Category Archives: Country: India

AFA member SEWA signs MOU with FAO


[FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva and Reema Nanavaty, Director, Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) at the signing ceremony. (c) FAO]

New AFA member SEWA in India has signed a memorandum of understanding last September 13 with FAO “to intensify joint efforts aimed at building the capacities of the rural poor to fully benefit from rural economies, with particular emphasis on ensuring that women and youth are engaged and empowered.” This was announced by FAO in its website and shared by SEWA to AFA in an e-mail. Read the full story from FAO below.

FAO and India’s SEWA join efforts to empower rural women and youth

New agreement aims to ensure capacity development, farmers’ access to productive resources, knowledge exchange

13 September 2016, Rome – India’s Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) and FAO are strengthening their collaboration to boost rural development and reduce poverty in Asia and Africa via local initiatives focused on empowering rural women and youth.

Building on years of successful partnership, the two organizations have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) today to intensify joint efforts aimed at building the capacities of the rural poor to fully benefit from rural economies, with particular emphasis on ensuring that women and youth are engaged and empowered. Healthy and vibrant rural economies are an important engine that can drive improvements in food security and nutrition, according to the two organizations.

The MoU was signed by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva and SEWA Director Reema Nanavaty.

“This Memorandum of Understanding will help us improve our cooperation, particularly to increase access to productive resources and services, to expand possibilities for the rural poor, and to generate knowledge about the situation of rural women and youth”, said Graziano da Silva.

Nanavaty said that in the years to come FAO and SEWA would focus their efforts on generating more employment and decent jobs, strengthening livelihoods, and making agriculture climate-resilient and climate-smart.

Scaling up joint efforts

Sharing the common objective of reducing rural poverty and ensuring food security, FAO’s and SEWA’s approaches are different yet complementary and will benefit all concerned.

While FAO contributes to improving the livelihoods of poor rural farmers through policy and programme support, setting standards and generating knowledge, SEWA aims to empower marginalized rural women and informal sector workers through grassroots campaigns and social mobilization, and ensuring their access to services.

Both organizations have agreed to broaden the scope of their cooperation not only to benefit rural women and youth in the countries where they are currently operating, but also to generate online tools and technical materials for use by other countries that face similar challenges in their efforts to reduce rural poverty.

Core areas where FAO and SEWA will work together include: promoting the exchange of experiences and knowledge between the different regions in Asia and Africa on good practices for promoting the inclusion of women and youth in rural economies; enhancing rural women’s access to financial resources and technologies; and establishing sound governance practices, gender equality measures and advocacy strategies to stimulate pro-poor policy change.

As part of their engagement, FAO and SEWA are developing an action plan designed to improve livelihoods, decision-making and the sustainability of rural populations.

Registered as a trade union in India since 1972, SEWA is a membership organization of 1.9 million poor self-employed women workers. Its primary focus is building the capacities of marginalized women farmers, while at the same time enhancing their access to financial resources and social protection mechanisms.

FAO’s Strategic Framework places strong emphasis on supporting rural communities to fight poverty, hunger and malnutrition, with a special focus on women, youth and other marginalized groups. It contributes to global standard setting and provides policy and technical programme support to countries.

Gender issues in the spotlight

Today’s MoU comes ahead of a high-level event, “Stepping It Up Together for Rural Women to End Hunger and Malnutrition,” which will take place 16 December in Rome and is being co-organized by FAO, the Slovak Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the European Commission in close collaboration with key UN partners.

Gender equality and women’s empowerment issues are at the centre of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In addition to the stand-alone SDG 5 “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”, they are mainstreamed across all the global goals.


In the News (India): CEPA with Japan lacks transparency: Farmer groups

NEW DELHI: A common platform of several farmers groups, the Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements, has charged the Central government with complete lack of transparency on the implications of the proposed Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement or CEPA with Japan and the inclusion of agriculture on its agenda.

“Such EPAs, like other FTAs, go beyond what cannot be negotiated under the WTO and we are openly opposed to agriculture in the WTO, in EPAs or FTAs,” the Committee has said in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Commerce minsiter Anand Sharma and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar.

Demanding that the full text of the CEPA be discussed with State governments and debated in Parliament first, the Committee has also expressed apprehension that the CEPA could encroach on the rights of farmers as plant breeders and seed consumers as outlined in the PV&FR Act, 2001 (Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act of 2001). Japanese seed companies could gain stealthy entry into the already crisis-ridden Indian agriculture sector by way of the CEPA, it said.. .

