Dr Vanadana Shiva, Director, Navdanya along with a team of international organic agricultural experts, small farmers, activists has embarked on a three day soil yatra to Wardha, Nagpur and Indore from October 2nd to 4th.
During the three days, pilgrims will visit Sevagram Gandhi Ashram, research laboratory of agricultural scientist Sir Albert Howard, night bazaars and meet with farmers of the area.
On October 3rd and 4th there will be two seminars hosted by Navdanya at Wardha and Indore. They will have presentations by organic farmers from around the world which will be followed by cultural performances dedicated to the Living soil.
Key speakers at the events will be Dr Shiva, Ronnie Cummins, founder & director, Organic Consumers Association (OCA), Dr Will Allen, writer War on Bugs & Anthropologist, Andre Leu, President IFOAM, M.N. Khadse, Director of Dhara Mitra, Vani Hari, food activist, etc.
Commemorating 146th birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr Vandana Shiva, Director Navdanya, along with international organic farmers, students and activist started on a three day soil pilgrimage to Central India. On October 2nd, the pilgrims reached their first destination, Sevagram Gandhi Ashram, Wardha. After paying tribute to Gandhiji on his birthday, the group visited farmers in the Wardha region. All day they interacted with farmers and understood their problems. The group also sampled soils from different regions and tried to work with the villagers to carve out innovative solutions.
The second day of the pilgrimage October 3rd, Navdanya is hosting a seminar at the Centre for Science in Villages, Wardha. This seminar will be dedicated to the living soil and will have presentations by agricultural experts such as Andre Leu, president IFOAM, Ronnie Cummins, founder & director of organic consumers Alliance, Dr Will Allen, Anthropologist and writer along with local activist M N Khadse, Director, Dhara Mitra, Wardha. The seminar will also be attended by over 50 participant from all over the world.
The seminar will begin by 9.30 and go on till 1pm. During this session farmers will discuss their problems with the experts. After the presentations, the group will visit Magan Sangrahalaya, a small museum dedicated to weaving, spinning and printing of cotton fabric.
Ronnie Cummins said, “We realise that Gandhi and those who have come before us, have set examples of how we should preserve the seed freedom, protect the fertility of the soil, preserve the rights of farmers to save and conserve seeds. This pilgrimage celebrates seed freedom and rights of small farmers, we can solve all of the problems of the world only if we follow regenerative principles of farming and start treating the soil with respect”.
On October 4th, the group will go to Indore to pay their respect to the memory of Sir Albert Howard. Albert Howard was an agricultural scientist sent to India by the British to bring modern methods of farming to India, but Howard had change of heart when he saw the prosperity of the Indian farmers. He made the Indian pest and peasant his teacher and wrote the Agricultural Testament in honour of the farming practices of India.
At Indore, Navdanya is organising an exhibition and a seminar to discuss the issues threatening our sacred soils. This will feature lectures followed by skits and songs performed by environmentalist and organic farmers. The panelists at the seminar will be talking about a new regenerative vision of the Earth and Earth democracy. Participants will be made aware of new challenges such as climate change, droughts, rising debts,etc. During the seminar they will also try to give solutions for the local agrarian problems. Later in the evening the pilgrims will visit the night bazaar in Indore and end the Soil yatra 2015.
Dr Shiva on the occasion said, “ In celebration of the UN year of the soil 2015, we have tried to spread awareness about the living soil. Today, people are forgetting that this soil has been sacred and has been venerated as the mother goddess in the India traditions. We want farmers and consumers to rediscover this relationship and be conscious about the living soil. We must bring compassion in our agriculture and work towards building a non violent relationship with the Earth”.