Agricultural Crisis and Remedial pathways for India

    Agriculture is one of the main engines of society. Modern society rests on this very ancient profession. In India, like in many parts of the world, it has been looked up as a spiritual activity from age immemorial.

    Many festivals across different cultures are related to harvests and the changing seasons, as all over the world farming is one of the most important occupation. In India there is a saying- Uttam kheti, madhyam vyapar, neech naukri (best is farming, business is medium and servitude is least desirable). But this is no longer true, farming is no longer a very sought after profession. Farmer suicides and debt are making news headlines across the world. Governments across the world are trying to support their farmers with subsidies, waiving loans etc. Farmers are selling their land and sending their children abroad to study, especially in Punjab, as they see that there is no future for them.

    Natural Farming- using biological fertilisers prepared on the farm using farm based materials

    The reasons for this are in the new agricultural paradigms and technology which were introduced as the Green Revolution and now the genetically modified crops. Both these paradigms have changed totally the way farming was done in the past. From a spiritual profession, it has been turned into a chemical warfare and a purely economic pursuit. The connection of the farmer with mother earth has disappeared. The entire planet has been poisoned with the various pesticides. Pesticides can be found in the arctic and the antarctic, where nothing really grows. Modern Agriculture System has been one of the biggest CO2 producers and thus has induced climate change. Biodiversity has suffered as well. Fresh water resources are being depleted at an ever faster rate. Land is becoming toxic and loosing its fertility. Food quality is also suffering.

    Rising cancer incidence, infertility, diseases of the reproductive system are all related to pesticides. Changing Food culture has triggered the epidemic of diabetes and heart diseases as well. People have moved away from traditional foods to fast foods. From natural products to artificial products. The quality of foods have changed and this has affected human health across the globe.

    India now gets bumper crops, but there is nowhere to store these crops, hence they lie rotting in the open and people are still dying of hunger. So one has to really rethink the logic of green revolution and genetic crops for food security. Genetically modified crops were introduced with genes from other species so as to fight pests, they were supposed to free the farmer form pesticides. But they have failed as well. Pesticides continued to be sprayed everywhere. GM crops come with added danger of losing sovereignty of our seeds. GM farmers cannot plant their own seeds, which is a new form of slavery. Monsanto continues to pursue the agenda of Control the food, control the people.

    We the people of India are paying taxes which are given as subsidies to farmers which in turn are being used to pollute and destroy our ecosystems and health. We have to change this for better future. The future lies in farming methods which work in harmony with nature. Permaculture, Organic farming and natural farming are giving us the right direction. Current world record for rice production is to a Natural farmer from Bihar which speaks volumes of the capability of natural farming. Organic farming ensures biodiversity. Food is of better quality and there are no harmful pesticides in it. Organic farming brings in more traditional crops which are better suited for local populations. Different techniques are used to preserve moisture, thus reducing water usage and wastage. Preservation of seeds is an important part of the organic movement. Land quality is improving as well. By not depending on Oil based fertilizers and products, it reduces carbon footprint.

    A natural farmer manbhavan singh from purana shala in gurdaspur district. He grows healthy food for himself and his family, while he works as a counsellor in a government hospital. He is an ideal well educated farmer, politically aware.

    Organic foods are expensive as input cost is higher, this can be changed if the current agricultural subsidy is shifted into organic farming instead of poison farming. States like Kerala and Sikkim are going to be fully organic in 2015. Kerala was the first state to declare a cancer epidemic due to pesticides. Punjab is the other but the current political regime of AKALI DAL-BJP has failed the people of the state. Punjab has been producing 60 percent grains of the entire country and has paid the price of poison farming. Its now famous for its falling water levels, cancer train express, farmer suicides and villages for sale. At a recent National Organic Farming Convention, CM Prakash Singh Badal proudly said that there is 550 acres of organic farm in Punjab and 1000 organic farmers. This is too little. I wonder how much did Badal family profit from the Cancer Hospitals which were set up across the state?

    A Natural Farming training workshop in Punjab.

    Its upto the youth to take the challenge, know where your food is coming from. Know whether you’re eating toxic food or healthy food. Ask the politicians why are our taxes being used for poison farming? Is it because they have corporate interests in the Poison agriculture industry? How much is Monsanto paying them to introduce GM seeds? Are our own seeds not good enough? If you love river Ganga so much, then why let pesticides poison it?

    NaMo model of development has already spelt doom for the farmers, its clear that it is a pro-corporate and anti farmer government, like the previous government as well. Changing of Land laws in favor of corporates is the start. GM crops are being cleared at an alarming rate. Lip service is being done to promote organic and natural farming. We, the youth of India, have to rise to this toxic challenge and ensure to safeguard our ecosystem, biodiversity, bhoomi, river goddesses and beej (seeds).

    Sunny Sandhu
    Sunny Sandhu
    Dr Sunny Sandhu is a Holistic Doctor , Environmental Health Activist , Singer/Songwriter. He did his MBBS from AIIMS, New Delhi. Has worked on ecological and health issues with Sooryayog foundation, Kerala and Kheti Virasat Mission, Punjab. He is also a musician. He travels in India and Europe, performing and conducting workshops on health. He also does Ecocultural tours in Tarn taran.

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