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.


Kisan Swaraj Yatra to reach Bihar on November 22

Kisan Swaraj Yatra which will begin from Sabarmati Ashram in Gujaraton October 2 will reach Bihar in between November 22 to 24. The Yatra will be taken out to make the common people aware of the dangers of genetically modified (GM) foods and seeds. The Yatra will spend three days in Bihar-in Patna, Muzaffarpur and Samastipur.

This was disclosed at a press conference in Patna on August 25, 2010, organized by the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture & GM Free Bihar Movement.

Kumar Shubhamoorty (Gandhian), Vijay Pratap (Lokayan), Parveen Amanullah (Hum Log Trust), Suresh Kumar (Environmentalist) and Pankaj Bhushan (Tara Foundation) were present at the press briefing.

Yatra against mutated food, crops

GM Free Bihar Movement, spearheading a countrywide campaign against genetically modified food, today announced that it would launch a Kisan Swaraj Yatra on October 2.

The journey by bus, slated to take two months, would cover 19 states across the country. The bus would pass through Patna, Muzaffarpur, Rajendra Agriculture University, Samastipur, and Champaran on the Bihar leg of its tour between November 22 and 24.

GM Free Bihar Movement convener Pankaj Bhusan said: “Kisan Swaraj Yatra is an effort to reach out towards self-reliant, ecological farming and for securing the rights of farmers.”

Bhusan said that the yatra would also help in creating a platform for state governments which want to assert their constitutional authority over agriculture and health as state projects.

The president of an NGO, Lokyan, Vijay Pratap, said: “It is matter of shame that in a country where nearly 70 per cent of the population is still dependent on farming and food production, hundreds of farmers are being forced to commit suicide.”

Social activist Mihir Kumar, who also took part in the seminar, said BT brinjal, the first genetically modified food crop sought to be introduced in India, has been stopped by the central government.

BT brinjal was developed by Monsanto, a multinational company based in the US in partnership with India’s Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company and was approved for commercialisation in 2009 but was withdrawn after a public outcry.

Kumar Shubhamoorty, a member of GM Free Bihar Movement, said: “The yatra requires active participation and support of the people.”

Suresh Gupta, a pioneer in organic farming, said: “Throughout the yatra, the campaign is based on the philosophy of Satyameva Jayate.”

Parveen Amanullah, a member of Hum Log Trust, said: “The yatra believes that genetically modified seeds are dangerous.”

He added: “It would have adverse effects on farmers, consumers and our environment. It needs to be resisted.”

The yatra is being organised by the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture and would be led by the convener of the GM Free Movement, Pankaj Bhusan, and Kavitha Kuruganti from Kheti Virasat Mission, Punjab.

The yatra would commence from Sabarmati Ashram in Gujarat and would end in Delhi on December 11.

(Patna, The Telegraph,AMIT BHELARI, Thursday,August 26,2010)



‘Kisan Ki mazbooti mein hi desh ki mazbooti’

‘Krishi Bache, Kisan Bache, Desh bache’

An outreach effort across India towards self-reliant, ecological farming and for securing farming communities’ rights

Jal, Jangal, Zameen aur BEEJ (Water, Forest, Land & SEED) – the basic common resources that have always belonged to people who acted as the resource-savers and resource-keepers – are in great jeopardy today. These are the basic resources which are pre-requisites for the sustainable livelihoods of millions of Indians. Along with these resources, the very lives of our fellow citizens are perched precariously, mired in unconscionable poverty, hunger, lack of basic rights and any assertive power.

While unsuitable (market-driven, anti-nature, ‘treadmill’) technologies have degraded and contaminated these resources over the decades, a more basic concern is around the appropriation of these resources by the State and commercial interests, posing a serious question on the fundamental rights for all citizens of India and on the very vision (or lack of it) for Sustainable Development for all. It is no surprise that we are all a witness to thousands of farmers committing suicides, given that key members of our government articulate a vision that would like to see only 15% of Indians in rural areas soon!

