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



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 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 - - +91 11 23015321 ( Off.), +91 11 2301729023017824 (Fax)
Secretary to President
Smt. Omita Paul - - +91 11 2301332423014930 ( Off.), +91 11 2301729023017824 (Fax)

Write to Prime Minister of India
click on the link and register your grievance
Tweet @narendramodi

Write to Chief Minister Siddaramaiha

**Suggested reading on the issue-