From: Bhaskar Save,
Village Dehri, via Umergam,
Dist. Valsad, Gujarat – 396 170
(Phone: 0260 – 2563866 & 2562126)
To: Shri Manmohan Singh,
The Prime Minister of India,
November 1, 2006
Subject: Mounting Farmer Suicides and National Agricultural Policy
Dear Prime Minister,
If the vital life support systems of this country are compromised, all else is irrelevant. A fat reserve of billions of dollars, fuelling ecologically cancerous ‘development’, is a cruel mockery.
I hope you realize the extreme distress of Indian farmers driven to suicide in increasing numbers. At its root lies the continuing devastation and depletion of our natural wealth of soil, groundwater, forests, biodiversity; and the systemic devaluing of common sense and our indigenous knowledge and culture.
I am an 84-year-old natural/organic farmer with more than six decades of personal experience in growing a wide range of crops. Over these years, I have practised diverse agricultural systems, including the chemical method.
On 29-07-06, I wrote an Open Letter to Shri M.S. Swaminathan, National Commission on Farmers, regarding farmer suicides, its underlying causes, and the path to revitalize Indian agriculture. Xeroxed copies of this Open Letter and its six annexures are enclosed for your attention.
Shri M.S. Swaminathan replied by his letter dated 31-07-06, stating – “I have long admired your work, and I am grateful to you for the detailed suggestions you have given. You have made valuable comments and recommendations. We shall take them into consideration in our final report.” A copy of this letter is enclosed, as also a copy of a short editorial/paper sent by Shri Swaminathan.
Shri Swaminathan concedes that the green revolution technology “led to the degradation of soil and water”; increased crop pests and the use of toxic pesticides; and caused “damage to our ecological foundations.” That this has happened all over the world – wreaking particularly severe havoc in our tropical conditions – is abundantly documented.
On 16-8-06, I wrote back to Shri Swaminathan vide my Open Letter 2
(enclosed), requesting him to inform me which of my suggestions he agreed with. I also offered to address any questions, doubts or disagreements regarding my remaining suggestions. Till date, not a single query or reservation has been communicated to me. Shri Swaminathan and his Commission were apparently not keen on continuing the discussion, particularly an open one.
In the absence of any response to my letter of 16-8-06, I sent a third Open Letter dated 9-10-06 to the NCF. This included my comments on appropriate ‘pathways to an evergreen revolution’, cursorily touched upon in the editorial/paper sent by Shri Swaminathan. The third letter (enclosed) also listed 12 recommendations I made for the agricultural policy being drafted “for the first time in 10,000 years of India’s agricultural history”, as stated by the NCF.
Barring the last fifty years of ten millennia of organic farming, this land did not face any concern of ‘sustainability’! The great ancient civilization that evolved here inspired countless people all over the world. Our present troubled times – of globalised crises – cry out for India to again be a beacon of hope by example. This country’s culture of compassion and ethical co-evolution is far more important to the earth than our cleverness at modern, manipulative technologies. Or our prowess at amassing dollars that bloat the belly and surround us with a growing array of dead, inconsequential things; but which cannot buy health, knowledge or happiness.
I state with conviction that it is only by organic farming in harmony with Nature, that India can sustainably provide her people abundant, wholesome food. And meet every basic need of all – to live in health, dignity and peace.
In this vast nation, does any agricultural department or university, or biotechnology foundation, have a single viable farm run on modern methods, which is a net supplier of water, energy and fertility to the eco-system of its region, rather than a net consumer? But where there is undisturbed synergy of Nature, this is a reality! By all criteria of ecological audit, my farm, Kalpavruksha, has only a positive contribution to the health of the environment, as any observant visitor can readily see. Economically too, I get a manifold higher return than ‘modern’ farmers.
Clearly, the way to ensure the water security and food security of this nation, is by organically growing mixed, locally suitable crops, plants and particularly trees, following the laws of Nature. Far more than any other path, this will yield greater economic and ecological benefit to larger numbers of people and future generations at minimal cost and time.
I understand that you must be extremely busy with many pressing concerns. But as this is a matter of the most vital priority, I trust you will take a personal interest in it, and depute a suitable, sincere person or team to continue to fruition the communication/debate with experienced organic/natural farmers like me, and others.
1) Open Letter dated 29-7-06 to Shri M.S. Swaminathan, Chairperson, NCF
2) Annexures 1 to 6 (six documents)
3) Reply dated 31-7-06 from Shri Swaminathan, NCF
4) Guest Editorial/Paper attached to the above reply dated 31-7-06
5) Open Letter – 2 dated 16-8-06 to Shri Swaminathan, NCF
6) Open Letter – 3 dated 9-10-06 to Shri Swaminathan, NCF
1)Shri Sharad Pawar, Union Minister of Agriculture
2)The National Advisory Council
3) The media