It is a matter of shame that in a country where nearly 70% of the population is still connected with farming and food production, rural hunger and starvation is also very high. Worse, the people who are producing food to feed the entire nation are committing suicides in lakhs and are demoralized with their self-respect being eroded constantly, while the industry and sections of the government are gloating about the business opportunities presented by agriculture in India! As we are conversing, the largest displacement ever in our history is happening from agriculture….., with not even basic social security assured for those who are fleeing and are being displaced.

Increasing corporatisation of basic resources, through pro-industry, anti-farmer policies, regulatory frameworks and by conferring legal rights to industry in the form of exclusive rights like IPRs over life forms, the government is violating the apriori rights of our farmers over resources like Seed. Further, the willful policies of the government to undervalue the contribution of agriculture and farmers through various mechanisms need to be questioned and addressed squarely.

In this era of neo-colonisation, it is increasingly obvious that the new ways of controlling a whole nation and its sovereignty center around Food & Farming. It is anticipated that one of the main ways that the proverbial last nail would be put in is through the entry of GM seeds.

Bt Brinjal, the first GM food crop sought to be introduced in India has been stopped on its juggernaut towards our dinner plates for now. However, the initial regulatory approval and the opposition to the moratorium decision after February 9th 2010 actually showed the nation and the world how the pro-GM lobby will go to any extent to bypass citizens’ democratic voices and ram these unwanted technologies down our throats. There were even official proposals of imprisoning GM critics through a new statutory regime in the form of the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) in addition to wanting to curb the constitutional authority of state governments which are increasingly asserting their right to remain GM-Free, under pressure from people.

On another front, the movement of ecological farming, to reduce the risks of small and marginal farmers of the country, to shift them to greater food security and sovereignty and to make farming viable for them again, is gaining strength in various states across the country. However, this continues to be an upstream effort given that the ‘powers that be’ with their neo-liberal mindsets would rather opt for commerce-driven intensive agriculture models even as this contributes to climate change and makes farmers more vulnerable to this phenomenon and even after such intensive models have shown their negative impacts on the social, economic and environmental front in states like Punjab already.

It is in this context that an outreach tour across India called “Kisan Swaraj Yatra” is being proposed, to cover at least 15 states of the country. The Kisan Swaraj Yatra will be organized by the Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture, a loose network of all those individuals and organizations that believe that the way forward for Indian agriculture and farmers is that of sustainable agriculture, that will conserve and improve farmers’ livelihoods and resources, even as it addresses consumer needs.

This Swaraj Yatra seeks to remind all Indians about our hard-won independence and the insidious manner in which neo-colonial powers in the form of big agri-business MNCs, often times hidden behind their Indian avatars including public sector institutions and behind huge charitable organisations, are threatening such independence. Hundred years after Hind Swaraj where an admirable vision for a sui generis kind of development of India was proposed, based on our ethos, resources and conditions and decades after many freedom fighters became martyrs in pursuit of independence from control and subjugation by others, India appears to be truly on its way to neo-colonisation unless this is resisted strongly by all of us.

As can be widely seen, the mode of control is now through Seed and other related agricultural technologies, to control our food and farming systems and to profiteer on the ever-expanding huge markets available. In this greedy profiteering, though the “Farmer” is used as an excuse, it is apparent that this is about destruction of farmers and farming as we have always known in India. It is about appropriating people’s resources like land and seed.

This control is already being experienced in farmers’ rights in statutory frameworks being narrowed down constantly, the de-skilling of their knowledge and the discounting of their contribution, the appropriation of their resources and the impoverishment that they are being subjected to…..

This Yatra sees GM seeds as a danger to be resisted in itself (given its many adverse implications on farmers, consumers and our environment) as well as a symbol of this new colonization, which needs to be resisted. We see this as the “Salt” of our new war of independence, for communities to reclaim their resources, knowledge, livelihoods and lives.

