March 2, 2015
Declaration of the Organic Farmers community of India at the 5th National Organic Farmers’ Convention, 2015, Chandigarh, India
The organic farming community of this country, represented in strength by over 2500 participants at this fifth National Organic Farming Convention, pledges to carry forward with renewed strength our endeavour to mainstream agro-ecological farming practices across the country. The gathering, comprising practicing farmers, including women, tribal and adivasi people, seed savers, ecologists, scientists, non-governmental and community organizations, is supported in this effort by the international organic farming community spread across 130 countries and represented by IFOAM, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements.
We reiterate our conviction that agro-ecological farming practices are the only way forward for meeting the nutritional, livelihood, socio-cultural and spiritual needs of our people, including those of future generations. This conviction is strengthened by the experiences of our farmer friends in Punjab and Haryana who have paid a high price and sacrificed their environment and the health of their people. We pledge to stand by them in their journey to recovery and restoration.
We, the participants representing the organic farming community of India, declare:
- Organic farming practices CAN meet all the food and nutritional needs of our nation, and it is the only sustainable way to safeguard the food security of present and future generations. The growing number of organic farmers and rising demand for organic produce is evidence of its rapid spread.
- The IAASTD World Agriculture Report, authored by 400 international experts, including UN representatives, and endorsed by 58 nations, including India, recommends agro-ecological practices and small family farms, suitably adapted to local needs and conditions. It adds that GM crops are no solution to hunger, poverty, climate change as well as ecological, energy and economic challenges.
- We categorically reject Genetically Modified Organisms as an unnecessary technology with numerous potential hazards. It is also an example of bad science. We also object to open field trials of GM crops, since they pose a threat to our food, farming and environment, while blatantly disregarding recommendations of several Government, Parliament and Supreme Court appointed committees.
- We pledge to safeguard the integrity of our eco-systems and work towards the conservation, protection and re-generation of soil health, water resources, forests, biodiversity and seed sovereignty.
- Land, water and other natural resources must be prioritized for sustainably meeting basic needs and nutritional security. Land under food cultivation must not be allowed to be diverted for other purposes through forced land acquisition. Similarly, water resources for irrigation must be directed to essential food needs rather than water guzzling monocultures of sugarcane or other industrial non-priority uses.
- Forest habitats and traditional access rights of forest dependent communities must not be undermined, as uncultivated forest foods and medicinal plants have played a critical role in the lives of those residing in the country’s tribal forested regions.
- The current form of chemical agriculture is completely dependent on steadily depleting resources and leaves farmers vulnerable to foreign/corporate dependence. This must not and cannot continue.
- All agri-chemicals should be progressively phased out; and the money thus saved used to propagate and support ecologically safe food growing practices. Suitable budgetary allocations must be made for mainstreaming agro-ecological practices.
- The educational curriculum and calendar in rural India needs to be sensitive to local agricultural practices, needs and rhythms. A land-based pedagogy must become an integral part of education in rural India, with suitable adaptations for urban India.
- Agriculture departments and universities need to reorient their attention to agro-ecological systems and practices, including reviewing their curricula, evaluating hidden costs of technologies they recommend, and aligning research activity to the needs and challenges of the local community.
- The role of women, the mainstay of a self-reliant agricultural system in India, needs to be recognized, acknowledged and supported, in terms of land rights as well as support from the government.
- The Organic Farming Community appreciates the Haryana government’s efforts to revive indigenous breeds of cattle. Since this is crucial in facilitating self-reliant agriculture, we seek such policy initiatives from other state governments as well as the central government.
- The public distribution system must source food from the local/ bio-regional neighbourhood in which it is consumed. The convention suggests a grid of several localized markets as one of the ways forward.
- We demand better marketing support from government agencies so that the organic producers have assured demand and fair prices for their produce.
- Govt schemes such as MGNREGS, NRLM and SLRM should support agro-ecological practices as they supplement economic needs of farming families, landless labourers as well as people in distress.
- India has a great wealth of crop diversity with unique features like nutritional/medicinal qualities, drought tolerance, salinity tolerance, pest resistance, and flood tolerance. This diversity has been conserved and shared by farmers as an open source collective heritage belonging to all. The concept of private property rights over such traditional heritage is alien and unethical in this land.