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Season for oligarchies – Corporates may control vegetable trade

November 26, 2010 33 comments
Very soon, this is all we will get to eat. Some overpaid corporate executive will decide what we eat at what price! (Cartoonist- Andy Singer; cartoon courtesy-www.mindfully.org.). Click for larger image.

Very soon, this is all we will get to eat. Some overpaid corporate executive will decide what we eat, at what price! (Cartoonist- Andy Singer; cartoon courtesy-www.mindfully.org.). Click for larger image.

death for ordinary rythu bazars and vegetable markets, (as) the entire trade of vegetables, fruits and meat will come under the control of corporates like Metro, Heritage, Reliance or Al Kabeer once the massive terminal market complexes (TMCs) being proposed come into existence in the state.

The corporate setting up the TMCs will (INVEST) Rs 150 crore towards this business, the state government will have a 26 per cent stake (for) 50 acres to 200 acres of land. The private enterprise (PE) will own the remaining portion of the business.

The state government is constructing these massive modern whosesale markets in Hyderabad, Guntur, Vizag and Tirupati, ostensibly to help the farmers. The farmers will directly sell the produce to the TMC, thereby cutting out middlemen. Another advantage is a cleaner, modern bazar with facilities like warehousing, cold storage, ripening chambers, cleaning, grading and processing along with extension of advisory service to farmers.

However, prices will be fixed by the corporate. (with) retail prices of vegetables likely to go up for the consumer. The question is would it benefit the farmers or the company which will gain control over the entire vegetable business of the state.

Corporations will decide which pesticide, what seeds, what prices, what items we eat. Who do you think will benefit? Not me, I know! (Cartoonist - Joe Mohr; cartoon courtesy - http://ecopolitology.org.). Click for larger image.

Corporations will decide which pesticide, what seeds, what prices, what items we eat. Who do you think will benefit? Not me, I know! (Cartoonist - Joe Mohr; cartoon courtesy - http://ecopolitology.org.). Click for larger image.

The TMC will control the production and collection of vegetables from the farmers over certain radius, “While it is not mandatory for the farmer to sell his produce to the TMC, the private operator will offer him a higher price as well as induce them with loans for procurement for seeds. This in the end will make the farmer a captive seller to the TMC and for the retail consumer, the prices of vegetables, fruits and meat will become costlier,” said the sources. (read more via Corporates may control vegetable trade; parts excised for brevity).

Ignorant bureaucrats

Kasargod in Kerala is in the grip of a strange malady. Deformed children.

The Plantation Corporation of Kerala (PCK) has been cultivating cashew in 4500 hectares spread across this district. Since the early 1980s the PCK has been aerially spraying an organochlorine pesticide called endosulfan that has been banned in many countries including Singapore, Denmark, Germany, Holland and Sweden. Over the last several months, various reports in the media as well as studies done by institutions like the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), New Delhi have indicated a strong link between the aerial spraying of endosulfan and the number of deaths and illnesses in the area. (read more via The Hindu : Cashews for human life?).

Cartoonist - Clay Bennet; cartoon courtesy - www.ritholtz.com). Click for larger image.

Corporate executives will soon dictate to us. They will buy Government's silence. (Cartoonist - Clay Bennet; cartoon courtesy - http://www.ritholtz.com). Click for larger image.

We have seen stories on how swine flu started in La Gloria, a little town in Mexico, at the one of Mexico’s biggest hog factories, owned by the world’s largest pig processor, Smithfield Foods. The world diabetes epidemic by industrial and junk food is become an old story.

And now this

AP Government wants to handover vegetable trade to highest bidder. Some 50-150 acres of land is proposed to be given these companies. These corporations will be able to raise all that money for investment just by p-ledging the land that the Government is handing over to them.

These private monopolies will have monopoly over agricultural output in their designated areas. Producers will given the choice of selling at any mandi to that monopoly buyer. All the ryuthu bazaars will close. The nearly 10,000 vegetable vendors who serve Hyderabad’s 10 lakh (1 million) households can buy from the one monopoly buyer. Another 10,000 eating houses will have the choice of one vendor.

India has indeed becoming a ‘free’ country.