Kisan Swaraj Yatra will focus on telling the truth, based on the philosophy of “Satyameva Jayate”. The truth about the macro-agricultural policies, the truth about technologies like GM seeds and the situation in India at present, the truth about MNCs like Monsanto, the truth about the public sector institutions that we are supporting with our tax money, the truth about other unsustainable technologies like synthetic pesticides, the truth about corporate and contract farming and most importantly, the truth about ecological farming as the only way forward. The Yatra will also highlight the fact that in this age of appropriation of people’s natural resources for corporate greed, the only way to attain sustainable development for all is to stop such an appropriation.

In addition to farmers who have suffered with GM seeds/pesticides/fertilizers/agro-fuels/appropriation of their land and other resources sharing their stories of woes, the Yatra will have successful and experienced ecological farmers sharing their knowledge and views throughout the yatra, reaching out to fellow farmers and consumers with a message of “Swaraj” in our food and farming. The Yatra will have citizens asserting their right to informed choices with regard to something as basic as food. This will also have “experts” seeking to demystify the real implications of corporate-science-driven “modern technologies” and would seek to democratize science & technology debates in the country; further, activists and others would analyse the various policies and developments at the macro-level and present various pertinent issues for debate and discussion. This is a platform where all citizens concerned with what is happening to our food and farming will have space to join and take part in asserting their rights. While the Yatra will also create a platform for state governments which want to assert their constitutional authority over agriculture and health as State subjects, it will also attempt to get those governments which are still viewing this issue from a distance to take a firm pro-people stance on the side of sustainable development for all citizens.

The Yatra will commence on 2nd October 2010, on Gandhi Jayanti from Sabarmati in Gujarat and will end on 11 December 2010 in Delhi, after traversing through Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Chattisgarh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana.

The Yatra will have exhibitions, seed diversity and organic food festivals, public meetings, rallies, film screenings, cycle yatras, street plays, direct actions, lobbying meetings, press conferences and ‘skillshares’ on its mission of “Swaraj”.

Margadarshak Mandal:

Anupam Mishra (Gandhi Marg), Bhaskar bhai Save (renowned natural farmer), Chennaiah P. (National Agricultural Workers’ Forum), Dayamani Barla (Adivasi Moolvasi Asthitva Raksha Manch), Dr B D Sharma (Bharat Jan Andolan), Dr Banwari Lal Sharma (Azadi Bachao Andolan), Dr Claude Alvares (Organic Farming Association of India), Dr Inderjit Kaur (All India Pingalwara Society), Dr Jagmohan Singh (Association for Democratic Rights), Medha Patkar (National Alliance for People’s Movements), N D Patil (farmers’ leader), Omkar Chand (Servants’ Society of India), Radha behn Bhatt (Gandhi Peace Foundation), Rashida Bee & Champa Devi Shukla (Goldman Prize winners), Shubhmoorty (Bhoodan Samiti), Vijay Pratap (Lokayan)

“Protect our Rights & Resources,

Say NO to GMOs & Chemical Pesticides,

Bring in Ecological Farming,

Save Farmers”

Abhi nahin to kabhi nahin…(If not now, never..)







