ICRISAT

Case study of ‘local’ agriculture being destroyed by the market

Until about forty years ago, innumerable varieties of millets were grown extensively in Antharsathe, a town in HD Kote taluk. Market forces, says Siddhartha, have now determined the cultivation of cash crops like Bt cotton and sugarcane. They are supplanting traditional farming practices, which had a repository of knowledge concerning soil regeneration, fertility, storing and exchange of seeds.

The public distribution system is now the institutionalized storage facility for wheat and rice. The seeds the government distributes for millets are considered by many farmers to be suspect.

In the context of climate change, thousands of farmers are bucking the trend and reverting to organic farming and cultivation of crops that are more in sync with local conditions.

Photo by Latha Nagarajan

Moving towards the local and the regional

The concept of Swadeshi, as stated by Gandhi, is that self-sufficiency in food at the local and regional levels can ensure food sovereignty.

Siddhartha explains that the cultivation of millets, practicing mixed cropping and making use of the public distribution system’s warehouses can consolidate sustainability. Furthermore, trading of surpluses between villages and towns can enhance the economic viability of the rural community. Efforts to improve livelihoods by utilizing compost and traditional crops would also ensure stability.

Photo by Pradeep Kumbhashi

Saving South Asia

Zulfiquar Shah has forecast that South Asia, with its shared natural resources, would be most affected with the onset of accelerating climate change. Himalayan glaciers would melt, floods and dry spells would be common, and those living in the coastal regions would be particularly vulnerable as sea levels rise and islands submerge. There would be mass migrations and pressure on the infrastructure in towns and cities. The environment is no respecter of boundaries, so the emphasis of the article is to call for a regional meeting of concerned scientists and policymakers of the affected regions to work out modalities to cope with the inevitable changes that are bound to occur with the looming crisis.

Photo by Sundaram Ramaswamy

Spirituality needed in times of climate change

The emphasis of this article is in renewing our female attributes of compassion, justice and truth. Acquisition, power and control, all male traits, have dominated our psyche and pushed the human race to the brink of self-destruction.

Radha Kunke says that our natural tendency to work cooperatively has been subsumed in the race for greed and aggrandizement. Remnants of these behaviours can still be observed in tribal societies. The author calls for a spiritual turnaround.

In the article, she gives classic examples like Google with its open source platforms, Gen Y striving to move out of stifling cubicle environments and grassroots-level initiatives where resources are utilized to renew and regenerate traditional modes of spirituality.