Political reasons

Challenging accepted norms

The research and development initiatives of the Green Revolution brought to the world, and particularly to India, a new, hybrid variety of seeds with the aim of increasing yields and reducing the food deficit of the country. They also introduced a chemical intensive form of agriculture highly dependant on external inputs that many farmers in India could ill afford. ‘Two decades of subsidizing agriculture with chemicals has impoverished the farmer and degraded the natural resources and diversity of food without reaching the goal of feeding the hungry.’

                                                                                -- Hidden Harvests, GREEN Foundation

GREEN’s work has challenged the alleged benefits of this form of agriculture, raising urgent questions on the sustainability of these practices and their ability to ensure food security for the future. Close interactions with the community, has shown us the devastation caused through the widespread adoption of these practices. We have aimed to demonstrate through quantifiable results that a more viable form of agriculture, one which provides adequate food security for India’s small scale and marginal farmers, is possible.

Seeking legislative support

Lasting change can only be brought about through legislation that supports and protects the rights of individual farmers and strengthens their livelihoods. Such legislation must also aim to conserve the biodiversity and natural ecology that is essential to Indian agriculture. Yet over the years, Govt. policies have promoted the use of high yielding exotic seed varieties and the chemical inputs they require. Unfortunately, this has lead farmers to adopt unsustainable practices. 

Through dialogue with key stakeholders, including the Government, GREEN has been lobbying for policy changes that encourage small scale and marginal farmers to pursue sustainable agriculture. GREEN has worked along with farmers to bring their concerns to the forefront of political dialogue. We have also appealed to the Government to highlight the role of women in Indian agriculture through projects that address their needs. They are in many ways the backbone of the sector, and sustainability is not possible without their contributions, particularly in the case of biodiversity conservation.

There have been many positive changes since we first began our work in 1997. One of the most notable of these is that the Government of Karnataka is now encouraging the promotion of organic farming by identifying one village in each district for conversion into an organic village. This is part of the Government’s larger project to meet its organic agriculture mission, which has a budgetary allocation of approximately Rs. 200 crores. GREEN’s pioneering work in biodiversity conservation through Community Seed Banks (CSB) has played a role in influencing the Govt. to fund the establishment of CSBs throughout Karnataka. Our efforts have also found mention in the Karnataka State Policy on Organic Farming.

Such progress owes as much to the perseverance of individual farmers themselves as to the collective efforts of a community of people within the non-profit sector. Strengthening the movement for sustainability, GREEN initiated the formation of Janadhayna, a farmers’ society which empowers farming communities to work collectively to avail the benefits of sustainable agriculture. Janadhanya has proved to be a means through which the movement has rapidly progressed, allowing community members themselves to take the core philosophy of organic practices to those who need it most: their fellow farmers.

Raising awareness

Fostering public awareness at a grassroots level has been essential in propelling the movement forward. GREEN initiates programs such as seed fares and yatras, which have proved a useful means of disseminating our core philosophy. Seminars and workshops on Government policy are held regularly held to sensitize farmers on issues directly concerning them.

We have also sought to increase general public awareness through radio programs, articles and regular columns in leading native-language newspapers. We recognize and encourage efforts of individual farmers who steadfastly uphold sustainable agricultural practices. ‘Beeje Maate’ Award was instituted for those farmers who have made outstanding contributions to seed conservation. Read more about our farmers.

“We want to spread the message of organic agriculture far and wide. When people visit us, we always give them gifts of seeds so that they can carry the concept of organic farming into more and more areas.”

                                                - Puttaveera a farmer of Veeraiandoddi village in Karnataka.

Dissemination of our message through publications has also helped strengthen the movement. Through innovative methodologies such as participatory rural appraisals we have also aimed to preserve and document the vast indigenous knowledge of the state of Karnataka.

© GREEN Foundation 2009