South Indian Farmers organize for ecological farming

Below is an article published in the Hindu newspaper-

There is no alternative to organic farming: farmer

Kisan Swaraj Yatra reaches Bangalore

— Photo: K. Murali Kumar

PROGRESSIVE:Kodihalli Chandrashekar (left), president, KRRS, Kultar Singh, progressive farmer from Punjab, Kavitha Kuruganti, convener, Kisan Swaraj Yatra, in Bangalore on Sunday.

Bangalore: “Green Revolution has ruined Punjab. Our rivers are devastated and this has affected aquatic life. All these are the evil design of the perpetuators of the Green Revolution,” charged Kultar Singh, a progressive farmer from Punjab.
Addressing farmers and civil society members at the Institute of Agricultural Technologists here on Sunday, he said that Punjab was at a point of no return. “The country should learn from Punjab’s mistake. Today, multi-national companies are funding research in agriculture universities. There is no option but to go organic and green,” he said.

Mr. Singh was here as part of the Kisan Swaraj Yatra, a pan-Indian bus tour by Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) for the cause of “Food, Farmers and Freedom”. The yatra that began at Sabarmati Ashram on October 2 will reach Raj Ghat, New Delhi, on December 11.

Kavitha Kuruganti of Kheti Virasat Mission said that the yatra has received tremendous response from farmers across the State. “There was a near-unanimous understanding of the corporate stranglehold over farming which is making agriculture unviable and eroding our resources,” she said.
Later, she presented data compiled from official records of the past several years of Bt cotton cultivation in Karnataka. She pointed out that Bt cotton has not lived up to its claims or promises. She said that organic farming was the only hope for the revival of agricultural sector in the country. “Organic farming can be self-reliant, environmentally-friendly and profitable. We have to bring back farmers to the sector. The people who should go out of the sector are Prime Minister and Union Agriculture Minister and multinational companies such as Monsanto,” she said.

Kodihalli Chandrashekar, president of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, said that the State Government should step up its efforts in promoting ecological farming and set an example for other States to follow. There should be greater efforts to conserve seed diversity, to build capabilities of farmer-breeders and to promote agro-diversity. He said that Bt cotton was not a success, as was being claimed. “No new cotton variety has been developed by our agriculture universities over the past decade. The farmers have no option but to cultivate Bt cotton. Our scientists should hang their heads in shame for not being able to develop a new variety,” he said. He said that MNCs were only interested in profiteering at the expense of farmers. “Earlier, farmers would exchange seeds among themselves. Today, seed business is done at an international level. One kg of tomato seeds is priced at Rs. 1 lakh, while one kg of brinjal seeds is Rs. 40,000,” he said.
He said that punishment envisaged under the Seed Bill should be made stringent and urged the State Government to take a more pro-active role in Central legislation so that farmers’ interests are protected.

Farmers from Orissa, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and other States interacted with farmers here. The yatra has covered Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Goa. It will enter Tamil Nadu on Monday. The aim of the 71-day tour is to create awareness about ill-effects of biotechnology and promote ecological farming.
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