Over 30 participants from all over the world met in the first session on agro-ecology at the People’s assembly on the 15th October. This workshop was a space to present solutions and alternatives to the industrial food systems that is taking us towards irreversible climate catastrophe, giving disease to people and further killing our soils and biodiversity. The first discussion was on the meaning of Agro-ecology, whether its a method or a system and how can the participants implement agro-ecology in their areas. As a group it was clear that Agro-ecolgy is a system that had to be adapted to the specific areas and fine tuned to work with local conditions. For example, in Germany there is practically no farm labour available, but in India one can get help at the farm easily, so how could be could people for these areas implement one method? The answer lay in the adopting the most sustainable practises according to the area.
The next detailed discussion was on the obstacles in promoting agro-ecology. Ronnie Cummins, president of the Organic Consumers Association addressed some possible solutions.
The session ended with a presentation by Indra Shekhar Singh, Navdanya on the One-acre Farm Model. Through this one acre farm, organic farmers in India, by cultivating biodiversity have freed themselves from the industrial food system and are only dependent on the market for sugar and salt. Farmers are feeding their family of five people throughout the year and also earning about USD 2500 each year by selling to the market, which is about USD1000 more than the national average per capita income. The average agricultural household income for the chemical farmers in India is about USD 1000 (2012-13 data) and this model of sustainable organic farming doubles their income, while also ensure health foods and along with access to native seeds.
Ronnie Cummins and Andre Leu, president of IFOAM both made a special mention of the farm model, further saying that there is a need to implement this type of model all over the world.
Author: Indra Shekhar Singh