Wednesday, March 7, 2012

168 El Nino creates drought in Western Pacific; monsoon fails in India

El Nino creates drought in Western Pacific; monsoon fails in India

India's Brahmin leaders have little time to defuse their looming Population Bomb. The drought, and discouragement on the land, will force their hand. The solution is not Celibacy (which they already encourage) but Tubal Ligation freely available, and other kinds of contraception.

Tree-crops are less vulnerable to drought - this is the idea of Permaculture (Permanent Agriculture).

India has plantations of many kinds of trees, but these seem to be commercial operations owned by landlords. Villages grow a smaller range of cropping trees than they could. Perhaps concentration of land-ownership inhibits more diverse planting for household use.

The diverse range of Fruits for Warm Climates is shown at these sites:
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/index.html
http://www.daleysfruit.com.au/fruit%20pages/mammey.htm
http://www.tradewindsfruit.com/black_sapote.htm
http://www.capetrib.com.au/starapple.htm

For tree crops in dry climates, search Google for "Desert Permaculture":
http://www.google.com.au/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=%22desert+permaculture%22&btnG=Google+Search&meta=

Also see the book Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture, by J. Russell Smith:
 http://www.amazon.com/Tree-Crops-Permanent-Agriculture-Conservation/dp/0933280440

This is the book that got the whole thing going.

Second-hand copies from Abebooks: http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?bi=0&bx=off&ds=30&sortby=17&sts=t&tn=Tree+Crops%3A+A+Permanent+Agriculture&x=0&y=0

Seeds of tropical and subtropical fruits are available at http://www.borneocollection.netfirms.com/
and at http://www.tradewindsfruit.com/black_sapote.htm

The Rare Fruit Council: http://rarefruitaustralia.org/modules/news/article.php?storyid=11

(1) Reply to Stephen Roach on China's trade policies & American lack of Savings - Peter M.
(2) Failure of India's Monsoon  forces it to import rice
(3) First time in 2 decades, India to import rice
(4) India uses Drip Irrigation system from Israel for Olive plantation in desert
(5) Thai Government to sell rice to Indian overnment
(6) India to buy rice direct from governments
(7) Typhoons force Philippines to import rice too
(8) Indian Rice Imports to Cause ‘Major Swing’ in Trade
(9) Breeders try to develop rice resistant to drought, flooding, salinity & diseases
(10) India May Buy Australian Wheat as Millers Seek Cheaper Supplies  
(11) India's Gentlemen-farmers move to the City; self-sufficiency will give way to imports
(12) India's monsoon fails; indebted Cotton farmers committ suicide
(13) Asia's Rice Culture threatened by development projects, mono-cropping & GM
(14) El Nino Resurging in November 2009
(15) El Nino for Australia until Autumn (northern Spring)
(16) El Nino intensifies Latin America drought

(1) Reply to Stephen Roach on China's trade policies & American lack of Savings - Peter M., Nov. 20, 2009

Stephen Roach, Chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, defends China's trade policies, opposes Bernancke's demand that China let the Yuan rise, and blames American lack of Savings for its economic problems:
http://www.cfr.org/publication/20486/avoiding_a_uschina_trade_showdown.html

This is a disingenuous argument.

The "Savings" that America borrows from Japan, China et al is basically their recycled trade surplus.

But why should they be allowed to run such a surplus year after year?

The principle of Internationalism is supposedly a coming-together of peoples and nations. But persistent trade surpluses of this type are covert Nationalism: benefiting the surplus country at the expense of the deficit country. That's why Japan and China manipulate currencies (buying Dollars to keep the Yen & Yuan from rising).

The US should restrict its imports each year so that its Balance of Payments is about zero. Military expenditure abroard, Foreign Aid paid abroard, remittances abroard by US workers, and US overseas investment all send Dollars out of the country. Imports also send Dollars out.

It's through excess Dollars being spent abroard that the long-term position of the Dollar has been jeopardised.

If the US pulls back its overseas Empire, and reduces imports, the Dollar can be saved, and Jobs too, because the reduction in imports will lead to a resurgence of domestic manufacturing.

