Archive for ‘farmers’

08/02/2019

Feature: Returning to organic farming: next generation of Chinese farmers

BEIJING, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) — Wang Xin, 33, is a landscape designer by profession and farmer in practice. The strawberries coming from his organic plantation in the southern outskirts of Beijing are believed by his clients to be “the best of China.”

Every day in Beijing, when men and women of his age are sucked in heavy traffic and endless meetings, Wang lives a life in the countryside, far from the maddening crowd.

He rises with the sun, works all day in the field or goes to farmers’ market to sell fresh produce. At the end of the day, he goes to bed with sore muscles and falls into a deep sleep.

He does not take the time to consider whether it is hard work, preferring to get on with the job. “It has become a lifestyle. This is the life I chose to live.”

In a country where food is so central to the culture, many well-educated city dwellers like Wang have returned to the countryside to dedicate themselves to fresher, healthier food.

RESEARCH FARMERS

Every Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday, Wang brings freshly-picked strawberries to the organic farmers’ market in Beijing. The fruits are grown naturally in nutrient-rich soil, without use of fertilizers, pesticides, growth hormones or chemicals.

“I don’t plan to be filthy rich, or I wouldn’t have gone for organic farming,” Wang said. With his firm athletic build and healthy tan, it is hard to imagine him the designer who used to spend days and nights in front of a computer screen.

Majoring in landscape botany, Wang has always been a plant lover. When he was 25, he realized his sedentary life made him put on weight, and he could no longer stand being an office drone. He quit his job, rented two plantation sheds in the suburbs and started his career from scratch.

On Tuesday, Wang presented this winter’s first batch of fruit he planted in September. But work had begun in July, when he prepared all-natural organic matter to enrich the soil.

The formula has been perfected through years of research in collaboration with Beijing University of Agriculture, to simulate the formation of the fertile dark forest soil in Northeast China, known for its high crop productivity.

Logically, the true foundation of organic farming lies in soil content: if the soil is right – as a living organism with a complex organic structure – the outcome is safe and tasty food farmed without the need for fertilizing chemicals, according to Wang.

But quality produce is not the only objective. Wang hopes to build a production model that rehabilitates the soil itself – in regular plantations, the soil can degrade within a matter of years after being over-exploited.

Wang’s work on the farm has not always been a smooth ride. But after a rough start he believes he has learned valuable lessons. He has gone back to the university and visited his colleagues in Tochigi Prefecture, Japan, to study the most modern organic farming techniques.

“For the organic farming to become truly sustainable, to revitalize the soil is key. I am certain that in three to four years, the soil that I have been reviving will keep getting healthier and healthier,” he said.

Wang is not alone.

In Araxan, a semi-arid region located in northwest China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Ma Yanwei has spent years reinvigorating saline soil by applying water-saving methods to cultivate fruit and crops suitable for local conditions.

Sweet melon is the best-selling produce on Ma’s farm. The sweetness of the melons comes from many years of study, experiment and hard work in the desert. Ma aims to find an ideal organic farming methodology to maximize the utilization of scarce water resources and mend the soil. “As long as the soil improves, it is natural to harvest healthy produce,” Ma said.

In the last six years, he has seen more and more young people returning to the countryside to take on farming. In 2017 Ma set up a network for these new farmers to communicate, exchange experience and help each other. “So we could avoid longer detours and mistakes previously made by others,” he said.

AN IDYLLIC FARM REBUILT

For 18 years, Zhang Zhimin, a former foreign trade expert, has been building an idyllic farm in the far southwestern end of Beijing to produce food and preserve biodiversity.

Zhang speaks several languages, so was designated to work in food imports and exports when China opened its market to the world outside. She believes that “agriculture is the art of man and nature working together.”

On her bio-farm, the nature rules over man. Instead of eliminating weeds and pests, the wholesome biosphere works on its own to render seasonal harvests.

“Agriculture is the management of life, and life should be nourished by life itself,” she said. On her farm Heaven’s Blessings, trees, bushes, grass, insects, birds and cattle coexist in harmony. It is more like a habitat than a farm. In early summer she chops tender leaves and branches of weed under peach trees to feed the cattle and make room for the gramineous crops to thrive. In early autumn, she let cows roam free to finish the weeding.

In Wang’s vegetable shed, the natural ecosystem works for the harvest to be healthy while no intervention from the outside is necessary.

“I have observed that the grass that coexists with the crops functions as a regulating factor of the microclimate by keeping the soil humid,” Wang said.

Also, a native breed of spiders that leaves webs among the vegetables, feeds on the whiteflies that are usually hard to detect due to their miniscule size, preventing the need for harmful insecticides.

Wang has also gone back to ancient Chinese agricultural traditions to find inspiration to better coordinate human actions with nature, after learning the latest farming models in Japan, Germany and Israel.

At a “Farmers’ Assembly” held in China Agricultural University (CAU) last month, Professor Meng Fanqiao with CAU’s College of Resources and Environmental Sciences said organic/ecological farming is an important measure to improve the quality and safety of agricultural products.

“Organic/ecological farming is of vital significance for economic development as well as environmental protection in rural areas, for which it should play an imperative role in China’s rural revitalization and the building of an ‘ecological civilization,'” Meng said.

“The green development of the countryside is a strategy that goes hand-in-hand with the food supply security and the income level improvement,” said Jin Shuqin with the Ministry of Agriculture’s Research Center for Rural Economy. “To revivify ecology constitutes a crucial aspect of overall rural revitalization.”

“It is our hope to promote healthy eating to become a mainstream choice, as well as the organic way to produce healthy foods,” said Ma Xiaochao, project officer with Know Your Food, a self-publishing community focused on food sustainability.

Source: Xinhua

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06/02/2019

Stray cows add to Modi’s farmer woes as Indian election looms

KAKRIPUR/MAHABAN, India (Reuters) – As night fell on the bucolic northern Indian hamlet of Mahaban, Gopi Chand Yadav gathered blankets and a flashlight to spend the night sitting on a wooden platform in his field. His task: to use bamboo sticks to ward off stray cattle from intruding and eating a maturing mustard crop.

Like Yadav, many thousands of farmers stay awake to guard their farms over a cold winter or face losing their crops to the cattle – a double whammy for growers already reeling from a plunge in Indian crop prices.

While stray cows ambling around towns and villages have always been a feature of life in rural India, farmers say their number has increased sharply in recent years to the extent that they have become a menace, and blame the policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government.

Protecting cows – considered sacred to Hindus – was one of the measures meant to shore up support in the heavily populated, Hindi-speaking belt across northern India that has been a heartland of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP). Instead, it is creating a backlash, even among Hindu farmers.

“We already had enough problems and now the government has created one more,” said octogenarian farmer Baburao Saini from Kakripur village, about 85 kilometres (50 miles) from New Delhi. “For the first time, we’ve been forced to stay in the fields to protect our crops.”

More than 50 farmers Reuters spoke to in Mahaban and nine other villages in Uttar Pradesh state said they would think twice before voting for Modi’s BJP in the next general election, due by May. The cattle issue and low farm prices are major reasons behind their disillusionment with a party that most say they voted for in the last election in 2014.

Modi swept Uttar Pradesh at that poll, winning 73 of 80 seats in India’s most populous state, with rural voters swayed by a promise of higher crop prices, and as Hindu farmers supported the BJP amid tensions with the minority Muslim community.

COW PROTECTION

Modi is trying hard to claw back support among India’s 263 million farmers and their many millions of dependents after the BJP lost power in December to the opposition Congress in three big northern states where agriculture is a mainstay.

Indian farmers keep cows to produce milk, cheese and butter, but to harm or kill a cow, especially for food, is considered taboo by most Hindus.

Most states in India have long outlawed cow slaughter, but after coming to power in 2014 the BJP ratcheted up its distaste for trade in cattle, launching a crackdown on unlicensed abattoirs in Uttar Pradesh and on cattle smuggling nationwide.

At the same time, a wave of attacks on trucks carrying cattle by Hindu vigilante groups has scared away traders, most of whom are Muslims, bringing to a halt the trade even in bullocks, which are not considered sacred. Rising sales of tractors and increasing mechanisation mean that more animals are redundant for use in farming.

The farmers Reuters spoke to said they revered cows as most devout Hindus would, but a sudden halt in the trade of cattle had hit the rural economy. In their view, the government should come up with more cow shelters and let cattle traders deal in other animals without fear of attack.

“The government has only enforced the laws by closing down unlicensed abattoirs and cracking down on cattle smuggling,” said BJP spokesman Gopal Krishna Agarwal, who added that he runs a cow shelter of 1,300 cattle. “We’re not trying to hurt either any community or the rural economy.”