The real pandemic – Sunita Narain

May 23, 2009 2 comments
Indus Valley seal showing domestic animals

Indus Valley seal showing domestic animals

Take swine flu — now renamed. We know it started in La Gloria, a little town in Mexico. We know a young boy suffering from fever in March became the first confirmed victim of the current outbreak, which, even as I write, has reached India. What is not said is this ill-fated town is right next to one of Mexico’s biggest hog factories, owned by the world’s largest pig processor, Smithfield Foods. What is also not said is that people in this town have repeatedly protested against the food giant for water pollution, terrible stench and waste dumping. (via Sunita Narain: The real pandemic).

This will jolt you upright

There were two things about this post which made me sit up.

annual-world-wheat-production

Annual World Wheat Production

One – The real story behind the ‘probable’ pandemic. This is something that most mainstream media writers do not tell. Take official Government press releases, (sometimes) change the language and call it news. Sometimes, they help in the cover up. If this story does not become well-known enough, Mexico and its poor will be blamed for the starting this pandemic – by the West.

Two – the fragile state of US agriculture, specifically, and the West in general.

About 46,000 ‘corporate’ farmers, account for nearly 50% of US farm output – and most of the US$20 billion in subsidy. The US Government prints vast amounts of currency notes or issues US Treasury Bonds, which are lapped up (earlier by the Middle East Oil Potentates, and the Chinese these days). This money is then handed over to these ‘American farmers’.

The US agricultural system

An interesting situation exists in the food sector – especially in the US. Giant food corporations, killed buying competition with high prices (to farmers), direct buying from farmers (at higher prices), monoclonal seeds that destroy bio-diversity. And the US consumers are not getting the lower food prices that are being promised in India.

Industrial crops will create a foodgrain crisis

Industrial crops will create a food-grain crisis

Farmers became dependent on corporate supplies of seeds (at high prices) and corporate purchases by the same corporations (at low prices). Today, an ‘efficient’ and ‘hi-tech’ agricultural farm sector in the US needs more than US$ 20 billion (conservative estimates are US$12 billion) of subsidies to survive.

The US-EPA says, “By 1997, a mere 46,000 of the two million farms in this country (America), accounted for 50% of sales of agricultural products (USDA, 1997 Census of Agriculture data) (bold letters supplied) – and gobble up most of this huge subsidy that lowers Third World agricultural prices. These lower agricultural prices devastate agriculture in Third World countries, creating man-made famines. These man-made famines, of course, gives the West a false sense of superiority.

A study in contrast

The Indian agricultural system, with nil subsidies, working with cost disadvantages, does not have giant buying corporations and monoclonal seed stock, is holding its own against subsidized agricultural systems of the West. And paid hacks of these Western corporations are trying to tell Indian consumers and policy makers that these giant corporations will cut food costs in India.

Economic crisis

Economic crisis

These giant corporations are aiming for entry into India – promising ‘efficiencies’ in buying (which will give consumers a better price), and higher prices for farmers (which will increase farm incomes). Of course, this will last as long as there is competition.

Once, these giant corporations, fueled by huge amounts of debt and equity, drive out competition, they will lower the boom on the consumers and the farmer – like in the USA.

Stuffed and starved

Raj Patel, in his book, Stuffed and Starved, demonstrates how global food corporations are behind global food habits, imbalance traditional diets, creating disease epidemics (like diabetes) – and how India needs to be careful before crafting industrial policies that encourage these global corporations to destroy Indian agriculture. A book review extracts some key points as follows,

Polluter cleans up principle ought to apply (Carton by David Horsey; courtesy - indianinthemachine.wordpress.com). Click for larger image.

Polluter cleans up principle ought to apply (Carton by David Horsey; courtesy - indianinthemachine.wordpress.com). Click for larger image.

What we think are our choices, says Patel, are really the choices of giant food production companies. Millions of farmers grow food, six billion people consume it. But in between them are a handful of corporations creating what Patel calls “an hourglass” model of food distribution. One Unilever controls more than 90% of the tea market. Six companies control 70% of the wheat trade. Meanwhile, farmers across the world are pitted against each other, trying to sell these gatekeeper companies their produce. And if you think the consumer comes out on top because of all this competition, think again.

The End of Bretton Woods

With the collapse of Bretton Woods, this will become increasingly difficult. Where will US agriculture be without subsidies – in a massively high costs zone. US food exports will shrivel and global agricultural prices will reach (at least) 200 year highs (my estimate). And that will be the golden hour for Indian agriculture. What is the only dark cloud in this scenario – GM seeds which the West is pushing down the reluctant Indian agriculturists’ throat. With significant help from the Indian Government.

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