Tag Archives: Farmers voice

#Farming Friday 17: Wishlist From An Indian Farmer

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Ask someone what comes to mind when they hear the words “Indian Farmer” and the reply, in most cases, sadly is “suicides”. A while back they might have said “Green Revolution”,  but the myth of the Indian farmer planting a GMO crop and then taking a desperate measure when it fails, has taken firm hold of the Internet. (It has been debunked, for example, here ). Confronted by this, I try to  explain the facts on chronic indebtedness which follows farmers through generations, this information  is mostly ignored. But, here is a piece that one cannot ignore:  an Indian farmer writes about his hopes from the new government. He says, of farmers growing Bt Cotton, “No one forced them to do it. They chose to adopt GM cotton because it makes sense.”  The food system needs to make sense to people at both ends of it. Most often, however,consumers’ voices, specially of those consumers who are unfamiliar with hunger or chronic malnutrition in their own experiences are the loudest.It is time to listen equally to those who actually grow our food.

(Image Courtesy: freedigitalphotos.net)

#Farming Friday 15: Land Grabs in Laos

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This post in the Farming Friday series is delayed but the issue it highlights is crucial today as farmers are being displaced in many parts of the world as they lose their land to outside forces, sometimes government projects or corporate interests or urban expansion. This is the experience of specially of farmers from minority ethnic groups in Laos who are being deprived of their lands. While the framework to protect their rights does exist, it is not being put to use.

(Image Courtesy: freedigitalphotos.net)

 

 

#Farming Friday 12: “Farmers Helping Fish”

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The current drought in  California poses a problem for salmon in their breeding season. Here is a wonderful story of how farmers helped the fish in need!

#Farming Friday 11: Farming in a War Zone

 

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Farming in truly hostile conditions, with polluted water and with access to markets blocked, images from the lives of Palestinian farmers.

The Conservation Question

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Going through all the postings/ articles shared on the occasion of Earth Day, it is encouraging to note the concern for preserving the environment. But, along with  that, comes the realization that preservation/conservation really means different things to different people. As one writer notes, the idea of pristine nature, left to itself; without humans going in and wrecking it is somewhat of an artificial construct.  Delinking people and their surroundings is a distortion. Over centuries, people have lived in harmony with their surroundings but this relationship has become fractured in recent times. The need is to restore it, rather than banish people from these spaces.

In rural areas, the poorest sections of the population often depend on their surrounding environment for food, fuel, fodder,even medicine and shutting them out to “preserve” nature makes the rural poor more vulnerable to economic hardship. Even the practice of eco-tourism as a means of balancing conservation and economic priorities can actually have a negative impact on those who depend on the land for survival.This would become worse as climate change poses a challenge to the food system and way of life of many communities causing them to become food insecure and  displaced from their homelands.

There is a need to emphasize that tackling climate change is not solely a matter of desertification, rising oceans or vanishing habitats for plants and animals. Climate change is impacting the livelihoods of people, specially the rural poor. So any plan of action should, ideally, take the whole picture into account: how can people and the environment coexist in a time of climate change? The answer  can be found partly in the technology that is available to us today and also in the knowledge that indigenous communities possess that enabled them to prosper in their environment in the past.

(Image Courtesy: freedigitalphotos.net)

#Farming Friday 11: Debt Main Cause of Indian Farmer Suicides

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I have grown weary of reading the “Bt Cotton causes farmer suicides in India” story and attempting to refute it. However, refuting it is essential because it is not just untrue, but also used as a trump card in the anti-GMO narrative.  There are several studies which have examined this question and determined that there is no causal relationship between the use of biotechnology and farmer suicides. The adoption of Bt Cotton in India has actually resulted in gains. And the issue of farmer suicides is a growing concern in many parts of the world, including the USA.  

The Indian farmer has always had to deal with an overwhelming burden of debt because the debt passed on down the generations of farmer families. Long before biotechnology arrived on the field, this narrative could be found in academic texts and popular literature. Here is the study from the Lancet which again upholds the result that small holder farmers, faced with crushing debt sometimes can only see suicide as an option. When the next government takes over, will this change? We can only hope so.

 

Image Courtesy:freedigitalphotos.net

#Farming Friday 10: Farming in the Time of Climate Change

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“The glacier knocks in the cupboard,

The desert sighs in the bed,

And the crack in the teacup opens,

A lane to the land of the dead.” – W.H. Auden

Climate change presents a unique challenge to the way we live on our planet. Today’s edition looks at this from a farmer’s point of view.

Also, tonight is the first episode of “Years of Living Dangerously”. Please watch if you can, and share what you felt about the links between climate change and the food system.

 

#Farming Friday 5: What is Wasabina?

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This series was a part of my New Year resolution and at the back of my mind was the misgiving that it might be difficult to keep it up. But it has turned out to be one of the best things I ever did! There are so many wonderful blogs from farmers all over the world which are a delight to read; and my new challenge is to choose just one among the many for Farming Friday.

Today’s blog is from Echigo Farm in Springfield, MO which specializes in growing traditional Japanese produce! They grow wasabina, mizuna, komatsuna, Japanese momotaro tomatoes and many other vegetables. Stopping by their blog to discover how these exotic sounding vegetables are flourishing in the Ozarks  was an experience I wanted to share with you. Oh, and wasabina is a variety of Japanese greens which is rich in iron and calcium and features in the farm’s winter greens mix.Hopefully, I will find it in a store somewhere near me!

#Farming Friday 4: Difficult Choices for Small Farmers

In this installment of Farming Friday, a farmer in Colombia talks about his dilemma , to eat or sell what he grows and the constraints under which he works.

#Farming Friday: Who Controls the Seeds?

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One of the issues in the GMO debate that seems to concern people a lot is that of corporate control over seeds. In today’s Farming Friday, a  farmer talks who uses both GMO and non-GMO seeds talks about his choices and decisions.

Image Courtesy: Freedigitalphotos.net