It was an enlightening thing to go through the vitriol and acrimony of the messages during the bandh, and in the last few days.
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As someone whose family has been in farming, I urge all of you to think about supporting farmers every day of the year.
The easiest and most effective way to do so is by eating local produce — from millets to leafy greens to gourds. Traditionally, native grains and vegetables have been varieties that have used very little water to grow, and are extremely healthy for us. Our state’s cuisine include staples like ragi and jowar that we urban dwellers have either forgotten or rarely eat. It’s a rich source of nutrition and also uses VERY little water compared to the white rice (or even brown rice) most of you probably eat.
Eating soppu like honagone, chakramuni, agasi, basale… or vegetables like heerekai, hagalkai, thondekai, etc, on a regular basis will keep us in good health, and also have a huge impact on water use in farms.
“Moringa oleifera or drumstick leaves widely grown in India… It is a rich source of many micronutrients – beta carotene, folic acid, calcium, iron and vitamin C and it also provides good quality protein. “
Instead, we now buy colourful capsicum, potatoes, cauliflower, french beans, musk melon, etc…all of which use heavy pesticides and fertilisers…which sucks moisture out of our soils…which then need huge amount of water to keep hydrated.
Our agricultural policies on the central level need to be opposed as they make farmers dependent on chemical fertiliser and pesticides. If we reverse the subsidies to these huge chemical companies, our efforts towards water neutrality will go a long way.
There are local, state level and national level issues we can all engage in.
At the local level, please buy from organic farmers cooperatives (like Jaivik Krishik Society). This helps farmers DIRECTLY. Jaivik has a store at Lalbagh and have set up stall at Cubbon Park during weekends. If enough of you are interested, ask them to open a branch in your neighbourhood. There are also many privately owned organic stores in many areas. You also have the option of buying organic produce from new startups that directly connect to farmers.
At the state level, ask agricultural universities to not emphasise on chemical intensive teaching and instead encourage teaching traditional farming practises which use less water and grow what is naturally suited using available biomass as fodder and nutrition for the soil.
On a national level please engage to fight genetically modified crops and the chemical fertiliser industry.
Whatever your position on the bandh was…it ‘seemed’ like everyone was FOR farmers. What we eat everyday is what affects farmers. If everyone supports farmers think about how we can make long term choices to support them every day of the year and not just one day during the bandh.