASHA have been demanding for some time now. As you are kindly aware, this is a recommendation from the National Farmers’ Commission too. An important way of ensuring this is by way of remunerative prices and effective market intervention and procurement of course. One of the proposals that ASHA has is that of a Price Guarantee or Price Compensation or Deficit Price Payment mechanism wherein estimates of cost of production are improved within the Comprehensive Scheme of the Department of Economics and Statistics, followed by announcing a Minimum Guaranteed Price (MGP) that has a margin of at least 50% over the cost of cultivation that is legally guaranteed, followed by an improved decentralized procurement system that covers a variety of grains locally suited and an effective, recast market intervention scheme that has government agencies stepping in whenever prices fall below the MGP and finally, a price compensation mechanism of directly paying up the difference to cultivators wherever realized price is below the MGP.  Attached (http://www.kisanswaraj.in/?attachment_id=1241) is a note on the same and we urge your government to actively institute a scheme for such a price compensation mechanism to be implemented.

 

Also important is an overarching institutional framework that ensures minimum living incomes and profitability in farming. You would kindly recall that a BJP government in Karnataka was the first to make an effort in this direction and set up a Farm Income Commission. We urge your government to also set up a Farm Income Commission mandated with ensuring minimum living incomes to all farm households, including through a process of annual farm income assessments for various categories of farmers (particular cropping systems, regions and landholding class as well as for landless farm households and sharecroppers/tenant cultivators). A note drawn up by ASHA, on ensuring minimum living incomes is attached (http://www.kisanswaraj.in/?attachment_id=1604) herewith.

 

Sir, the BJP Manifesto promised a Price Stabilisation Fund in the context of food security. If such a fund is set up for farmers, for effective market intervention and to administer the price compensation mechanism also, given the de-coupled nature of remuneration for farmers, it would ensure that food inflation is not a matter of worry for consumers even as it pays our producers their due share.

 

Apart from cheaper agriculture inputs, reducing cost of cultivation by promoting appropriate low-external-input technologies is very important. Also important is redesigning our agricultural insurance system and improving coverage and implementation to cover tenant farmers and others (this is something that the BJP manifesto has promised).

 

 

  1. Promoting and establishing ecological agriculture across the country in a time-bound fashion

 

Sir, BJP has also aptly recognized the importance of organic farming when it promised to “set up the Organic Farming and Fertiliser Corporation of India” to promote organic farming and fertilizers, and provide incentives and support for marketing organic produce. We note that organic farming policies have been created under BJP governments in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh etc.

We welcome the Manifesto promise around organic farming. Attached (http://www.kisanswaraj.in/?attachment_id=1437) is a roadmap for scaling up ecological agriculture that we had earlier submitted to the Planning Commission of India in the runup to the 12th Plan. We believe that institutional approaches and not just programmatic, are required for promoting organic farming on a large scale. In terms of incentivising ecological farming, we propose that a system of Payment for Ecosystem Services being rendered by organic farmers be instituted.

 

We also urge your government to set up organic market yards of at least one such yard per taluka all over the country, with separate storage and processing facilities for organic produce (which requires segregation and traceability systems to be put into place all the way to the retail point which is one of the major difficulties being encountered in the organic supply chains at this point of time).

 

Further, organic farming collectives need financial support for capital for procurement of produce from members, for storage and processing facilities so that marketing prospects improve for these producers.

 

 

  1. Focusing on agro-diversity revival and seed self-reliance

 

“Conserving agro-biodiversity and preserving rare indigenous varieties” is something that finds a mention in the BJP Manifesto and we welcome this, Sir. Agro-diversity is the very basis of sustainability in agriculture as well as farm livelihoods.

 

We urge your government to translate this into reality by ensuring that agro-diversity is not relegated to ex-situ gene banks, but by promoting diversity-based farming, including to combat climate change. Further, due recognition of the immense value that indigenous/desi varieties have, especially for resource poor farmers, has to be realized, including in the form of nutritive value of such varieties.

