Shaktichakra, the wheel of energies

Culture and systems of knowledge, cultivation and food, population and consumption


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2011 February 19

The updated estimates for foodgrain and commercial crops have been released by India’s Ministry of Agriculture. This is the first revision for 2011.

There are updated estimates for rice, wheat, coarse cereals and pulses, and also for oilseeds, cotton, jute and sugarcane.

I have updated my running spreadsheet with the new data. From the 2008-09 year the spreadsheet contains the advance estimates (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th/final estimates).

The spreadsheet also has the final crop production data back until 1997-98 – get it here.

2011 January 24

Forty-eight ministers of agriculture from countries large and small, poor and rich, met in Berlin to talk about food and about how people in their countries put two meals on the table. They ought to have got to grips with the prices question, they ought to have called for justice and equity, they ought to have represented what the poorest and most vulnerable in their countries want.

They didn’t. Instead, they have released one of the sorriest, weakest, most unfocused and pointless statements I have seen in recent years on the subject.

This piece of diplomatic puffery is called ‘Final Communiqué of the 3rd Berlin Agriculture Ministers’ Summit 2011 in Berlin on January 22nd 2011’.

It explains: “At the ‘3rd Berlin Agriculture Ministers’ Summit’, agriculture ministers from 48 countries came together to exchange experiences and ideas on how trade at local, regional and global level could contribute towards food security. They are convinced that sustainable and regional production and an integrated, rules-based trading system, are prerequisites for making food security and the right to food a practical reality’.

And there you have it. Trade is the most important ingredient, as far as these ministers can see, for food security. The integration of trade is what is needed, and a trading system (conveniently, such as the one they refer to several times in the following text) is the ultimate answer. Here are the paragraphs of their miserable output:

The agriculture ministers assembled in Berlin
– welcome the opportunity to have an open exchange about the role of trade in food security;
– note that the development of the agricultural sector and rural areas plays a key role in meeting the needs of the growing global population for sufficient and nutritious food, and is inextricably linked with economic growth and the fight against poverty;
– emphasise the need to increase public and private investment in agriculture and rural development and to promote research and innovation;
– underline in this regard the responsibility of all governments to secure, and increase both quantitatively and qualitatively, national food production in accordance with national food security strategies;
– note further that, in view of scarce resources and increasing risks linked with climate change, global food security requires an integrated and sustainable approach for the development of agriculture and rural areas;
– affirm the outcome of the 2nd Berlin Agriculture Ministers’ Summit of 16 January 2010 on “Agriculture and Climate Change: Concept Proposals from Policymakers and Industry”
– emphasise the key importance of the development of local and regional markets for strengthening value creation in the agricultural sector and for facilitating a dynamic development of rural areas;
– affirm that linking agricultural producers to markets and cross-border integration of regional markets can contribute towards food security and participation of agriculture in the global economic development;
– underline in this regard the importance of functioning and fair competition for the participation of producers in value creation at local, regional and global levels;
– pay due regard to the fact that smallholder farmers in developing countries need particular support to integrate themselves better into local, regional and global markets;
– acknowledge the role of trade in creating a balance between the different levels and actors;
– highlight the role that functioning markets play in the trading system;
– see the necessity of supporting developing countries in overcoming technical and institutional obstacles to trade;
– stand by the aim of creating fair and balanced rules for the agricultural sector within the Doha Development Round;
– appeal in this regard to the chief negotiators at the WTO to bring the Doha Development Round to a timely, ambitious and balanced conclusion and to bear in mind its contribution to global food security, especially in the poorest countries;
– regard free and transparent price formation as a key prerequisite for markets to function;
– are considering, in view of the price volatility on agricultural markets evident throughout the world, reinforcing the importance of risk-protection measures;
– are concerned that excessive price volatility and speculation on international agricultural markets might constitute a threat to food security;
– welcome the initiative of France to put this issue at the agenda of the G-20;
– appeal to the Heads of State and Governments in the G 20 and the relevant international organisations to endeavour to strengthen the ability of agricultural markets to function properly, to improve market transparency and market information and to fight the abuse and manipulation of prices.

Note the heavy-handed propaganda techniques employed in this communiqué. “Economic growth” appears early, in the second para, and is found to be “inextricably linked” with the provision of sufficient and nutritious food.
Note that private investment appears in the third para and the ministers emphasise that it must increase. Of course R&D is all done privately now, and national agricultural research systems must be arm-twisted to turn over their best and brightest to the agribiz giants.
Note that “climate change”, some muddy notion of “responsibility” and an equally muddy notion of “sustainable” comes early in the communiqué. This is done so that the environmentalists cannot fault the ministers for ignoring ground realities, but is not explained by any operational directives arising out of this meeting.
Note that the term “integrated” is used early. I’ll explain the significance below.
Note that “markets” makes its first appearance in the text in para eight, and here “integration” is immediately linked to this term in the following para. This is sought to be justified by invoking ideas of food security and “global economic development”.
Note that “value creation” comes next as a keyword, and is attached to the idea of “producers” (who i am sure are not meant to be smallholder farmers) and the familiar tautology of “fair competition”.
Note that “smallholder” does in fact turn up in the following para (ten) but only as a recipient of “due regard” and only provided they “integrate” themselves with markets.
Note that “trade” is the glue which, in this view of the agricultural world, binds everything together.
Note that “markets” and a “trading system” are important enough to be in a puff para together.
Note that developing countries must be “supported” in the primary quest to remove “technical” and “institutional” “obstacles” to – what else? – trade.
Note that the Doha Development Round (which collapsed unceremoniously) is resurrected in para 14 as the new champion of this global agricultural vision.
Note that in para 15 the Doha Development Round is further held up as being a signal contributor to “global food security” and that this is vital to “the poorest countries”, a precondition of which the WTO chief negotiators are strongly urged to recognise.
Note that “markets”, “price” and “free and transparent” all appear in the same para (16).
Note that “price volatility” follows immediately thereafter, as being evident throughout the world (now just how did all that happen?) and therefore “risk-protection” measures are required (such as markets, of course).
Note that the statement ends with a hurried hodge-podge of a conclusion and a fireworks of “market” and “price”.

If you have the stomach for such vacuous declaiming, the original statement is here.

2010 September 16

Here in one convenient Excel file is the annual data from the release of Advance Estimates of crop production for India. This is from the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, and is usually posted on the website of the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation.

The file contains the annual estimates for 1997-98 to 2006-07, two advance estimates for 2007-08 and the full four advance estimates for 2008-09 and 2009-10. These are for all major crops covered by the Ministry: rice, wheat, jowar, bajra, maize, ragi, small millets, barley, coarse cereals, cereals, tur, gram, urad, moong, pulses, kharif, rabi, groundnut, castorseed, sesamum, nigerseed, rapeseed, mustard, linseed, safflower, sunflower, soyabean, oilseeds, cotton, jute, mesta and sugarcane.


Written by makanaka

September 16, 2010 at 00:33

2 Responses

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  1. […] such as the one they refer to several times in the following text) is the ultimate answer. The paragraphs of their mercantile output have been added to the agriculture page. When you read […]

  2. […] The spreadsheet also has the final crop production data back until 1997-98. You’ll find more on the agriculture page. […]

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