From Seeds of Suicide to Seeds of Hope: Navdanya's Intervention to Stop Farmers' Suicides in Vidharbha
The increasing costs of production and the falling farm prices that go hand in hand with globalisation and corporate hijack of seed supply, combined with the decline in farm credit is putting an unbearable debt burden on farmers. The lure of huge profits linked with clever advertising strategies evolved by the seeds and chemical industries are forcing farmers into a chemical treadmill and a debt trap. It has been witnessed that across the country, farmers are taking the desperate step of ending their life. The pesticides, which had created debt, also became the source of ending indebted lives. More than 150,000 farmers have committed suicide in India due to
distortions introduced in agriculture as a result of trade liberalisation. More than 20,000 farmers have committed suicide in Andhra Pradesh alone. After the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in July 2006, the suicide has increased alarmingly, reaching more than 1400 with debt trap cotton farmers putting an end to their lives in Vidharbha region alone.
Navdanya has been monitoring the impact of trade liberalisation and seed monopoly by seed giants on Indian farmers and Indian agriculture. To stop the genocide of our farmers and reclaim our seed and food sovereignty, Navdanya launched the Bija Yatra on 9th of May 2006 to mark 150 years of our struggle for freedom. The Yatra started from Sevagram, Maharashtra, the place of Gandhiji's Ashram. The Yatra was concluded on 26th May in Bangalore. The Yatra covered Amravati,
Yavatmal,Nagpur in Vidharbha region of Maharashtra, Adilabad, Warangal, Karimnagar, Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh, and Bidar, Gulbarga, Raichur, Hosepet, Chitradurg and Bangalore in Karnataka. These are the regions where farmers have become locked into dependence on corporate seeds supply for growing cash crops integrated to world markets, which is leading to a collapse in farm prices due to 400 billion dollars subsidies in rich countries.
Apart from providing guidance and help to the farmers for the revival of agriculture, Navdanya, under the "Asha ke Beej" (Seeds of Hope) program, distributed the indigenous variety of seeds to the farmers and encouraged them to shift to organic and sustainable agriculture. More than 6000 farmers were distributed indigenous seeds.
Navdanya also realized that one of the crisis farmers were facing was a seed famine created by Monsanto. Navdanya therefore started a seed bank in Kalaspur village. And on 2nd and 3rd June seeds were distributed from the seed bank in villages in Vidharbha.
Navdanya is committed to ending the vicious cycle of violence in agriculture, which is leading to farmers' suicides.
We are committed to strengthening the virtuous cycles of peace based on cooperation with nature and among communities to promote a sustainable and life enhancing food system. During the yatra, Navdanya took a pledge
To protect our freedom and our lives by defending seed sovereignty through chemical free and GMO free ecological and sustainable farming. More than 10,000 farmers have taken pledge to conserve, rejuvenate and protect their biodiversity.
To create GMO free, patent free, debt free and suicide free villages. As a result of Navdanya's joint initiative with Vidharbha Organic Farmers Association and Vidharbha Jan Andolan, Kolzari, Kalaspur and Goi villages have adopted to organic farming
To create Seed banks to conserve biodiversity and protect our indigenous seed varieties. Navdanya has set up a seed bank in the kalaspur village to provide the farmers with GM free heritage seeds.
To distribute seeds of life, seeds of freedom and seeds of hope: Navdanya has distributed seeds to more than 10,000 farmers and widows of suicide victims.
To create ecological, organic, just and fair trade. Navdanya has made a commitment to the Vidharbha farmers to create fair trade for their organic produce including cotton and helping the farmers to come out of the vicious circle of debt trap.
If you want to become part of the movement to stop farmers' suicides, Join Navdanya's campaign "adopt an acre: Stop farmers suicide" and help a farmer go organic. For more information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org