 

For this to happen, the exaggerated emphasis being placed on Seed Replacement Rates has to be addressed, especially in the “post-modern agriculture science” scenario; further, departments are required to actively promote diversity based farming and devise ways of distributing desi/indigenous varieties to farmers. This also requires the government to address squarely the regulatory systems related to seed which favour the private sector without any liability and accountability worth the name. Aggressive marketing by seed companies is also correlated with erosion of agro-diversity and this has to be curbed given that Seed is an Essential Commodity as per Indian Law.

 

We urge you to actively encourage farmer seed-breeders through special efforts; to get agri-research institutions to take up seed breeding in organic growing conditions given that today, all seed breeding in India is done only in a chemical-responsive situation; to characterize and popularize traditional/desi seed varieties; to take up participatory varietal selection and seed breeding; and by the government setting up community seed banks everywhere. All such efforts should specifically recognize the skills, knowledge and role of women.

 

  1. (Lack of) Need for, and Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

 

Sir, we are deeply reassured by BJP’s promise to the citizens of this country that GM foods will not be allowed without full scientific evaluation of their long term effects on soil, production and biological impact on consumers. This would also ensure that we do not jeopardize the livelihoods of our producers with risky technologies. There is ever-growing scientific evidence on the adverse impacts of Genetically Modified Organisms and we attach a compilation of such studies. Each passing year, more regions around the world are actively rejecting GM crops. Sir, this is also not just about biosafety, as you know. GMOs are seen a dangerous and costly distraction from real solutions that have to reach farmers immediately, which already exist. As you are aware, hundreds of scientists from across the country have been writing to the government advising caution on GMOs and pointing out that there are viable, safe, farmer-controlled alternatives for all the problems that GMOs are touted as a solution for. They have also effectively shown that food security myths around GM technology are unfounded and unrealized (some relevant material is available on www.indiagminfo.org on this subject). In this context, we urge you to direct the stoppage of all open air field trials of GMOs in this country, given the risk involved in such trials/open air releases of new organisms in Nature, which take place without any scientific evaluation of biosafety and other socio-economic risks.

 

 

  1. Control of productive resources in the hands of farming communities

 

BJP has promised to adopt a “national land use policy” for scientific acquisition of non-cultivable land, to protect interest of farmers and to meet food production and economic goals of the country. A Land Use Policy is welcome – it is however ideally evolved through Land Use Planning from Gram Sabha upwards and we urge you to initiate such a process. Here, it is important to ensure that land is secured for the landless, that no forcible land acquisition takes place and that cultivable land is not diverted to non-agricultural uses. You would recall that it was the BJP which proposed that land lease and not land acquisition should be the norm during the debate on the land acquisition statute in the country.

 

We urge you to similarly protect the country’s and communities’ seed sovereignty by making sure that Seed is not monopolized through any IPRs and that bio-piracy is actively prevented. We advocate an open source seed system that prevents any exclusive rights of ownership on Seed, and we also believe that the existing passport information on our seed bank accessions should be treated ‘prior art’ to prevent biopiracy in screening any IPR applications. Certain clauses in the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, which could prevent such biopiracy are yet to be activated by the concerned institutions and we urge your government to ensure the same.

 

 

  1. Rights of Women Farmers in India

 

As you are kindly aware, an overwhelming majority of women workers in India find that agriculture is the mainstay for their livelihoods. It is also common knowledge that women make enormous contribution to Indian agriculture – however, they are invisible and their invaluable knowledge and skills are undervalued by the nation. BJP’s Manifesto refers to women as the nation-builders and promises strict implementation of laws related to women. The manifesto expressly promises to remove any remaining gender disparities in property rights. We urge you to kindly ensure that the concerned line departments are made accountable when it comes to implementation of women’s property inheritance rights. Best practices from some states have to be scaled up at the national level to ensure de jure and de facto rights of women, to their land as well as towards various support systems in their own right as farmers.

