Delhi/Palakkad, October 30, 2010: The pan-Indian 71-day bus tour called Kisan Swaraj Yatra entered Kerala today on its 29th day to a warm welcome by the Kerala Government. Speaking on behalf of the state government of Kerala, Mr Mullakkara Ratnakaran, Minister for Agriculture, said that all the issues being raised by the Yatra are issues of concern for the state government too and that they are addressing these concerns in the state. The Minister promised to join the Yatra when it ends at Rajghat on December 11th 2010, after covering 20 states. The Yatra was welcomed by a large group of citizens in Palakkad here today, where the local MLA, Mr Diwakaran raised his concern around the disappearance of honeybees and the huge environmental imbalances that we are creating.
“Kerala government will not budge on its stand related to the required national ban on Endosulfan. The state government, once again in the context of endosulfan, reiterates the need for states to have the authority to regulate agriculture-related matters given that Agriculture is a State subject as per the Indian Constitution. We will also oppose all such technologies that are anti-farmer and anti-Nature. We extend our sincere support to the Kisan Swaraj Yatra”, said Mr M Ratnakaran in his welcome address delivered on a phone. Due to a personal bereavement, the Minister could not join the meeting personally.
Speaking on the occasion, Sridhar Radhakrishnan of Thanal said that Kerala leads the country right now in terms of being the first state to declare itself GM-Free and have an organic farming policy that aims to convert the entire state to organic farming in a few years’ time.
“It is shocking that the government continues to initiate programmes like the “Green Revolution in Eastern India” when it is very evident that the earlier Green Revolution model is what had pushed farmers into the deep agrarian crisis that they are in today. It is also unconscionable that despite two lakh farmers having committed suicides, the government is not ready to address the issue in fundamental ways, including assessing the role of unsustainable technologies in creating and exacerbating the crisis. The Kisan Swaraj Yatra aims to provide a message of hope to farmers in the country that there is indeed a way out of the crisis in farming today – that of adopting self-reliant, ecological farming. It also warns the government that it has to stop its anti-farmer policies and stop looking at agriculture only as markets for agri-business corporations”, said Kavitha Kuruganti of Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA).
Speakers expressed their apprehension around Obama’s visit to India and the fact that there is increasing American influence and interference in our farming, to the detriment of Indian farmers’ and consumers’ interests and our natural resources even as American corporations like Monsanto are increasing their monopolistic stronghold in our farming.
The Kisan Swaraj Yatra will spend three days in Kerala, interacting with farmers and consumers including school children participating in farming and will be hosted by Jaiva Karshaka Samiti, Thanal, Haritha Sena, Save Farmers Campaign, Save Our Rice Campaign, FERNS, The Good Food Movement and others. The Yatra has so far reached out to farmers and consumers in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka,Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. Regular updates on the Yatra are available at www.kisanswaraj.in .
For more information, contact:
Sridhar Radhakrishnan, Thanal: firstname.lastname@example.org or 099-953-58205