"Rev. 11D Meow!" <***@Crack.corn> wrote:
> "(David P.)" <***@mindspring.com> wrote:
> > "Rev. 11D Meow!" <***@Crack.corn> wrote:
> >> "(David P.)" <***@mindspring.com> wrote:
> >> > A.A. is a treatment for a disease!
> >> No it isn't.
> > Alcoholic Liver Disease
> You're one of those guys...
India’s Growth Outstrips Crops
By SOMINI SENGUPTA
Published: June 22, 2008
Jalandhar, India — With the right technology
and policies, India could help feed the world.
Instead, it can barely feed itself.
India’s supply of arable land is second only
to that of the United States, its economy is
one of the fastest growing in the world, and
its industrial innovation is legendary. But
when it comes to agriculture, its output lags
far behind potential. For some staples, India
must turn to already stretched international
markets, exacerbating a global food crisis.
It was not supposed to be this way.
Forty years ago, a giant development effort
known as the Green Revolution drove hunger
from an India synonymous with famine and
want. Now, after a decade of neglect, this
country is growing faster than its ability to
produce more rice and wheat.
The problem has grown so dire that Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh has called for a
Second Green Revolution “so that the
specter of food shortages is banished from
the horizon once again.”
And while Mr. Singh worries about feeding
the poor, India’s growing affluent population
demands not only more food but also a
Today Indian agriculture is a double tragedy.
“Both in rice and wheat, India has a large
untapped reservoir. It can make a major
contribution to the world food crisis,” said
M. S. Swaminathan, a plant geneticist who
helped bring the Green Revolution to India.
India’s own people are paying as well.
Farmers, most subsisting on small, rain-fed
plots, are disproportionately poor, and
inflation has soared past 11 percent, the
highest in 13 years.
Experts blame the agriculture slowdown
on a variety of factors.
The Green Revolution introduced high-
yielding varieties of rice and wheat,
expanded the use of irrigation, pesticides
and fertilizers, and transformed the north-
western plains into India’s breadbasket.
Between 1968 and 1998, the production
of cereals in India more than doubled.
But since the 1980s, the government has
not expanded irrigation and access to loans
for farmers, or to advance agro research.
G r o u n d w a t e r h a s b e e n
d e p l e t e d a t a l a r m i n g
r a t e s .
The Peterson Institute for International
Economics in Washington says changes
in temperature and rain patterns could
diminish India’s agricultural output by 30
percent by the 2080s.
Family farms have shrunk in size and
quantity, and a few years ago mounting
debt began to drive some farmers to
suicide. Now many find it more profitable
to sell their land to developers of industrial
Among farmers who stay on their land,
many are experimenting with growing
high-value fruits and vegetables that
prosperous Indians are craving, but there
are few refrigerated trucks to transport
their produce to modern supermarkets.
A long and inefficient supply chain means
that the average farmer receives less than
a fifth of the price the consumer pays, a
World Bank study found, far less than
farmers in, say, Thailand or the U.S.
Surinder Singh Chawla knows the system
is broken. Mr. Chawla, 62, bore witness
to the Green Revolution — and its demise.
Once, his family grew wheat & potatoes
on 20 acres. They looked to the sky for rains.
They used cow manure for fertilizer. Then
came the Mexican semi-dwarf wheat
seedlings that the revolution helped intro-
duce to India. Mr. Chawla’s wheat yields
soared. A few years later, the same
happened with new high-yield rice seeds.
Increasingly prosperous, Mr. Chawla finally
bought his first tractor in 1980.
But he has since witnessed with horror the
ills the revolution wrought: in a common
occurrence here, t h e w a t e r
t a b l e u n d e r h i s l a n d
h a s s u n k b y 1 0 0 f e e t
o v e r 3 d e c a d e s a s h e
& o t h e r f a r m e r s i r r i -
g a t e d t h e i r f i e l d s .
By the 1980s, government investment in
canals fed by rivers had tapered off, and
wells became the principal source of
irrigation, helped by a shortsighted gov't
policy of free electricity to pump water.
Here in Punjab, more than three-fourths
of the districts extract more groundwater
than is replenished by nature.
Between 1980 and 2002, the government
continued to heavily subsidize fertilizers
and food grains for the poor, but reduced
its total investment in agriculture. Public
spending on farming shrank by roughly a
third, according to an analysis of gov't data
by the Ctr for Policy Alternatives in New Delhi.
