Archive for the 'Kisan Swaraj Yatra' Category

ASHA Training on Ecological Agriculture

ASHA Training on Ecological Agriculture

Workshop-2 with Eastern India Focus

Bolpur Training Centre, West Bengal

Organized by DRCSC (Service Centre), Kolkata

Sept. 5th-8th, 2011

Dear friends,

Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) invites you to our 2nd workshop on Ecological Agriculture, focusing this time on Eastern India. The workshop is being organized by DRCSC, popularly known as Service Centre in West Bengal, one of the foremost resource centres for sustainable agriculture and natural resource management. This is a brief first announcement for your information so that you can start registering and making travel plans. More detailed plan and agenda for the workshop will be circulated in a few days. Early registration and confirmation will help both the organizers and participants plan better.

Who are expected to participate:

The workshop is meant for key organizers in NGOs and community organizations which are taking up the promotion of ecologically sustainable agriculture, and for any committed farmers who are interested in practicing and propagating ecological agriculture. We are particularly inviting participants from the Eastern region, i.e., West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Eastern UP. If you are not working in these states but still want to attend the workshop for specific reasons, do write to us and we will try to accommodate. Note that two more ASHA workshops are being organized in Central India and Northern India.

Dates, Venue and Logistics:

The training will be conducted at the Bolpur Training Centre which is 130 km from Kolkata. You are advised to reach Kolkata by 12pm on Sept. 4th, and the whole group will travel by 4.15pm train to Bolpur, reaching there around 8pm. The training will end around 12.30pm on Sept. 8th and the group plans to take the 2.30pm train back to Kolkata to reach around 6pm. You are advised to plan your departure time for return journey after 8pm on Sept. 8th.

Travel expenses and arrangements should be taken care of by the participants from their respective locations to Kolkata (Howrah or Sealdah). The organizers will take care of travel to venue and back, and food and accommodation (shared rooms).

Program Outline:

There will be sessions on Natural Resource management through Sustainable Agriculture, based on Permaculture principles, bio-integrated farms, integrating other subsystems with the crop component, and so on. Sept. 7th will be spent in a field trip covering food, forest, common property resources, integrated farms, fish farms with garden, biogas, etc.

Please register:

There are 30 spots planned for participants. You are requested to register and confirm at the earliest, by sending the following details with Subject “ASHA Training at DRCSC” to DRCSC, Pankaj Bhushan, Kiran Vissa, Kavitha

Email Address:
Mobile Number:
Food Preferences:
Your Expectations from the training (in brief): 

 Looking forward to a fruitful workshop.

Anshuman Das (, Kavitha Kuruganti (, Pankaj Bhushan (, Kiran Vissa (

For Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA)

ASHA is an alliance of about 400 diverse organizations across India that came together through the Kisan Swaraj Yatra (Oct-Dec 2010), a nation-wide mobilization around Food-Farmers-Freedom. Through grassroots work, trainings, campaigns and policy advocacy, ASHA seeks to promote practices and policies that make Indian agriculture ecologically sustainable, ensure dignified livelihoods to its farmers including the small and marginal, preserve their control over agricultural resources like seed, land and water, and ensure adequate, safe food to all citizens.

November 22nd 2010:Kisan Swaraj Yatra enters Bihar – interacts with farmers, farmer leaders and intellectuals in Patna

The Yatra entered Bihar today and the 3-day trip in Bihar began with a public meeting at Srikrishna Vigyan Kendra, Patna. The meeting was attended by farmers, farmer leaders with various unions, students from schools and colleges, urban consumers, media representatives and an ex-Minister, ex-MLA and so on and was chaired by the Chairperson of the State Farmers’ Commission, Dr Upendranath Verma (an active person in his 90s), who was also a former Minister for Rural Development.

Bihar State President of BKU, Mr Ramanuj Singh observed that no political party included any farmers’ issues in their election manifestos in the recently-concluded election, which is a worrisome factor. He lamented at the fact that lakhs of masoor was lying with very poor price support for farmers. He also questioned the institutional credit policies in relation to farmers – why is it that for every tractor that a farmer gets, the mortgage is worth eight to ten times, whereas it is not the same credit policy for other sectors, he asked. He also told the Yatris that if there is hope for a true farmers’ struggle rising up again in the country along the lines that Gandhiji dreamt of, it would happen from Bihar and West Champaran!

