Agriculture | Centre for Science and Environment

Agriculture


Count the natural debt, too

Now that Europe’s debt crisis is unfolding all around us, shouldn’t we question why the world is determined to live beyond its means and not worry how it sabotages our common future? The debt crisis is a mere symptom of a deeper malaise. The fact is that countries, private companies and individual households can run only if they can borrow against their assets and hope that the debt will grow slower than the value of their asset. Most financial analysts will now tell you that this business is doomed because of the Ponzi scheme nature of the loan business, where borrowing is used to speculate to get more loans and so repayment becomes difficult and over time impossible.

Factsheet: The emissions imbalance

In 2007, the US had less than 5 per cent of the global population, but it accounted for 20 per cent of global CO2 emissions. India, with almost 17 per cent of global population, accounted for less than 5 per cent of the emissions.  More on who is emitting and how much.

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Diesel: when bad policy makes for toxic hell

Just consider. Every time petrol prices are raised, oil companies end up losing more money. Simply because the price differential between petrol and diesel increases further, and people gravitate towards diesel vehicles. More the use of diesel, more the oil companies bleed. Worse, we all bleed because diesel vehicles add to toxic pollution in our cities, which, in turn, adds to ill health and treatment costs.

The Food Industry, in US, doesn’t want you to know how much pesticide you are consuming.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA’s) annual pesticide data were delayed by five months this year, thanks to the relentless effort of the food industry lobby. The USDA, however, deserves a pat on the back for not buckling under pressure of the pesticide lobby. The report released this year is no different from the earlier years despite a delay. 

When business rules our kitchens

Once again there is a food safety scare. A deadly strain of E coli bacterium has hit Germany, where it has taken the lives of 25 people and affected another 2,300 till date. German food inspectors on the trail of the source of contamination ha­ve as yet made two errors—blaming Spanish cucumbers and then organic bean sprouts—but no breakthrough.

Climate notes

THE Himalayas are warming at a rate higher than the global average. A recent study documents how this has affected cropping patterns and vegetation in the past 10 years.

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Andhra takes the plunge

The agriculture department is finally taking note of the non pesticide management technique of farming.  The Andhra Pradesh government issued an order on May 16 that the rural development and the agriculture department would work together to reduce the cost of cultivation and move towards a pesticide free cultivation across the state.
 

Think differently, Mr Finance Minister

As I write this piece, the finance minister has dispatched the Union Budget 2011. The press is busy reflecting the views of business and industry lobbies, as they quibble over duty exemptions, insist on financial stimulus and other incentives, and cry for big-ticket reform—foreign direct investment in retail and insurance. The only other discussion is about the growing fiscal deficit: will the finance minister give in to populism while extending the programmes for the poor? Or will he raise taxes to pay for the growing developmental needs of the country? The finance minister, it would seem, is caught between two battles: of checking the bulge in fiscal irresponsibility and of meeting the need for delivering governance.

Fatal disconnect

The World Economic Forum—the gathering of power glitterati each year in Davos—has assessed the top risks the world faces in 2011. According to this analysis, climate change is the highest-ranking risk the world will face in the coming years, when its likelihood and impact are combined. What’s even more important is the interconnections between climate change and the other top risks: economic disparity (ranked 3), extreme weather events (ranked 5), extreme energy price volatility (ranked 6), geopolitical conflict (ranked 7), flooding and water security (9 and 10). The world—even according to the richest men—is in deep and desperate trouble.

With help from worms

By: Jyotika Sood

Shekhawati farmers in Rajasthan go organic
It came to them as a small business proposal. About 10,000 farmers in the semi-arid Shekhawati region on the edge of Thar desert turned it into a fortune spinner and have become major organic farmers in Rajasthan.

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