Monday, September 11, 2017

She quit her corporate job to support small farmers- Maithri's TRUNA organic and natural shop in Mysore

Maithri is from near Mysore in South Karnataka. At the age of twenty one she got a job in the human resources department of a tech company during Bangalore's tech boom. 

She didn't quite feel at ease and often questioned the point of her corporate job. Eventually, she quit her job a few years later and found Amrita Bhoomi, the peasant agroecology school set up by the farmer's movement KRRS. She became a full-time volunteer there and was actively involved with the institution for two years. During this time she helped to organize various farmers training camps including an international Zero Budget Natural Farming training camp with more than 40 international farmer activists from around the world. 

Her work at Amrita Bhoomi and being in the thick of the farmer's movement was a real game changer for Maithri and where she developed her politics. “It's where I learned about farmers issues, capitalism, economic policies, social justice, and what not”. Maithri also went on a special training course for political educators carried out by the Movimiento Sem Terra (MST) in Brazil every year. That sealed the deal, and Maithri decided that she wanted to become deeply involved in a livelihood that also contributed to conserving nature, empowering people, and creating social justice. 
 
Thanks to a number of lucky circumstances Maithri got the opportunity to access a retail space in Mysore. She immediately took up the offer and went about finding farmers and suppliers and learning the ropes. She also got an internship in another well-established organic store. Such organic shops are important for small farmers to market their products and for consumers to access chemical free and ethically produced food. 

“It’s complicated, and there are many problems, but it's working slowly. I’m a single woman trying to make a livelihood, so I really need to think about the business aspects as well.” Maithri has tried to and succeeded in setting up connections with some ZBNF farmers, but it's not easy for small farmers or for small shops like hers to connect, the logistical challenges are big for such small players. She points out that small shops like hers also work with very small volumes of produce and storage of perishable goods is a challenge. "The only way I think this can work is for people to get into groups or cooperatives to share costs to improve services.” 

"I want to expand operations in the future and especially create more awareness among consumers.” Maithri points out that consumer commitment is quite low. “Some argue with me and say something is not completely organic or that prices are slightly higher. It's difficult to be 100% chemical free, and I can't always guarantee this for all products- mostly I try to support the small farmers and women who bring in home made food products like laddoos. I inform the consumers when something is not guaranteed chemical free. When it comes to spending on luxuries like jewellery, people don't think twice, but a one rupee price increase on vegetables seems to press their buttons. We really need to educate consumers, I believe that food is one's medicine. We should see local and natural food as our political and social commitment and an investment in our health,” says Maithri.

by Ashlesha Khadse, Amrita Bhoomi

Saturday, September 9, 2017

GAURI LANKESH'S POLITICAL ASSASINATION

URGENT APPEAL FOR INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY!!

Those who fear the Power of the Pen took to the Gun. Again !

Right to dissent and free speech is under attack with journalists, writers and activists being killed.

Gauri Lankesh (PC-Online)


Gauri Lankesh stood up for all of us. Let’s stand up for her and stand up to the terror that took her life.

We, La Via Campesina- South Asia, condemn the murder of Gauri Lankesh, one of the fearless journalists of Karnataka. Gauri Lankesh was shot dead outside her home in northern Bengaluru on the night of 5th September 2017. Those bullets aimed at Gauri have brutally pierced into the hearts of millions of people who, like Gauri, are working towards justice, equity and harmony and the values she stood for.

Gauri was widely known and loved across Karnataka and the country for her relentless writings, talks and campaigns in solidarity with the oppressed. Gauri openly and publicly questioned and challenged politicians, bureaucrats, judiciary, chauvinists and stood by the downtrodden. She was a fierce journalist and a vocal critic of communal forces in Karnataka and in India. She was committed till her last breath in her struggle against communalism, the fascist ideologies of Hindutva/Sangh Parivar and supported progressive forces in maintaining communal harmony in Karnataka. Gauri Lankesh was the editor of Gauri Lankesh Patrike, a Kannada fortnightly newspaper, and has authored several books. She was one the founding members of Karnataka Komu Souharda Vedike (KKSV), an organisation dedicated to maintaining communal harmony in Karnataka. She worked relentlessly to bring people together in the fight against class, caste and religious fundamentalism.