CROP TRAMPLED

Fodder prices have gone up by more than a third in the past year and most farmers cannot afford to keep cows after they stop producing milk, said farmer Rajesh Pahalwan as he smoked a hookah pipe in the village of Manoharpur. Six farmers sitting with him mainly nodded in agreement.

In India, the world’s biggest milk producer, about 3 million cattle become unproductive every year. In the past, Hindu farmers would sell unproductive cows to Muslim traders and about 2 million of these would end up smuggled to Bangladesh for meat and leather. But that trade has now been throttled by the government crackdown, trade and industry officials say.

That has led to many unproductive cattle being abandoned, farmers said, but governments – both state and federal – have failed to construct new shelters, leaving rising numbers of stray cattle that are feeding on crops, or even garbage.

“The government clearly did not think of alternatives before putting these curbs in place,” said farmer Deepak Chaudhary, who grows wheat on the outskirts of Mathura, considered to be the birthplace of the Hindu God Krishna. “As Hindus, we treat cows as sacred but these unwarranted measures have upended the economics of farming.”

The government did provide some relief in its interim budget last week as it announced a cow welfare programme costing 7.50 billion rupees (80.79 million pounds) in the year beginning April.

But there are hardly any “adequate measures to rehabilitate” cattle, said Fauzan Alvi, vice-president of the All India Meat and Livestock Exporters Association.

“Forget about cows, we cannot sell even a single animal to even our relatives thanks to cow vigilante groups which are aided and abetted by the BJP,” said the wheat farmer Chaudhary.

Modi has in the past condemned violence by cow vigilantes, but critics and opposition politicians say some of the right-wing Hindu groups involved have links to his party, a charge the BJP denies.

Nearly 85 percent of India’s farmers own less than 2 hectares (5 acres) of land, so even a relatively small area damaged has a big impact on their livelihood.

Only two weeks ago, some cattle ravaged an acre of wheat grown by farmer Chandra Pal in the Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh.

“My investment went down the drain after some stray cattle trampled and ate up the crop,” he said.

Many farmers in Uttar Pradesh are now using barbed wire to stop animals from entering their farms, but that is expensive.

“We have been at the receiving end of anti-farmer policies of the government and the problem of stray cattle is just another blow to us,” said farmer Amar Chand, from Maholi village who voted for Modi in 2014. “Unlike the previous general election, farmers are not solidly behind Modi, who’s on shaky ground this time round.”

Source: Reuters

04/02/2019

CBI vs Kolkata Police: Mamata Banerjee addresses farmers from protest venue, accuses PM Modi of taking away democratic rights

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee continued her dharna against the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) move against the Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar in connection with ponzi scam cases.

SNS Web | New Delhi | 

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee continued her dharna against the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) move against the Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar in connection with ponzi scam cases.

Accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah of unleashing a state of “emergency” in the country, Banerjee, the chief of Trinamool Congress (TMC), said on Monday that her protest is a Satyagraha and she will continue till the country is saved.

Banerjee has been on a sit-in at a makeshift dais at Dharamtala area near Metro Channel of the city since 9 pm on Saturday.

“The nation can see but they can’t speak out of fear,” she said, further accusing the Centre of playing vendetta politics.

“The Modi govt has taken away the democratic rights of the people,” Banerjee said, adding, “Centre is targeting opposition.”

Banerjee, who was scheduled meet farmers today at the Netaji Indoor Stadium, addressed them from the protest site over Facebook Live.

“The Modi government has sucked the blood of the farmers. Around 12,000 farmers have committed suicide,” she alleged.

Banerjee said that her government works for farmers’ welfare.

Commenting on crop insurance schemes for the farmers, Banerjee claimed that the state government has done more than the Modi government in this regard.

“Modi says he has sent money. He hasn’t. Eighty per cent of the money contributed into the scheme is of the state government. We pay the share of both the state government and that of the farmers. We have given Rs 600 crores. We have given Kisan credit card to 70 lakh farmers,” Banerjee said.

Further hitting at the Modi government, Banerjee said that the Modi government, after 5 years, says that farmer income will double by 2022.

“I say with pride, we have tripled the income already. The West Bengal govt is way ahead,” she told the gathering and the farmers.

“Those who try to insult Bengal should know that we consider work as dharma and karma. Doing lip-service is not enough. I will appeal to the farmer brothers and sisters to not allow anyone to exploit your weaknesses for political gains,” she said.

Opposition support

Banerjee’s sit-in, now dubbed ‘Save The Constitution’, received wide support from anti-BJP parties except a few from across the country.

Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav said that Banerjee is right when she says that the BJP is using CBI to target political opponents.

“Besides West Bengal, such things have been heard from other states too. BJP and Centre have started misusing CBI as elections are approaching. Not only I, not only Samajwadi Party, but all political parties are saying this,” he said on Monday.

“There was CBI row, centre was scared of a CBI director, now they are trying to scare everyone using CBI. Who has misused? The institutions. If someone has politicised the institutions, it is BJP,” Yadav said.

The former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister recently formed an alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to take on the BJP in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. He was also among the leaders present at the mega anti-BJP rally organised by Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata on 19 January.

Extending support of the National Conference (NC), Farooq Abdullah said, “Her (Mamata Banerjee) allegation is right. This country is in danger as its becoming dictatorial. They (Central govt) are not masters of this country, people are.”

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav and DMK leader M K Stalin were among leaders who expressed their solidarity with Banerjee in tweets.

Kejriwal called Modi-Shah duo’s action is against democracy.

“Spoke to Mamta didi and expressed solidarity. Modi-Shah duo’s action is completely bizarre and anti-democracy,” Kejriwal said.

Yadav, who also spoke to Banerjee, extended RJD’s support, “BJP has not only venomous and nefarious agenda against opposition leaders but Indian Administrative Service and Police Officers. Might visit Kolkata tomorrow,” he said on Sunday night.

Stalin said he stood with Banerjee in her fight to protect the federal structure of this country and to save democracy. “The independence of every institution has been compromised under this fascist BJP Government.”

Read More: Rahul, oppn leaders extend support to Mamata’s dharna against Centre; CPI (M) calls it ‘drama’

Congress president Rahul Gandhi too threw his weight behind Banerjee.

Sitaram Yechury, CPI(M) general secretary, said that corruption cases against TMC government in chit fund scam have been public for years but the Modi government chose to stay quiet as the top mastermind of the scam joined BJP.

“It does a drama to act now, after 5 years, and TMC leadership responds by staging a drama to protect its corrupt. This drama in Kolkata by BJP and TMC is not a fight for any principle but only to save their corrupt and hide their corruption. CPI(M) has fought both these undemocratic, corrupt, communal and dictatorial regimes in the Centre and the state and will continue to do so,” he said.

CBI vs Kolkata Police: How it began

The showdown began when CBI officials reached official residence of the police commissioner in the evening to question him in connection with the ponzi scam cases. Reports indicate that the probe agency sleuths were spotted in the vicinity in the afternoon, alerting the police who reached the Commissioner’s residence immediately.

Kolkata Police officials inquired if the 40-odd CBI officers had the documents required to question the CP.

After preventing the CBI officials from entering the residence of Commissioner Kumar, the police whisked away some of the sleuths to the Shakespeare Sarani police station for further discussions.

More CBI men arrived at the Loudon Street home of Rajeev Kumar and a commotion ensued. Some CBI men were then bundled into police jeeps and taken to the police station.

It was after this incident that Mamata Banerjee began a sit-in in front of the Metro Cinema to protest “insults” faced at the hands of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah. She accused both the BJP leaders of organising a “coup” on West Bengal.

The CBI on Monday moved the Supreme Court seeking directions to Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar to cooperate with the investigation.

Representing CBI, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta sought directions to Kumar to cooperate with the investigation and surrender all the evidence related to the chit fund case, stating that the top cop was a “potential accused”.

Read More: Kolkata Police chief a ‘potential accused’ in chit fund case, says CBI; SC to hear matter tomorrow

The CBI has claimed that Kumar has been instrumental in causing destruction of evidence and obstructing justice.

Meanwhile, on Monday, Home Minister Rajnath Singh told the Lok Sabha that the CBI action was initiated after the Supreme Court ordered an investigation into Saradha chit fund case.

“The Police Commissioner was summoned many times but he did not appear. West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi has summoned Chief Secretary and Director General of Police and has asked them to take immediate action to resolve the situation,” Singh told the House.

Read More: Governor Tripathi speaks to Rajnath Singh; agency to move Supreme Court

Banerjee is expected to hold a scheduled cabinet meeting at the protest venue itself. The events were expected to cast a shadow on the Budget Session of Parliament on Monday with the opposition expected to vociferously raise the issue.

Source: The Statesman
01/02/2019

2019 Budget Summary: Middle class gets tax relief, farmers get cash support in election budget

2019 Budget Summary: Finance minister Piyush Goyal announced relief in income tax and proposed a Rs 75,000-crore fund for assured income of around 12 crore farmers.