 

  1. Adivasi food and farming systems

 

We are glad to note that BJP has promised that tribal land will not be alienated. The importance of minor forest produce has also been acknowledged. What is not recognized and incorporated into policy discourse is the importance of forests as food-producing habitats for adivasi food and nutrition security. Such a recognition will certainly ensure different approaches to food security, forestry, land use and agricultural policies and we urge your government to take this path-breaking approach in all your policies, schemes and programmes meant for adivasi empowerment.

 

Your party has also rightly placed emphasis on water conservation recognizing the importance of rural water resources. We hope that there will be concrete action to follow.

 

We urge you and the concerned Ministries to address all the above, so that we can indeed make agriculture into a sustainable and dignified source of livelihoods for millions of our Anna Daatas.

 

 

Thanking you,

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Kavitha Kuruganti

National Co-Convenor

Mob: 09393001550

 

Cc: (1) Shri Radha Mohan Singh, Minister for Agriculture, Government of India;

(2) Shri Prakash Javadekar, Minister of State for Environment & Forests, Government of India.

by Kavitha

ASHA deeply disappointed with agri-related Budget proposals for 2012-13

5:34 pm in News by Kavitha

ASHA believes that Indian Agriculture can be revived and farm livelihoods improved if the government guarantees income security for all rural households, ensures environmental sustainability in our farming, protects and upholds the rights of farming communities over productive resources like Land and Seed and guarantees adequate, safe, nutritious and diverse food for all Indians. Towards that end, a Kisan Swaraj Neeti, including detailed proposals have been already submitted to the Government (available also at http://www.kisanswaraj.in/2011/12/13/kisan-swaraj-neeti/).

We believe that the Government of India is not doing enough to address the root causes for the agrarian distress and farm suicides in terms of addressing the issue of adverse markets for farmers’ produce, increasing costs of cultivation with technologies that are also degrading/depleting productive resources and covering risks for farmers in case of natural calamities especially in the era of climate change, with the majority of Indian farmers being rainfed smallholders. In this background, we are deeply disappointed with the Government of India’s budget proposals for 2012-13. The budget does not offer much hope and support to millions of our farmers.

The following is a more detailed response from ASHA on the budget proposals related to Agriculture:

We are deeply dismayed to see that the allocation to Agriculture and allied sectors as a percentage of the total GoI allocations is decreasing in the country. Where the share of spending was 1.55% in 2010-11, it is now 1.38%, though it reflects a marginal increase from last year and a small increase in absolute terms. Given that a majority of Indians live off farming and that Indian agriculture is in a deep crisis, with a fresh spate of farm suicides rocking the country even now, it is unfortunate that the proportion of the budget to agriculture and allied sectors is in fact coming down, while we in ASHA believe that it should be at least 20%. This is the only way by which the rural economy can be revived and our MDGs can be met.

It is unfortunate that some token allocations have been made to several new initiatives without a 12th Plan document in place and it is apparent that our planners and policy-makers have failed on this front.

ASHA believes that any increase in allocation for BGREI (“Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India”) will be counter-productive in the medium and long term especially, if such a Green Revolution is not expressly shaped to create debt-free, poison-free, ecological farming in Eastern India. Increasing the dependence of poor adivasi, women and smallholder farmers in the eastern states of India on external seed inputs and chemicals in addition to a focus on rice and wheat alone as in the earlier Green Revolution only spells disaster in future. A recently concluded Farmers’ Jury on the future of agricultural development and improvement of farm livelihoods in the region expressly had farmers ask for a Debt-Free, Poison-Free, Self-reliant, integrated and empowering agriculture to be strengthened in eastern India (more details at www.kisanswaraj.in). We ask for such funds to be utilized for integrated ecological farming to be set up on a large scale in addition to improving seed self-reliance even as productivity is increased.

A quick analysis of the past few years shows that expenditure has been below budget outlays as revised estimates have shown and therefore, any increase in budget outlays per se do not give us hope.

