La Via Campesina South Asia, in its efforts to develop a cadre of young leaders that can take up work on agroecology in the region, recently concluded a regional agroecology youth training camp from Dec 14th to 20th at Amritabhoomi Centre in the southern State of Karnataka, India.
Young farmers from India, Srilanka, Nepal and Bangladesh actively participated in the week-long training. The participants got to learn about the basics of Natural farming and took part in hands on learning in the field, visited model ecological farms and visited the Andhra Pradesh state programme to learn about its agroecology transition program. The training camp was designed to accommodate class room training, participatory hands on learning, experiential sharing and field exposure visits.
The participants discussed on a variety of issues affecting agriculture today; agrarian distress, young people moving away from farming, migration, corporate takeover of seeds and natural resources, impact of free trade agreements, advent of chemical and mechanized farming in the global south, unemployment among youth and so forth. Role of agroecology and its importance to social movements, historical importance of agroecology in the struggles of Via Campesina, popular examples such as the Cuban agrarian reform, Brazil’s agroecological cooperative model promoted by MST and Indian Natural Farming models were discussed. Afsar Jafri from Focus on the Global South India office and Ashlesha Khadse from Amritabhoomi were the resource persons.
Participants were also engaged in practical lessons, they learnt and exchanged information regarding preparations of beejamrutha, jeevamrutha, ghana jeevamrutha, agniastra and other preparations used in natural farming. They also learnt about dry land horticulture and different techniques of grafting in horticulture crops. Classes were also conducted on various seed saving techniques.
The training part at Amritabhoomi concluded with a felicitation ceremony for Mr.Rechanna and family by young farmers of South Asia, one the senior seed savers of KRRS who initiated a revolution among farmers by saving more than thousand varieties of rice, vegetables and pulses. In the closing mystica the young farmers took pledge to continue and take forward the legacy and work of people like Rechanna and hundreds of other seed savers.
Participants visited the 5 layer ZBNF model farm of Mr. Abhinava Ravikumar near Magadi and to Arehalli Rajegowda’s natural coffee plantation near Hassan. Participants also visited Anantpur, in the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh (AP), to witness several agroecological farms and the transition to to Natural Farming that is now being promoted by the State. The team of APZBNF and AF ecology centre of Ananthapur gave presentations, explaining the state policy and its ongoing implementation.
At the end of the training session, the young farmers concluded that only Agroecology can liberate farmers and attract more youth. They committed to take learning of natural farming back to their respective communities and work towards promoting agroecology among the farmers groups in their countries.
Avinash, the master trainer on ZBNF led the training session on basics of Natural farming, he dealt with various models and key principles of ecological agriculture. His session was mainly focused on Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) module and on the key elements involved in ZBNF.
I am part of women vegetable growers collective in ANPFa, I already knew about Palekar krishi through one of our comrades who attended ZBNF training in India. This training has helped me to learn ZBNF model in a more detailed manner. I want to go back and train our women on all the new things that I have learned here.
– Baghbathi Bista, ANPFa
I love nature and I always wanted to lead my life with nature and over the days I have learnt that only by doing farming you can get closer to nature. Last month I have got a job appointment as a teacher, but I am not going to accept it as I want to take up full-time farming. I am already into ecological farming and conserving paddy and mango varieties at my farm. I was looking forward to visit India for this training as I wanted to learn more about the Zero budget natural farming, this training will be of great help to continue my journey as a farmer. Also I am part of a team of young people who have come together to develop a agroecology farm and we look forward to teach about ZBNF to more youth and bring them to the agroecology.
-Raika Saman, Srilanka
| I started my career as a Java developer in the corporate sector before turning into an activist. When I became part of MONLAR, my exposure to agroecology and global agrarian politics made me take up farming. Agroecology is the only solution to all the problems in agriculture.
– Anuka De Silva
I am part of agriculture workers organization, I have been seeing the ill impacts and side effects of chemical farming on our people as they are directly exposed to this deadly chemicals and have suffered serious health damages. Agroecology is the real solution for all the problems created by chemical farming.- Sharmien Akther Moyna, BAFLF