We began our day with a meeting with organic farming, NGO frontline workers engaged in promotion of organic farming, leaders of organic farmers’ groups etc. This was in MYRADA campus in HD Kote. Around 50 persons attended this meeting.
The most important issue that emerged in this meeting was that non-Bt Cotton and organic seed was no longer available for all the organic farmers in the area. It was also revealed by Krishi Pandit Vivek Cariappa that in informal meetings by the University of Agricultural Sciences-Dharwad (UAS-Dharwad) it has been revealed that the parental lines for DCH-32 hybrid cotton seed have been contaminated with Bt!
It was also shared that no seed supplier is ready to certify on the non-GM status of their seed today, and this becomes a major problem in certified organic cotton cultivation.
One of the speakers emphasized that if we want to save the country, we should save our villages; for saving our villages, we should save our farming; for saving farming, we should save our seed, our land and our ecological farming methods.
There was a discussion on how today, even as the government and industry egg on farmers to depend more and more on commercial seed industry for their seed requirements, there are no mechanisms by which either quality or price is controlled/regulated in favour of farmers. A discussion on the Seeds Bill ensued.
The Member of Legislative Assembly of H D Kote, Mr Chikkanna, joined the meeting mid-way, where he emphasized the need to protect and support small and marginal farmers. Being from a farming family himself, he said that though he had not taken up organic farming yet, he intends to do so very soon, as he is greatly influenced by Subhash Palekar. He pointed out that in his childhood, before chemicals began to be used in the local agriculture, one acre of land would yield 6-10 pallas of Ragi; however, with chemical farming now, yields are just around 3-4 quintals!
We did not go to hospitals in those days whereas now, we are falling sick through our food and because of our food, he emphasized.
Julie Cariappa pointed out the need to include youth in our outreach work since there is no meaning to Freedom, Sovereignty etc., that we are struggling for, if youth do not appreciate the concepts. They are all dreaming about going into the cities and there is an urgent need to start a dialogue with them, she said.
One organic farmer said that if a farmer does not want to commit suicide after toiling so hard, s/he has to be a patient farmer and that is required for organic farming.
He promised that the Yatra messages will be taken to all villages in the taluka.
We later left for Mysore and joined the Paddy Diversity Festival at Rangayana. It was a festive and colorful ambience and we had the most delicious lunch made out of many traditional rice-based recipes. There was a public meeting in a lovely setting – an amphitheatre which also carried the ambience of the rice festival. It was an interactive session where the Yatris tried to respond to several questions posed to them about the experiences so far.