By Manjari Sharma:
You and I, in our daily lives, have often heard about India’s agricultural crisis. There’s no denying that agriculture is essential and an indispensable part of nature. It provides us with food, churns the soil and safeguards species of plants, animals and micro-organisms. But it is an unfortunate reality that the problems our farmers have been facing in the last few decades often get lost in the din.
I have read a great deal about ecological farming and, recently, I got the opportunity to visit Greenpeace India’s eco-farming model village Kedia in the Jamui district of Bihar. Living a fast-paced flustered city life, it was time to slow down and experience all that Kedia had to offer.
I promptly boarded the early morning Patna-Jamui express and instantly fell asleep. Two and a half hours later, I woke up to a whole new world and perspective.
Scintillating colours of the corn field under the sunlight, the sound of birds chirping and children climbing branches of a big mango tree – the village Kedia is one of a kind. The positivity I felt in the air was beyond imagination. I can incessantly go on but what is more important to understand is why every Indian needs to know about this unique ‘eco-ag’ model and support it.
Kedia, like every farm community in India, was earlier plagued with the use of toxic pesticides. Two years ago the village decided to break the chain of chemical abuse in farming. Today, Kedia has managed to ace it. It’s incredible the amount of perseverance, passion and joy with which the farmers are adopting new eco-practices.
The farmers there have completely stopped using pesticides. Instead, they are using homemade ecological pest management solutions by making concoctions using cattle dung, cow urine and various plant extracts. These ecological practices have zero negative impact on the environment, and have helped biodiversity return to this village. One can find sparrows and kingfishers flying about the fresh line of trees being planted by villagers.
Almost all the families now have a vermicomposting unit and biogas plant. The idea of ecological sanitation is already established with one working model of eco-san (ecological sanitation) toilet. Their courage to participate in this ecological experiment, putting their livelihood at stake is commendable.
Agriculture and my three square meals always felt far apart, maybe because of the physical distance between my kitchen and the farm where food is grown. After spending a few days in Kedia, I realised the farmers don’t see that distance at all. In fact, they wonderfully spoke about how providing safe food to people is their responsibility. Our health depends on how our food is grown, and farmers in Kedia are growing fresh, chemical-free and healthy food for us every day. Wouldn’t it be amazing if this model is adopted across India?
Our farmers need people like you and me to hold their hands and support them in this journey to make agricultural practices in India sustainable and safe. My experience in Kedia was more than trail walks, and discovering new friendships with people and animals alike. Kedia told me a really important story, of hope and conviction. If you hear it too, then support Kedia and protect #OurFoodOurFuture.
Greenpeace India is running a crowdfunded project to provide Kedia with a solar-powered cold storage unit and water harvesting structures to overcome the frequently occurring droughts. This is an opportunity for you to make that one contribution to this movement and watch it go a long, long way. By supporting and contributing to such sustainable agricultural solutions, you and I are ensuring healthy and safe food for all.