Friday, February 17, 2006

End of a wedding-dream

India Together: End of a wedding-dream
Varada Hardikar reports on the effects of suicides on their families in Vidarbha and story of Ganga, who is courageously trying to fight the situation.

Ganga and her family may work hard but how can she succeed when the thing called 'The Market' and its working is beyond her control? Things were taken out of her hands since the time a clutch of nations decided that the developing world needed 'liberalisation.' So when India and countries like her started progressively toeing the lines of World Trade Organisation and the World Bank, Ganga and her father were put on a road to doom, according to farmers' leader and agriculture analyst Vijay Jawandhia.

Import duty on cotton was reduced to a mere 10% - and may be reduced further, says Jawandhia. Simultaneously output prices for cotton farmers, like Ganga's father, went down sharply. Unfortunately that was just a part of the story.
The opening of the economy in 1991 also scripted the end of traditional farming methods. The life-sciences multinational Monsanto (through subsididary Mahyco-Monsanto) and a number of Indian seed companies (who have licensed Bt technology from the former) have been selling Bt cotton seeds with the approval of the government. Cotton growers in Vidarbha were encouraged to take up the genetically modified seeds. The seeds were costly to say the least (Rs. 1700-2200 for 400 gram packets as compared to Rs. 50 to Rs. 400 for traditional varieties). As noted earlier, in the 2005-6 season, they failed in Vidarbha on all fronts -- high yield, better quality and savings from lower applications of pesticides.

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