East Asian surpluses create asset bubbles because the surplus is invested in mortgages (ie homes for rent). Since the Asian communities are concentrated in big coastal cities, that's where the investment goes - driving prices up there while rural areas wither.

If the US produced its own manufactures again, the incomes generated would be spread across the country, and lead to an increase in home-ownership without speculation.

Ditch the Empire to Save the Country.

(2) Failure of India's Monsoon  forces it to import rice

India may have to import rice this year: Mukherjee

http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-may-have-to-import-rice-this-year-Mukherjee/H1-Article1-477621.aspx

Indo-Asian News Service

New Delhi, November 18, 2009

Expecting a 14-15 million shortfall in paddy production and procurement this year, India may import rice to shore up its stocks, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in New Delhi on Wednesday.

"There is a projection that there will be a shortfall of our kharif (summer) crop. So we may have to make some imports," Mukherjee told reporters on the sidelines of an event organised by the Union Bank of India.

"As of now, the government has six million tonnes of surplus rice and seven million tonnes of wheat stocks," the minister added.

Mukherjee said recently that erratic monsoon this year, followed by floods in some parts of the country, could have lowered India's foodgrain output by 14-15 million tonnes.

"I'm waiting for a hard assessment of the sub-normal southwest monsoon and the impact of floods," he had told journalists. "There are some estimates that grain production will be less -- 14-15 million tonnes."

During the 2008-09 kharif season, India's rice production stood at 84.5 million tonnes, compared to an estimate of 69.45 million tonnes during this year's season.

The country logged record grain output last year (July-June), estimated at 233.87 million tonnes. But the failure of monsoon -- on which depends 60 percent of India's agriculture -- cast a shadow on this year's crop.

(3) First time in 2 decades, India to import rice

TNN 19 November 2009, 03:02am IST

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/biz/india-business/First-time-in-2-decades-India-to-import-rice/articleshow/5244544.cms

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Wednesday said it may have to import rice -- the first time in 20 years -- to make up the shortfall in kharif crop even though it has surplus stock in godowns. Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee made this statement amid reports of the Opposition planning to put the government on the mat over rising food prices during Parliament's winter session beginning on Thursday.

"We have started the rice season, which began in October, with surplus stocks. Even for wheat, the government has surplus stocks. Since there is a projection that there would be some shortfall in the kharif crop, to make it up we may have to make some imports, but exactly what quantum and at what point of time we will decide later," Mukherjee said.

Mukherjee also heads the ministrial panel set up to monitor foodgrain prices. The panel is expected to take stock of the situation on Friday. Rising prices of foodgrain have been causing concern among the ruling coalition partners, with cost of items such as potato rising 100% in the last one year or so. Prices of pulses too have risen to nearly Rs 100-mark for some varieties.

According to government estimates, kharif rice output is likely to fall nearly 18% to 69.45 million tonnes due to poor monsoon, leading to a shortfall of about 15 million tonnes in 2009-10. The southwest monsoon this year was 23% below normal, the worst in 37 years.

On Tuesday, commerce minister Anand Sharma, who too is a member of the ministerial panel, had said the government was in talks with top rice-exporting countries such as Thailand for buying the staple grain without involving private traders. State-run trading houses -- MMTC, STC and PEC -- are awaiting the government's direction on the bids they have received against global tenders for import of 30,000 tonnes of rice. Last month, the three state-run trading firms received 18 bids ranging from $373 to $599 per tonne.

But many question public announcements of the government's intent to import such huge quantities since suppliers jack up prices to much higher than the domestic rates. According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), India, the second largest rice producer in the world, may import as much as 200,000 tonnes of rice if there is greater price parity to meet domestic demand.

(4) India uses Drip Irrigation system from Israel for Olive plantation in desert

http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/india/article.cfm?articleid=4428

Battling the Elements: How Can India's Farmers Cope with Drought?

November 19, 2009

About three or four times a week, Yogesh Verma takes government officials and farmers from various parts of India on a tour of the olive plantation he manages. The visitors travel to the plantation near Jaipur in the desert state of Rajasthan to see the 100,000 trees covering 520 acres (210 hectares) of land using an advanced irrigation system. Imported from Israel, the system continuously monitors moisture levels of the soil and reduces the plantation's water consumption by as much as 90%, says Verma.

