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 awaterma (Flickr)

Distorted government policies will lead to eventual food shortages

Siddhartha of Pipal Tree explains how globalization, in its wake, has brought a distorted distribution system with local retail outlets storing products that have crossed great distances and blurred transnational boundaries. The carbon footprint that it leaves behind is decreasing our ability to live as a human species.

Before globalization, unpolished rice and vegetables were grown locally without chemical fertilisers and genetic modification. Market fundamentalism and financial strength by multinational corporations are holding sway and destroying a whole way of live that was fundamental to the traditional ethos. A wholesome way of life is gradually being annihilated by mega-agribusiness.

Photo by erraticfreedom (Flickr)

Forest Communities and Adaptation to Climate Change

Sanjay Khatau’s passionate commitment is for the tribal people who, facing the brunt of climate change, find themselves disoriented from their traditional moorings.

Tribals are experiencing erratic rainfall, longer summer months, and shorter winters. Their traditional cropping patterns, which included cultivation of millets, harmonized with the seasons. They are now being thrown out of gear by soil erosion, multiple sowings and gradual destruction of soil fertility.

The public distribution system offering low prices for rice has paved the way for complacency. Indigenous farmers now lease their land for cash crops. The young people migrate to cities for better prospects. The hope is that they would in the course of time return to look after the land.