[MPWG] 3rd Letter fr Bhaskar Save, 80 yr Old Organic Hindu Farmer
Ipakatawo9 at aol.com
Ipakatawo9 at aol.com
Fri Oct 13 19:14:04 CDT 2006
Water security is everything. LIFE as we know it on Ina Maka, Mother Earth,
cannot survive without water.
Below are nuggets of LIFE saving advice from one of India's most revered
organic farmer. His last name, SAVE is a chilling coincidence. Among Hindus
and Buddhist there is no such thing as a coincidence.
Firefly (Lilia Adecer Cajilog)
Tawo Seed Carrier (since 1991)
South Pasadena, CA 91031
Open Letter –
From: Bhaskar Save,
‘Kalpavruksha’ Village Dehri,
Via Umergam, Dist Valsad, Gujarat, India
(Ph: 0260 – 2563866, 2562126)
Shri M.S. Swaminathan,
Chairperson, National Commission on Farmers,
Union Ministry of Agriculture,
New Delhi, India
October 9, 2006
Dear Shri Swaminathan,
“For the first time in 10,000 years of India’s agricultural history,” as
stated by you, a “National Policy for Farmers” is being drafted. This has been
assigned to your Commission. I am sure you are deeply conscious of the
momentous nature of the task, and its pressing importance for the many millions of
distressed chemical farmers of India.
I pray to Ma Saraswati, Ma Annapurna and Ma Lakshmi – the mother goddesses of
learning, food and wealth – to bless this land, and you, and all of us. May
compassion and wisdom prevail; may this country ever provide abundant,
wholesome food; may our farmers and people prosper! And may all the weary and
bewildered of this earth find a bright beacon of hope in our example.
Today, you are in a preeminent position to objectively convince governments
and big agri-business to reappraise their narrow, shortsighted policies in view
of the dark crises these have led to, and the deeper ones they threaten. You
have written that as far back as 1968, you had cautioned the nation about the
hazards of the ‘green revolution’ technology. But your warning at that time
was lost in the industrial wilderness, though you remained in the arena to try
again. Now, at least, your voice of sanity and conscience must be loud and
clear, and you will receive a groundswell of support and goodwill, from even
I was encouraged to receive your reply dated July 31, 2006 in response to my
Open Letter dated July 29, 2006 on the subject of mounting suicides by
farmers, its underlying causes, and the fundamental remedial measures that are
urgently needed. You stated that you had long admired my work, and thanked me for my
“detailed suggestions” and “valuable comments and recommendations”, which
you said you would take into consideration in preparing your final report.
My second Open Letter dated August 16, 2006 in response to your letter dated
July 31, 2006, requested you to inform which specific recommendations of mine
you agreed with. I also offered to address any questions, doubts or
disagreements regarding the remaining suggestions. While I looked forward to a
continuation of the dialogue, I was disappointed not to receive any further letter from
you. Nonetheless, I am writing to you again.
As we are both in our eighties, and entering the twilight of our lives, the
least we can try to do is keep hope alive for others – through continuing
In your article, enclosed with your letter dated July 31, 2006, you have
again acknowledged the pitfalls of the chemical based ‘green revolution’
technology, and recognized the need for an ‘evergreen’ revolution. By this, I hope
you mean a way of farming, and an ethic of land use, that causes no harm
whatsoever; and thus promises sustained yield of wholesome food that does not just
fill the belly, but provides vital nourishment to body, mind and spirit.
You will, I am sure, wholeheartedly agree that for 9,950 years of our ten
millennium old agricultural history, India actually followed such a cultural
ethic and way of farming. Where on earth, in its entire agricultural history, can
you find any significantly different way of farming that has a stronger claim
to being truly evergreen?
Of course, we have been – and still are – extremely fortunate to have an
abundance of sunshine all round the year, a wealth of biodiversity, and more
than adequate rainfall. The luxuriance of our untended natural forests is
eloquent testimony to what can be achieved in this country if our numerous
unnatural interventions stop!
In your above-referred article, you have touched on half a dozen pathways
which – according to you – may be considered for pursuing an ‘evergreen
revolution’. The first one you mention is a hundred percent organic path, where no
chemicals whatsoever are used, but which is still distinct from the pure,
do-nothing ‘natural farming’, as it may still entail some seasonal tillage, manual
weed control, and perhaps non-chemical ‘pest control’.
The last pathway mentioned in your article is the no-tillage path of natural
farming, which in its purest form does not entail any other disturbance
either, and is thus truly ‘do nothing’, barring the effort to harvest! While the
cultivation of seasonal field crops without any tillage whatsoever, is
problematic in most parts of India, natural farming is definitely possible to achieve
with mature tree crops.
Once the tree saplings or seeds are planted, and a ground cover of
vegetation established, all tillage is totally taken care of by Nature, with no human
intervention needed for this. Some other tasks like mulching, manuring, etc.
may still be needed in the first few years, which is thus a transitional,
organic phase. But by the time the saplings start yielding, almost nothing is
required to be done, except perhaps conservative irrigation for some crops like
coconut, chikoo, banana. Many food tree species like mango, jambul, ber, cashew,
drumstick, awala, custard apple, mahua, etc. do not require even this,
particularly after their first year. They are as natural as our old forests.
