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    Published On : Fri, Feb 19th, 2016

    Why we need festivals like the ‘Beejotsav’ ?

    Nagpur BeejotsavNagpur: The NAGPUR SEED FESTIVAL 2016 begins today in Nagpur.

    It is a unique event that has been happening since the last three years and needs to be supported by every right thinking individual.

    What is the Beejotsav/ Seed Festival about?

    It is an Exhibition cum Sale of Seed Diversity, Farm produce & Books, where one can interact with Seed Savers & Farmers and enjoy song & music, Discussions & much more.. all in a natural setting.

    So much so that patrons are even invited to carry their own glasses to avoid use of plastic cups!

    This festival began today ( 19th February 2016) at 11AM and will end at 5PM on 21th, Sunday.

    The venue is, Sarvodaya Ashram, Near Bhole Petrol Pump, Dharampeth, Amravati Road, Nagpur.

    Why I support the Beejotsav whole heartedly?

    Indian farmers have been feeding themselves and their communities for about four thousand years .

    Farmers always relied on their own seeds , saved them and developed them by careful scientific observation and selection process. A part of their produce, whatever it may be – wheat, rice, jowar, tur, was set aside to be used as seed in the next season.

    This started changing just a few decades ago when scientists came in , decided they could make developed seeds that would supposedly solve a host of problems including that of food security.

    Soon the seed companies , rapacious , unethical , purely commercial companies like Monsanto and powerful politicians came in too.

    Our traditional , heirloom , paramparik seeds , in Marathi “saral vaan” have a host of features : nutrition , bio diversity , resistance to freaky weather , natural resistance to bugs and disease in built in its genes.

    Instead of using them, we are trying to have total monoculture of agriculture now. We need direly all our varieties of seeds , which are suitable for different climates and weather conditions to be saved , multiplied and eaten .

    No laboratory can reproduce what nature has given us

    After the deadly tsunami it was salt resistant rice that saved farmers and consumers on the south west coast of india.

    We are sadly losing seed diversity at a fast rate.

    We are falling prey to the totally false bogey of ” food security. ”

    We have ENOUFGH food on earth . i repeat ENOUGH food for earth , in india itself.

    We grew enough for 14 BILLION humans last year . one figure puts it at 11 BILLION.

    Thats enough and more . india has enough food , enough money , enough water even , enough land , enough talent and human resource.

    What we lack is a sense of priority .

    Food and water are the prime requirements . Now I say safe food and safe water are prime requirements. We have seen what polluted air is doing to our health and to our cities.

    Let us not pollute our bodies , soil water and cattle with poisonous Monsanto seeds , GMOs , BT etc .

    Let us promote organic by educating our consumers about safe , healthy nutritious food . Support our farmers because NO ORGANIC FARMER HAS COMMITTED SUICIDE .

    The demand for organic is growing by 400% every year according to one survey.

    Many stores and chains are going the organic way

    To sum up Beejotsav because we need to save our heirloom , traditional , precious , hugely bio-diverse seeds . This is what will give us seed sovereignty and true food security.

    Our diet needs to cover a variety of 27 different foods every week to keep diseases at bay.

    Instead what we eat is very poor in diversity , in roughage and general nutrition . We need to eat different kinds of Millets ( not just wheat) , rice ,dals, oils, vegetables , raw foods etc.

    You have to cut out all refined oils from your diet . come back to regionally grown cold pressed oils like groundnut , sarson , jawas etc

    Avoid like abomination that exorbitantly expensive Olive oil . It’s probably adulterated too. Anything that does not grow indigenously in our part of the world is not meant for us! Simple.

    Soyabean oil which our poor consume is the worst possible oil , a known Carcinogenic and just a bye product of the animal feed we grow for European markets.

    We were a young and inexperienced nation when we became independent in 1947. Our collective memories were scarred by the memories of famines during the British Rule – famines that were 100% man made and not failing of our farmers.

    So, our new government tried to centralize everything showing little faith in traditional systems. Centralizing everything meant that the Villagers lost all their confidence in their own skills and knowledge and quickly became dependent on the “Mai Bap Sarkar”.

    Indians farmers have been so innovative. Even HMT rice, that is so popular now, has been developed by a farmer. The point is that we are losing seed diversity, and farmers are being forced to use very expensive inputs. The advent of Hybrid crops meant they HAVE to purchase fresh seeds every year – they cannot sow what they have harvested. Hybrids, by definition require more chemical fertilizers, more agrochemicals like pesticides and insecticides. Now since labour is supposedly very expensive and hard to get, these companies have even introduced herbicides and weedicides, to kill and burn unwanted grass and weeds. Imagine how all this is poisoning our soil, our water – not just our air. It is spreading poison in the bodies of Cattle when they eat that grass and drink that water. Our children drink their milk, which is full of poison!

    This is all a strategy by the IMF and the World Bank to make us dependent on their Corporations.

    Shyamala Sanyal

    Shyamala Sanyal

    Unless we encourage and patronize Festivals like this and learn the Sorry truth behind our “Green Revolution” we may end up losing all our natural agricultural wealth and Farming will also become a completely Corporate Business.

    We need to wake up before it is too late.

    Shyamala Sanyal

    Shyamala is Managing Partner at Bharatiya Barud Udyog, a factory that makes tapes for crackers, a business she reluctantly took over on her husband’s untimely demise.
    At heart she is an Activist and a farmer, preferring to live either at her factory premises adjoining her farm in a small town of M.P. adjoining Saoner, though her Corporate Office and residence is in Nagpur.
    She has studied Psychology at the prestigious Maharani College, Jaipur.

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