Sunday, January 27, 2008

Issues & Developments in Tamilnadu

The last sixteen days in Tamilnadu has brought many new issues and lots of developments have taken place. The local people responded well to the Yatra. As the focus area of the Yatra is to highlight the issue of growing industrialization especially in the agricultural zones, the farmers discussed their problems and issues with the team.

The team has covered a distance of 710 km, that includes 120 villages .44 Meetings were held at different places and team had interacted with around 2000 farmers


ü Resource right : Coca Cola, Gangaikonda The case of the Coca cola plant also came up as the Yatra team reached village Gangaikonda . The Bottling plant was set up against the permission of the local Panchayat in 2005-06. The plant was given permission to withdraw 5 Lakh litres of water per day from the river Thamirabarani. The water withdrawn by the plant is equivalent to what a farmer owning 34 acre of land would draw on an average. As told by the locals they voiced against this but in vain. This ultimately resulted in the scarcity of water availability for the purpose of agriculture. The farmers have suffered a lot because of this. There are many other similar cases like this where there has been a direct attack on the resource right of the local people. The resources like land and water are being sacrificed in the name development.

Similarly, in Uttopatti the farmers have discontinued with farming due to changes in the water level there.

ü Need for a Farmer’s Bank
VELLORE:Near river Kaveri. About 40 per cent of the total betel is produced here. Around 1 lakh people in Tamilnadu grow the betel and their livelihood is dependent on it.

· The banks (Co-operative banks/gramin banks) do not provide the betel growers with the facility of loans as betel is considered a very sensitive crop and thus for the bank there is lesser guarantee of the returns from the farmer.
· There is no fixed /regulated rate available for the betel crop
· Research benefits are not there so the farmers are totally dependent on their knowledge for this

Till now the state government has not done anything for the benefits of this group. These people have formed a group /Farmer’s association. They have planned to meet soon, around 10,000 betel growers are expected to gather and ask for their demands before the government.

ü Almost 50 per cent of the agricultural land alongside the highway between Kanyakumari and Hosur has been sold out to the industrialists .Apart from this the land use change has taken place on a very big scale and lots of industries have come up in place of agriculture in the state.

ü About 99 percent of farmer’s children do not want to continue with the farming because the returns are not good and also the farmer is not respected in the State.

The farmer is not happy in our supposedly agrarian country. As said by Sinnaswami, a farmer from Dhramapuri “This is not an independent country because the land is being sold without a farmers consent”. Likewise Munniraju of Hosur stated that people selling and buying agricultural land for non-agricultural use should be put behind the bars.
The farmers also voiced against the fact that Pongal, which is basically a farmer’s festival, do not bring any benefit for them but the government gives bonus to its employee .The farmers are totally ignored by Government and there has been no policy for the benefit of farmers and farming from the State Government and that is reason for the growing suicides by the farmers. Green Industry can be the best option for all the problems as it will promote agriculture and will at the same time serve the purpose of the industries.

Surprisingly, irrespective of the condition of the villages, every village, covered by the cycle Yatra team, has a wine shop and the cell phones!

Task of Farmers Organisation

· ‘Farmer’s organisation’-After meeting and discussion with the Yatra team the farmers in Tamilnadu have decided to form a Farmer’s forum/organisation .It will be totally non-political. At least two representatives from each district will be called and the meeting will be held to form the ‘Farmer’s organisation’. Yatra team is also motivating the women to organize themselves, as they are equally involved in the farming.

· The farmers in the state have strongly asked for need to conserve water for the agriculture. The data say that about 75% of the total water in Tamilnadu is consumed by the agriculture. Keeping this in mind the, the water conservation for agri-purposes will be an important parameter in the Proposed Agri Act and policy.

· The need for a farmer’s Bank is strongly voiced by the Farmers. The bank should fix a price for the produce .The Bank should be the stakeholder in the productivity and the interest should be drawn from the selling of the products. This will reduce the burden on the farmer in terms of money and paying interest in terms of the value added products would benefit both. Bank can easily develop the market for the new products.

· The Betel growers Vellore has already formed a group. They have planned to meet somewhere around mid February to put their demands in front of the Government. Around 10,000 beetle growers are expected to gather.

Parsaarthi a farmer from Village Mesnaur of District Virudhunagar,Tamilnadu had a good story to share with the Yatra team.He took a loan five years ago to buy a five acre land.
He went for integrated farming and has paid entire loan now.As described by Wikepedia Integrated farming (or integrated agriculture) is a system of agricultural techniques developed in France in 1993 by FARRE (Forum de l'Agriculture Raisonnée Respecteuse l'Environnement). It is an attempt to reconcile agricultural methods with the principles of sustainable development, by balancing, in the words of FARRE, "food production, profitability, safety, animal welfare, social responsibility and environmental care."
Integarted farming helped him in earning regular money,he says that this kind of farming offered him better security and ensured fixed earning.
Parsaarthi and his wife also possess a different view regarding future of their children and want them to continue with agriculture.
Unlike other couples they also expressed their concern on education system in the country.They think that at least till intermediate agriculture should find a place in the curriculum as the presence of only other subject does not allow a student to think about agriculture as a career option.They were also of the opinion that a diploma course in agriculture will give their children an exposure in related issues like Marketing etc.

