Jaivik Bharat - 3
Towards a Self Reliant (Atmanirbhar), Seed Sovereign, Food Sovereign India Through Regenerative Agriculture (Jaivik Kheti) and local, circular, solidarity, economies. — Dr. Vandana Shiva
(Continued from previous issue .....)
The 9 steps we need to take for a transition to an Annanirbar Jaivik Bharat, a Food Sovereign, livelihood Secure India include.
1. From Linear Extractive Economies to Circular Economies (economic sovereignty –Arthik Swaraj)
Put nature and people, and local circular economies at the heart of the Post Covid Renewal and recovery, instead of the linear, extractive globalized economy driven by greed and wasteful use of resources which destroys ecosystems and displaces and dispossess people, contributing to both non sustainability and injustice and inequality. Circular Economies heal broken ecological cycles by giving back to the Earth. They correct injustices and inequalities by giving back a fair share to farmers and producers.
We need to move from competition to co operation, from separation, fragmentation, and indifference to solidarity.From degeneration of the local economy, culture, ecosystems,health to regeneration of rural economies , diversity of our cultures , our biodiversity and our health .Farmers , artisans , street vendors and “consumers” joining hands are creating local circular economies. This is the foundation of true self reliance, Atmanirbharta.
2. From Corporate Control of Seed to Seed Sovereignty (BijaSwaraj)
Food begins as Seed. Healthy food grows from healthy seed. Indigenous Desi seeds and farmers varieties have much higher nutrition than the so called “High Yielding Varieties’ which have been bred to adapt to chemicals, are nutritionally empty, contributing to diseases of deficiencies of micronutrients and trace elements, and loaded with disease causing toxics. Indigenous seeds need less water, are more pest and disease resistant and more climate resilient. GMO seeds are toxic, and GMO Bt cotton has failed to control pests, but trapped farmers in debt and drove hundreds of thousands of farmers to suicide. We need to create local seed banks to conserve indigenous seeds and farmers seed producer groups to multiply and distribute local seeds.
We need to defend Seed Sovereignty, and our laws that defend Seed Sovereignty such as Art 3j of the Indian Patent Act clearly states that plants, animals and seeds are not inventions, hence not patentable.
“Plants and animals in whole or in any part thereof other than microorganisms; but including seeds, varieties, and species, and essentially biological processes for production or propagation of plants and animals”.
And Art 39 of the Plant Variety Protection and Farmers Rights Act which states -
“A farmer shall be deemed to be entitled to save, use, sow, re-sow, exchange, share or sell his farm produce including seed of a variety protected under this Act in the same manner as he was entitled before the coming into force of this Act”
3. From Industrial Agriculture based on Toxic Chemicals to Biodiverse Organic/Natural farming based on Agro-ecology (Anna Swaraj)
For AtmaNirbhar food and farming, we need to become free of corporate dependence for seeds and chemicals which are at the root of debt, dispossession and displacement of farmers from agriculture, a threat to our health, destruction of biodiversity and climate change. Agroecology and organic farming has spread in the world from India .Our indigenous agriculture is based on biodiversity and the law of return. Bio-diverse Organic food systems create local circular economies by regenerating ecological cycles and processes, and regenerating livelihood and food systems.
Protect, Regenerate and grow Biodiversity, not Monocultures of plantations or agriculture commodities which do not perform the ecological functions that bio-diverse ecosystems do in controlling pests and weeds, conserving soil and water, and bringing excess carbon and nitrogen from the atmosphere where it contributes to climate change, to the soil, where it improves soil fertility and provides healthy, nutritious food, including proteins through nitrogen fixing pulses and beans.
4. From Monocultures to Diversity: From “Yield Per Acre” to “Health Per Acre”, “Wealth Per Acre” and “Care Per Acre” “Hands Per Acre”
Monocultures of chemical intensive crops create the illusion of “feeding the world” by increasing production of commodities. The shift from biodiversity to monocultures, from food and nutrition to globally traded commodities is induced by the misleading measure of “yield per acre” which does not measure. “Yield” does not measure whether the farming method or technology leaves the land degraded or regenerates it. It does not measure whether the farmer was left impoverished and indebted, or the farmers wellbeing was improved. It does not assess whether the food is nutritionally empty and toxic or nutritionally rich and dense .It does not tell you whether the commodity produced went for biofuel, animal feed, producing fake lab food, or went to feed people with real food.
Agriculture means “Care for the Land”. In India we say “Annadata Sukhi Bhava” – May the providers of food be happy. In Ayuveda we recognize that Food is the best medicine – “Annam Sarvaushadhi” In the social, ecological and health context, yield per acre facilitated the expansion of commodity production which is destroying biodiversity, our farmers, our health. More appropriate measures include “health per acre” and “Nutrition per acre”, “Wealth per Acre” and “Care per Acre”.
Diversity produces more food and nutrition per acre and provides resilience to climate extremes and economic shocks. It is the answer to hunger and disease.Diversity brings higher returns to farmers by avoiding unnecessary expenditure on costly seeds and chemicals, and by preventing vulnerability of price collapse that goes hand in hand with monocultures.
As Navdanya’s work, synthesised in our report “Health per Acre” has shown, we can provide two times India’s population with full nutrition and healthy food if we grow biodiversity . As our book “Wealth per Acre” shows, farmers can earn ten times more by giving up dependence on costly seeds and chemicals. And regeneration of the soil needs care, which means more “hands per acre” instead of fossil fuel guzzling machines and toxic chemicals which destroy the earth and livelihoods .As a tribal farmer says “We have to know the soil, the soil has to know us”. This is the circular economy of living relationships between seed, soil and farmers.