ASHA is disappointed that the government did not make express allocations for increasing budgets under ecological farming, while it welcomes the allocations for the Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana under the Ministry of Rural Development’s Aajeevika programme (National Rural Livelihoods Mission). We hope that these proposals will be shaped to look at agriculture as a livelihoods issue and not just as functions of production and yield.

Increased outlays for agriculture credit are by themselves not going to be benefit farmers since it has been observed that more and more, even industry gets to benefit in the name of agriculture credit, while the burden of any credit on farmers is very real unless net returns improve and debt repayment capacity exists.

While it is unclear at this stage what the “Integrated Scheme for Farmers’ Income Security” is, which has received a token allocation of one crore rupees, ASHA has been asking for a Farmers’ Income Guarantee Act, with Farm Income as an accurate measure for the state of farm livelihoods in the country and to ensure that only yields and production do not become the measure of agriculture growth in the country at the expense of farmers’ indebtedness and negative net returns. If this Integrated Scheme can be developed along the many proposals that ASHA had put forward, we welcome this new initiative. We have also asked for a Price Compensation mechanism to be put in place since we believe that adverse markets are one of the root causes for the current crisis in farming.

Connected to the above are missing parameters in Agriculture Census (which has lesser allocation than last year of around 1.88 crores) where we believe that Income should be an important measure to understand the State of Indian Agriculture. This should be part of the Situation Assessment Survey of Farmers also.

When it comes to Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, while the increased outlays are welcome, it has to be seen where the funds actually get spent. In the past, we found that out of all the projects sanctioned under RKVY only 2.7% is for Organic Farming and when it comes to the outlays, only 2% is meant for organic farming. On the other hand, more than 200 crores of rupees were spent under RKVY to procure proprietary seed from corporations like Monsanto and others to be distributed amongst farmers, creating ready and expanded markets for such corporations. In RKVY, district level planning should be done effectively which we feel is missing now. Ecological agriculture, farmers’ collectives including for value addition and marketing should be invested upon.

The National Mission on Seeds and Planting Materials should be geared towards making farming communities self-reliant when it comes to seeds and planting material and invest heavily on building capacities of farmers to revive diversity, to take up participatory plant breeding and to ensure that seed banks are set up in all villages. In the past, funds were spent for creation of seed processing plants in the private sector. It is unclear why public sector agencies cannot be invested upon, and whether these private corporations are giving back a share of their profits to the government or farming communities after taking public funds for their own development.

It is unfortunate that the outlays for development of oilseeds have been reduced in this budget, while there is a dire need for India to become self-reliant on this front.

We do not believe that increasing the budgets for agri-research will pay off by itself, unless such research is geared towards farmers’ real needs on the ground, does not promote hazardous technologies, and does not assess all technologies against a sustainability framework and risk/vulnerability analysis framework. However, such outlays offer a little hope of Indian public sector institutions coming out of the clutches of research funded by private corporations for their own profits. We are concerned that Climate Change will be made into the latest justification for bringing in unproven transgenic technology, while the need of the hour is to promote resilient farming by reviving mixed cropping systems that adopt agro-ecological approaches and by improving agri-insurance.

Crop insurance outlays of 1136 crores is very inadequate for ensuring that farmers do not suffer setback due to various calamities; in fact, this is lower than the Rs. 1419 crores released for settlement of claims in 2011-12. 1180 crores of rupees was the outlay in 2011-12 and this year’s budget for this head is actually lower! ASHA in fact believes that the government should insure all crops of all cultivators in this country by paying up the premium on behalf of the farmers.

Construction of Rural Godowns: 60.94 crores actual in 2009-2010, around 60 crores in 2010-11 and a budget of 150 crores in 2011-12. An increase to 636 crores this budget year is a welcome measure.

We are disappointed that the Village Grain Banks scheme got an outlay of only Rs. 8 crores in 2012-13 and believe that this should be strengthened further. In 2009-10, 17.33 crores has been spent on this scheme and there was a decrease in subsequent years!