Mr Dhirendra Narayan Sharma of Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, said that the “Green Revolution in Eastern India” should be aptly called as “Loot ki kranti” (“exploitation-revolution”). He pointed out that this country never saw even one political leader who said that they will not accept any hikes in their salaries and emoluments unless farmers get proper remunerative prices and that is the misfortune of the farmers in the country. He also questioned the so-called organic farming implementation in the state of Bihar.

Mr Gowrishankar Nagdansh, an ex-Minister in the Bihar government also spoke. He raised issues related to sharecroppers and talked about a sahityakaar Pharmeshwar Nath “Renu” who did not send his children to school – “he understood that sending children to our education institutions will pull them out of farming I guess”, he remarked.

Mr Vijay Pratap of SADED,

Vijay Pratap addressing students in Tarau Mitra, Patna

well known social activist, emphasized on the need to focus on rainfed agriculture – he reminded everyone that the rainfed belts are the ones which provide nutritious food for everyone. He also pointed out that other regions in India will have to experience the same plight as Punjab today, if we don’t correct our path and learn lessons from the earlier Green Revolution. He also questioned the government’s faith in the American farming models and pointed out that these have been proven to be unsustainable and adding to climate change. We have to come out of our aping of the western notions of development and change our thinking with regard to our farming. He said that the nation has to focus on the revival of the rural economy.

Dr Upendranath Verma raised his concerns against Monsanto being given an official status in India. Our decision makers are corrupt and I have no hesitation saying that here, he remarked. He hoped that the fire that will spread from this Yatra will consume the foreign companies in India and make them flee from here. “We need at least hundred such public meetings in Bihar to be organized after this Yatra leaves – we have to go to the villages with this message – let us get everyone here to shun GM seeds and to save their own seeds”, he said.

Kavitha Kurugathi coordinator & Yatris explained why the western


Kavitha Kuruganthi addressing farmers & eminent people in Patna.

influenced intense agriculture can never be a solution for the Indian model of small / individual and marginal farmers. The symbiotic relationship between organic farming and small and marginal holdings was explained. That the current crisis in Indian farming is also an issue for the non-farmers like the urban consumers was also explained in detail.

Other farmers, especially from

Farmer from Kisan Sangharsh Samiti raising his voice.

Bihar Kisan Sangharsh Samiti who spoke in the meeting urged the ASHA people to stay away from (party) politics to ensure that farmers’ issues are carried forward in a non-partisanal manner. Pankaj Bhushan of  GM Free Bihar Movement explained the nature of ASHA and assured them that this is not linked to political parties.

They also pointed out that there has been large scale failure of maize and matar (green peas) and nothing has been done to compensate farmers for the losses that they incurred.

The whole house rejected the Green Revolution proposals in Bihar by the Union Government. The Yatra put forward three main demands to the yet-to-be-formed government in Bihar:

  • Promote organic farming in the state
  • Not allow any GM seeds in the state including open air trials and make a legislation to that effect
  • Pick up lessons from the earlier Green Revolution and ensure that the Green Revolution proposals are in the benefit of farmers and in a sustainable livelihoods framework


Rally in Patna near Gandhi Maidan with Kisan Swaraj Yatra.

There was a rally afterwards uptil Gandhi Statue where Yatris and others paid homage to the Mahatma. “Mahatma Gandhi ka naara goonjega, is desh ke kone kone mein”, was the slogan that rented the skies. Then we moved to Taru Mitra Bioreserve, an ecological ashram set up by thousands of students across the globe. This place which was a rice field till 1996 was converted to the green heaven it is today by sheer labour from students. There is so much thrust on having as many local species of trees as possible and the fact that the students were not only enlightened about the need of such a spread but also other eco-sensitive issues. We interacted with students from different schools in Patna here.


Rally in Musallahpur Haat Sabji Mandi alongwith huge number of students.

The day ended with a fantastic public meeting in the Musallahpur bazaar with literally thousands of people listening to the Yatris. Leaflets flew in thousands and it was fantastic to watch people read the leaflets with great interest and do slogan-shouting along with us. The best part was that as we closed the meeting, we did not find a single leaflet dropped on the road – people carefully folded the handbills and put them in their pockets and left. We left for Muzaffarpur after this.


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