The Great Agricultural Challenge


Addressing the mounting spate of farmers’ suicides—its roots and remedies—Bhaskar Save writes in his open letter to M.S.Swaminathan: “I am an 84-year old farmer with six decades of experience…. I say with conviction that only by organic farming in harmony with Nature, can India sustainably provide abundant wholesome food and meet every basic need of all—to live in health, dignity and peace.” “You are the ‘father’ of India’s so-called ‘Green Revolution’ that flung open the floodgates of toxic agro-chemicals, ravaging the lands and lives of millions of Indian farmers over the past 40 years….” What follows is a devastating critique of the government’s agricultural policy, and an eloquent plea for urgent fundamental re-orientation. It reveals deep insights into the ground realities and wounded potential of Indian farming. A reader comments, “This is reminiscent of the native Chief Seattle’s immortal letter to ‘the Great White Chief’ of the marauding soldiers.” Swaminathan—heading the National Commission on Farmers—diplomatically wrote back to Save, “I have long admired your work and am grateful to you for the detailed suggestions…. valuable comments and recommendations. We shall take them into consideration in our final report.” Here is the whole fascinating record of the correspondence and annexures, including one on Save’s farm—a veritable ‘food forest’ and net supplier of water, energy and fertility to the eco-system of the region, rather than a net consumer! The book contains too the Civil Society and Farmers’ Representation: ‘Eleven Point Holistic Ecological Agriculture Agenda for India’; as also an incisive critique of the Indo-US ‘Knowledge Initiative in Agriculture’. Third reprint in 2009.

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Bharat Mansata

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