NEW DELHI, India — While the Finance bill was getting passed in the Loksabha, Greenpeace activists staged a demonstration outside the Parliament to remind the Finance Minister that the new fertilizer subsidy reforms proposed in the budget cannot ward off an imminent food crisis. The activists were arrested and removed by the police.
The Parliament police gathering the remnants of the gigantic scale that Greenpeace activists tried to setup to highlight the allocation of fertilizer subsidies.
"The present crisis characterized by degraded soils, yield
stagnation and decline in Agricultural productivity is a result of
years of indiscriminate use of chemical fertilizers, catalyzed by
the subsidy policy. The newly proposed subsidy reform is old wine
in new bottle and it will continue to promote use of chemical
fertilizers and hence cannot solve the problem. The degraded soils
needs to be rejuvenated if it has to yield and the only way forward
is ecological farming." said Gopikrishna, Sustainable Agriculture
Campaigner, Greenpeace India.
Finance Minister during his budget speech expressed concern over
the declining response of agricultural productivity to increased
fertilizer usage in the country and proposed a shift to a nutrient
based subsidy regime instead of the current product pricing regime
to ensure balanced usage. However experiences and research studies
prove that yield cannot be sustained with recommended dose/
balanced application of chemical fertilizers. The recent Greenpeace
India report, Subsidising Food Crisis refers to a 14-year study in
Punjab to highlight the fact that rice yields declined even when
the recommended rates of nutrients (N-P-K) are applied.
The budget allocation for 2009-10 for fertilizer subsidies is Rs
49,980 crores. Ultimately the Government plans to adopt a direct
subsidy system where cash is transferred to the farmers directly
for purchase of fertilizers. But this policy doesn't take into
consideration any eco-friendly organic fertilizers.
"While it is important to give income support to farmers, the
Government needs to provide support for ecological farming if
future food security has to be ensured. It's high time that
Government starts looking into models and mechanisms through which
it can support ecological farming", added Gopikrishna.
As part of the demonstration, Greenpeace activists were trying
to set up a gigantic balance scale outside the Parliament premises.
The balance scale was a symbolic representation of the budget
allocation for fertilizer subsidies. The pan representing chemical
fertilizers proved heavy with lot of monetary allocations whereas
the other pan representing ecological farming looked empty. The
"food security meter" tilted towards food crisis.
After getting arrested, the activists said that they will
initiate a consultation process across the country involving
farmers and other stakeholders to bring this issue to the centre
Based on the report, Subsidising Food Crisis launched on 1 July,
Greenpeace India demands that the Government needs to:
- Look into an alternate subsidy system that promotes ecological
farming and use of organic soil amendments.
- Shift the subsidy money allocated for chemical fertilizers to
sustainable ecological practices in agriculture.
- Re-focus scientific research on ecological alternatives, to
identify agro-ecological practices that ensure future food security
under a changing climate.
Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner
Mobile +91 9900897341
Notes to Editor
(1) Ecological Farming ensures healthy farming and healthy food for today and tomorrow, by protecting soil, water and climate, promotes biodiversity, and does not contaminate the environment with chemical inputs or genetic engineering
(2) Subsidising Food Crisis, a Greenpeace India report launched on 1 July 2009 can be downloaded from: http://www.greenpeace.org/india/press/reports/subsidising-food-crisis