Archive | December 2012

Navdanya

All Images © Francesca Moore

Here are some highlights from a week at Navdanya’s Earth University (Bija Vidyapeeth), in Dehradun, Uttarakhand. Navdanya (meaning nine seeds) was founded by scientist and environmental activist Dr Vandana Shiva, who uses this organic farm as an educational platform to promote the art and science of sustainability based on ecological principles.

The farm offers support and training to local farmers in order to promote biodiversity and conservation through the act of organic farming and the indigenous knowledge of seed saving and sharing.

We were here, along with local farmers and many other politically and environmentally active volunteers and interns, to visit the farm and take some pictures.

It was extremely interesting to learn why the education of organic farming practices is currently so imperative to Indian farmers. And to learn that through the misunderstanding that industrialized farming practices, using costly pesticides and genetically modified or hybridized seeds, will produce higher yields. In fact this wasn’t the case – and adopting these methods, enforced by Government regulations, resulted in the Green Revolution during the 1960’s. Theses modified seeds were, in short, not high-producing varieties but only more responsive to chemical fertilizers, needing more fertilizer and thus requiring more water to grow. In a country where drought is endemic, this placed thousands of Indian farmers at economic ruin.

I was very fortunate to have met Chris and Marilyn from The Hummingbird Project, an inspirational couple who lecture in sustainable agriculture using permaculture systems modeled on the synergy of natural ecosystems. I.e. the earth-friendly organic way. I chatted to Marilyn in depth about how adopting Western methods of industrialized agriculture had resulted in the suicides of thousands of Indian farmers. They had just returned from the ‘suicide belt’, where the economic ruin of farmers, arguably caused by the pushing of GM seeds and costly chemicals by multinational companies such as Monsanto, has resulted in farmers literally drinking their pesticides in order to take their own lives. It is estimated that since 1997 between 125,000-200,000 Indian farmer’s lives have been claimed.

I don’t know if this was interesting to me for the sheer astonishment of what had been happening. Or for where I was going next; Bhopal.

I also caught this little snippet of wisdom on The Hummingbird Project blog;

“The beauty of the SEED is that out of one you can get millions. The beauty of the pollinator is it turns that one into the million. And that’s an economics of abundance. That’s an economics of sharing. That’s to me the real economics of growth. Because life is growing.”  Vandana Shiva

The images above hopefully reflect the good work of Navdanya, and the positive results of education, experimentation and research towards a sustainable greener future. For more information see www.navdanya.org

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© Francesca Moore

train journey

  All Images © Francesca Moore On this train journey the thing i liked most, aside from being distracted by the three course complimentary menu for only a three hour journey (something i think Southern could learn a thing or two from when it comes to ‘value for money’), was the view outside the window…

sight seen

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Seen and seen again… Whilst Lorenza was recovering from a slight bout of Delhi Belly we bravely ventured out to Jaipur City Palace, only to settle on a shaded bench and watch the sights go by. I was anchored on the bench too for moral support. Needless to say, we learned little about the Palace.

Bellissima!

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© Francesca Moore

Met Bobby from Bellissima, a handicraft shop in Jaisalmer. Bobby’s fighting for the rights of women in the Thar desert, who may be widowed or divorced and are otherwise without opportunity to work for a living. Bobby says that women cannot be seen to work in the shops or restaurants as these are jobs of men, and she’s proudly here in her shop fighting to change the views of society. This blanket was designed and handmade by women in the Rajasthani villages, and all proceeds go to them. It also kept us very warm on the train, so thank you again!

rooftop culture

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All Images © Francesca Moore

From the lovely Hill View Guesthouse, nestled below the Mehrangarh Fort, I became fascinated with the rooftop culture in Rajasthan’s blue city, Jodhpur. From here you can see people ponder, play, sleep and pray. Beautiful.

Navdanya

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A couple of hours research (and a few too many books bought) from the Navdanya office, Delhi. A tranquil getaway from the city’s mayhem.. Hoping to visit their seed bank in Dehradun.