DOWN TO EARTH | LATHA JISHNU | SEPTEMBER 2 2015

Latha Jishnu
Latha Jishnu / Picture from DOWN TO EARTH

This Independence Day, farmers were singled out for special honour by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. From the ramparts of the Red Fort, he announced that the ministry of agriculture would henceforth be known as agriculture and farmers’ welfare ministry. He promised a permanent system to address agricultural problems and farmers’ welfare.

Modi also waxed eloquent about as the benefits of neem-coated urea-this could explain the barely concealed boredom of the invitees at the Red Fort -and enhanced crop insurance. There were also homilies on how farmers could save water, save energy and save fertilisers.

The grand proclamation on the name change has been met with stunning silence from the farming community. In any case, what could they have said? Thank you for another sop? We are thrilled that this government has offered us more old baubles in new wrapping? Farmers obviously would have seen through this empty rhetoric since they have been using neem-coated urea for over a decade. For the rest of us who have not tumbled to the not-so-clever spin of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, here are some hard truths. Let’s start with the neem-coated urea that has captured the Prime Minister’s imagination. It is not a new initiative to boost the sharply eroding fertility of India’s agricultural lands as his government claims. According to Fact Checker, a data website, urea, as also some pesticides, has been coated with neem for 11 years! The website mined parliamentary answers to show that…continue reading

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