Farmers in India's Northern
desert states, like sandy soil
Rajasthan, are harvesting large quantities of guar or cluster bean. US companies, which for oil and gas in shale formations, have a huge demand for the powder-like gum, made from the seeds of guar. India produces 80% of the world's cluster beans. Guar gum is a principal ingredient of the hydraulic process, used to extract oil and gas from oil shale. The gum is also used to make sauces and ice cream. USA produces guar, but only on 40,000 acres. The farmers in India's Thar desert are expected to plant guar in more than 10 million acres this year. On average, India produces more than one million tons of guar beans annualy, the biggest crop in the world. While exporting beans is prohibited, India has been exporting more than 40,000 tons of guar products, including gum every fiscal year, since April 2010. US energy firms need nearly 300,000 tons of guar gum this year. On an average US firms are purchasing guar gum from India, about 22,000 metric tons every month.
The boom in the demand for guar seeds has created a bonanza for thousands of small scale farmers in India. Traders in Rajasthan are buying guar seed at Rs 305 a kilo, representing a ten-fold increase from a year ago. Indian producers of guar gum are distributing free of charge guar seeds, worth millions of rupees to lacs of farmers. Guar prices are highly lucrative for farmers, who cultivate the crop at very little cost. About nine tons of guar gum are used per oil well. The robust demand from US shale and oil and gas industry, continues unabted. Guar prices in India have raised rapidly, and it is one of the fastest moving commodity prices.
Egypt’s political order
A few days before Egypt’s presidential elections the Supreme Constitutional Court disbanded parliament, after it found that election rules covering one third of the seats, unfairly discriminated against independent candidates. The junta had taken power, after president Mubarak was ousted over sixteen months ago. Legislative powers would now revert to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). The court, in a separate judgement, struck down a law passed by parliament, that would have banned members of the former regime from running in elections. The Court’s judges were appointed before the revolution, and many are accused of attempting to preserve the power of the regime behind Mubarak, who is serving a life sentence, over the military crackdown, during the revolution of 2011. The emergency law that was in force for thirty years in Egypt, lapsed beginning June 2012. Now the junta has issued a decree granting military officers the right to arrest and try civilians in a military court.
The Muslim Brotherhood held nearly half of the seats in the disbanded parliament. An islamist, Mohammed al-Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, who only eighteen months ago was a prisoner of the regime, became the Egytipan Nation’s first post revolution president winning almost 52% the votes, to Ahmed Shafik’s 48%. Shafik, a former Air Force general had been praising Mubarak and criticising protesters. Egypt has followed Tunisia’s lead in selecting an islamist, to steer it through the transition to civilian rule. The Sunni islamists insist that they will respect the rules of democracy. The Muslim Brotherhood has pledged to respect the treaty with Israel. Morsi has been sworn in as Egypt’s first freely elected president.
Vol. 45, No. 6, Aug 19-25, 2012