At a time of severe climatic event and the worst forest fires in Russia’s history, it is unfathomable that the government may allow Real Estate Developers to do what the Nazis couldn’t — bulldoze the Pavlovsk Experimental Station that holds thousands of varieties of apples, strawberries, cherries, raspberries, currants and other crops, 90 percent of which are not found anywhere else in the world. During the siege of Leningrad in WWII, the scientists at the station starved to death rather than eat the valuable seeds contained in the collection.
The Global Crop Diversity Trust has organized a petition which can be signed here.
At a recent agricultural festival in Indore, Uttarakhand was represented by a stall displaying traditional seeds. Fascinated by their texture, colours and sizes, I was tempted to pick them up. The stall stocked small plastic bags containing seeds of dhan, rajma, mundwa (kodo), marsa (ram dana), jhangora, wheat, lobia and bhatt. I later learnt that the credit for this display and the “seed movement” that has ensured that these seeds remain in circulation amidst an environment of aggressive biotech altered varieties goes to conservationist Vijay Jaddhari. He comes from the land of the Chipko Movement which practised the Gandhian methods of satyagraha and non-violent resistance, through the act of hugging trees to protect them from being felled.
Mr Jaddhari has actively been protecting the biodiversity of the region through the “seeds movement”. He started to revive traditional agricultural practices once he sensed the damage chemical fertilisers and new technologies could wreak on farming practices. This was the motivation behind the movement and at the core of this lay urgency to protect local varieties of seeds. [more]
Over a hundred participants from 22 countries in Asia and the Pacific (including two from Europe and one from the US) representing peasants, small farmers, agricultural workers, women, indigenous peoples, fisherfolk organizations, and health, environmental and consumers CSOs attended the three-day Conference “Confronting Food Crisis and Climate Change” organized by Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific, in Penang (Malaysia) on 27-29 September 2008. The conference culminated with a Unity Statement declaring the participants’ commitment to claim people’s right to food, to work together in regenerating nature and society, as well as, to further strengthen and consolidate the movements in advancing food sovereignty, gender justice and climate justice. Beej Bachao Andolan was represented at the Conference by Vijay Jarhdhari and Renu Thakur (ARPAN, Pithoragarh). Jarhdhari made a presentation “Food and Climate Crisis in Central Himalaya, Uttarakhand, India”. Renu presented the women’s perspectives on climate change at the various workshops held during the Conference.
India’s Garhwal Himalaya is an agrobiodiversity hotspot. The traditional system of cultivating “Barahnaja” (literally, ’12 seeds’) together in cropped land is a centuries-old practice: a cropping pattern involving 12 or more food crops grown in “synergetic” combinations (Singh and Tulachan, 2002). This is practiced under a “Sar system” of crop rotation that characterises the cropping pattern together with a vertical distribution of crops — in valley regions, mid-altitudes and highlands — and supports the maintenance of agrobiodiversity. Three quarters of the people in the region depend on this system for their livelihoods. The traditional agricultural systems are the reservoirs of many crops and cultivars, most of which are still little known to mainstream societies and are better adapted than modern agricultural systems to environmental and social conditions (Altieri, 1995; Ramakrishnan and Saxena, 1996). Recently changes in the cropping pattern have taken place as “Barahnaja” has decreased, particularly in the mid-slopes and low-lying areas. [more]