Influential natural farming advocate Subhash Palekar recently approved the use of Genetically Modified crops in his well-known “Zero Budget Natural Farming-ZBNF” method. In an equally startling interview, he described organic farming as “worse than the atom bomb.” Here, two veteran practitioners respond to Palekar, while reviewing the history of the Organic/Natural Farming movement in India.
From The Wire: This specific patch of some 1,000 acres near Dargah Honnur village in Anantapur district –once covered by millet cultivation– has over many decades become more and more a desert. That has been driven by often paradoxical factors –and created the kind of space that filmmakers send out location scouts to look for.
From Trophic Tales: The focus on the welfare of individual domesticated animals might be an extension of the modernist tendency to simplify and discriminate. The morality of living, eating, and dying is more complex than two-word slogans can prescribe. If we care about animals —wild or domesticated— we’ve to think in terms of entire ecosystems.
From The Guardian: Cancer rates are the highest in the country, drug addiction is rife, and 900 farmers have killed themselves in two years. How did Punjab turn toxic? A new film explores the roots of its problems; ‘Toxification’ tells the moving stories of farmers at the sharp end of the chemical epidemic engulfing Punjab.
Devinder Sharma writes: This year, nearly 82% of Karnataka is reeling under drought. But in Bangalore, you won’t get even a hint of the terrible human suffering that continues to be inflicted year after year. Karnataka has suffered drought for 12 out of the past 18 years. But life in Bangalore has never been affected.
David R. Montgomery writes: Conventional wisdom says that fertile soil is not renewable. That’s not really true. Fertility can be improved quickly through cover cropping and returning organic matter to the land. Soil-building is about getting the biology, mineral availability, and organic-matter balance right, rolling with the wheel of life instead of pushing against it.
From Time Magazine: Ever since a civil war brought down Somalia’s last functional government in 1991, the country’s 3,330 km of coastline —the longest in continental Africa— has been pillaged by foreign vessels, freezing out the country’s own rudimentarily-equipped fishermen. The first pirate gangs emerged in the ’90s to protect against the aggressive foreign trawlers.
From Science Magazine: Cuba has become the latest country to enshrine the fight against climate change in its constitution. A team of Cuban experts has just finished drafting a $100 million proposal that the government plans to submit early this year to the Global Climate Fund, an international financing mechanism set up by the U.N.
Devinder Sharma writes: If raising productivity is the major factor I see no reason why Punjab farmers should be committing suicide. But the fact that economists don’t want to acknowledge is that it is actually the low price that farmers being deliberately paid that is the primary reason for the terrible agrarian crisis that prevails.
It’s been five years since the passing of G. Nammalvar, the icon of sustainable farming who died on December 30, 2013, while leading a campaign against the plan to extract methane gas in Cauvery delta. An agriculture scientist, he left his job and travelled across Tamil Nadu spreading the message of organic farming using story-telling.
From The Independent: Capitalism as we know it is over. So suggests a new report commissioned by a group of scientists appointed by the UN secretary general. The main reason? We’re transitioning rapidly to a radically different global economy, due to our increasingly unsustainable exploitation of the planet’s environmental resources and the shift to less efficient energy sources.
This manifesto was adopted by an assembly representing the farmers of India on the occasion of the historic Kisan Mukti March organised by AIKS at Delhi, on 30 November 2018. Over the past 25 years, more than 3,00,000 of India’s debt-ridden farmers have committed suicide, a crisis which successive governments have done little to address.
J. Harsha, Director, Central Water Commission, writes: India fails to deliver water in time, and in adequate quantities to small landholdings (< 1 hectare) belonging to marginal farmers (constituting 85 per cent of total farmers) cultivating in 43.64 million hectares of canal-irrigated areas. The impact of this great Indian irrigation deceit is enormous on agriculture
From The Telegraph: India’s farmers are marching once again to demand that Parliament discuss the agrarian crisis. The underlying message is simple. If over 3,00,000 debt-ridden farmers have committed suicide in the past 25 years, then the agrarian crisis is no longer an economic one. It’s a moral crisis. It cannot be allowed to continue.
From The Business Standard: “Selected companies like Reliance, Essar have been given the task of providing crop insurance. In just one Maharashtra district, where the soya crop failed, Reliance earned a net profit of Rs 143 crore without investing a single rupee. Now, multiply this amount to each of the districts it has been entrusted.”
This is a snapshot of a fleeting encounter between a Karnataka farmer and a water activist at the premises of a leading agricultural university. In a few painful sentences, it captures the everyday desperation that is the lot of the average Indian farmer, caught between an unraveling climate, a ruthless market and a malignant state.
From The Sunday Guardian: The Delhi metropolitan area has one of the world’s highest concentrations of population, and suffocating people here on an annual basis should be treated as a crime against humanity, especially when it can be controlled. Arvind Kumar writes on the connection between USAID, Monsanto and Delhi’s nightmarish annual air pollution spike.
From The Indian Express: The residents of St. Estevam say they took to farming more due to fear of gated communities encroaching upon farmland. Nine months after the idea was mooted at the community level, this pilot project is now being tracked by the state government, which plans to take this experiment to every village.
From Non-gmoreport.com: The most disturbing finding of the study was the epigenetic effects of atrazine; which means its not just those who are exposed to it that faced health risks, but also their descendants. Dr. Winchester calls the discovery of this link between pesticides and epigenetic changes “the most important next discovery in all medicine.”
August 16th marks ten years since the passing of the legendary Japanese farmer and author Masanobu Fukuoka, who initiated the natural farming movement. Here’s a documentary on his life and work, along with notes by Larry Korn, Fukuoka’s American student and the translator of his book, ‘One Straw Revolution,’ considered the ‘bible’ of natural farming.