The 5 th all–India Kisan Swaraj Sammelan of the Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) got underway in the city on Friday with the participation of over 2,000 organic farmers and seed conservators from across the country.
The 3-day conference is being held in the backdrop of extreme climatic events affecting the world with farmers and agriculture bearing the brunt and has a direct impact on food and crop production.
Experts will deliberate on the key issues related to agriculture and the need to reclaim traditional agricultural practices besides the imperatives of restoration of soil with all its lifeform that sustains biodiversity.
Sahaja Samrudha, Janapada Seva Trust, KSOU, ICAR-JSS KVK (Suttur), SOIL, Allama Research and Cultural Foundation, Desi Seed Producer Company Ltd and Belavala Foundation are among those involved in the conduct of the conference.
A.R.Vasavi, a social anthropologist and trustee of Punarchith, an organisation focussing on evolving alternative perspectives, said that agriculture in the present times was ecologically unsustainable, economically unviable and was socially unjust. She said the agricultural diversity and the knowledge of good practices that had evolved locally, has eroded with the promotion of industrial-chemical agriculture given its strong linkage with the corporate capital and market systems.
She said it was imperative to retrieve the traditional knowledge system and recognise the importance of agro-ecology and its diversity. The industrial-chemical agriculture had also depleted a vast amount of soil and biodiversity besides impacting the ground water table all of which has to be retrieved.
Ms. Vasavi said ever since the Green Revolution, the farmers have borne the burden of wrong agricultural practices. The onus is now on the state to compensate for decades of implementing a negative model.
P.Prasad, Minister for Agriculture, Government of Kerala, said the country was vulnerable to climate change events as evident in the increase in average temperature and extreme weather related events having a bearing on crop output and agriculture. The Minister said Kerala has initiated carbon-neutral development and carbo-neutral agriculture as focus areas to make agriculture more ecologically sustainable.
Tributes were also paid to pioneers of ecological and organic farming who passed away during the pandemic. More than 50 seed conservators from across India are also taking part and a seed mela is part of the conference where rare varieties of seeds highlight the agricultural diversity of the country. There will be 19 brainstorming sessions and lectures by subject experts on various issues related to agriculture during the course of the 3-day sammelan.
Scion of the erstwhile royal family Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar, Kapil Shah of ASHA, Maj.Gen (retd) Sudhir Vombatkere; environmentalist U.N. avikumar, organic farmer Kailashmurthy, and seed saver Papamma were present.