Farmers hold up more than half the sky, but losing land

(Dr. krishan Bir Chaudhary)

Actually in the white hot heat of “development” politicians and people have forgotten the farmers who produce that food that fuels 8% GDP growth. In January 2008, at Davos, international summit, the votaries of 'globalization' were fawning over their achievements inside the plush hotel, while outside the common folks, supposed to be the beneficiaries were worried about food, water and fuel...all coming under control of global criminal corporations.

Indian farmers were not there or they would have added land. The way both Indian and foreign multinationals are forcibly stealing land from them would pauperize not one or two but millions of farmers in India.

India has about 148 million farming households eking out a living of farming activities. This is about 65% of total households in India. Insiders say that in a meeting of agri-biz multinational corporations, one of the executives said, ”we just need one million farmers.” To this the officials of the Indian Government asked, “What we would do with the remaining?” The answer was: “They are the Government's problem!”

Lest you forget: the corporations' agenda is to take control of the natural resources and enslave the farmers . It is the natural resources that sustains us but the entire edifice of the the current development agenda is to control land, water and diversity of our seeds. None of these were created by any corporation.

Those studying the impending energy crisis have come to a conclusion that when the world comes to the end of the finite fossil fuel era, the United States of America alone would require 50 million farmers to feed Americans.

The cheap oil and gas era is likely to come to an end by 2015 and it really does not matter when it comes, today, tomorrow, in 2015 or 2030. Cheap energy allowed industrialized farming, corporate control of food production and high degree of labour efficiency: far less human muscle was required to produce food as compared to the period 70-80 years ago.

When cheap energy will be unavailable who will feed our bureaucrats, army and the rest of us? So, the prescription by world's top agri-biz corporations that they need only one million farmers is not only misleading but a ruse to push India into a situation of food crisis, engineered food shortages, mass hunger, starvation and deaths.

In the era of energy shortage if America would need 50 million farmers, India would need 150 million. Make no mistake: we need a policy for restoration of the peasantries. But can we do it? It took centuries for Indian farmers to make India world's largest producer of food and fibre; in less than three decades they have lost all their skills and committing suicide on a scale never seen in this country.

The 11th Plan document is ambiguous. It talks of supporting small farmers “but” also medium and big farmers! That “But” speaks of policy ambiguity of this regime. We think that policy-makers and politicians may come and go but certain policy postulates need to be absolutely clear on the ownership and management of agricultural land. That is the most important issue right now. Land Acquisition Act [LA Act] of 1894 vintage still remains on our statute books.

The SEZ Act has further eroded the natural rights of the peasantries. Since 1947, forests have declined, pastures have declined by at least 20,000 hectare, and ecosystems have declined to the extent that almost all perennial rivers are stressed and seasonal rivers have dried up.

It is time that further disruption of peasantries from their lands are stopped and they are given all the help required to grow enough food for India's 1.18 billion and growing. Six crore farmers have been displaced since independence and more then two Lack farmers have committed suicides.

No farmland should be acquired in future and this is not a fad of environmentalists or supporters of farmers; this is a compulsion now. Enough is enough. The situation today is identical to the one that Mahatma Gandhi saw with his own eyes in Champaran.


(Editorial : Kisan Ki Awaaz Magazine)