Read the full story at The Economic Times

In the News: Indian FTAs may hit SE Asian ryots

Mumbai: While India mulls another free trade agreement (FTA) with Australia and New Zealand, its FTAs with European Union and Japan remains shrouded in uncertainty with its decisions regarding intellectual property (IP) rights likely to impact not just India, but other developing South East Asian countries as well.

According to people closely tracking the FTAs, there is strong pressure on India to join the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) -1991, which would make Indian farmers pawns of multinational companies engaged in crop research.

Joining UPOV-1991 would crush farmers’ privileges to share,
exchange, and sell plant variety protection (PVP) seeds to other farmers.

PVP guarantees IP protection to plant varieties developed by
agricultural multinationals. The objective of UPOV is to protect new varieties of plants by IP. Harmonisation of PVP across the Asia
Pacific region is the aim of developed economies through FTAs, say experts.

Read the full story at DNA India

In the News: Green Revolution in India Wilts as Subsidies Backfire

SOHIAN, India—India’s Green Revolution is withering.

In the 1970s, India dramatically increased food production, finally allowing this giant country to feed itself. But government efforts to continue that miracle by encouraging farmers to use fertilizers have backfired, forcing the country to expand its reliance on imported food.

India has been providing farmers with heavily subsidized fertilizer for more than three decades. The overuse of one type—urea—is so degrading the soil that yields on some crops are falling and import levels are rising. So are food prices, which jumped 19% last year. The country now produces less rice per hectare than its far poorer neighbors: Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Agriculture’s decline is emerging as one of the hottest political issues in the world’s biggest democracy.

Read the full story at The Wall Street Journal

In the News: The Tragedy of Farmers Suicides in India

Last week, a blog I wrote entitled 1500 Farmers Commit Suicide: A Wake Up Call for Humanity was virally shared online, and was the featured story on the home page of Huffington Post. Referencing a story from The Independent that was vague on details and called them “mass” suicides, undoubtedly, I participated in the sensationalization of this story. But, for this I do not apologize.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau of India, 182,936 Indian farmers have committed suicide between 1997 -2007. It estimates 46 Indian farmers kill themselves every day – that is, roughly one suicide every 30 minutes. An estimated 16,625 farmers across India killed themselves in 2007, the last year that was reported. The numbers are horrifying, and they indicate the sense of despair that the poorest people in the world are facing today.

The current fate of farmers in India is a tangled hierarchy that involves politics, agro-business, multinationals, trade liberalization, global subsidies, the environment, water, ethics, and human rights. Activists point out the role of agrochemicals, particularly genetically engineered seeds, that have been aggressively marketed to Indian farmers by companies like Monsanto–an American multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation that also wields a powerful influence on the farming practices in America.

Read the full article at The Huffington Post

In the News: Flood-Resistant Rice Aids Farmers in South Asia

Most rice grows in wet environments, but too much water can be disastrous for rice crops. Plant biologist Pamela Ronald helped create a type of flood-resistant rice that is being introduced to India and Bangladesh. In Davis, California, we spoke with Ronald about her new rice and its promise for small farmers in South Asia.

Most rice plants will die if submerged for just three days, but the new variety can withstand two weeks of flooding. Ronald, a plant pathologist at the University of California, Davis, says it can make a crucial difference in a region where subsistence farmers grow rice to feed their families and four million tons of rice is lost each year to flooding. That is enough to feed 30 million people.

Pamela Ronald developed the new rice strain with a colleague at the International Rice Research Institute near Manila, David Mackill, and another scientist at the University of California Riverside, Julia Bailey-Serres.

Read more at VOA news

In the News: Indian Farmer Leader Dr Krishan Bir Chaudhary Busts Pesticide Cos Racket

(From the Indian Society for Sustainable Agriculture)

Indian farmer leader, Dr Krishan Bir Chaudhary and his team at Bharatiya Krishak Samaj (Indian Farmers’ Organisation) recently busted the dangerous racket of leading pesticide and insecticide companies in selling sub-standard pesticides to farmers. Here are some of the clippings from country’s leading newspapers —–

Continue reading In the News: Indian Farmer Leader Dr Krishan Bir Chaudhary Busts Pesticide Cos Racket