BUDGET Updated: Feb 01, 2019 16:40 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Budget 2019,Piyush Goyal,Income Tax
Finance Minister Piyush Goyal during his budget speech in the Lok Sabha on Friday.(Photo: Twitter/@ANI)

Finance Minister Piyush Goyal rolled out the government’s last budget ahead of this year’s national elections, announcing no tax on income up to Rs 5 lakh, a Rs 75,000 crore assured income scheme for small farmers and a mega pension scheme for workers in the unorganised sector. The initiatives are designed to woo the middle class, address farm distress and boost private investment in an effort to shore up the political base of ruling BJP-led national coalition that has been accused by the opposition of not delivering on its promises to the poor.

“India is solidly back on track and marching towards growth and prosperity,” Piyush Goyal said early in his budget speech, asserting that the government had succeeded in “we have broken the back of back-breaking inflation”.

He said the Narendra Modi government’s success in controlling inflation had put more money in the hands of people. “Inflation is a hidden and unfair tax, from 10.1 per cent during 2009-14,” he said.

Goyal announced exemption from tax on income of up to Rs 5 lakh per annum, which goes up to Rs 6.5 lakh if the individual tax payers invest Rs 1.5 lakh in provident fund and prescribed equities. He also proposed to increase the standard deduction from the existing Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000. The proposal will benefit 3 crore middle class tax payers.

The TDS (tax deduction at source) threshold on interest from bank, post office deposits has been raised from Rs 10,000 to Rs 40,000. The finance minister further proposed to increase the TDS threshold on rental income from Rs 1.8 lakh to Rs 2.4 lakh.

The BJP-led ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is facing discontent over depressed farm incomes and doubts over whether his policies are creating enough jobs. The interim budget allocates Rs 600 billion for a rural jobs programme and Rs 190 billion for building of roads in the rural areas.

Goyal said Rs 6,000 per year assured income support will be given to small and marginal farmers having less than two hectares of land. He announced a new fund, ‘Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi’ for disbursement of cash to “vulnerable farmers”.

Around 12 crore farmers will receive Rs 6,000 per annum under the PM Kisan scheme. The money will be transferred into bank accounts of farmers in three equal instalments. The finance minister said Rs 20,000 crore have been provided for current fiscal, 2018-19 under PM Kisan scheme.

The government proposed to set up a national commission, the Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog with the initial capital of Rs 500 crore for the welfare of cows. “Happy to announce setting up of Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog. Government will never step back from protection of the Gau Mata,” said Goyal.

The government unveiled a mega pension scheme for the unorganised sector workers with an aim to benefit 10 crore people. Goyal said the beneficiaries will get assured monthly pension of Rs 3,000 after reaching the age of 60 years.

“We are launching Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Mandhan today. The scheme will provide assured monthly pension of Rs 3,000, with contribution of 100 rupees per month, for workers in unorganised sector after 60 years of age,” Goyal said.

The fiscal deficit would be 3.4 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), slightly higher than the targeted 3.3 percent, said Goyal, who presented the budget as Union minister Arun Jaitley is undergoing medical treatment in the United States.

Goyal told the Lok Sabha that direct tax collections increased from Rs 6.38 lakh crore in year 2013-14 to almost Rs 12 lakh crore this year with a growth of 80 per cent in tax base. The number of income tax returns filed increased from 3.79 crore to 6.85 crore over the same period, he said.

On job creation, the finance minister said, “EPFO shows two crore accounts in two years. This shows formalisation of the economy. When there is such a high growth, jobs are created.” The government is facing sharp criticism from the opposition over a ‘leaked report’ claiming that unemployment rate is at a 45-year high.

The interim budget is likely to be followed by a full one in July after the Lok Sabha elections. The interim budget projected the economic growth for the fiscal year 2019-20 to be around 7.5 per cent.

Source: Hindustan Times

27/01/2019

Save farmers first: Akhilesh on Yogi’s ‘will resolve Ram Temple issue in 24 hours’ remark

On Saturday, in an interview to India TV, the Uttar Pradesh chief minister said that the people’s “patience” on the Ram Temple issue is running out.

INDIA Updated: Jan 27, 2019 17:04 IST

HT Correspondent
akhilesh yadav,yogi adityanath,farmers
Reminding the UP CM, Akhilesh said the farmers need to be saved first. (Photo by Subhankar Chakraborty/ Hindustan Times)(HT Photo)

Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav on Sunday criticised Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath for his remarks that if the Supreme Court is unable to give a verdict on the Ram Temple issue, it should “hand it over to us” and it will be resolved within 24 hours.

