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.
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.
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.
Sopan Joshi writes: Sanitation links the rich to the poor, the land to the water, the clean to the unclean, the sacred to the untouchable. But sanitation discussions among India’s elites is driven by a concern about India’s international image. If it evades our dirty realities, SBA will not go beyond an attempted image makeover.
Grown over a million acres of farmland, the HMT rice variety – developed by Dadaji Ramaji Khobragade, a small cultivator and self-trained plant breeder – brought a measure of prosperity to several hundred thousand farmers in Maharashtra and neighbouring states. Bharat Mansata pays tribute to the legendary farmer and seed saver who died on Sunday
Sneha Vakharia reports: Gujarat’s chronic floods, underreported and devastating, tell the story of Narendra Modi’s failure to deliver the state from water scarcity, and the onset of a new kind of problem, with crucial political implications. Since the state began its battle to control its water, increasingly and unforgivingly, the water has started fighting back.
Colin Todhunter writes: Despite four high level government reports that have advised against adopting Genetically Modified crops in India, there are alarming reports of GM okra, soyabean & brinjal being cultivated illegally in thousands of acres. The industry’s strategy is to flood the country with illegal GMOs so that there’s nothing you can do about it.
Narsanna Koppula, a pioneer of permaculture in India, founded Aranya Agricultural Alternatives, with an aim to provide alternate solutions to the present chemical agricultural practices. Later this month, Aranya, which has impacted thousands of farmers in Telangana and Andhra, is playing host to the International Permaculture Convergence, the biggest event on the permaculture calendar globally.
Billions in Change, the brainchild of Indian-American entrepreneur Manoj Bhargava, shows how simple but life-changing inventions provide clean water, electricity, and improve rural lives. The innovations include a RainMaker device that can turn dirty water clean, a low-cost, portable solar-based power generator and a ‘cost-free fertilizer’ that is made by gathering whatever is laying around.
From The Guardian: Cities are expanding at a pace and scale far greater than at any time in history. The global urbanisation boom is devouring colossal amounts of sand–the key ingredient of concrete and asphalt. In the past few years, China alone has used more cement than the US used in the entire 20th century.
From Down to Earth Magazine: What does it take to design a permaculture kitchen garden? In this video, permaculture practitioners Rosie and Peter Fernandes, based in Assagaon, Goa, recount their experience of growing a food forest designed to meet their cooking needs round the year. They are now taking their model to the wider community.
From Slate.com: Industrial civilisation’s impact is so massive that it goes way beyond climate change. Earth scientists now suggest that it is creating a distinct geological layer made of ‘technofossils’. The scale of our stuff is so gargantuan, that it is throwing off the quite robust balance of our natural systems—that’s how powerful it is.
Ecologise has consistently driven home that humanity needs to prepare for unprecedented environmental, economic and socio-political upheaval and uncertainty in the 21st century. In this new series, we showcase free short-duration online courses that focus on these various emerging crises and possible responses. Created by the world’s leading universities, they offer a good starting point to explore these complex challenges.
From Modern Farmer: On the horizon of agriculture’s future, a 40,000-strong army is marching towards a shimmering goal. They see the potential for a global food system where pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers are but relics of a faded age. A peek into a treasure trove of latest research released by The American Society of Microbiologists.
From The Wire: Spurred by his firsthand observation of the havoc wrought by chemical fertilisers and pesticides, Subhash Palekar developed his own alternative method of farming, dubbed ‘Zero Budget Natural Farming’. The widely influential Padma Shri awardee tells Manas Roshan about his methods and the agrarian crisis, also expressing his controversial views on cow slaughter.
From The Hindu: An afforestation initiative led by naturalists and locals, with support from forest and revenue department officials, has resulted in the Arunachala hill in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, shedding its barren, brown visage. Lalitha Sridhar reports on the decade-plus-long turnaround of a damaged fragile, semi-arid ecosystem by successfully harnessing scientific expertise and local knowledge.
John Sauven writes in The Guardian: Farm animals that are raised intensively require a staggering amount of animal feed and water. Livestock production occupies the vast majority of agricultural land and is the main reason why nearly 50% of the wildlife we share our planet with has disappeared since the start of the industrial revolution.
The Wire reports: Using satellite data of the last 14 years, researchers have shown that a thick blanket of toxic ammonia lies over the world’s major agricultural areas, with India being the worst affected. It’s emitted mainly by fertilisers as well as poorly managed animal waste. However, India has no policy to regulate ammonia emissions.
From India Water Portal: Records show there were 1.10 lakh varieties of rice in India in 1965. After the Green Revolution, which pushed for hybrid varieties, less than 7,000 remain. Debal Deb, who has conserved 1,200 climate-resilient rice varieties, speaks on the need to conserve traditional seeds and why we don’t need genetically modified ones.
From Robinson Love Plants: Regular soil building and correct use of soil amendments will give us nutrient rich soils which help vastly improve food security for future generations, while water wastage can be combated by installing an effective rain barrel system. These methods are time-consuming but relatively inexpensive, and yield many passive benefits over time.