It is thus necessary to start with 100% organic farming, which would continue
for field crops, but which would evolve into a progressively purer form of
natural farming for most tree crops. This is the combination of pathways we must
follow to regain an evergreen agriculture. While you have also mentioned
other ‘pathways’ which combine chemicals with organic inputs, and natural with
unnatural, I am afraid they are blind alleys and not true paths to an evergreen
I am summarizing below the suggestions and recommendations I can offer with
full conviction, based on many decades of intimate personal experience. I do
trust these will lead to the revitalization of India’s agriculture and her
natural wealth, and I hope they are helpful to you in drafting the proposed
national policy for farmers.
The major thrust of our national policy should be to ensure the water
security and food security of India through organically growing mixed, locally
suitable crops, plants, and particularly trees, following the laws of Nature.
The Government should provide all necessary encouragement and support to the
farmers presently using chemicals, for converting at least 20-25% of their
land each year to a 100% organic path without any chemicals whatsoever. It is
thus possible for India to be wholly (and happily) liberated from the poisonous
agro-chemicals in about 4-5 years.
We should restore (organically) at least 30% ground cover of mixed,
indigenous and locally adapted trees and forests, preferably within the next decade,
especially on sloping lands prone to soil erosion. This is the core task of
ecological water harvesting – the key to restoring the natural abundance of
groundwater. Outstanding benefits can be achieved thereby in the shortest possible
time at minimal cost.
Such decentralized underground storage is more efficient, as it is protected
from the high evaporation of surface storage. The planting of trees will also
make available a variety of useful produce to enhance the welfare of a larger
number of people. By inter-planting short life-span, medium life-span, and
long life-span crops and trees, it is possible to have planned continuity of food
yield to sustain a farmer through the transition period till the long-life
fruit trees mature and yield. The higher availability of biomass and complete
ground cover round the year will also hasten the regeneration of soil fertility.
A policy of conservative irrigation must be strictly followed, according
highest priority of allocation to nutritious food crops.
Indeed, most crops grow best when the soil is just damp, enabling continuity
of soil aeration. A high water consumption field crop like rice is a rare
exception, which should be cultivated only in the monsoon, when it is a logical
choice for growing in low-lying flat areas, prone to inundation. The unseasonal
cultivation of rice with irrigation in dry months should be totally stopped,
or at least phased out within the next five years. Growing of sugarcane in
water scarcity areas must be banned, as also in poorly drained soils and dry
climates with a high rate of evaporation. By this policy, at least 60% of our
irrigation waters can be saved for local priority use.
The irreversible ruination of fertile, agricultural lands through soil
salinisation and water-logging will also stop.
High priority is needed to conserve in their decentralized natural habitats –
and within the control of local farmers – the enormous wealth of our
biodiversity, both of crops and uncultivated species. Similarly, we urgently need to
document from experienced organic farmers the depth of traditional farming
knowledge specific to each bioregion and agro-climatic zone.
No unnatural biotechnological interventions whatsoever are needed. These,
particularly genetically tampered species, may prove even more dangerous to our
food sovereignty than have the chemicals.
Soil erosion needs to be checked on a war footing. Official records inform
that presently over 350 million acres of land are seriously affected by soil
erosion caused by rain and wind. The most effective and productive strategy of
checking such erosion is by establishing ground cover vegetation, particularly
perennials. All crop residues and ‘bio-wastes’ must go back to the land to
replenish its fertility. The drain of organic matter from our soils must stop.
Science can be harnessed to provide farmers with good, manual tools and
implements, which can greatly help to increase work efficiency and reduce the toil.
Continuous feedback should be obtained from farmers on what they find
Local farmer-level exchanges of experiences, skills and seeds should be
encouraged and supported by the government. Again, the farmers themselves are the
best judges of what support, if any, they need.
Urban areas should be encouraged to vermi-compost their kitchen wastes and
grow organic, rooftop vegetable gardens.
Additionally, urban educational institutes should facilitate practical
understanding and work experience related to the regeneration of our natural wealth.
For this purpose, academic leave may be granted for spending at least 15 days
every year in the countryside. Schools in rural areas should preferably have
monsoon vacations for about 45 days, starting a week before the rains – to
enable the rural populace to concentrate on farming and planting work, which
cannot be undertaken the rest of the year.
You are probably well aware of the huge strides Cuba has made in organic
farming, which it was forced into because of the US led embargo on that nation.
You are also acutely conscious that the fossil-fuel intensive path of chemical
farming may be suddenly forced to stop if our fuel supplies (largely
imported) are throttled, or if their prices mount sharply. Even if the big crisis does
not come in the next 5 years, the degradation of our natural capital – our
soils – is already alarming. So too is the depletion of our groundwater. The
sooner we adopt the organic path, the better for us, and indeed, for the rest of
the world as well.
It is perhaps unrealistic to hope for total, voluntary change in a hurry. But
if we can achieve even 50% of the tasks listed above, our farmers have a
fighting chance. Compromising for less than that would be a betrayal of the land
and her people, and deep violence to our souls.
In conclusion, I wish you all the best, and have faith that you will
courageously follow the voice of your conscience – the path of sanity.
With warm wishes and best regards,
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