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Give the planet its daily bread

You’ve read about Jairam Ramesh pushing for creating a bridge with the US and other global concerns.

india Updated: Dec 05, 2010 23:40 IST

You’ve read about Jairam Ramesh pushing for creating a bridge with the US and other global concerns. But have you read about the rest of India’s real representatives? India’s small farmers are asking for another kind of opening up — that of climate negotiations to include them, something they’ve been asking for across the public hearings in India. They have a point — most of Indian agriculture is undertaken by small farmers, is rain fed and will be severely hit by climate change. But they were not whining in Cancun. They offered a solution to the planet’s imminent crisis. It lay in how they cultivated land.

Sitting far away in Mexico, they explained how their farming was based on low inputs, was sustainable and therefore low carbon intensive. A supporting group, Bharati Jan Vigyan Jatha, pointed in a note that the low-input sustainable farming consumes only 1.5-2 calories of energy input to produce each calorie of food energy, whereas the ‘modern’ industrial mode of agriculture consumes 7-8 calories of external energy to produce the same food-energy and that 80% of that energy comes fossil fuels (such as huge machinery).

As a country with enormous poverty, civil unrest and malnutrition and hunger, it is time for our policymakers to be humble enough to listen to the people they’ve failed for six decades.

Sabarmati to Rajghat

Thousands of farmers across 20 Indian states have been a part of the Kisan Swaraj Yatra, an initiative that has traveled from Sabarmati in Gujarat, across Uttaranchal, Punjab and other states, and will soon reach Delhi on December 11. The yatra has been able to talk not just to farmers, but also to scientists, urban residents, consumer groups, doctors and health activists about what’s wrong with farming in India. The yatra believes the government has to see the agricultural crisis for what it is, and implement policies that are sustainable for the farmer and the environment.

First Published: Dec 05, 2010 23:39 IST