Date Event at: Night Stay at
October 2, Sat Sabarmati, Ahmedabad Mehsana
October 3, Sun Mehsana/Surendranagar Saila
October 4, Mon Bharuch Bharuch
October 5, Tue Dahod Dahod
October 6, Wed (field visit to farmers) Raipuria in Jhabua
October 7, Thu REST, in Raipuria Raipuria
MADHYA PRADESH: CONTACT NILESH DESAI: 094-253-29222 or; JAYANT VERMA: 094-251-51871 or
October 8, Fri Petlawad Raipuria in Jhabua
October 9, Sat Indore Bhopal
October 10, Sun Bhopal Jabalpur
October 11, Mon Jabalpur Jabalpur
October 12, Tue REST/ DAY TRAVEL Nagpur
October 13, Wed Nagpur/ Sewagram Sewagram (leave for Akola early morning)
October 14, Thu Akola Jalna
October 15, Fri Jalna Ralegaon Siddhi
October 16, Sat Ralegaon Siddhi Mumbai
October 17, Sun Mumbai Mumbai
October 18, Mon TRAVEL TO GOA Goa
GOA: CONTACT MIGUEL BRAGANZA: +91-832-2255913 or
October 19, Tue Goa Goa
October 20, Wed Goa Dharwad
October 21, Thu Dharwad Haveri
October 22, Fri Haveri Bangalore
October 23, Sat Bangalore Mysore
October 24, Sun Mysore & HD Kote Mysore/HD Kote
October 25, Mon REST/DAY TRAVEL TO KASARAGOD Kasaragod
KERALA: CONTACT SRIDHAR: 099-953-58205 or
October 26, Tue Kasaragod/Kannur Calicut
October 27, Wed Kozhikode Calicut
October 28, Thu Malappuram Palghat
October 29, Fri Palghat Coimbatore
TAMIL NADU: CONTACT SELVAM RAMASWAMY: 094-436-63562 or and KANNAIYAN: 094-449-89543 or and VICTOR: 094-860-86938
October 30, Sat Coimbatore Erode
October 31, Sun Erode/Trichy Kumbakonam?
Nov. 1, Mon Pondicherry Chennai
Nov. 2, Tue Chennai Chennai
Nov. 3, 4, 5, 6 (Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat) DIWALI BREAK Chennai uptil 6th morning; 6th night in Anantapur
ANDHRA PRADESH: CONTACT RAMOO: 090-006-99702 or and KIRAN VISSA: 097-017-05743 or
Nov. 7, Sun Anantapur Hyderabad
Nov. 8, Mon Hyderabad Vijayawada (night driving)
Nov. 9, Tue Vijayawada Visakhapatnam (night driving)
Nov. 10, Wed Srikakulam Berhampur
ORISSA: CONTACT DEBJEET SARANGI: 099-385-82616 OR and SAROJ MOHANTY: 097-771-54149 and S CHANDRASEKHAR: 09437973831 or BINAYAK SWAIN: 098-611-12338 or
Nov. 11, Thu Berhampur Bhubaneswar
Nov. 12, Fri Bhubaneswar Bhubaneswar
Nov. 14, Sun Raipur Sambalpur
Nov. 15, Mon Sambhalpur Baripada, Mayurbhanj dist.
Nov. 16, Tue Baripada/Mayurbhanj dist Baripada, Mayurbhanj dist.
Nov. 17, Wed REST/TRAVEL, East Medinipur Kunthia, East Medinipur
Nov. 18, Thu East Medinipur Kolkata
Nov. 19, Fri Kolkatta Shantiniketan
Nov. 20, Sat Shantiniketan Dhanbad
Nov. 21, Sun Dhanbad Patna
Nov. 22, Mon Patna Muzaffarpur
Nov. 23, Tue Muzaffarpur & Samastipur Champaran
Nov. 24, Wed Champaran Gorakhpur
Nov. 25, Thu Gorakhpur/Basti Varanasi
Nov. 26, Fri Varanasi/Sultanpur Lucknow
Nov. 27, Sat Lucknow Lucknow
Nov. 28, Sun Bareilly/Moradabad Moradabad
Nov. 29, Mon Haridwar Haridwar
Nov. 30, Tue Roorkee/Saharanpur Saharanpur
Dec. 1, Wed Kurukshetra/Ambala Nahan
Dec. 2, Thu Nahan/Solan Chandigarh
Dec. 3, Fri Chandigarh/Ludhiana Ludhiana
Dec. 4, Sat Patiala/Sangrur Bathinda
Dec. 5, Sun Bathinda & Hanumangarh Bikaner
Dec. 6, Mon Bikaner Bikaner
Dec. 7, Tue Jodhpur (by afternoon) Jodhpur
Dec. 8, Wed Beawar/Ajmer Jaipur
Dec. 9, Thu Jaipur Jaipur
Dec. 10, Fri Rewari Rewari
DELHI: CONTACT NAYANI: 099-997-78674 OR or Gautam at: or YUDHVIR SINGH: 098-994-35968
Dec. 11, Sat Delhi Delhi

* : Two parallel teams in Haryana and Himachal Pradesh at the same time

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