The acreage under the transgenic Bt cotton seeds in India has risen significantly since its legalization in the year 2002. Discussions on the advantages from the technology have focused on increments in productivity and income, without much analysis on risk.

This is a consultation report for a one-day workshop on ‘Strengthening the Role of Agriculture for Nutrition Secure India’ organized by the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR), Mumbai and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), New Delhi at New Delhi.

Management of hunger has to look into issues of availability, accessibility and adequacy. Posing it from an ethical perspective the paper argues out in favour of right to food.

The chemical and synthetic fertilizers, particularly Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium (NPK), are highly subsidized. The amount of subsidy on this has grown exponentially during the last three decades from a mere Rs. 60 crore during 1976-77 to an astronomical Rs. 40,338 crore during 2007-08. In 2008-09, it shot up to Rs 96,606 crores.

The relatively lower reduction of poverty in Orissa, 0.2 percentage points per annum from 48.6% in 1993-94 to 46.4% in 2004-05, has been a matter of concern. The current exercise attempts to analyse whether part of the explanation lies in the state of affairs in agriculture. An analysis for 2004-05 shows that incidence of poverty is 47% for rural and 44% for urban Orissa.

In recent years, one observes an increasing incidence of farmers' suicides. A relatively higher suicide among farmers is indicative of a larger malaise in agriculture.

This paper has three parts: