June 02, 2007

life in general: payback time for india's chemical-based green agri-revolutionaries

Its payback time. After saturating the farming lands of Punjab and Haryana in the 1980s-90s with chemical fertilisers and pesticides to boast record harvesting of wheat, India is forced to import wheat at international prices that increase by 15-20% every year. Grudgingly policy-makers are admitting the soil has got depleted but still are choosing to stay blind to the reasons behind it.

I got an comprehensive and enlightening understanding of the issues involved in agriculture when I read an open letter written last year by an organic farmer from Gujarat, Bhaskar Save, to the M.S.Swaminathan called as the father of India's so-called 'green revolution' in agriculture.

India's current prime minister, Manmohan Singh, has been recently voicing concerns on agriculture but he is still caught in the deception that its only a matter of increasing yield from the land. It would be wise on his part to seriously take (and so should industralists like Ratan Tata who just this week expressed his misguided thoughts on rural India) what Bhaskar Save has to say in his letter. Save writes: "Trying to increse Nature's 'productivity' is...fundamental blunder...Nature, unspoiled by man, is already most generous in her yield..When a grain of rice can reproduce a thousand-fold within months where arises the need to increase its productivity?...That is provided the farmer does not pour poison and mess around...in his greed for quick profit. A child has right to its mothers milk. But if we draw on our Mother Earth's blood and flesh as well, how can we expect her continuing sustenance?...The mindset of servitude to 'commerce and industry', ignoring all else, is the root of the problem. But industry merely transforms raw materials sourced from Nature into commodities. It cannot create anew. Only Nature is truly creative and self-regenerating through synergy with the fresh daily inflow of the sun's energy."

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