His work is part of a pilot project set up two years ago, which was designed to improve agricultural sustainability in rain-deficient regions of the country. The promoter of the three-year project, Rajasthan Olive Cultivation Ltd., is a joint venture between the Israeli government, Rajasthan's state government and Finolex, a Pune-based industrial group. According to Verma, the plantation's aim is to grow a million trees and find global markets for its olive oil, with projected revenue in the pilot phase of about Rs. 9 crore (US$2 million).

Agriculture and water experts say grassroots initiatives such as the one in Rajasthan that combine public agencies and private organizations hold the key to survival for India's 235 million farmers. As this year's lack of rainfall during the kharif -- the first of the country's main annual sowing seasons -- showed, many of these farmers teeter on the brink of losing their livelihoods due to severe droughts and the vagaries of climate change.

Experts, meanwhile, warn that the situation will get worse before it gets better if the country doesn't improve how it mitigates and manages rainfall shortages. "Other [developing countries] have more rain, more money and fewer people," says Robert Giegengack, a professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania's department of earth and environmental science. With India's growing economy and the projected doubling of its population to two billion by the end of this century, "the pressures that are being brought to bear on resources [will] get worse. Every environmental problem must become worse by a factor of two. And those problems [are not being solved right now] on a schedule that will avoid that catastrophe."

In many respects, India's farmers are better equipped to handle droughts than previous generations. As in other parts of Asia, the technical innovation introduced during India's so-called Green Revolution of the 1970s resulted in dramatic advances in not only agriculture, but also the general management of natural resources.

Yet despite advances, many farmers still don't have access to irrigation and depend on current rainfall to see them through each sowing season. Even the irrigation systems that are available leave much to be desired, says a report published in August by the non-profit International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), titled "Revitalizing Asia's Irrigation." According to the report, "The large-scale, centrally managed irrigation schemes of the past were not designed to be demand-driven or provide the reliable, flexible and equitable year-round water service that modern farming methods require." This should be a call to arms for both government policy makers and private-sector innovators, the report concludes.

Narrow Escape

This year put India's outdated water-management systems to the test. The country's current rainfall deficiency is hovering around, if not slightly higher than, the level of the last four major droughts -- in 1971, 1979, 1987 and 2002 -- when average rainfall was 19% of normal levels, according to the Indian Meteorological Department.

Alarm bells began ringing in early summer this year when 11 states -- including Maharashtra, Bihar, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh -- declared they were in a drought. June, which is in the middle of the kharif season, was reportedly the driest month in 80 years. Though monsoons -- the primary water source for the majority of farmers in India -- came in August and pulled many parts of the country back from the brink of a major drought, some damage had already been done. According to the most recent estimates issued by the Ministry of Agriculture on October 9, crop yields are expected to fall short of the average 230 million tons harvested every year.

The situation is not unusual for the country's farmers. Rainfall in India has been erratic in four out of the past 10 years, making it "inevitable" that at any given time of the year, some part of the country is experiencing drought, according to a drought manual published by the Ministry of Agriculture. Meanwhile, overall per capita water availability is steadily declining due to not only poor rainfall, but also India's growing population, rapid industrialization and urbanization, and increased farming intensity. ...

(5) Thai Government to sell rice to Indian overnment

http://www.bangkokpost.com/business/economics/27770/commerce-ministry-asked-to-study-price-details-of-india-rice-deal

Commerce Ministry asked to study price details of India rice deal

Published: 20/11/2009 at 12:00 AM

The Commerce Ministry will handle a request from India to buy 2 million tonnes of 25% white rice from Thailand on a government-to-government basis.

Deputy Prime Minister Korbsak Sabhavasu said the government needed to consider the price for the deal very carefully because India wanted to buy a large amount of the grain.

A government source said Thai rice would be priced about $30 a tonne higher than for rice from Vietnam. However, there is an opportunity to sell at a lower price under an assistance programme.

Mr Korbsak said that because rice prices had been increasing, the ministry had been instructed to announce reference prices every 10 days instead of every 15 days in order to widen opportunities for farmers to get better prices.

He said the Rice Policy Committee also approved bringing 400,000 tonnes of short-cycle rice from the 2009-10 crop into the government's options programme at a price equivalent to 10,000 baht a tonne.

