Celebrating Biodiversity with Navdanya

Navdanya Biodiversity Conservation farm, 5 October 2018.

Vasundhara festival is a celebration of Prithvi, Earth goddess, which takes place every three years at Navdanya Biodiversity Conservation Farm. It aims at reconnecting the participants with the ancient teachings enshrined in the Indian tradition and spreading awareness about regenerative agriculture methods for the preservation of our seeds, soil and livelihoods.

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Farmers gathering at Navdanya’s Biodiversity Celebration

Women and small farmers of Navdanya networks from all over India gathered at the festival to discuss Seed and Food Sovereignty, Biodiverse Organic Farming methods and programs, and how we can create solidarity in our communities.

In the last 30 years, Navdanya farmers’ network has brought together or chained more than 5 million farmers across 22 states in India, of which at least 1 million is actually practicing organic farming in India. This 5 million represents about 20% of farmers of the country.

Through its Earth University, Navdanya has been working with farmers towards a transition to an agroecological food system. Navdanya’s farmers’ training takes places both at its learning centre and through field trips across India. It is based on experience, research and knowledge exchange developed through the years and in continuous evolution. While working with farmers in seed sovereignty, food sovereignty and sustainable agriculture, the work flowing from the farm has helped more than 200,000 hectare land to switch to organic and established the largest direct marketing, fair trade organic network in the country. Programs provides practical skills in seed conservation, soil fertility enhancement, pests and weeds natural management, and is also  committed towards raising awareness on the importance of seed and food sovereignty as well as on uncovering strategies put in place by big agricultural companies in compliance with governments, which make farmers depend on commercial seeds, chemicals and loan sharks.

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Farmers were joined by international experts and civil society movements’ representatives, including the Taiwan Rural Front.

Dr Vandana Shiva expressed her views on the importance of the event: “What is special about today is the Earth Family of India and the Earth Family of other parts of the world coming together to become one extended family. We are also together facing the same predatory globalisation. Through the work of Navdanya International the movement of farmers in India put together by Navdanya is joining forces with the global movement resisting the corporate takeover of our agriculture, seeds, food, health and democracy, perpetrated by big agribusiness with roots in the World War, which have poisoned millions of people, destroyed biodiversity, pushed small farmers off their land, and attempted to take over every aspect of our life”.

Renate Künast, member of the European Greens and former Minister of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture in Germany, explained the global threats that we are facing:” “There is a monopoly of all things that are basic to our lives. Now in the world we have 3 very big chemical companies that do own more than half of all seeds. They are also digital companies collecting our data, on our soils, on the way we do farming…like we have surveillance and power from above, there has to be a message from the bottom that we want good food.”

Leo Saldanha, Coordinator of Environmental Support Group of India, talked about how the multinationals are appropriating the organic discourse.  He alerted the audience on the risks of greenwashing by foreign investors: “They are pretending to promote sustainable farming, like BNP Paribas, massively investing in the coal industry, making money with fossil fuels, covering Indonesia with rubber plantations – claiming it as organic – and getting carbon bonds”.

Dr James Buchanan, Director of Brueggeman at the Xavier Institute, stressed the importance of community: “Don’t lose your community, hold on to it. That is where your power is, your values and where your future has to be”.

Ronnie Cummins, founder and director of the Organic Consumers Association and co-founder of Regeneration International said: “We should be hopeful. Even though we feel that 195 governments in the world and millions of cities need to change, if we work with Mother Nature, with the Earth, together in international solidarity, we can regenerate not only the soil, but restore climate stability and health”.

Along with the above participants, Navdanya has organized an international gathering on Regenerative farming and Regeneration International General Assembly, which will be held at Navdanya Earth University on 7 – 8 October, to evolve solutions to climate change and scale-up the regeneration revolution.

By Prerna Anilkumar and the Navdanya International Team. Photo Credits: Navdanya International

Navdanya Campaigns

Call to Action 2018: Our Bread, Our Freedom

Campaign Poison Free 1
Poison Free Food and Farming

Key Dates

2nd – 3rd October Women’s Biodiversity Festival organised by Diverse Women for Diversity & Launch of “Our Bread, Our Freedom” Campaign at Navdanya Biodiversity Conservation Farm, Doon Valley, India. Read the Diverse Women of the World Resolve to Defend Biological and Cultural Diversity through Non-violence

4th – 6th October International Biodiversity Congress (IBC 2018), Dehradun, India

7th – 8th October International Convergence on “Biodiversity & Regenerative Agriculture as a Climate Solution” at the Navdanya Biodiversity Conservation Farm, Doon Valley, India

10th – 17th October Biodiversity Earth Journey with Navdanya Communities in Uttarakhand, India (Register at: earthuniversity@navdanya.net)

Also read

Celebrating Biodiversity, Agroecology and Organic Food Systems – Brochure