The network of mandis needs to be improved and strengthened, not dismantled

Devinder Sharma points out that the dominant economic growth model promotes the industrial farming model that created the global food crisis in first instance: soil health devastated, excessive mining of groundwater drying aquifers and a food chain contaminated by chemical pesticides. 

Undeterred by this, business leaders from 17 private companies – including Archer Daniels Midland, BASF, Cargill, Coca-Cola, DuPont, General Mills, Kraft Foods, Monsanto, Nestlé, PepsiCo, SABMiller, Syngenta, Unilever, and Wal-Mart – announced the launch of a global initiative at the World Economic Forum at Davos in the last week of January a ”New Vision for Agriculture”. 

The initiative is backed by the United States Agency for International Development [USAID]. Administrator Rajiv Shah said at Davos: “We are witnessing an unparalleled opportunity right now for innovative, large-scale private sector partnerships to achieve significant impact on global hunger and nutrition.” 

The Indian Agricultural Produce Market Committee [APMC] has amended the 2005 Act so that not only wheat and rice but fruit, vegetables and grains no longer go to rural markets [mandis – pictured]. More about the system here

Sharma fears: “the procurement system is set for a breakdown . . . It is actually passing on the control of food into the hands of a few big players, who can then manipulate the prices at will. The nation needs to understand the dangerous game being played.” 

His recommendation: “the network of mandis have helped farmers realise a fair and better price for their produce.

This system needs to be improved and strengthened, not dismantled”- good advice for all countries.

Source: Devinder Sharma, Ground Reality at 3/01/2011 and published in Governance Now, New Delhi, March 1-15, 2011.

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