The government next year will not allow short-cycle rice in the options programme because it wants farmers to grow better-quality rice.

(6) India to buy rice direct from governments

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/foreign-trade/India-will-look-to-government-to-government-deals-to-get-cheap-rice/articleshow/5248278.cms

India will look to government-to-government deals to get cheap rice

19 Nov 2009, 2010 hrs IST, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: India is keeping its strategy on clinching competitive prices for its rice imports close to its chest, choosing for the present to signal to the world market that it is no desperate hurry to import through expensive open tender-based deals.

The government has also begun the process of de-escalating projections of its rice import needs for the year, to reinforce the impression that it would not import big quantities.  ...

(7) Typhoons force Philippines to import rice too

http://www.irrawaddy.org/highlight.php?art_id=17246

Rice Shortage Scares: Would The Real Culprits Please Step Forward?

By WILLIAM BOOT Thursday, November 19, 2009

BANGKOK — Alarms about a possible new Asian rice crisis on the back of last year’s “shortages” may be nothing more than scaremongering to keep prices up while a much more serious problem is developing almost unnoticed.

New shortage fears surfaced around the sidelines of an international rice conference in the Philippines last month and have been repeated since.

They have been based on reports of bad weather slashing crop volumes in India, the Philippines and Vietnam.

But the fact is that record quantities of rice are being hoarded by key producers Thailand, India and China.

Figures just published by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) show that India is sitting on up to 25 million tonnes and Thailand as much as 8 million tonnes, while China probably holds about 50 percent of the world’s rice stocks at any one time.

Even poor Burma claimed earlier this month to have 1 million tonnes surplus available for export.

These figures belie predictions that bad weather this year in India, the Philippines and Vietnam will cause a rice shortage that could spark regional shortages and rocketing prices.

The USA Rice federation says India could distort the market by buying between 1 million and 3.5 million tonnes next year, and storm damage in the Philippines will force that country to sharply increase its imports.

But the Philippines’ National Food Authority says for the moment the country has sufficient stock to avoid unplanned buying which could push up market prices.

Unfounded shortage scares in late 2007 and early 2008 caused panic buying and overreaction by governments and the market which sent prices climbing, triggering export curbs.

And contrary to claims that prices have never come back down since then, the IRRI says average rice prices in Asia are 60 percent lower today than their May 2008 panic rates.

However, last year’s major intervention in the market by several governments has led to state hoarding, says the IRRI.

“One of the undesirable outcomes of raising the [state] support level has been the diversion of rice away from the market to government warehouses,” says the Philippines-based IRRI in a new report.

A much bigger problem for future rice supply is declining crop yield. Although the amount of land being planted with rice is expanding, the production level per hectare is declining, says the IRRI. ...

Attempts to establish a form of rice cartel in Southeast Asia with the aim of managing the market and prices have so far failed, mainly because of the huge disparity in standards of production and costs between the countries that have expressed an interesting in joining—Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Burma.

A rice industry official in Thailand, who did not wanted to be named because of the sensitive nature of the subject, said Cambodia, Laos and Burma have little or no verifiable production information.

“They produce poor quality rice which sells at the bottom end of the market compared to Thailand’s quality crops,” he said.

(8) Indian Rice Imports to Cause ‘Major Swing’ in Trade

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601091&sid=aVKeKgSnRSZo

By Luzi Ann Javier and Zeb Eckert

Nov. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Indian rice imports next year will create a “fairly major swing” in global trade, pushing prices higher, commodities supplier Olam International Ltd. said.

The South Asian nation may import 2 million to 3 million metric tons, Sunny Verghese, chief executive officer of Singapore-based Olam, which supplies commodities including rice, coffee and nuts, said today. India, which exported an average of 4.56 million tons from 2002 to 2009, will ship 1.5 million tons next year, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture figures.

A swing of 4.5 million tons of exports to about 2 or 3 million tons of imports can have “a very important effect on the price direction,” Verghese said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “Prices are likely to firm given these latest developments.”

India hasn’t been a net rice importer for two decades. The global rice trade is estimated to be 29.5 million tons next year, according to the USDA.

