Press Note | PAN India | 27th March 2019

Agroecology Workshop held for Farming Community in Ghatanji, Yavatmal

Agroecology is the Solution to Escape from Pesticide Menace

 

PAN India has been working on pesticide poisoning, for decades. A range of activities, from documenting pesticide poisoning to the realization of agro-ecology as way of life, have been undertaken. In the past three years, pesticide poisoning in Yavatmal has been highlighted through various means and methods. A peek into recent history and the indicators of ill health in rural, tribal families shows that intensive chemical farming is causing serious health problems, often touching the next generation. Still births, premature deliveries, underweight newborns, congenital deformations, holes-in-the heart of youngsters point to a series cascading effect of chemicalisation of rural atmosphere. For pursuing chemically-intensive cotton farming, farmers here are facing serious economic losses. In addition, rural distress is seen in health, food availability, accessibility and quality, with telling impacts on health of girls, women, children and others.

To overcome this distress, efforts have been undertaken by individuals and few civil society organizations to pursue non-chemical farming in this district and other parts of India. In order to intensify this movement, and also to wean away farmers from the addiction of hazardous pesticide usage, a message of solidarity has to be given out. This workshop was organised to discuss the role of agro-ecology and ecological intensification in Indian agriculture, in response of economic and health impacts on farmers and their family members caused by pesticide-intensive farming.

Agroecology is the science of sustainable agriculture. Agroecology does not rely on chemical insecticides or GM crops for pest control and other agrochemical inputs. Chemical-intensive agriculture focuses on killing insects and animals; in the process it has spread chemicals everywhere leading to deaths of all living species. Agroecology is about nurturing nature, and not killing. It lets every species live, and enable food production for us without harming other species. Instead it fosters beneficial biological interactions.Agroecology raises productivity at field level, reduces rural poverty, contributes to improving nutrition,and contributes to adapting to climate change.

This Workshop on Agroecology focused on the application of agro-ecological principles for sustaining agriculture in Yavatmal district. Workshop participants explored the integration of uncultivated and cultivated fruits and edible plants into farming and local food systems, as well as how to promote local natural food trade. In partnership with local agricultural research stations and farmers, this Workshop on Agroecology engaged participants in discussions and methods of natural farming and tasting of naturally grown food.

Speakers focused on methods to enhance ecosystem services that are beneficial to agriculture (pollination, pest control, nutrient cycling, enhancement of soil fertility, mitigation of soil erosion, etc.). These services guarantee optimal levels of production and minimise environmental impacts while improving the overall ecological resilience of agricultural production systems.

  1. Agroecology is not limited to lack of chemical usage. It is about integration of physical and biological resources of nature, including soil, water, birds, animals, trees, shrubs, grass and microbes.
  2. Non-chemical farming in India has several methods and principles. However, with climate change, agroecology has become a comprehensive solution.
  3. Agroecology embeds the principle of local species, local production and local consumption.
  4. Yavatmal, with vast areas under forests, offers a potential for application of agroecology principles and construction of a new agricultural structure.
  5. Chemical usage, especially pesticides and herbicides, is increasing in Yavatmal, every year. Parallel, pest attacks and crop losses are also increasing. Farmers are paying heavy price, of buying and using pesticides, but crop productivity and returns from markets is not increasing.
  6. They have no other option but to adopt agroecology.

Dr. Narasimha Reddy, and Dileep Kumar A. D from PAN India, Sahebrao Pawar and Geeta Bandu Sunule and other members from MAPPP were present in the event. Leading organic farmer Sri. Subhash Sharma spoke about need of a paradigm shift in farming to save farmers, farm workers and our future as well as to secure food security and food safe food. Leading organic farmers in the region share their experience of non-chemical methods of farming.

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