Displacement pushing ryots to the brink: scientist

Professor in Coventry University Michel Pimbert during his recent visit to Sangareddy district.

Professor in Coventry University Michel Pimbert during his recent visit to Sangareddy district.   | Photo Credit: Nagara Gopal

‘Change in farming policies is the way out’

What will be the fate of a farmer who is pushed out of his farm?

He will go completely bankrupt, leading to suicide. This was the observation made by Michel Pimbert, director, Centre for Agro-ecology, Water and Resilience, Coventry University in the United Kingdom.

He was here at Machannoor recently to participate in the biodiversity festival organised by the Deccan Development Society (DDS).

“Small farmers everywhere are under a dual threat. One, a vision of modernity and progress, which says there is no future for small farmers and everyone should have a job in the manufacturing or the service sector.

In fact, a number of government polices are encouraging farmers to leave the land. Added to that is a push by multinational corporations that have been increasingly trying to control every single link in the chain from seed to agrichemicals, retail, food processing, and financial markets,” said Mr. Pimbert while interacting with The Hindu.

Aggressive policies

He opined that they were enforcing pretty aggressive policies aiming to displace small farmers, seen as competitors.

He said that the multinationals are consolidating lands, contract farming and other forms of farming that rely on far fewer crops that are in the forefront of international trade and farms are connected to global value chains.

Prices of food commodities are determined by international financial markets, he pointed out.

“Very few countries have positive policies to support the small farming sector — family farmers and small farmers. Hence, a reduction in their numbers. They are trying to fight back through social movements. They are proposing a very different model of agriculture — food sovereignty and right to food, which is based on science and local knowledge,” said the professor.

A triangular battle

He described the prevailing situation across the globe as a big battle between farmers, multinational corporations and governments. Some international reports suggested a need for a fundamental change as the global food system is hurting the climate, causing water to dry up. There is an ongoing effort to redefine food and farming, and human well-being. Food and agriculture are directly linked with major crisis we are facing, he added.

“The fate of small farmers differs from country to country. In some there are local governments sympathetic towards small farmers and there are countries where big businesses are hand-in-hand with the government. Once pushed out of the farm, the small farmer will go bankrupt and commit suicide. We are seeing it across the globe in France, Europe and the USA, also in Andhra Pradesh and in the cotton belt, which is a big social disaster,” he said.

The way out of this situation is to bring back diversity on the farm, mimicking natural mixed cropping, and poly-cropping.

(There is always someone to listen at: +914066202000 in case of any emotional breakdown at this Hyderabad-based suicide intervention centre, Roshni)

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 1:31:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/displacement-pushing-ryots-to-the-brink-scientist/article26298753.ece

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