Her last post on social media on the inhuman denial of refuge to the persecuted Rohingyas by Indian Government speaks of her concern and compassion for the subjugated humanity. We salute the conviction and courageous life of Gauri and commit to joins hands with all progressive forces across the country to bring justice to her, her values and intensify our struggle against the undemocratic silencing of dissenting voices.

In the past we have witnessed the muzzling of free speech through violence and hatred by the fundamentalists. Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, Prof.M M Kalburgi and Govind Pansare were martyred by similar forces but such incidences only reaffirm our commitment against those who mistakenly think they silence us.

LVC South Asia demand the following:

1. State must declare that this is an act of terror.
2. Judicial committee to look into the activities of rightist fascist forces.
3. Special investigation team with judicially monitored probe.
4. We see a common thread in the murders of Dhabolkar, Pansare, Kalaburagi and Gauri Lankesh and assassinations carried out by a organised terror group which holds an ideology opposed to secular, Democratic and constitutional forces. We demand that the union government is responsible for taking appropriate steps to constitute a joint parliamentary committee to identify the terror group and bring them to book.


LVC South Asia also calls upon peoples’ movements, all progressive organisations and concerned citizens to stand up and fight this cowardly act and rise up to the defence of rights, freedom and the constitutional values which are under attack today from right wing fascist forces in a consistent manner. In this very crucial and important situation we urge you to hold a non-violent obituary protest, release solidarity statement and appraise media about this heinous crime and build international pressure to call upon the Government of India, Prime Minister of India, Chief Minister of Karnataka asking them to probe the cases of all the killings immediately and safeguard the lives of people who dissent with their voices and words.

What you can do?

1. Please share this Solidarity Call widely in your circles.

2. Forum Against Assassination of Gauri is holding a Solidarity public rally and resistance meeting on 12th September in Bengaluru. Pls send a copy of the solidairty letters and  photos of protest (Pls use Gauri's photo with a tag line "I am gauri") to  internsolidarity.iamgauri@gmail.com. This will be used in the media to build up pressure on the Govt.

3.Write to Indian Government-

Write to President of India
President​ ​Shri​ ​Ramnath Kovind - presidentofindia@rb.nic.in - +91 11 23015321 ( Off.), +91 11 2301729023017824 (Fax)
Secretary to President
Smt. Omita Paul - secy.president@rb.nic.in - +91 11 2301332423014930 ( Off.), +91 11 2301729023017824 (Fax)

Write to Prime Minister of India
click on the link and register your grievance http://pgportal.gov.in/pmocitizen/Grievancepmo.aspx
Tweet @narendramodi

Write to Chief Minister Siddaramaiha
chiefminister@karnataka.gov.incm.kar@nic.in






**Suggested reading on the issue- 






Thursday, August 24, 2017

Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee condemns the imprisonment and continued ill-treatment of peasant leader Mehar Abdul Sattar

A photo of Mehar Sattar after he was locked up in High Security jail.
In a statement issued on August 23, the Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee, a member of La Via Campesina in South Asia, has condemned the continued ill-treatment of peasant leader Mehar Abdul Sattar in prison since April 2016.
Mehar Abdul Sattar, the general secretary of Anjman Mozareen Punjab (AMP, Tenants Association Punjab) and also Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee, is a peasant leader who has been at the forefront of the struggle for land rights at Okara Military Farms.
The statement alleges that since his imprisonment early last year, 36 false police cases have been registered against him. In March 2017, he was shifted to Sahiwal High Security prison and allegedly tortured. He is tied in chains, the statement alleged.
Asma Jehangir, renowned social activist, lawyer and former President of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan, is now arguing in the court for the rights of the imprisoned peasant leader.
After Lahore High Court rejected the plea to move back Mr. Sattar to an ordinary jail from the high security prison, the team approached the Supreme Court of Pakistan. On August 23, the case came up for hearing at the Supreme Court, where Asma detailed out the inhuman treatment meted out to the peasant leader in prison.
She pointed out that the decision to move Sattar to a high security prison, originally meant for convicted terrorists and extremists, is part of a conspiracy to criminalise the peasant movement and its leaders.
While arguing the case, the lawyer pointed out that without a judicial order, an under trial prisoner could not be shifted to another jail. Yet, in this case, an order from the Home secretary was used to move him and the court permission was sought much later. An administrative order is against the prison rule, the lawyer argued.
When the prosecutors argued that he was moved as part of a security procedure and accused that his court appearances always see large number of peasants in attendance, Asma Jehangir countered, “Yes when rich leaders appear in courts, no one objects about their followers turning up in large numbers, but a leader of the poor is not treated in the same way. Why?”
In an amusing turn of events, one of the presiding judges, after looking at the list of cases, sought clarification on whether Mr. Sattar was a socialist. The defendants lawyer argued that there were several socialists in the court room, and wondered how that was even relevant to the case!
She requested the Apex Court to demand that Sattar be produced in the court room, so that it can witness first hand his situation.
The court has asked the prosecution to submit all details and orders under which Sattar was moved to a high security prison. While adjourning the case for more hearing in September, it ordered immediate removal of chains and allowed Sattar’s wife and sister to meet him every fifteen days. It also granted permission to his lawyers Asma Jehanghir and Abid Saqi to meet Mehar Sattar in jail. However they did not shift him to Central Jail Sahiwal immediately as requested by the defendant’s lawyers.
The case would now be heard in Islamabad during September.
According to an article published by Herald in 2016the land dispute in Okara initially erupted in 2000 when the management of the farms tried to change the terms and conditions of tenancy agreements. The tenants rejected the new agreements, dreading they would increase the cost of tenancy, would not offer them guaranteed tenure and would make it easier for the authorities to evict them from the lands their families have been cultivating for generations. A vast majority of them refused to sign the new lease agreements. They also fiercely resisted the military’s efforts to evict them from the lands. They then organised themselves as the AMP, under the desperate sounding slogan of maliki ya maut (give us land ownership or give us death).
Image Sourced from www.TheNews.com.pk
Suggested Reading on the issue:
(First published on https://viacampesina.org/en/pakistan-kissan-rabita-committee-condemns-imprisonment-continued-ill-treatment-peasant-leader-mehar-abdul-sattar/) 

The upper caste story is not the only story of India- student’s training camp on caste at Amrita Bhoomi


Students dancing spontaneously 
22 Aug: The Bahujan Vidyarthi Sangh (BVS), a student group with members from the so called bahujan groups conducted a five day camp for students at Amrita Bhoomi. Bahujan means "majority of the people', which includes Dalits, Adivasis, and many other castes and religions of the subcontinent who are caste-bound and ruled by upper-caste minorities. About hundred students attended from across Karnataka. 

BVS routinely conducts such training camps across Karnataka state. The camps focus on studying Indian history and society from an alternative perspective of that of the upper caste ‘Manuvadi’ versiĆ³n.  Manuvad roughly translated to Manu-ism, is the rule of law based on the Manusmriti - the principle code of law of Hinduism which lays down the rules for the different castes.  It is the proverbial ‘Bible of the Brahmans’ and promotes a systematic exploitation and slavery of the so-called 'lower' castes and all women, keeping them in a permanently subordinate role.

Girls led most of the
sessions during the camp
These BVS camps focus on building the pride and self-confidence of youths from such castes, and creates cadre to join the larger social struggle for their rights.

“This is the first time I was able to learn the real history of India,” said Shashikala of Gundelpet district. “I always took for granted what we experienced, but now I know why it is wrong. I will bring more youth from my village to attend this camp next time,” she said.

Students came from all across Karnataka
“I have been attending these camps for the last seventeen years. We have to fight for social justice and equality in our society. We also have to fight against large scale privatization of our economy,” said Narayanswami from Gundalpet.

The entire camp was conducted through volunteer work by the students.
Song and dance encourage self-expression and are at the heart of the camp – students sang revolutionary songs, and both the women and men danced unabashedly.

Students took an oath to not buy products from multinational corporations, but to support locally produced food and other materials. 

Kannaiyan from the farmers' movement adressing the students
“Amrita Bhoomi is proud to host this camp, and we will continue to do so. The annihilation of caste is at the centre of our educational programmes here, we must build such active solidarity with different social struggles,” said Chukki Nanjundasway of the KRRS, who is also in the coordination of Amrita Bhoomi.


“We have to intensify our struggle against the growing communalism in India today. The upper caste Hindu fundamentalists are misinterpreting history today to spread hatred and violence and increase the polarization of our country. We have to bring everyone together, not divide our country,” said Kannaiyan Subramiam of South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements.

by- Ashlesha, Amrita Bhoomi

Monday, August 21, 2017

People’s Summit in Hyderabad opposes RCEP






    India hosted the 19th trade round of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership(RCEP) from 17th to 28th of July in Hyderabad. It gathered over 500 negotiators from the 16 countries who are involved in the construction of this agreement. On July 23rd and 24th the People’s Convention against Free Trade Agreements and RCEP took place in Hyderabad, a parallel meeting to share information about the consequences of this agreement and to publicly express an opposition, by demonstration.

This Free Trade Agreement (FTA) launched in 2012, aims to create a large economic zone where the trade in services, investments, intellectual property, goods and so on will be “facilitated”. The variety of sectors covered by this agreement are reflected in the opposition of many organisations and associations like  Telangana Rythu JAC, All India Kisan Sabha, All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha, Rythu Swarjya Vedika, All India Coordination Committee of Farmers’ Movements, Public Services International, All India Trade Unions’ Congress, Centre of Indian Trade Unions, Indian National Trade Union Congress, Telangana Medical Sales Representatives’ Union, Dalit Women’s Union, National Alliance of Dalit Organisations, Jana Vignana Vedika, Telangana Vidyavanthula Vedika, T-JAC, Dalit Bahujan Front, Doctors’ without Borders, National Alliance of People’s Movements and Telangana Praja Front, which were all present at the Convention. Some representatives from Philippines, Japan, Indonesia and Thailand also came to demonstrate the united and international nature of this struggle, against a project which only removes safeguard for workers in all countries.

The reasons for this opposition are numerous. Firstly the entire process remains a secret and out of the control of the populations. The matter has not yet been brought up in the Indian Parliament for discussion. None of the State governments have been officially informed, much less been asked for their opinion. Afsar Jafri, of the Focus on the Global South, recently asked, “Should the states not be consulted on issues which are greatly going to affect them? The lack of Parliamentary scrutiny and debate is also a major concern.” No civil society organisation can have access at the working documents or be present during the discussions and governmental debates. This lack of transparency has created fear of some antidemocratic resolutions in the final agreement and hence must be condemned in itself.

Also, according to the past experiences on FTA consequences and the few declarations and leaked documents already analysed, several threats on a large number of sectors are expected. The drastic reduction of tariffs (around 80% in some cases) on goods imported is an immediate risk for small Indian businesses and workers that depend on it. The open concurrency of cheap Chinese goods can indeed encourage the businesses to depress wages and working conditions and in numerous cases destroying employment. Moreover, the parties involved plan on creating an Investor-State Dispute Settlement Court (ISDS) which the coprorate companies can apporach in case of any dispute, where suing the States, avoiding payment of taxes and overstepping environmental laws will all be served on a platter to them.

 In addition, according to leaked documents, the access for generic and low-cost medicine seems to be threatened. In India, medicines for HIV are affordable and accessible to the public at large due to previous development in that field. The local production and sale of these medicines at cheaper prices will be affected massively once this FTA comes into effect. In the RCEP agreement South Korean and Japanese governments ask for a longer monopoly for patent holding pharmaceutical companies, by extending the already 20 year old delay, after which generic versions of a medicine can be produced. During this extended delay, those companies will thus be allowed to sell their high price products without any concurrence. This will make it impossible for most people to have access to the new medicines.

Finally, this FTA is a major risk for Indian agriculture sector and especially for small farmers. As for goods imports, the tariff cuts on imported agricultural products in India may result in the destruction of a lot of jobs. The dairy sector in particular will suffer from the unequal competition of New Zealander and Australian low costs products. It should also be noted that, once again, farmers’ free access and use of their seeds will be threatened. In order to protect big companies’ intellectual property rights of these seeds, this agreement aims to make it illegal for farmers to exchange, save and reuse it whereas making it easier for the seed companies to export and import it.

Another consequence of RCEP is the monopoly over rights of seeds. In India, legislation provides farmers a right over the seeds they grow – to store, sell, share or sow. Japan and Korea, which are part of the RCEP and also have major seed companies in India are pushing for Intellectual Property rights of the seeds being granted to corporates. This is along the lines of the 1991 UPOV Convention in Europe, which imposes serious restrictions on farmers’ usage of their seeds and also much research and development on IP-protected seeds. This will only encourage corporate plant breeders to patenting plants while destroying seed variety and crop diversity.

To face those major threats, the different representatives at the People’s Convention adopted a declaration in which they affirmed the multi-sector nature of the opposition to this agreement and reminded everyone about the past FTA experiences, “Dalits, Adivasis, small farmers, unorganized workers, denotified tribes, minorities, women and children stand to lose the most in this game. Those who gain will be the big corporations.” Then, they called the governments to stop the negotiations on RCEP and other FTAs, they demanded transparency in such negotiations and finally, said that “all state governments and political parties should declare their stand on RCEP and other FTAs.”


“RCEP go back!”



On 24thJuly a demonstration gathering hundreds of people started from Peoples’ Plaza, carrying slogans like “Don’t trade our lives away!”, “Yes to co-operative democracy, no to corporate democracy”, “Farmers need better price, not cheap import”. Despite the hostility of the authorities, who didn’t allow the demonstrators to reach the city centre where the negotiations took place, the participants were determined to make their voices heard and walked on Necklace Road.

 The next step is the Manila governmental conference on September 2017, where all the concerned ministers will try to finalise the agreement, which is to be adopted at the end of 2017. More demonstrations and discussions, on the people’s side, such as the People’s Convention at Hyderabad, are being planned in order to ensure that the RCEP agreement does not go through without inclusion of and debate with all affected parties.

 “All the diverse groups at this People’s Convention stand for social, economic and environmental justice. We stand for a new vision of development and trade that creates dignified jobs, sustainable farming, quality public services, respects democratic decision-making and the principles of substantive equality, socialism, and of federalism enshrined in the Constitution of India.”

For Further Information-
http://www.bilaterals.org/?+-rcep-332-+

https://www.grain.org/article/entries/5741-how-rcep-affects-food-and-farmers

https://www.grain.org/article/entries/5763-highlights-from-the-peoples-summit-against-ftas-and-rcep

Contributions (Notes and Pictures)- Akhilesh and Corentin

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

In Solidarity with Narmada Struggle

Protest in support of Narmada Bachao Andolan
August 6th, Sunday, 5:30 P.M., Mysore Bank Circle, Bengaluru
For complete and just rehabilitation!

                         
                         NOTE: Since this protest, the situation in the valley has worsened with police violence on peaceful protesters and the arrest of Medha Patkar and other women on indefinite fast. We strongly condemn this brutal response of the government. 

PC-Benny Kuruvilla
On 6th August, people representing movements and organizations from across karnataka and India took part in a demonstration at Mysore Bank Circle, Bengaluru, to voice support for the People of the Narmada valley, who are about to lose their homes, land, livelihoods, and lives. “Narmada ulisi!Manavarannu Ulisi!” (Save Narmada, Save Humanity) echoed in the air in the city’s busiest square, witness to thousands of people passing by.

Among those present in the gathering were a large number of youth from various student organizations from across the country, who had gathered for the All India Convention of Student Struggles- AICSS, which expressed complete solidarity with the Narmada struggle. There were representatives from many people’s organizations part of the National Alliance of Peoples Movements- including Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, Karnataka Domestic Workers Union, students groups from Tumkur, etc. Joining the protest were voices from Dalit and Adivasi movements from Madhya Pradesh, Swaraj Abhiyan, and many concerned citizens.

It has been 32 years since the birth of Narmada Bachao Andolan, a non-violent struggle which has questioned the disourse of a violent development model that creates large scale displacement and ecological devastation. The adivasi people, farmers and fisherfolk, have taken part in countless demonstrations, petitions, satyagraha and fasts over the many years leading to key consequences of the struggle like the withdrawal of World Bank funding, and Court orders for just rehabilitation.
The situation took a grave turn when in 2014, the Modi Govt increased the height of the dam by 17m(from 121m to 138m), and over a month ago, closed the gates of the dam. This will force up to 40,000 families to abandon their homes and livelihoods without rehabilitation. Instead of following legal norms on rehabilitation, the MP Govt and the Narmada Control Authority are pushing out people into temporary tin sheds with no amenieties!

KT Gangadhar of KRRS extending Solidarity
A little less than two weeks ago, 12 people, including Medha Patkar, started an indefinite fast demanding just and lawful rehabilitation. However there has been no dialogue by the state government or the Centre, but only appeals to call off the fast without any assurances about rehabilitation.  

  Among those present at the demonstration on Sunday at Bengaluru, K.T. Gangadhar of KRRS called to mind the June 6th tragedy when 6 farmers were killed by the Madhya Pradesh police during a protest. He emphasised the need for a large and strong mobilisation, to force the government to pay heed to the voice of the population. He also spoke in support of Medha Patkar and the other fasting protestors, saying she is one of the most respected activists of this era. He put forward the complete support of KRRS and the rest of Karnataka for the movement.

In addition, Prof. Haragopal of the All india Forum for Right to Ecucation (AIFRTE) tackled the argument of the need for development, often used by the government to justify the Narmada project: “Development should lead towards equality and justice”, thus he expressed his support to the people of Narmada. Madhuri from an organization for Dalits and Adivasis of Narmada region, highlighted the situation of the people who are already being forced to leave and the disinterest of the authorities, “Neither the High court of Madya Pradesh, nor the government are able to answer to what will happen to the victims of Narmada”. Kavitha Kuruganti from the Alliance of Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA), said the CM of Madhya Pradesh must be ashamed for not responding to the ongoing hunger strike- instead of engaging in dialogue, the govt is making false statements and playing a game of numbers!  

Madhuri behan from Barwani (Madhya Pradesh)
The protestors  and the movements collectively (National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements, All India convention of Student Struggles, and others) called out to both the government of Madya Pradesh and the government of India to stop the violence against the peaceful protestors, to immediately open a dialogue with those on fast and finally to open the gates of the dam, until a complete rehabilitation is undertaken for each and every family concerned by the project. “Beke beku, nyaya beku”("We want Justice")




‘JUNGAL JAMEEN KISKA HAIN,
HAMARA HAIN HAMARA HAIN.
GAON KA HAKK KISKA HAIN,
HAMARA HAIN HAMARA HAIN’*


*Famous slogan of resistance from Narmada Bachao Andolan - Whose is this forest and land? It's ours, it's ours. Who has the right to our village? It's ours, it's ours.

This a blogpost by Corentin(Karan), who is interning with KRRS. 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Creative Natural Farmers Rake in Profit Through Vegetable Production and Cooperative

Kumaraswamy
photo credits- Rajiv Rathod
June 2017, Nelamangla, Karnataka: Kumaraswamy and his wife Bhaghyambika from Nellamangla have together set up a profitable multilayer Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) vegetable farm. They market their produce through their 250 member organic farmers cooperative which supplies more than 50 organic shops in Bangalore. This combination of ZBNF and the cooperative Kumaraswamy says have solved the two key problems faced by farmers – high cost of production and lack of access to markets- and have made him a very happy farmer.

Bhagyambika
photo credits- Rajiv Rathod
They don’t waste a spot on their 2-acre farm growing up to 70 varieties of vegetables. 100 raised beds cover each acre of land. They use the centre of the bed to grow greens like spinach, dill, fenugreek with intercrops like chillies, tomato, or brinjal. The underground is used for root vegetables like beet or potato, and the airspace is used by climbers like bottle gourd. Trees like moringa or gliricidia are planted on the edges of the beds- every dimension is covered by their vegetables both above and below ground.

Originally from Mandya, they leased two acres in Nelamangla.  They have a total of 2.5 acres, the half-acre for growing grains and millets for household consumption, the rest for vegetable production. Kumaraswamy is a graduate in Earth sciences, always fascinated by the science and study of soil and plants. “I do so much research on my own farm, have been for the last ten years. It’s important to ask questions, ”Kumaraswamy says.

He first learned about ZBNF by attending Subhash Palekar’s training camps. Palekar is the innovator of the toolkit of ZBNF methods and its main “guru”. Kumaraswamy was inspired by the 5 layer orchard model of Palekar, and tried to apply similar principles to his vegetable plots. “I’ve attended many of Palekar’s camps- in Kudalsangama, in Suttur, in Hasan and in Mysore. I was a chemical farmer before meeting Palekar. My father was farming in the traditional way but the government really pushed us to practice high yielding farming, so I shifted to chemicals and hybrids. I made some serious losses.”

A newly planted bed
Earlier he practiced large-scale monoculture banana farming. He had 15000 banana trees at one point. Prices were good for a couple of years but they crashed one year and he wasn’t able to recover the high investments and suffered a major set back.  This ZBNF model is much safer he says- it is diverse which is why it provides regular income and it is good for health. There is very good demand for organically grown vegetables in Bangalore city.

He shows us his marvelous vegetable plots. There are 12 plants in each bed- a different combination of plants each time. For example one bed had bottle guard and bitter guards as a climbers on the egdes of the bed, marigold on the edges as a pest control, coriander with chilly as intercrop, beetroot underground, drum stick /moringa on the one edge, radish in between two beds.
Kumaraswamy demonstrating
a wheel hoe weeder
photo credits- Rajiv Rathod

Another bed had fenugreek, tomato as an intercrop, kol greens on the side, ridge guard as the creeper and potato as the root. On another bed he has amaranthus, red brinjal, long brinjal, beets.

Every week he gets a fresh batch of vegetables. All the plants, including the gliricidia and drumsticks/moringa on the edges of the farm provide a constant source of income. “500 Rs per week from the moringa leaves and pods,” he exclaims enthusiastically.

They hire two laborers  – a couple whose children were running about, playing in the farm. Bhagyambika also contributes her labour - sowing seeds when we visited. “One acre can be farmed by our family itself, we don’t really need much labor,” he says.

When we ask him about the economics of his farm, his face lights up. He breaks into detailed accounting to tell us about his high profits. His expenses are 12,000 Rupees for his workers and 3000 Rupees for seeds. He saves some seeds but still has to purchase. His total expenses per month are around 15,000 Rupees.

Bhagyambika and their hired farm labourer sowing
vegetable seeds. Photo credits- Rajiv Rathod
On the other hand, his income is as follows:-
Per bed income
  •          Income from bunches of greens: 50 bunches per bed at Rs 10 a bundle= 500 Rs per bed
  •       Intercrops like chilly and tomato: 2 kg per plant at 50 plants per bed so 100 kg per bed at 20 Rs minimum rate=2000 Rs minimum
  •      Root veggies: 200 plants, 25 kg total at about 20 per kilo= 500 Rs per bed
  •      Climbers: 12 plants,  about 25 kg total, gives him about 500 Rs per bed 
  • All women workers of the cooperative
    sort onions
  •      Other green veggies like drumstick/moringa: 500 rs per bed


Per bed he earns a minimum of 4000 Rs over 4 months
1 acre has 100 beds= 4 lakh rupees for 4 months
They plant 3 crop cycles per year on each bed= 12 lakhs a year for each acre, and 24 lakh for 2 acres.

They own just one cow- which they say supplies enough dung and urine for their farm operations and also gives milk.

Kumaraswamy with the coordinator of the cooperative 
Finally, we walk over to the storage space of their farmer’s cooperative - Shivganga organic farming society, a ten-year-old cooperative. Membership here has been key for him to access the organic market of Bangalore. Their group supplies about a 1000 bunches of greens per week to shops in Bangalore. They have their own truck for transportation and have removed the middle-man in their dealings with the retailers. The society has about 250 members, all organic producers. While some are certified, Kumaraswamy as a zero budget farmer is not certified and doesn’t want to take that route. They have quality control field officers hired by the society to keep a check on farmers practices. They meet once a month to take key decisions. Farmers have a buy in share. All the cooperatives office work is done by an all woman staff.

- by Ashlesha Khadse, Amrita Bhoomi