Reminding the UP CM, Akhilesh said the farmers need to be saved first.

“I would like to tell CM that people have given him 90 days, do something to save the crops from the bulls. Farmers need to be saved first. We have just celebrated 26 January, if a CM says such things on 26 January you can imagine what kind of CM he must be,” Akhilesh said.

On Saturday, in an interview to India TV, the Uttar Pradesh chief minister said that the people’s “patience” on the Ram Temple issue is running out.

“The unnecessary delay… is causing a crisis so far as people’s patience and trust are concerned. I want to say that the court should give its verdict soon, and if it is unable to do so, it should hand over the issue to us. We will resolve the Ram Janmabhoomi dispute within 24 hours. We won’t take 25 hours,” Yogi Adityanath said.

When asked why the Centre had not brought an ordinance on the issue, he said it could not be done since Parliament can’t discuss matters that are sub judice.

Saying that they were leaving it to the court, he said, “Had the court given justice based on the 1994 affidavit filed by the then central government, a good message could have gone to the country. It would have been a nice example. But this unnecessary delay is causing a situation where people’s patience is fast running out.”

AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi took to Twitter to criticise the Uttar Pradesh CM’s remarks.

“I am sure you will in an hour by destroying Constitution,& Rule of Law, by Closing all Courts of Law, if needed by Encounters also as this is your way of doing JUSTICE, but fortunately in India Ambedkars Constitution is still relevant and we are celebrating it today,” Owaisi tweeted.

The Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Friday reconstituted the bench hearing the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute. The new five-judge bench will hear the case on January 29.

Earlier, Justice Lalit recused himself from hearing the case after it was pointed out that he had appeared in a related case in 1997. The reasons for Justice Ramana’s exclusion are not known yet.

The case has been pending before the Supreme Court since 2010. The top court was scheduled to hear the case in October last, but put it off to January 2019 after rejecting the UP government’s plea for speedy hearings with CJI Gogoi saying the court has its “own priorities”.

Source: Hindustan Times

04/01/2019

Is this China’s cleverest pig? Farmer trains porker to pull wedding carts

  • Wang Dingxuan has been training animals for past 17 years
  • 75-year-old mother even uses his favourite pig as a private taxi
PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 January, 2019, 4:08pm
UPDATED : Friday, 04 January, 2019, 4:08pm

Wang Dingxuan, 54, said his star performer was a pig that he had trained to jump over hurdles and pull wedding carts – in return for a handful of treats.

Over the years, Wang has built up a strong bond with his animals, he said in an interview published on Pearvideo.com.

“I let the pig live in my house,” he said. “We’ve developed a close relationship.”

The farmer, from the city of Yanshi in Henan province, said he had always loved animals and decided to start training them after seeing a dog perform tricks on a Western television show.

 

After practising for several years, Wang set up the Yanshi City Happy Everyday Pet Performance Group in 2007.

The show features a number of animals, including a pig, dog, goat and pigeon. Footage of a goat walking along a narrow plank became a hit on social media.

“A man from Shandong saw my animals and wanted to buy my pig for more than 10,000 yuan (US$1,450),” Wang said. “I turned him down, but said we were willing to perform for him.”

Although he is now a big hit, Wang said his family was not supportive in the early days.

“They said I should be working in the daytime rather than playing with my animals,” he said. “So I trained my animals at night.”

His persistence worked, and his 75-year-old mother can now often be seen riding the pig on the streets of Yanshi.

29/12/2018

PM Modi accuses Congress of making hollow promises to farmers

Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused the Congress governments in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Karnataka of making hollow promises to the people before elections for political gains.

SNS Web | New Delhi | 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused the Congress governments in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Karnataka of making hollow promises to the people before elections for political gains.

In a public meeting in Ghazipur in eastern Uttar Pradesh, the PM said that the alliance government in Karnataka led by Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) had promised to waive off loans of lakhs of farmers but has only done so for 800.

“They gave the lollipop of a farm loan waiver, votes were stolen but so far only… the loans of 800 farmers have been waived off,” Modi said while exhorting people to understand “such games”.

“Long queues for urea, fertilizers can be seen in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Black-marketeers are now back on the field,” the PM said hitting out at the Congress governments in the two states.

He also said that the Congress, when it was in the Centre, had similarly made false promises.

“Congress had promised waiver of Rs 6 lakh crore loans of farmers. The waiver was of just Rs 60 thousand crore. And the CAG report revealed that of the persons whose ‘loans’ were waived, 35 lakh people were not farmers, they had no loans and neither were they eligible for waivers,” the PM said.

Asking the gathering to be wary of Congress’ promises, the PM said that the grand old party was trying to fool the people with such announcements.

“These people are trying to lure you by short-term benefit announcements and promises but all this will not help,” he said, adding, “Announcements made for instant benefits won’t be successful in the long run.”

Modi, who was in Ghazipur to lay the foundation stone of a medical college, said that people of the region will immensely benefit from the medical college.

“The medical college will not only provide Ghazipur with advanced medical facilities but also produce new and meritorious doctors,” he said, adding, “When this college is ready, the district hospital in Ghazipur will become a 300-bed facility.”

At the event, the PM also released a commemorative postal stamp in honour of Maharaja Suheldev in the presence of Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

Praising the 11th century ruler semi-legendary king, the PM said that Maharaj Suheldev is among those bravehearts who struggled for the honour of India.

“Remembering Maharaja Suheldev, from whom every deprived and oppressed draws inspiration, strengthens the ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’ mantra,” he said underlining the political significance of the king in today’s times.

The PM said that unlike the previous governments, his government is showing respect to every brave son and daughter of the country.

Ironically, the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP), an NDA ally, decided to stay away from all the events attended by the PM Saturday.

The SBSP, which has four legislators in the 403-member state assembly, announced that it will “boycott” Prime Minister’s programmes. The party claims that the name of its chief, state Minister for Backward Classes Welfare Om Prakash Rajbhar, has been “deliberately omitted from the invitation card”.

Rajbhar has been a bitter critic of the BJP government in the state and the Centre over a host of issues.

SBSP was not the only ally to boycott the PM’s events. The powerful Apna Dal, too, stayed away to protest the “arrogant attitude” of the BJP leaders in the state.

Ashish Patel, the state unit chief of Apna Dal, charged the BJP leaders of “insulting leaders and the weaker sections of the society”.

He also announced that till the matter between the two allies was not settled, Apna Dal will not attend any government programmes and demanded Modi’s intervention in sorting out the matter.

The Apna Dal has two Lok Sabha MPs, including MoS Health and Family Welfare Anupriya Patel, and 9 seats in the UP Assembly.

15/12/2018

Across China: Mixed farming enriches Xinjiang farmers

URUMQI, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) — For Wu Qingshan, a farmer in Burqin County in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, a combination of growing sea buckthorn and raising chicken is the secret to wealth.

Wu has about 47 hectares of sea buckthorn, a shrub whose fruit is known for its richness in vitamin C. The land also serves as his open-air “chicken farm.”

“Growing up eating sea buckthorn and worms in the field, the chicken that I raise are more delicious and nutritious than regular ones,” Wu said.

“Each of my “sea buckthorn chicken” can be sold for more than 100 yuan (14.6 U.S. dollars), which is about 30 percent higher than regular ones.”

The concept of mixed farming, which involves growing crops and raising livestock, was new to Wu before the county government promoted it from 2011.

With the help of technicians sent by the government, he started to combine the planting of sea buckthorn and raising chicken in 2017.

“More than 90 percent of about 4,000 chickens that I have raised this year have been sold through e-commerce platforms,” he said. “The system of mixed farming helps increase my annual income by one-sixth.”

Li Zhengxin, another farmer in the county, sees the potential of mixed farming in agritourism.

He builds an orchard of sea buckthorn for tourists where they can pick and cook with the fruit and chicken.

“I can earn more than 500,000 yuan a year by managing the industry of agri-tourism,” Li said.

Burqin County invested about 1 million yuan to promote mixed farming featuring the planting of sea buckthorn and raising of chicken in 2018.

The county has broad areas that are suitable for sea buckthorn and other crops, which is a natural advantage for developing mixed farming, said Wang Gangyi, head of the forestry bureau of Burqin County.

The county has more than 1,000 hectares of plant area for mixed farming.

There is great potential in the land thanks to the new type of farming, said Li, who hopes to expand the scale of mixed farming in the future.

05/12/2018

Angry Indian farmers march on parliament to denounce their plight

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of Indian farmers and rural workers marched to the Indian parliament in the capital, New Delhi, on Friday in a protest against soaring operating costs and plunging produce prices that have brought misery to many.