The regional benchmark export price for 100 percent grade-B Thai rice, announced weekly by the Thai Rice Exporters Association, has gained 6.9 percent to $561 from this year’s low of $525 in October. It reached a record $1,038 a ton in May 2008 as concerns over supply shortages prompted countries like India and Vietnam to curb exports, sparking food price riots across the globe.

Philippine Losses

India, the world’s second-largest grower and consumer of rice, lost 18 percent of its crop to drought and is in talks with Thailand and Vietnam, the two biggest exporters, to buy rice, Farm Minister Anand Sharma said Nov. 17. India is seeking as much as 2 million tons of rice, Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Nov. 18.

The Philippines lost 1.3 million tons of rice in recent storms and may buy a record 2.45 million tons in tenders for 2010 supplies before the end of the year, boosting competition for supplies and driving prices higher.

Prices may also extend gains if a “strong” El Nino weather phenomenon, which is brewing in the Pacific and can damage crops, affects producing countries, Verghese said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Luzi Ann Javier in Singapore at ljavier@bloomberg.net; Zeb Eckert in Hong Kong at zeckert1@bloomberg.net Last Updated: November 19, 2009 23:48 EST

(9) Breeders try to develop rice resistant to drought, flooding, salinity & diseases

Fears over food price increases

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/world/43686-fears-over-food-price-increases

FRIDAY NOVEMBER 20 2009

MANILA, Nov 17 — The latest advances in rice research can, in the long term, lessen the threats to global food security posed by climate change and rising populations, scientists said yesterday.

Several hundred delegates gathered at the 6th International Rice Genetics Symposium in Manila yesterday to share the latest research on developing rice varieties resistant to drought, floods and other threats to global food security, some linked to climate change.

The meeting of scientists from all over the world comes amid fears that rice prices could rise further in the coming months amid supply strains caused by drought in India and cyclones in the Philippines, the world’s biggest importer of the grain. ...

The topics at the symposium were densely scientific, but linked by a common thread: inside a grain of rice is the genetic potential to develop higher yields; and the capacity to grow rice in harsh conditions, including environments affected by climate change.

The next agricultural revolution will be driven by rice genetics to develop varieties resistant to drought, flooding, salinity and rice diseases, said Dr Robert Ziegler, director-general of the IRRI, which spurred the 1960s ‘green revolution’ in Asia.

Flood-tolerant rice that took the IRRI 15 years and millions of dollars to develop is now being used in the Philippines, Indonesia and Bangladesh. Still, not enough was planted in the Philippines to prevent severe flood damage to padi fields on the main island of Luzon from unusually heavy storms in September and last month.

Last week, the country put out a record tender for 600,000 tons of rice, and said yesterday that it would hold a tender next month for the same volume.

“Prices are at a nine-month high and seem to be climbing towards the levels of last year’s rice crisis,” said Macintosh. At that time, Thailand’s export benchmark price hit a record high of US$1,083 (RM3,642) a ton in May last year; it is currently around half that level.

“There is a strong possibility we’ll see a rice crisis next year as India faces drought, and Indonesia may feel the pinch of El Nino weather,” Sarunyu Jeamsinkul, deputy managing director of Asia Golden Rice of Thailand —  the world’s biggest rice exporter —  told Bloomberg. —  The Straits Times

(10) India May Buy Australian Wheat as Millers Seek Cheaper Supplies  

By Pratik Parija

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601091&sid=ahP64heQi4tg

Nov. 19 (Bloomberg) -- India, the second-biggest producer of wheat, may buy as much as 300,000 metric tons from Australia as flour mills look for cheaper supplies from overseas.

Processors must import by February before the new crop is harvested, M.K. Dattaraj, former president of Roller Flour Millers Federation of India, said today in an interview.

“It is cheaper to import and there is a specific requirement” in southern India, he said from Bangalore. “There is no shortage as such in the country.”

India is importing wheat at a time when global stockpiles are forecast to rise 14 percent to 188.28 million tons in the 2009-10 marketing year, as output exceeds demand. The country last purchased the grain overseas in 2007.

The landed price of Australian prime wheat is 15 rupees a kilogram at the nation’s southern ports, compared with 17-19 rupees for the locally-grown equivalent, Dattaraj said.

India has enough food grain reserves to tackle a possible decline in production of monsoon-sown crops and price increase, Farm Minister Sharad Pawar said Nov. 4. State warehouses had 28.46 million tons of wheat and 15.35 million tons of rice on Oct. 1 because of record purchase from farmers the past year. That compares with the present buffer norms of 5.2 million tons for rice and 11 million tons for wheat.

The farm ministry is seeking to boost production of grains including wheat during the winter season by 8.5 million tons to partly offset the drop in output of the monsoon crop, Pawar said. Total food grain production in the last winter session was 116.2 million tons, according to the ministry.

India produced a record 80.58 million tons of wheat in the 2008-09 season, compared with 78.57 million tons a year earlier, according to the farm ministry. Wheat, planted in October and harvested in March and April, accounts for more than 70 percent of the winter-sown grain output.

To contact the reporter on this story: Pratik Parija in New Delhi at pparija@bloomberg.net.

(11) India's Gentlemen-farmers move to the City; self-sufficiency will give way to imports

http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/INDIA+FOOD+DILEMMA/2215269/story.html

Is India's food dilemma higher prices or shortages?

BY HIMANGSHU WATTS, REUTERS NOVEMBER 12, 2009

NEW DELHI - For a man who will inherit vast tracts of fertile farmland in Punjab, India's grain bowl, Jaswinder Singh made what seemed to him a logical career move — he took a job with a telecoms company in New Delhi.

"I can't go back to the village after an M.B.A. Delhi has more money, better quality of life. The job is more satisfying, and you don't depend on the weather or prices set by the government," said Singh, who earns rent from his farm, while a tenant tills the land.

Singh's choice reflects a growing and worrisome trend in the nation's agriculture sector: Indian farms are failing to attract capital or talent, either from rich landlords like Singh, or the 21,000 students who graduate from India's 50 agricultural and veterinary universities.

"At present, most of the farm graduates are either taking jobs in the government, or financial institutions, or in private sector industry. They are seldom taking to farming as a profession," a report by the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation said.

The views of the foundation — set up by M.S. Swaminathan, who led India's Green Revolution in the 1960s that helped make this vast nation self-sufficient in food — were echoed in a poll by the National Sample Survey Organization, a government body. The survey showed 40 per cent of Indian farmers would quit farming, if they had a choice — an alarming revelation for a country where two-thirds of the billion-plus people live in villages.

India's farm sector has changed remarkably little since the advent of the Green Revolution, while other industries have been transformed over the past two decades. As a result, agriculture's share of the Indian economy shrank to 17.5 per cent last year, from nearly 30 per cent in the early 1990s.

"We are not realizing that farming is becoming an increasingly less profitable profession. There was a time when farmers had very little choice. Things have changed. Farmers would like to make a shift," said T.K. Bhaumik, a leading economist.

This has raised concerns that India's farm output could lag demand and the country — which ranks among the world's top three consumers of rice, wheat, sugar, tea, coarse grains and cotton — will become a large food importer unless yields jump. ...

(12) India's monsoon fails; indebted Cotton farmers committ suicide

Seven Vidarbha cotton farmers end lives in 24 hrs

http://www.hindustantimes.com/maharashtra/Seven-Vidarbha-cotton-farmers-end-lives-in-24-hrs/477978/H1-Article1-477892.aspx

Pradip Kumar Maitra , Hindustan Times

Nagpur, November 19, 2009

Seven farmers from Vidarbha region committed suicide in 24 hours till Wednesday evening.

The seven farmers, including one woman, had availed of loans from banks or private moneylenders and they were unable to repay the same due to crop failure.

While four of the victims ended their lives by consuming pesticide, the woman farmer set herself ablaze at her residence, late on Tuesday.

Collector of Yavatmal district, Sanjay Deshmukh, confirmed reports of five farmer suicides in the district on Wednesday.

“We have not been able to get details of the cause of the suicides,” said Deshmukh. “Family members of the deceased have been busy with the last rites.”

Among the latest suicides, five were in Yavatmal — the region’s most suicide-prone district. One each was reported from Wardha and Gondia.

