As 30 million hectares India's cultivable land goes saline, activists demand ecological, income security for farmers

Kirankumar Vissa, Kavitha Kuruganti
About 13 per cent of India’s 159.7 million hectares cultivable land has gone saline over the last three decades, mainly due to the use of ecologically “unsustainable” agricultural practices promoted by India’s Central and state governments and adopted by farmers. Revealing this, Kirankumar Vissa of the Rytha Swarajya Vedika, working in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, told CV News on the sidelines of the fourth Kisan Swaraj Sammelan, which ended on Sunday at Gujarat Vidyapeeth, yet another problem India’s agriculturists are against because of the climate change is desertification.
“In Anandpur district of Andhra Pradesh and Mehboobnagar district of Telengana, where we are working, we already witness a huge fertility soil loss because of salinity and desertification”, Vissa, who is national co-convener of the ASHA-Kisan Swaraj Alliance, said, insisting on the need to adopt ecologically sensitive policies as a way out of this grave situation. “A large number of alternatives have been worked out by farmers themselves for soil and water conservation could be adopted for policy change”, he added.
Talking with CV News, Kavitha Kuruganti, represented the Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA), Bangalore, one of the organizers of the three-day seminar, pointed towards the need to provide income security to the farming community. “We discussed the issue threadbare at the seminar. We have also worked out way on how to do it. You don’t need any extra funds in state and Union budgets for this. All you need to do is to divert subsidy funds under various schemes for providing income security for the farmers”, said.
Clarifying that income security is very different from the funds made available for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Kuruganti said, this could happen by “partially diverting” Rs 70,000 crore fertilizer subsidy, Rs 35,000 crop insurance subsidy, Rs 35,000 crore as interest subsidy, and Rs 18,000 crore subsidy given during natural disasters. “Income security to farmers is being provided in some European countries. One should study these models, and work out a model for India”, she added.

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