Greenpeace activists arrested and removed while reminding the Union Finance Minister about the flaws in the fertilizer subsidy policy

Press release - July 27, 2009
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 stage.

Based on the report, Subsidising Food Crisis launched on 1 July, Greenpeace India demands that the Government needs to:

  1. Look into an alternate subsidy system that promotes ecological farming and use of organic soil amendments.
  2. Shift the subsidy money allocated for chemical fertilizers to sustainable ecological practices in agriculture.
  3. Re-focus scientific research on ecological alternatives, to identify agro-ecological practices that ensure future food security under a changing climate.

Contact information

Gopikrishna SR
Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner
Greenpeace India
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: