Showing posts from June, 2013

Decision making for climate change adaptation

In a recent talk at the Walker Institute, climate change adaptation specialist Suraje Dessai stressed the need to move away from the linear model of  'predict and provide' which believes that more science = better decisions = successful adaptation, towards an understanding of the limits of what science can provide. Talking in the context of decision making for climate change adaptation in the UK, he emphasised the need to make climate science more useful (matches user needs), usable (user-friendly) and valuable (salient and applicable). 
This led me to think of similar issues in a very different context. That of rainfed agriculture in semi-arid regions of India. In this landscape, smallholder farmers are highly dependent on agriculture for income and sustenance, making them vulnerable to an increasingly erratic monsoon. In addition to environmental stressors of erratic precipitation (both amount and timing) and fluctuating temperatures (e.g. unusually hot winters), farmers ar…

National Food Bill: A short review of the critiques

What? The National Food Security Bill aims to  provide food to 67% of India's 1.2 billion people by distributing heavily subsidized food grain (5kg of grain @ Rs.1/kg). First introduced in 2011, the bill has invited heated debate, caused parliamentary disruptions and is yet to be passed. 

Why the criticism?
Where will the money to finance the scheme come from? Gurcharan Das argues that the key problem is "70% of the people will get food at 10% of the cost when only 1% should be targeted. The rest is a waste." The government plans to source some money for grain by reducing fertiliser subsidy but this will have implications for agricultural productivity and farmer input costs. Scheme touted as well-intentioned butfiscally irresponsible.Targeting vs universalisation: Who do we target? The statistics are contradictory and one must be careful when defining and counting people who are 'hungry' vs 'malnourished' vs 'starving'. Regarding identifying benefic…