2.Farmers, activists oppose Eastern India Green Revolution project
3.Gandhi of natural farming addresses Kisan Swaraj Yatra
NOTE: See also 'Anti-Monsanto Protest in India' for more on this remarkable India-wide campaign of Kisan Swaraj Yatra, plus some great pictures, including a bonfire of GM seeds: http://bit.ly/9kaUbl The 71-day Yatra is focusing awareness on farmers' issues through rallies across India.
EXTRACT: With reference to more than two lakh [200,000] farmers' suicides in the country in the past 15 years, Kavitha Kuruganti said that there were also many farmers who had in fact successfully shown there was hope. "The community-managed sustainable agriculture project being run on 28 lakh [2,800,000] acres in Andhra Pradesh is the best example in this case. This NPM [Non-Pesticidal Management of crops] is the world's largest State-supported project and is mainly run by women farmers. Their yields have improved tremendously. It is not true that organic farming brings down the yield." (item 2)
---1.Farmer groups call for end to transgenic brinjal experiments
The Hindu, October 22, 2010
[image caption: Farmers checking the native species of brinjal at the "Brinjal Mela" held at University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS) in Dharwad on Thursday.]
*University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad, accused of biopiracy
HUBLI - Various organisations including the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) have reiterated their demand to stop all experiments on transgenic varieties of brinjal being carried out by the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS) in Dharwad.
Representatives of groups such as Sahaja Samrudha, the KRRS, the Dharwad Organic Growers Association and Kheti Virasat Mission had gathered at the UAS, Dharwad, for the Brinjal Mela organised as part of the 'Kisan Swaraj Yatra' and used the occasion to express their views.
The protesters accused the university of biopiracy and undermining the rights of the farming community by taking up the development of Bt brinjal.
Convener of Sahaja Samrudha Krishna Prasad said the gathering was meant to begin a dialogue on the issue and protest against the “wrong” research agenda of the university. He said the university had used traditional varieties of brinjal grown in Karnataka and Goa, including Udupi gulla or Mattu gulla, which has received Geographical Indication (GI) status, for its transgenic experiments without the required approvals from the State Biodiversity Board.
Funding for research
Addressing the gathering, chairman of the Western Ghats Task Force Anant Hegde Ashisar stressed the need to fund agricultural research projects keeping in mind the rural farmer. He said the task force had sought more funds to take up research in agri-biodiversity related issues.
President of the KRRS Kodihalli Chandrashekar raised the issue of proposed amendments to the seed Bill. He called for a debate on the rights of farmers to grow, sow, re-sow, share or sell their farm seeds and planting materials.
As part of the mela, a UAS Dharwad Sadbuddhi Yagna was performed, with the protestors praying that scientists at the university take up pro-farmer agriculture research and stop siding with multinational companies.
Registrar of the UAS, Dharwad, K.S. Vijaykumar assured the gathering that the university would continue the dialogue with farmers and take up research activities keeping in mind the interest of the farmers.
---2.Farmers, activists oppose Eastern India Green Revolution project
The Hindu, October 18 2010
"Punjab has suffered only debt, serious illnesses and polluted and scanty water sources"
MUMBAI - Appealing to the farmers and policy-makers to not emulate the Punjab model of Green Revolution, some farmers from Punjab said here on Sunday that the revolution had completely ruined the State. “Punjab is now called the cancer capital of India. The Green Revolution has given farmers only three things: debt, serious illnesses and polluted and scanty water sources,” said Balwinder Singh, a farmer, while talking to reporters during the Kisan Swaraj Yatra which reached Mumbai on Sunday.
"The Chief Minister now says that the government will fit RO [reverse osmosis water-filtering process] in every village. But what will happen to the cattle and other animals that drink from the contaminated water source? They are all going to end up in our stomachs. Jo barbaadi ki hai, wo wapas hamare paas ayegi hi ayegi [whatever we have ruined will come back to us]," he said.
Farmers and activists opposed the Eastern India Green Revolution project introduced by the Central government. "Even the Planning Commission has acknowledged the negative evidence in Punjab like high toxicity levels and reduced production. Why does the government still want to invest Rs. 400 crore in such a project?" asked Saroj Mohanty, a seed breeder, farmer and activist from Orissa.
