With the aim of giving more options to dry land Vidarbha farmers and promoting organic farming replacing genetically modified crops and curbing uncontrolled use of pesticides in agriculture for protecting biodiversity through special action plan Maharashtra govt. and with help of Navdanya of environmental activist Vandana Shiva planned project to give seeds desi cotton varieties (mainly short duration and long staple or lint size) for cultivation along with with seeds of pulses and millet to 100 tribal farmers of farmers' suicide prone Yavatmal district. It was organised on June 18th in the forest village Awalgoan. The indigenous seeds ensure better yields with less cost. Foundations of an organic cotton seed bank have also been laid so the seeds could be made available to the farmers in the open market at low cost. Keshav Kranthi, Director of Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR), Dr.Pramod Yadgirwar ,Director Research ,PK Agriculture University are also attending the functions," informed Kishor Tiwari, Chairman of special task force Vasantrao Naik Sethi Swalamban Mission (VNSSM).
"This is part of Maharashtra govt's special drive to promote sustainable farming. Last week high-yielding indigenous seeds from dal group of tur, moong and soyabean worth Rs 13 lakh were distributed to farm widows free of cost. As seeds are of indigenous origin and would ensure better yields with less cost, later on there would be a seed bank and the seeds would be made available to the farmers in the open market at low cost" Project convener and Yavatmal district agriculture officer Dattatray Gaikwad said .
'As part of on going campaign to stop farmers suicides, tribal who are worst hit victims of rain sensitive crop has come forward to opt desi solution replace Bt.cotton ,we are also promoting food crop cultivation including pulses, oil seeds and millet to curb mono crop culture which has lost biodiversity and resulted in frequent crop failure and drought forcing farmers to kill themselves.The seeds produced by the tribal would be collected by agriculture dept. and later the same would be sold in the local market so that they get good price " project director and divisional agriculture officer Rahul Satpute informed today.
'The need for creating choice for the farmers also stems from the fact that cotton farming in India is on the crossroads. Last year there was lot of turbulence in north India among cotton growers about Bt cotton Bollgard-II (BG-II) hybrids, all of which suffered from damage due to white-fly attack and cotton leaf curl virus disease. In many cotton growing states in central and south India last season, Bt cotton was badly affected due to pink boll worm infestations as Monsanto's BG-II gave in to the pest.We are happy that tribals are opting for desi solution as our indigenous seeds are very resilient, all desi varieties are sturdy and robust. With added new qualities like short duration, long staple and compact plants these are also ideal for the High Density Plantation System (HDPS). If we succeed, a new chemical-less and viable option will lead the way for India," jubilant Keshav Kranthi,director of Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR) added.
The seed distribution scheme would be implemented in 14 districts spread across Vidarbha and Marathwada shortly in a phased manner as a flagship programme of maharashtra govt,The prominent farm activist VNSSM chief Kishor Tiwari added .
"We want GMO-free and chemical-free India by 2020. We want governments and ordinary citizens to realise that the GM miracle and chemical miracle is false miracle. About 80% of 300,000 farmers’ suicides are from the cotton belts in India because of debt and land grab. We cannot allow our Indian farmers to traded for corporate profits. We have already paid high prices and India will no longer be humiliated at the hand of corporations. We have revive our indigenous systems that are in harmony with the Earth and bring prosperity for Indian farmers through biodiversity and sustainability," environmental activist and founder of Navdanya, Vandana Shiva said .