In another incident a youngman , intermediate qualified said he could not find any other job so he opted for agriculture.He said that if the basic facilities like electricity and water are made available more youngsters will choose agriculture as their career option.

Secure future of farmers”
Published by
Jan 19, 2008 in SEZ News.

Dindigul, Jan 18, 2008: Led by Dr. Anil P.Joshi, a Padmashri award winner, a team of 11 members took out a marathon cycle rally from Kanyakumari to New Delhi demanding an Agricultural Act and farmers’ friendly agricultural policies to protect cultivable lands and survival of farmers.

The team, comprising students, farmers and social activists, had reached Dindigul on Thursday evening after covering southern districts of Tamil Nadu.

Talking to the press persons at Gandhi gram Trust in Gandhi gram, he said food grains were transported from northern to southern states. Therefore it should be in the Central List.

The policies of the Central Government like formation of Special Economic Zone (SEZ) have been taking away the land rights of farmers. Mere compensation for acquisition of agriculture lands would not ensure adequate security to farmers.

“First of all, agricultural land should not be offered for such activities .Our mandate is to make farmers an active partner in such activities so that their future ca be secured. The Central government had abandoned Nandigram issue

Source: The Hindu

Agri-Yatra completes sixteen days

The Agri Yatra has entered the second state Karnataka today.The yatra has now completed sixteen days.In these days the Yatra has recieved excellent response from the local people, media nad most important the farmers...

This is an article published in Deccan Herald today by its News Service in Bangalore.

Reserve 50 per cent land for agriculture
DH News Service, Bangalore

Padmashree Dr Anil Prakash Joshi from Uttaranchal, is on a bicycle yatra from Kanyakumari to New Delhi to highlight the plight of farmers in a supposedly agrarian country.

Almost 50 per cent of the agricultural land alongside the highway between Kanyakumari and Hosur has been sold out to the industrialists. This fact was revealed by Padmashree Dr Anil Prakash Joshi from Uttaranchal, who is now on a bicycle yatra from Kanyakumari to New Delhi.Dr Joshi and his team of 11 people were in Bangalore on Saturday. They had started their journey on January 12 to reach New Delhi on March 11. The main objective of the cycle yatra is to highlight the plight of farmers in a supposedly agrarian country.A botany professor-turned-agriculture activist, Dr Joshi shared his experiences with the Deccan Herald. He had lots to talk about his 750 kilometres journey from Kanyakumari to Bangalore with his team that comprised of 10 more people from the Himalayan region including three girls.


Mr Joshi and his team had 44 meetings with farmers at different places, where they interacted with around 2,000 peasants. They discovered that the land use change was on a massive scale, from agriculture to industrial purposes. Even farmers’ children were not ready to opt for agriculture as their profession.“We found that 98 per cent of farmers’ children are not ready to tread the path of their fathers. They opine that it is not a viable option. The peasants of Tamil Nadu say that there is no respect for the farmers in the State ,” said Dr Joshi.He found that those who fed the nation had to rely on very low calorie food, while those involved in non-agriculture professions had high calorie intake. The country’s agriculture productivity, he noted, was declining due to wrong policies and unecological approach to farming.

Demanding that 50 percent of the land be reserved for agriculture, he expressed concern over the reduced contribution by the agriculture sector to the GDP growth.


Before venturing into agriculture activism, the Padmasri Awardee Dr Joshi served in the Government PG College of Dehradun as a reader. He has also formed a voluntary organisation named Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organisation (HESCO). An Ashoka Fellow, Dr Joshi has authored over 80 research papers and 10 books dealing with sustainable development in Himalayas through various means.

Friday, January 18, 2008

More Pledges...

Meeting with the farmers on the way!

Dr.Anil Joshi In a Discussion with Farmers in Tamilnadu

Yatris with the locals

Accepting the gift !
Signature Campaign!!!

A short break !


Farmer's Pledge
"Not to sell the agricultural land for non-agricultural use"

Snaps from the yatra

Dr.Anil Joshi ,addressing a group before the start of the Yatra.

The Yatra focuses on the issues of the need of an Agri Act in the country.There should be a fixed percentage of land for agriculture. Growing industrialisation and the rate at which the Special Economic Zones are coming up , the agriculture is under pressure. The fertile agriculture land is being sacrificed in the name of development.The farmer today doesnot want to continue with the faming because the returns are not good.The big industrialist pay a handsome amount to the farmers in return of their land.The farmer sells his land and ends up spending that money in the due course of time.

This is a serious threat as this is sure to cause a food crisis in the time to come.

The Yatra continues with request and message.It is asking farmers not to sell the agriculture for any kind of industrial use.If in any case they have to then they should ask for partnership, this will ensure a source of income for the generations to come.

So far the farmers have also responded well !

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Route of the yatra!

Agri March: For Agri Act
Kanyakumari to Kendra: Cycle March
Jan 12th to March 12th

Kanyakumari to Bangalore (Fifteen Days )
Kanyakumari Starting place
Vallioor 37 kms
Tirunelveli 45kms
Kovilpatti 60 Kms
Virudhunagar 45 kms
Madurai 40 kms
Gandhigram 45 kms
Dindigul 15 kms
Kujiliyambarai 40 kms
Karur 40 kms
Namakkal 35 kms
Salem 60 kms
Dharmapuri 65 kms
Krishnagiri 50 kms
Hosur 50 kms - Tamilnadu ends
Bangalore 42 kms

Banglore (Karnataka) to Nagpur (Maharasthra ) (Fifteen days)

(Farmers meet at Chennekottapalle)
Mahaboob nagar
Rajendra nagar

Nagpur to Delhi (Thirty Days)

Hyderabad (Andhra)
Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh)
Jhansi (Uttar Pradesh)
Gwalior (Madhya Pradesh)
Agra (Uttar Pradeesh)

A march from Kanyakumari to New Delhi -By Dr.Anil Joshi

The success of India is certainly based on the economic revolution that the country has borne since its independence. The GDP is showing an upward trend and the rate of growth is 9% annual. But, an anatomy of sectoral contributions in GDP reveals dismaying results. The economic development of the country has been largely enhanced by the industrial, civil and construction sectors. In the agriculture sector and for the farmers, the development has been lop-sided. Thus in India the rural marginal farmers are not represented in the GDP and there is fear that they will not be represented in future too. The reported economic gains of the country are not reaching down to most of the farmers of rural India.
The current dismal conditions in rural India could be attributed to many factors but primarily; a lack of relevant social and economic policies for the development of rural India has been a major impediment. Ostensibly, India cannot shine without farmer’s prosperity. In the last 60 years, economic activities both in product-formulation and regional development have not been focused on rural farmers. Thus, obviously much collateral economic development flows in a vertical way, not in a horizontal line. Such pattern of economic growth always has limited impact. The benefits of development were expected to percolate throughout all sectors of society, but instead the benefits of development have only reached a few. Farming society as well as rural India's resources both remains deprived of decentralized benefit-gain. Rural India's identity as primary food producers and guardians of the natural resources is also degenerating fast mainly because of growing negligence of resource rights issue within community. Thus, the poverty and drudgery of rural Indian farmers remains static.
Ironically, rural India has become the biggest market for urban products even though the materials for these products come from rural India only. Due to aggressive marketing strategies and better equipped urbans, these products are marketed throughout rural India, the largest market for industrialist. Slow invasion of Industrialists in retail market of fresh products, witness the fact that farm produce are highest in demand in the country.
The other attack that has shaken primary producers in India are Special Economic Zone (SEZ).What happened in Nandigram is a farmer’s resentment against such invading policies .It cannot be denied that the country’s economy can only be strengthened through industrialization but not at the cost of the fast depleting agrarian culture of the country .This is going to be social and economical disaster. The present SEZ approach will create a deepening economic imbalance. The SEZ policy must seriously review the matter on common interest plan where immediate and long-term interest of both farmers and industrialists are taken care of .There should be clear shareholding of farmers in a given SEZ .He should not become losers of the land merely for some dough but his long term association with SEZ will guard his future generation also. Since, SEZ are coming in almost all states of the country, landless farmers must be consumed to check the migration which otherwise has begun to take political dissension in many states.

Another important concern that is likely to impair future food security measures is fast decreasing land under agriculture. The growing industrialization has a direct negative impact on the decreasing agricultural land .Due to various other reasons the fertile agricultural land has depleted in the recent times and if the reasons continue, the farmer and the farming both will reach an edge .In no case and circumstances, it cannot be forgotten that industry cannot meet the hunger. It is agriculture only that serves the purpose. Fear of fast depleting agriculture land is a threat for future food security and will lead to social and economical disaster. To protect the forest an Act came in eighties which decided a fixed percentage of land under forest in the country. On the similar lines a provision of a fixed percentage of land exclusively for the agriculture is urgently required in every state of our country. In short An Agricultural Act is the need of the hour. The Act will ensure food security and will prevent any development activity in such land. This would save Farming and farmers both.
This is ironical that one who produces food for us is deprived of basic needs and his resentment is coined as terrorism, naxalism etc. As a matter of fact every discrepancy is because of economic imbalances. Therefore, the time has come that we review economic independence of rural India by adopting Pro-farmer policy.An alarming situation has come in the rural India right from Himalayas to the coastal areas of the country where expression of deprived community is visible now in one or other form. Let us begin to realize the deprivation of the farmers of rural India and recast policies that could lead from economic slavery to economic independence of rural India.


We people from the Himalaya are on a cycle march from Kanyakumari, the end point of India, voicing “to save agriculture for future hunger villages” and generation of awareness among unknown end farmers to develop their views and demand for clean, open hearted agri-law and agri-policy from central government side.

The yatra began on 12th of January 2008 from Kanyakumari.Headed by Padamshree Dr.Anil Joshi the yatra is supposed to take two months before it reaches Centre.