ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Biotechnology and Pro-Poor Agricultural Development

Until now the debate on agricultural biotechnology mainly focused on the environmental impact, biosafety issues and intellectual property rights. This paper looks at the nature of commercialised biotech products, the changing locus of agricultural research, the emerging market failures in biotech product development, and the likely impact on poverty and employment. The evidence shows that Bt cotton is scale neutral and profitable to all groups of farmers. But research in biotechnology is mainly in the hands of a few large multinational companies which focus on crops and traits that are significant to the developed countries and not the resource-poor farmers. The public sector, therefore, must step in to pursue basic research that will benefit the poorer farmers.

Economics of Handloom Weaving: A Field Study in Andhra Pradesh

Based on fieldwork, this paper examines the problems and prospects of the handloom sector in Andhra Pradesh. One major finding is that the growth performance of cooperatives determines the growth of other institutions - the master weavers, middle men and independent weavers. Well-performing cooperatives are the best safeguard for the handloom sector, as they protect the weaver and also provide a counterbalance to the master weaver. Competition from powerlooms is an obvious threat, but this can be countered if the sector produces high value, unique (brand value) products or medium value products which can be marketed locally or abroad, as distinct from powerloom products.

Agriculture: Absence of a Big Push

What are the implications of the loan waiver announced in the budget 2008-09? How well has the budget tackled the core issues in agriculture?

Revising Estimates of Poverty

One of the criticisms of the official poverty line is that it does not capture the cost of basic necessities, particularly non-food components such as health and education. This issue gains importance due to an increase in household private expenditure on education and health services in recent years. This article estimates poverty ratios at the all India level and for the states in 2004-05 by including the minimum private expenditure on health and education. The estimated poverty ratios are substantially higher than the official poverty ratios.

Safety Net Programmes: Outreach and Effectiveness

The safety net programmes, which are designed with three main purposes, protection (ex post), insurance (ex ante) and poverty alleviation, offer help to households during a period of crisis. This article evaluates the efficiency, awareness, participation, targeting and distributive outcomes of these programmes, based on household/village-level surveys conducted in Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka. In addition, the article pays special attention to the functioning of village-level institutions and social capital. Besides giving an overview of the risks and shocks faced by households in these states, the article shows that the current safety net programmes do not seriously address the health risk. , , ,

No 'New Deal' for Farm Revival

Finance minister P Chidambaram claims that Budget 2007 addresses the challenges confronting Indian agriculture. How true is this claim?

Poverty and Inequality: All-India and States, 1983-2005

With published data available from the 61st round (2004-05) of the National Sample Survey, analysis over the period 1983-2005 shows unambiguously that in spite of higher overall growth, the extent of decline in poverty in the post-reform period (1993-2005) has not been higher than in the pre-reform period (1983-1993). The second clear conclusion is that inequality has increased significantly in the post-reform period and seems to have slowed down the rate of poverty reduction. However, changes in poverty in the two sub-periods of the post-reform era, based on mixed reference period data from the NSS, suggest that the extent of decline in 1999-05 seems to have been higher than in 1993-2000, which is surprising given that the latter years witnessed slower growth in agriculture. This needs to be further investigated.

Financial Inclusion: Issues and Challenges

Financial inclusion is important for improving the living conditions of poor farmers, rural non-farm enterprises and other vulnerable groups. Financial exclusion, in terms of lack of access to credit from formal institutions, is high for small and marginal farmers and some social groups. Apart from formal banking institutions, which should look at inclusion both as a business opportunity and social responsibility, the role of the self-help group movement and microfinance institutions is important to improve financial inclusion. This requires new regulatory procedures and depoliticisation of the financial system.

Social Development in India

in India India: Social Development Report by Council for Social Development; published by Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2006; S MAHENDRA DEV Since independence, the government of India has claimed that it has wanted to work towards social development. On the eve of independence, Jawaharlal Nehru, while addressing the constituent assembly, declared that the independence meant the redemption of a pledge. But he also stated that this achievement

Policies and Programmes for Employment

The experience of the last 15 years has been that GDP growth has not been accompanied by a commensurate increase in employment. This article examines current policies and programmes for employment generation, along with an analysis of the trends and challenges. It also discusses direct employment programmes, including social security for unorganised workers.

Half-hearted Attention to Agriculture

Many more incentives, programmes and policy corrections than have been announced in the budget are required if yearly agricultural growth is to accelerate from 1.5 per cent to 4 per cent.

Food Processing and Contract Farming in Andhra Pradesh

This paper analyses various problems faced by the food processing sector in Andhra Pradesh, especially in instances of contract farming, with a focus on oil palm and gherkin. While contract farming has largely solved the problem of supply of quality raw material, cultivators of both crops have their own needs, which in some instances processors are unable or unwilling to meet. Oil palm growers, for instance, are keen on an assured minimum price while gherkin growers are totally dependent on export demand. Processors have also neglected the smaller farmers. Hence, some form of government intervention to ensure contracts are enforced and compiled with, is the need of the hour.

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