We need to shift from a corporate model of an extractive economy which treats the living earth and hard working, creative, intelligent farmers as “inert inputs”, and steals fertility from the soil and value from farmers , leaving both the land and people poorer, destroying local economies and livelihoods.
5. From Industrial Processing that destroys Work, Health and Self Reliance to Artisanal Processing that Regenerates Rural Livelihoods, Biodiversity and Healthy Food System
To address simultaneously the crises of unemployment and chronic diseases created by industrial food processing food, we need to regenerate artisanal processing of food, such as wheat, paddy, pulses, and edible oils made from indigenous oilseeds such as mustard, linseed, sesame, groundnut, coconut, of pulses,of flour, creating more work opportunities in rural areas through agroprocessing and food processing , producing healthier food, and a diversification of local agriculture by creating local circular economies and local food communities .
6. From Colonization of the Mind to Decolonization and Knowledge Sovereignty (GyanSwaraj)
An agriculture paradigm that has its roots in colonialism separated agriculture from food, and food from health and nutrition.It promoted monocultures of commodities, destroying biodiversity impoverishing the earth, farmers and our health.India’s gift to the world is the science of Agroecology based on care for Mother Earth, and the science of Ayurveda , which recognizes that food is health (Annam Sarvaaushadhi ). To regenerate of food and agriculture we need to reclaim our knowledge sovereignty, connect food to the health so we can prevent the health emergency of chronic diseases.
Our book Annam:Food and Health, makes the link between what we eat and our health, from diversity of perspectives-ecological, public health , and Ayurveda .
FSSAI law and standards are written by the junk food industry to destroy our artisanal economies. Self Reliant, Atma Nirbhar food safety systems and need to evolve from the ground up. In circular economies, food safety becomes a participatory process as part of Anna Swaraj,Food Sovereignty linking those who produce and process the food and those who eat it through intimacy and knowledge sovereignty.Desi foods have been evolved by our ancestors and grandmothers for our health and well being. In a time where there are plans for a new food imperialism through fake food made in labs, knowing what we are eating , how it was produced , what its impact is on the earth, farmers , society and our health becomes central to Anna Swaraj, Food Sovereignty.
8. From Greed and Profit driven food and Agriculture Systems that CreatePoverty, Hunger, Unemployment and an Ecological Emergency, to Systems that Respect the Rights of People to Food, Work and Health
The industrial globalized food system has given us poverty, hunger and unemployment. Creating Local living economies based on solidarity, community, and well being of all, regeneration of the Earth and Regeneration of livelihoods and rural economies based on ecological agriculture, regeneration of natural resources and the commons, regeneration of crafts and ecologically friendly skills is an ecological, economic and social imperative Globalised extractive economies are based on polluting fossil fuels, chemicals and plastic and lead to destruction of local economies and livelihoods while they contribute to green house gases and climate change, destruction of biodiversity, and pollution of our rivers, ponds and land. The rich and powerful are now planning economies where Artificial Intelligence and Robots replace people, where lab made Fake Food replaces food as nourishment and as the currency of life.
The Right to Food, Right to Health, Right to work in this context translates into actions and policies that ensure Real Food for All, Real Wealth and Well being for all, and meaningful cooperative work for all.
By regenerating biodiversity through local circular economies, we regenerate biodiversity based livelihoods in agriculture, crafts and agroprocessing.
We have to reduce the heavy ecological footprint of the industrial food economy patternsthat are destroying the earth’s biodiversity and destabilizing her climate systems, and increase the heart print , head print and handprint of the economy to regenerate the earth and society .Through our heads, hearts and hands we can create a Self Reliant Jaivik Bharat, an India free of hunger, disease and waste.
9. From Corporate Control over our Food System to Local Living Democracies (Anna Swaraj Circles and Jaiv Panchayat)
In a globalised world, what we eat and what we wear, or whether we eat or not is being decided by a handful of giant corporations and billionaires who are only looking at their profits . Profits are made by destroying regenerative local circular economies and imposing extractive economieswhich deepen hunger, poverty, unemployment, and diseases and undermine our democratic and constitutional rights.To regenerate our food and agriculture, our ecology and economy, our health and well being, we need to reclaim and regenerate our democracy. Real democracy grows from the bottom up. Hind Swaraj grows from Gram Swarajand from sovereign Earth Citizens conscious of their duties to the earth and society, their rights to food, health, work and freedom.
PremVarma has quoted Gandhi reminding us that Gram Swaraj is central to India’s freedom as freedom from hunger & unemployment
“No one under it should suffer for want of food and clothing. We should be ashamed of resting or having a square meal so long as there is one able-bodied man or woman without work or food.”
Sri Jayaprakash Narayan on a much later date than Gandhi echoed the same sentiments .
“The economy of the community should be as self-sufficient as possible………
The primary concern of the community is to provide for satisfaction of the primary needs of its members. It is therefore natural for it to produce all it can to provide for them food, clothing, shelter and other necessaries . It is also the community’s responsibility to see that every able-bodied individual in the community finds useful employment.”
Healthy food as the currency of health and life can overcome the rift between the city and the country. When consumers make conscious choices for the earth, farmers and their health they become part of the earth community, a food community, an Anna Swaraj circle. Living democracy is cultivated through coproduction, coinvestment.To invest means to make beautiful . When we invest care and solidarity, we regenerate the earth, her biodiversity, our health and the well being of all. Each community can create local circular economies through creating Local living democracies (JaivPanchayat) based on participation, care for the commons and the community , and protection and rights of the last person (sarvodaya). Living democracies support living economies so the well being of all is at the centreof concern – “Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah”.