Farmers march towards the parliament house during a rally to protest soaring farm operating costs and plunging prices of their produce, in New Delhi, India, November 30, 2018. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

The protest is one of the biggest displays of frustration with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, which faces a tough general election due by May next year. India’s 263 million farmers make up an important voting bloc.

“Farmers have been routinely committing suicide,” said one of the protest leaders, Yogendra Yadav, as he marched in a crowd down a central Delhi thoroughfare.

“It’s a shame that the government doesn’t have any time for those who feed us,” said Yadav, who leads the Jai Kisan Andolan, a farmers’ group.

Low food prices, export curbs, anti-inflation policies that keep rural incomes low and a broad shift from subsidies to investment spending have all infuriated and demoralised farmers.

Core inflation in India, where farming is a mainstay for nearly half the people, has hovered around 6 percent in the past few months, but food prices have either fallen or remained stagnant.

Agriculture contributes about 15 percent to India’s $2.6 trillion economy, Asia’s third-largest, but employs nearly half of its 1.3 billion people.

Farmers from more than 200 groups began gathering in New Delhi on Thursday. They demanded that the government call a special session of parliament to discuss the crisis in the countryside.

“I myself know so many farmers who have committed suicide, and their families are now living in penury,” said farmer Lakhan Pal Singh from the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state.

“The policies of the Modi administration are responsible.”

Farmers have also protested in the financial hub of Mumbai, including this month when tens of thousands of farmers marched to Mumbai to demand loan waivers and the transfer of forest land to villagers.

New Delhi police deployed 3,500 personnel in the city on Friday but there was no trouble.

In October, police fired teargas and water cannons in a clash with about 50,000 farmers heading for New Delhi.

‘LAST STRAW’

The discontent in the countryside, where 70 percent of Indians live, could erode support for Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which won India’s biggest parliamentary mandate in three decades in the last general election in 2014.

But political analysts and farm economists say Modi will find it hard to repeat that next time.

“We voted for the BJP but anti-farmer policies of the government have hit us hard,” said Singh.

The last time a BJP government lost power, in a 2004 election, it was largely because rural voters abandoned the party.

Last year, police shot and killed six farmers protesting against lower prices in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, which recently held a state assembly election – a neck-and-neck contest between the BJP and opposition Congress party.

The result is due on Dec. 11.

Leaders from the main opposition Congress party, as well as left-wing parties and the Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party addressed the flag-waving protesters who converged in the historic heart of the city.

“We’ve been living a hand-to-mouth existence for a very long time but rising prices of seeds, diesel and fertiliser and falling prices of milk, fruits, vegetables and even staples is the last straw,” said farmer Shivpal Yadav.

“If the government doesn’t address the problems, we’ll be back,” said Yadav, from the northern state of Haryana.

Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj; Editing by Robert Birsel

03/12/2018

Nehru wore rose on his suit, but was ignorant of farmers’ woes: PM Modi

“He (Nehru) used to wear rose and had the knowledge of gardens but did not know about farmers or farming, due to which the community faced hardship,” PM Modi was quoted as saying without naming the first Prime Minister.

Nehru wore rose on his suit, had knowledge of gardening but was ignorant of farmers' woes: PM Modi
PM Modi also stated that Nehru had objections about President Rajendra Prasad’s visit for the consecration of Somnath temple which was destroyed by foreign invaders and ‘renovated’ by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. (PTI File photo)

Campaigning for the upcoming assembly elections in Rajasthan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday resorted to ‘kaamdaar-naamdar’ (worker-dynast) jibe in his attack on Congress party which had earlier questioned his knowledge on Hinduism. The prime minister also invoked the first prime minister Jawahar Lal Nehru while talking about the agrarian distress in the country.

Without naming Nehru, Modi said a leader wore a rose and had knowledge of gardening but didn’t know about farming, which he held as the reason behind farmers’ distress. “He (Nehru) used to wear rose and had the knowledge of gardens but did not know about farmers or farming, due to which the community faced hardship,” PM Modi was quoted as saying by PTI.

He also claimed that Nehru had objections about President Rajendra Prasad’s visit for the consecration of Somnath temple which was destroyed by foreign invaders and ‘renovated’ by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

Modi also stated that he is a petty “kaamdaar” who never made the claim of having complete knowledge of Hinduism, nevertheless, the “naamdaar” has the right to speak. He also asked the Congress party about the source of its expertise on religion. PM Modi has often labelled the Congress president to be a dynast or “naamdaar” on multiple occasions previously.

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