Recent advances in agricultural technology have helped increase India’s grain production through developments including high-yield seeds for the past five years, Reuters reports. With all this excess food, it would appear that a solution to the Indian hunger problem has been found.
But there’s a big problem — India’s storage facilities have not kept up with the grain’s pace of development. As a result, grain surpluses are now being stored outside, where the chances of rotting drastically increase.
This inefficient system has deadly consequences. Instead of the grain filling the bellies of hungry Indians, it is feeding rodents and insects, growing fungus, and decomposing. Just this year, officials estimate that 6 million tons of India’s grain worth $1.5 billion could become inedible, according to Reuters. This is while 43 percent of children under 5 are underweight, according to UNICEF. Reuters reports that 3,000 children die every day from illnesses related to malnutrition.
Bureaucratic inefficiencies and corruption are what hinder distribution to the hungry. Stories of corruption include distributors basically “cutting” the grain, mixing rotting grain with fresh grain and selling it on the market. Then there is what India’s press is calling the “mother of all scams,” with hundreds of government officials redirecting billions of dollars worth of grain away from the poor and into local and global markets.
Even in 2010, when the Supreme Court directed the government to give the grain to the hungry for free rather than let it rot, state governments ignored the request or only distributed grain with low, subsidized prices to people with ration cards.
While the grain is clearly not feeding hungry Indians, it is also not making the government any money either.
Due in part to “good” monsoons, the surplus’ real impetus is provided by government subsidies to farmers, creating incentive to harvest as many crops as possible, even when the supply outweighs the demand. With the inflated prices the government pays to farmers for the crops, exporting the surplus becomes a problem because of the much lower market value the crops garner in world markets.
According to the same Reuters article, the Indian government pays about $346 per ton. To be competitive in the market, a ton would have to sell for about $260. That $80 difference constitutes a huge loss for a government already running a high fiscal deficit. The crops don’t feed who they should and in the end, actually cost the government billions.
Organic farming in India is the form of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost and biological pest control. Organic farming is done using only natural and organic materials. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Increasing environmental awareness in the general population has transformed the originally supply-driven movement to a demand-driven one. Most of the western countries import coco peat blocs from India.
OFAI was set up by the Indian organic farming community, environmentalists and social activists in order to promote organic farming, lobby for its official adoption by the Indian government, assist farmers dependent on chemicals to convert to organic systems, help organic farmers with marketing their organic produce and advise its members on how to educate their children outside the urban-oriented school system so that they could be excellent stewards of the lands they inherit.
Advantages of using organic foods
- Health: Organic foods are produced without the use of pesticides that could cause serious illnesses
- Good for the animals: People who eat organic are happy to know the animals are not confined to a caged life, pumped full of hormones, or treated badly.
- Environmental Safety: Harmful chemicals are not used in organic farming, and there is minimal soil, air, and water pollution being produced. Also, many organic farmers donate/support causes to help save the planet.
- Better taste: Most people strongly believe organic foods taste better than non-organic foods. This could be because they are much fresher.
Many people are realizing the benefits of eating organic and are trying to do their part by buying all of their foods organic.