Sunday, July 02, 2006

product of design, not decay

How Mumbai came to discover Vidarbha, P. Sainath writes on the PM's upcoming visit to Vidarbha, how compenstion is being doled out---albeit late, the state government's role so far and high expectations of the farmers.
The Prime Minister's upcoming visit to Vidarbha has had an impact even before he's reached there. It would, however, be a transient impact if he does not see through the charade. The mess there starts right at the top. Vidarbha's condition is the product of design, not decay.

Meanwhile, a UN report has urged Asian developing countries to renew focus on farming and curb reliance on food imports.
More emphasis must be placed on local production and protection for local farmers who cannot compete with world prices, especially those distorted by large subsidies in the US and EU.

The UNDP stresses that poor Asian farmers should be assisted by tariffs on imports, price supports, subsidies, affordable loans and by strengthening land reform.
Farming supports half of Asia’s workforce and growing reliance on cheap food imports could wipe out rural livelihoods. About 70 per cent of India ‘s population live in rural areas; more than 60 per cent of China’s population makes a living from agriculture.

“While increasing agricultural trade might boost economic growth and benefit poor consumers, it is also likely to depress local prices and undermine the livelihoods of poor farmers,” said the report.

Investment in rural development has declined sharply in many developing Asian countries. The UNDP urges governments to invest in agriculture, for example, in irrigation, roads from farms to markets and providing villages with electricity.

and a link on the mela in Vidarbha before the PM's visit,
“For 48 months no one came to mourn the 1,600 farmers who killed themselves, but in the past 48 hours, it’s like a mela,” the cotton farmer said.