Vasundhara Festival 2015

Vasundhara Festival -  Day Two

The second day of Vasundhara festival began with over 300 farmers from all over India dividing into regional groups to discuss Anna Swaraj 2020. The Anna Swaraj 2020 vision is call for farmers to unite and demand independence from the agro-chemical companies, suicides and debt. During the two hour meeting, they discussed solutions to current agrarian crisis such as soil degradation, loss of pollinators, drought, debt etc.  Afterwards farmers pledged their commitment to Bija swaraj, Bhu swaraj, Jal and Van swaraj. They shared different strategies to deal with these situations plans with other regional groups.  Some of solutions discussed were setting up local seed banks, spreading awareness about organic farming, organising groups against chemical fertilisers, pesticides and genetically modified crops. At the end of the session the farmers called for a vision of Anna Swaraj 2020 to be implemented at the village and state level. Farmers from each state prepared a campaign to meet their provincial governments and state agricultural departments for promotion of organic agriculture.

Omak Apang, tea farmer from the the Arunachal Pradesh, said, “ One of the possible solutions for the north east states is to come together and demand a pan NE policy against GMOs and poisonous chemicals.”

The farmers freely exchanged methods through which others could organise at grass root levels and promote the vision of Organic India.

“One possible solutions to problems of the  to start community farming in the southern parts of India, if we want to make the cotton belt prosperous again. Today, people look down upon traditional agriculture.  The youth and society don’t want to work on the land, they have a disdain for physical labour. We need to reverse this trend,”  Pandu Rang Hegde, 60,part of the Chipko Andolan Karnataka said.

 

This session was followed by closing ceremony, the chief guest for the event was Sahdev Pundir, MLA from Sahaspur. The ceremony was also attended by school children from the Doon valley and other farmers from neighbouring villages too. Special highlight at the event were women from Uttarakhand and tribal areas of Jharkhand who sang folk song. They were followed by students who presented poems and read out essays dedicated to the Earth mother.Dr Vandana Shiva, Director, Navdanya, then addressing the gathering said, “We have to get the doctors, consumers, farmers, children and mothers to all stand together for a new framework, for a new policy that works with ecology and not destroys it. Our vision for Anna Swaraj 2020 aims to root out this disease that is killing our farmers, degrading our land and reconnect with our sacred Maati (soil). ”  The closing ceremony was followed a vote of thanks and dinner.

 

Vasundhara Festival - Day One

Dehradun: In celebration of the UN year of soil 2015, Navdanya has organised Vasundhara, a two day national gathering of farmers at the biodiversity conservatory farm at Ramgarh, Dehradun.

The festival began on September 29th, with over 200 farmers from all parts of the country coming together to stand for a new Anna swaraj vision 2020 demanding Bija Swaraj, Anna Swaraj, and Bhu Swaraj.  They were be joined by delegates, small farmers and students from around the world. After the registration, farmers sowed rare native varieties of seed at Navdanya farm. This was followed by a seed sharing ceremony where Indian farmers gifted international farmers with seeds of corn.

This was followed by the introductory session where all farmers briefly talked about their experiences and problems. Each of the farmers from the 21 states talked to the group about the ground conditions of their villages and lands.

Ramesh Singh, Organic farmer from Banda said, “ We have travelled a long way to be at Vasudhara to talk about the misery of our brother farmers in Bundelkhand. In the past, Navdanya has helped me conserve my land and their seeds and methods have helped my crop climate resilient. I hope to learn more from the experience of framers here and help my people”.

This session was followed by organic lunch. After the meal one representative from each state discussed their specific problems that they wanted the agricultural experts to address. Dr Vanadana Shiva, founder Navdanya, “The condition of the Indian farmer is much worse than it was 40 years ago. With every fourth Indian hungry now, we know that the model of chemical agriculture is failing. Understanding this crisis, organic agriculture is not an alternative, but the only option we have left if we want to have a future.”  “Vasundhara festival is the prayer of thousands of farmers to the earth goddess, to help us be healthy again. We together want to revive traditional agriculture methods that have sustained India since the Vedic times and continue to give us tasty nutritious food.” she said.

Dr Shiva then with Fmr Andre Leu, president of IFOAM, Ronnie Cumins, directors & co-founder Organic Consumer Alliance (OCA) and Dr Will Allen, anthropologist and writer, and Vani Hari, food activist opened the discussion on the campaigns and strategies for Regeneration of Food and Agriculture Systems with the famers. Each of them targeted one link of the chain of the modern food web highlight the exploitive elements underlying them. Further they debated with the participants new threats and opportunities in the field of agriculture, these include talks on GMOs, inflation, falling farm prices and rising debt, etc.

Ronnie Cummins addressing the famers said, “ I believe that each farmer’s suicide is actually a murder and it is happening to farmers all over the world. Chemical fertilisers and industrial agriculture is destroying billions of life, whether it be microbial life or human life. We have to leave this degenerative system and together fight for our earth.  We need to create a regenerative that heals the soil. This is the only way we have to prevent a catastrophe.”

Next round of discussion was centered around Food Smart citizens for Food Smart Cities (local food circles), Sarson Satyagrah, Bt Cotton, Roundup-Roundup, Anna Swaraj 2020. Pandu Rang Hedge, farmer from Karnataka, said, “ We have already aware of the our miseries and the troubles of our brother farmers. Some of the solutions talked about by the Andre and Will tell us that we are not alone and give strength to our organic movement. It is about time that Indian farmers link up with international counterparts and fight this oppressive system”

Giving a light end to the day were cultural performances by participants of the A-Z Agroecology course, theatre director from Berlin, Barbara which were followed by folk songs and skits performed by the farmer participants.

 




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