MAC: Mines and Communities

India's government "destroying traditional agriculture"

Published by MAC on 2019-04-03
Source: Down To Earth (India) (2019-03-29)

For previous related coverage, please see: Saranda surrendered to miners 

‘Govt is cheating us, destroying traditional agriculture’

Farmers living in tribal areas in Jharkhand alleged that industrialists
and the government are conspiring to ruin diverse traditional seeds and
crops

By Down  To Earth Staff

29 March 2019

Farmers from Jharkhand’s Singhbhum district, a tribal area, allege that
the government and industrialists are trying to destroy their traditional
knowledge of agriculture and looting cultivable land.

This happened on the last day of a conference held on ‘Traditional
agriculture: challenges and possibilities’ at Chaibasa this month. These
farmers belonged to Gangaram Kalundia Forum, named after a leader who was
murdered in 1982 while fighting for the villagers’ fundamental rights
against displacement.

“Much-acclaimed increase in agricultural production during green
revolution was the result of proper irrigation facilities and an increase
in agricultural land. On the other hand, dams built in the name of
irrigation have actually been built for the benefit of the corporate
houses,” read a declaration released by the farmers.

They further alleged that the Centre’s and the state government’s
“propaganda” about farmers adopting advanced seeds by introducing
high-yielding and hybrid seeds is to destroy their “rich treasure of
diverse traditional seeds and crops”.

According to the declaration, “Millions of seeds, which were the basis of
our food sovereignty and biodiversity, are lost forever. By stripping
farmers of lands in the name of alleged development and depriving us of
our food sovereignty and corresponding nutritional security, our
constitutionally protected right to life is under attack.”

The farmers have demanded that gram sabhas * be allowed to develop and
promote traditional agriculture, knowledge on integrated farming be
spread, traditional seeds be conserved, traditional farming practices be
given preferences and village societies be given control over forests
under the Forest Rights Act 2006.

They also want the government to reject amendments to Jharkhand's tenancy
laws like Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act and the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act,
and to the Land Acquisition Act, 2013 to ensure no acquisition of
cultivable land.

* constitutionally-recognised village assemblies



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