Today only 40% of Indian farms are irrigated.
“W h e n t h e r e i s n o w a t e r ,
t h e r e i s n o t h i n g ,”
Mr. Chawla said.
And he sees more trouble on the way. The
summers are hotter than he remembers.
The rains are more fickle. Last summer, he
wanted to ease out of growing rice, a water-
The gains of the Green Revolution have
begun to ebb in other countries, too, like
Indonesia and the Philippines, agriculture
experts say. But the implications in India
are greater because of its sheer size.
India raised a red flag two years ago about
how heavily the appetites of its 1.1 billion
people would weigh on world food prices.
For the first time in many years, India had
to import wheat for its grain stockpile. In two
years it bought about 7 million tons.
Today, two staples of the Indian diet are
imported in ever-increasing quantities
because farmers cannot keep up with
growing demand — pulses, like lentils and
peas, and vegetable oils, the main sources
of protein & calories, respectively, for
“India could be a big actor in supplying food
to the rest of the world if the existing agri-
cultural productivity gap could be closed,”
said Adolfo Brizzi, manager of the South
Asia agriculture program at the World Bank
in Washington. “When it goes to the market
to import, it typically puts pressure on inter-
national market prices, and every time India
goes for export, it increases the supply and
therefore mitigates the price levels.”
In April, in a village called Udhopur, not
far from here, Harmail Singh, 60, wondered
aloud how farmers could possibly be
expected to grow more grain.
“The cultivable land is shrinking and gov't
policies are not farmer friendly,” he said as
he supervised his wheat harvest. “Our next
generation isn't willing to work in agriculture.
They say it is a losing proposition.”
The luckiest farmers make more money
selling out to land-hungry mall developers.
Gurmeet Singh Bassi, 33, blessed with a
farm on the edges of a booming Punjabi city
called Ludhiana, sold off most of his ancestral
land. Its value had grown more than fivefold in
two years. He made enough to buy land in a
more remote part of the state & hire laborers
to till it.
Meanwhile, Mr. Chawla’s neighbors migrated
to North America. They were happy to lease
their land to him, if he was foolish enough to
stay and work it, he said. Today, he cultivates
more than 100 acres.
Last year, on a small patch of that land, he
planted what no one in his village could
imagine putting on their plate: baby corn,
which he learned was being lapped up by
upscale urban Indian restaurants and even
At the time, baby corn brought a better profit
than the gummint’s price for his wheat crop.
This had been the Green Revolution’s other
pillar — a fixed government price for grain.
A farmer could sell his crop to a private
trader, but for many small tillers, it was far
easier to approach the nearest gummint
granary, and accept their rate.
For years, those prices remained miserably
low, farmers and their advocates complained,
and there was little incentive for farmers to
invest in their crop. “For farmers,” said
Mr. Swaminathan, the plant geneticist, “a
remunerative price is the best fertilizer.”
Mr. Swaminathan’s adage proved true this
year. After two years of having to import
wheat, the gummint offered farmers a
substantially higher price for their grain:
farmers not only planted slightly more
wheat but also sold much more of their
harvest to the state. As a result, by May,
the country’s buffer stocks were at record levels.
Nanda Kumar, India’s most senior bureaucrat
for food, said the country would not need to
buy wheat on the world market this year.
That is good news, for India and the world,
but how long it will remain the case is unclear.
Will greater demand for food & higher market
prices enrich farmers, eventually, encouraging
them to stay on their land? There is potential,
but other conditions, like India’s inefficient
transportation and supply chains, would have
to improve too.
How to address these challenges is a
matter of debate.
From one quarter comes pressure to introduce
genetically modified crops with greater yields;
from another come lawsuits to stop it. And from
yet another come pleas to mount a greener
Alexander Evans, author of a recent paper on
food prices published by Chatham House, a
British research institution, said: “This time
around, it needs to be more efficient in its
use of water, in its use of energy, in its use
of fertilizer and land.”
Mr. Swaminathan wants to dedicate villages
to sowing lentils & oilseeds, to meet demand.
The World Bank, meanwhile, favors high-value
crops, like Mr. Chawla’s baby corn, because
they allow farmers to maximize their income
from small holdings.
The market may yet help India. Mr. Chawla,
for instance, has replaced baby corn with
sunflowers, prompted by the high price of
sunflower oil. For the same reason, he is
also considering planting more wheat.