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May 11, 2008

Misery-causing green revolution is dead in India, Pakistan; bury it

by Zafar Altaf

The green revolution is dead and should be incarcerated if in India and buried if in Pakistan. It has had its days and it has been responsible for a considerable amount of misery.

In Pakistan the irresponsible governance of agriculture has compounded that misery by whoever was in power, irrespective of kind of structure that was in position. The lone difference was the late Benazir Bhuto, for she would champion the cause of the poor and the housewife with very strict monitoring of the economic system. She had her own determining parameters.

We have been saying that we are an agricultural country and then deciding to do the very opposite of what is required to be done. The human touch is missing and now we have had it from the very farmers that served this country without regret and to the very best of their ability.

Whose fault is it if perfectly sane polices were allowed to be perverted by the decision making process. Have you got your KB dam? Have you got your other dams? No, you have not, for no one dreamt of dialoging with the farmers and the rural people. Are you aware that in the rural areas the number of landless is increasing by the days and that the situation is assuming larger proportions than at any time in the history of the country? The green revolution has allowed the lands to lose their fertility. They have as a result of our flirtations with chemical agriculture lost its sustainability.

The answer to today’s problems is not what the World Bank/Asia Development Bank or the UN says about the food crises. They are merely washing their guilt in trying to show concern for the poor in the developing countries. They are actually helping their own fertilizer industry and the farmers of the Midwest (US).

The quality of living of the west is determined by the economics of tyranny that has been played on us.Some Dutch economists indicated this books such as "Trade, not aid." Tinbergen and others proved that the world is lopsided and uneven and works against the less developed countries. There are even amongst the developed world people who want to work for the less developed countries; the more powerful interest groups almost always drown these voices and concerns.

Is chemical agriculture the only way forward? No, it is not. How do these MNCs seduce the farmers and the countries of the world? The mechanics of the market system and systematic fear that is played on the poorer countries plays a large part in this fear syndrome. These days the food security factor is difficult to manage with the given structural systems. The institutional changes that have to be brought out require a different deterministic set up. It is not possible to work with the existing set up.

The WB/ADB and other international institutions are no friends of Pakistan and should be avoided like the plague. The world order has been so perverted that any one who tries to do this could be called a pariah and a rogue state. That is what they keep on saying about every country that has broken loose from them. Iran was all right when the Shah was doing their bidding. Iran is not all right at the moment. When I went to Iran I found the situation quite contrary to what had been portrayed by the propaganda machine of the west. Their agriculture was doing well their people were happy and the middle class had emerged as a strong force. There were less poor and yet they are continuously been propounded as rogues of the first order.

So if Iran can do well, and other countries too can do well why cannot Pakistan take a cue from them? An experiment was carried out by one of the universities that examined this particular aspect and they had a sample of 4 million farms from 52 countries. Their conclusion was that switching to environmentally and socially responsible policies in farming led to a improved harvests by an average of 73%. Yet another study encompassing 286 farm projects in 57 countries found that crop productivity increased by 79% while simultaneously increasing water use efficiency and carbon sequestration and reducing pesticide use. Farmers in this case used a variety of resource conserving technologies ranging from integrated pest management to agro-forestry to water harvesting and livestock integration.

The new rule of the game is gene revolution and genomic revolution, both technologies available in the country-one of USA origin and the other of Japanese origin. These alternatives are not new e.g. the Genomic revolution came to Pakistan in 1994-5 and since then the fertilizer mafia has not allowed it to come in to Pakistan. The MNC mafia is a cartel much worse than the oil cartel but since it is out of the west no one likes to talk about it.

We have aped the technologies suggested by the international organizations and in the process reduced ourselves to being slaves to not only the centers that propounded these chemical interventions but the MNC that manufacture them and then stock them and play havoc with the price system of these inputs. Actively aided and abetted by the international agencies WB/ADB and other such institutions. The guilt is not with them but with the local decision makers for submitting to these interventions and at a cost to the nation.

Pakistan has destroyed its community-based agriculture and resorted to mafia style agriculture. It was learnt that the sugar mills owe to the farmers 4 billion rupees and the mighty people in the ministry have shown their inability to do anything. In 1997-98 this amount was Rs. 2 billion so that the mafia has not done badly. Mafias seldom do. Where then is the morality of the mill owners? Who are these mill owners? Guess!! You are citizens of Pakistan and ought to know how the farmer has been treated. My suggestion would be to give up sugar cane planting and let the mafia import that from India or where ever.

What are we: a nation of goons that we do not understand when to pay up for the raw material that you have taken from the poor to help your self?

The sugar cane act is clear for it lays down that if the farmer is not paid within fifteen days the manager and or the owner has to be arrested and money recovered as arrears. Now that does not happen.

When it comes to money funny what kind of forces can join together to pollute the system. I could give you more of the same but for today this is enough. I still remain a servant to the state and its people and not to the government of the day. Shocking is it not when so many spoils can come one’s way for being a poodle to the powers that be. I am sir yours sincerely and can never be yours obediently as the British would have us be in our long sojourn in being a colony to them. Grow up!!

Pakistan Observer

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