Activists raised concerns about the skewed investment in agriculture, use of pesticides, genetically modified crops.
"After more than six decades of independence, 66 per cent of agricultural land in the country has no irrigation facility. The government doesn't invest in the breeding skills of the farmers. It doesn't encourage successful models of sustainable and high-yield agriculture,” said Kavitha Kuruganti, an activist of the Kheti Virasat Mission.
The activists said the government policy envisioned only 6-15 per cent of the country's population to depend on agriculture. “Where will the rest of the agriculture-dependent population go? Will we be able to create opportunities for them elsewhere?
"It seems like the government is purposely trying to make farming so unviable that people want to leave it or commit suicide," said Aarti Pankharaj.
The activists said the absolute number of farmers who will be displaced will be in millions. "It will be the largest displacement. It is a civilisational debate now. Do we accept the larger development paradigm where farmers are being pushed out of rural agriculture?” Ms. Kuruganti said.
With reference to more than two lakh farmers' suicides in the country in the past 15 years, she said that there were also many farmers who had in fact successfully shown there was hope. "The community-managed sustainable agriculture project being run on 28 lakh acres in Andhra Pradesh is the best example in this case. This NPM [Non-Pesticidal Management of crops] is the world's largest State-supported project and is mainly run by women farmers. Their yields have improved tremendously. It is not true that organic farming brings down the yield."
She said the government should boost such role models and give them wide publicity so that more farmers move to the "win-win" situation. "Only the big corporates will face losses if this is done. We will be able to achieve food sustainability, non-toxic food supply and seed sovereignty," she said.
The 71-day yatra plans to engage urban consumers, legislators, administrators, local self-governments and farmers. It will travel 15,000 km through 20 States before reaching Rajghat on December 11.
The activists appealed to the urban consumers to act in enlightened self-interest to promote non-toxic food on their platters.
The rally for "food, farmers and freedom" saw the support of famous Bollywood personalities such as Mahesh Bhat, Rakeysh Mehra and Atul Kulkarni and freedom fighters such as Shanti Patel and G.G. Parikh.
---3.Gandhi of natural farming addresses Kisan Swaraj Yatra
The Times of India, Oct 18 2010,
MUMBAI: Renowned natural farmer Bhaskar Save, who flagged off the Kisan swaraj yatra from Ahmedabad on October 2, was there to welcome it in Mumbai on Sunday.
Acclaimed as the 'Living Gandhi of natural farming', the 88-year-old uses no fertilisers, pesticides, weeding or unnecessary tilling in his orchard in Valsad district of Gujarat. Yet, he makes a nearly 400 % profit.
His orchard, Kalpavruksha, which grows chiefly chickoo and coconut, is one of the best organic farms in the country and attracts farmers and visitors from all over the world. One such visitor was the legendary natural farming guru, Masanobu Fukuoka, who called Kalpavrusha "the best in the world".
But Save was not there to speak about himself. He spoke on what has been perturbing him; the two lakh farmers who have committed suicide in the last ten years, a tragedy that he feels is man-made.
Save says there is a fundamental flaw with the modern system of agriculture which relies on inorganic fertilisers. "We give nutrients to the soil instead of the plant. And the soil does not accept the nutrients in this form," Save said. According to him, the soil is a living medium, full of micro-organisms and earthworms, and what it needs is organic manure.
"Farming is a religion but we have made it into a business. In our greed to make super-profits, we end up destroying the fertility of the soil," said Save.
He believes that man has right to only 15% of nature's bounty in the form of fruits and seeds. The rest of the plant's biomass must go back to the soil in the form of manure. "Restoring the natural health of the land is the way to solve the crisis in farming," he said.
A former school teacher, who experimented with chemical fertilisers before turning to organic farming, Save says that farmers must take up mixed organic planting of diverse nutritious and useful species, with first priority for their own family needs. "What is the use of trying to earn money first, only to see what you already have disappear for paying rising farm debts?," he asks.
Save's own farm shows that by inter-planting short life-span, medium life-span and long life-span crops and trees, it is possible to have planned continuity of food yield to sustain a farmer through the transition period till the long-life trees mature and yield.