The region’s farmer suicide toll due to the agrarian crisis has touched 42 so far this month while the figure for last month stood at 54, according to the Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti. The organisation has been documenting farmer suicides since 2001.

This year, 154 cotton farmers have ended their lives in Yavatmal district while 142 were from Amravati.

This year, Vidarbha’s cotton crop has turned out to be a killer for many a farmer. The failed monsoon has had a drastic impact on the cotton yield.

(13) Asia's Rice Culture threatened by development projects, mono-cropping & GM

From: Sandhya Jain <sandhya206@bol.net.in> Date: 21.11.2009 05:04 AM

Asia's Rice Culture Threatened

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=16199

by Arun Shrivastava

“Every really successful system of agriculture…..must be based on the long view, otherwise the day of reckoning is certain.” [Sir Albert Howard & Yashwant Wad; The Waste Products of Agriculture; 1931; page 3]

...
The Asian rice farmers today are being systematically destroyed. In many places they have either disappeared or under threat from ‘economic development projects’ and modern day ‘mono-cropping farms.’ These threats come from an unhealthy nexus ofpowerful cartel of multinational corporations [MNCs] and bendable Asian governments.

The agenda is to wrest control over food production from the last remaining bastion of sustainable small farms. MNCs’ strategy is to take control of seeds, contaminate farmer-saved seeds, and use food as a weapon to kill people at will. The relentless destructive forces unleashed by the western food cartel through such instruments as Agreement on Agriculture, TRIPs, TRIPs Plus, and trade liberalization have been battering the Asian rice farmers for several decades and is directly responsible for farmers’ distress.

At the same time the huge subsidy that the US and European Commission provide to their biggest farmers allows the food cartel backed by their respective governments to manipulate global agricultural commodity prices exactly as they want. The US Government alone provided about one billion dollar [Rs 45,000 million] subsidy to just three rice growers in the US over 1995 to 2006: $526 million to Riceland Foods, $314 million to Producers Rice Mill and $146 million to Farmers Rice Cooperative. When rice is not the staple food of Americans, what could be the purpose of such huge subsidy except to disrupt traditional Asian farming households?

The Indian Government has been terrorized into genuflecting to these corporate criminals. So has been every Asian Government. If the reality is different, Asian Governments representing 3.7 billion Asians have not pledged that they shall not allow Cartel’s control of food in Asia.

Asian governments erroneously believe that food production should be industrialized and surplus farmers should be deployed in industries or services. Allocation of prime agricultural lands for non-agricultural uses stems from that belief.

On the other hand, Asia’s rice farmers have never been adequately compensated for growing nutrition and providing vital environmental services. Nowhere, not even in one country, although every government talks of food and nutrition security and environmental problems as major issues for intervention. This anomaly has driven rice farming communities into a vicious cycle of low returns, debt, bankruptcy, and abject poverty.

It has been alleged that Bayer BioScience has illegally planted GM rice in India. One scientist has claimed that certain varieties in Jharkhand state are contaminated. Bayer also illegally planted rice seeds in the USA that led to contamination of US rice, export consignments were destroyed in Europe and Japan and rice exporters lost credibility internationally. Russia sought a sovereign guarantee from India that its rice is NOT CONTAMINATED with genetically modified rice. It is worth pondering what would happen if unsold American contaminated rice is dumped on Asians after this year’s failure of rice crop.

Yet another threat to Asia’s rice is from nano-rice. “A startling recent study reported by Georgia Miller, studying potential health impact of nano-technology, has shown that rice plants exposed to carbon fullerenes also transmit these nanomaterials to the next generation.’ [2] This can cause delay in flowering by one month and reduce seed setting rate by 4.6%.

Genetic engineering of seeds, genetically modified foods and Nano foods have raised widespread concerns in Asia over food security and health. It is another matter that the Mainstream Media in Asia is maintaining an unhealthy silence.

The 3.7 billion Asian rice consumers are major stakeholders in preserving rice farmers because they need rice not Syngenta or Bayer invented rice or Monsanto invented pigs, cows, tomato, or brinjal.

Rice farmers can still reverse the decline in Asia’s rice culture provided we all understand their true worth. Politicians and bureaucrats who take decisions on behalf of 3.7 billion Asians will have to seriously consider the manipulations of global food cartel and the long term impact on Asia’s food security and rice culture.

(14) El Nino Resurging in November 2009

http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=41302&src=imgrss

El Niño is experiencing a late-fall resurgence. Recent measurements of sea level height from the Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM)/Jason-2 oceanography satellite showed that a strong wave of warm water, known as a Kelvin wave, had spread from the western to the central and eastern Pacific. This warm wave appears as the large area of higher-than-normal sea surface heights in the area between 170 degrees east and 100 degrees west longitude. ...

Sea surface height is an indication of temperature because water expands slightly as it warms and contracts as it cools. The elevated sea levels in the central and eastern Pacific are equivalent to sea surface temperatures more than one to two degrees Celsius above normal (two to four degrees Fahrenheit). ...

Although El Niño means drought in some parts of the world, in other places it can bring drought relief. “In the American West, where we are struggling under serious drought conditions, this late-fall charge by El Niño is a pleasant surprise, upping the odds for much needed rain and an above-normal winter snowpack,” said oceanographer Bill Patzert of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

(15) El Nino for Australia until Autumn (northern Spring)

Hot and dry summer on the way

http://www.abc.net.au/rural/news/content/200911/s2740688.htm

Thursday, 12/11/2009

The weather bureau says the weather pattern El Nino is in full flight and will stick around until autumn.

El Nino often means less rainfall across much of south-east Australia, meaning it's going to be a hot and dry summer.

Doctor Karl Braganza, from the bureau's National Climate Centre, says it's not good news for farmers.

"Again it's looking dry, though parts of the country received rainfall during 2009," he says. ...

(16) El Nino intensifies Latin America drought

http://www.spacedaily.com/2006/091120081120.m2inttqi.html

MONTEVIDEO, Nov 18 (AFP) Nov 20, 2009

From a devastating food crisis in Guatemala to water cuts in Venezuela, El Nino has compounded drought damage across Latin America this year.

The occasional seasonal warming of central and eastern Pacific waters upsets normal weather patterns across the globe and occurs on average every two to five years.

Typically lasting around 12 months, El Nino reappeared once again in June.

Guatemalan authorities blamed it for the nation's worst drought in 30 years, which has left almost 500 people dead from hunger since the start of the year.

Around 36,000 hectares (90,000 acres) of corn and bean crops were lost, officials said.

"El Nino prolonged the period of drought, which provoked a reduction... in agricultural production, affecting around 2.5 million people," said Elisabeth Byrsla, spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Further south, Ecuador saw its worst drought in 40 years, officials said.

The government declared a 60-day state of emergency in the hydro-electric sector after water levels sunk in power station reservoirs.

Ice cream sellers in the capital Quito were among those hit as their produce melted during daily five-hour power cuts linked to an energy crisis set off by the drought.

To the east, Venezuela's water supplies dropped 25 percent below the population's needs, forcing restrictions -- including cuts of 48 hours per week -- until May, when the rainy season is forecast to return.

President Hugo Chavez asked Venezuelans to take three-minute showers and carry a torch, instead of switching on a light, during nighttime visits to the bathroom.

The drought has affected between 70 and 80 percent of key crops, including maize and rice in the heart of Venezuela's cereal production, according to Vicente Figuera, head of the Guarico Association of Cereal Producers and Cattle Breeders.

In Bolivia, at least 11,000 head of cattle died in recent weeks after some 20,000 hectares of crops, including maize and potatoes, were destroyed in the south, authorities said.

Farmers in Bolivia complained of going eight months without rain.

Water levels in Titicaca, the world's highest navigable lake, fell by 4.5 meters (five yards), according to Hernan Tuco, deputy civil defense minister.

Authorities dispatched massive water trucks in the worst hit provinces of the Andean nation.

Elsewhere, some 6,000 families were affected by the drought in the Chaco region of Paraguay, particularly indigenous populations, authorities said.

In neighboring Argentina, fires lasting several weeks burned through some 70,000 hectares of land during the worst drought in 50 years, according to officials in the central and northern Cordoba and Catamarca regions.

El Nino also contributed to an especially calm Atlantic hurricane season -- a welcome respite for Caribbean and southeastern US residents still recovering from a 2008 pounding.

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