Though there is a strong organic farming movement in and around Mysore district, there is no permanent platform to reach out to people

Despite the strong organic farming movement in and around Mysore and the affinity for alternative agriculture, such initiatives receive very little government and institutional support.

Hence, the need for policymakers and local authorities to take note of the seeds of change being sowed in agriculture and provide a suitable forum for proponents of alternative farming, so that it can not only sustain itself but also thrive.

“Be it zero-budget farming, seed-savers or farmer breeders, alternative agriculture has scores of practitioners in Mysore, Mandya, Chamarajanagar and Hassan. It is imperative that the authorities provide a forum so that the organic products cultivated in the region reaches the public in whom there is great awareness in the present times,” said Krishnaprasad of Sahaja Samruddha, an organisation promoting millets and organic farming.

“This is in contrast to the situation in Bangalore, where farmers have been provided a forum at Lalbagh not only to meet and discuss but to sell their wares. It is an interface between the farmers, the government and the public but no such venue exists in Mysore. But, there is scope for providing a forum at either Nanjaraja Bahadur Choultry or at Curzon Park,” said Mr. Krishnaprasad.

In the absence of a permanent forum, organisations like Sahaja Samruddha conduct Kempakki Mela or Red Rice Mela, while similar other groups have conducted millet melas in the city for which public response has been “overwhelming”.

“The turnover at these melas exceed that of similar events in Bangalore, which disproves the belief that there is no demand for organic products in Mysore,” according to Mr. Krishnaprasad.

But, despite lack of government or institutional support, public awareness is high in Mysore. Incidentally, Mysore is the first city where activists passed a resolution to make and declare Mysore “GMO-free” (Genetically Modified Organism).

While momentum is building up and public opinion is slowly but surely turning to favour organic products, there is a perception that it has yet to reach the critical mass required to bring about policy changes or for the government to take note.

And the first initiative could be to provide practitioners of alternative farming a permanent forum and outlet to reach out to the public. This will not only ensure that the farmers can access the market, but will also provide a forum for interaction with public.

More than 400 practitioners of organic and natural farmers have been listed from Mysore and surrounding regions in the database of Sahaja Samruddha; there are as many as 25 active traditional seed-savers in Mysore, H.D. Kote and Kollegal, which proves the strength of the movement.

Such concern for lack of institutional support stems from the fact that Mysore is not only rich in culture but also in agro-biodiversity and it is not been adequately highlighted.

“During Dasara, the government should promote traditional crops and the region’s agro-biodiversity. But, even at the Raitha Dasara, the authorities were promoting government programmes; at the food mela, there was nothing remotely connected to traditional Mysore crops,” Mr. Krishnaprasad said.

It was pointed out that historically, the Mysore kingdom encouraged agriculture and the region was known for varieties of rice such as ‘Ratnachoodi’ and ‘Rajamudi’.

More In: Karnataka | National