‘Indigenous agricultural practises can deal with food and farm crisis’

Farmers’ knowledge developed from their ecological understanding of agriculture and the world around it and their culture are the feasible and sustainable ways to deal with food and farming crisis, being faced by the country, according to the study “Interfacing farmers’ science with formal science”.

The study was undertaken with the help of experienced agricultural scientists in collaboration with a group of small dry land farmers by the Deccan Development Society (DDS), an NGO, at Pastapur and surrounding villages in Sangareddy district.

The result of the study that included agro-anthropological workshops was released in the form of a report by Director of DDS P.V. Satheesh in Hyderabad on Tuesday.

Mr. Satheesh stated that the study echoes some of the major findings of a seminal exercise undertaken by over 400 international experts on agriculture, economics, ecology and social sciences, in 2009 – International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) – co-sponsored by World Bank, UNDP and FAO.

As cautioned by the IAASTD study that the “business-as-usual” approach would be more an option for agricultural science if the world had to cope with the challenge of increasing population and decreasing food supply and that the answer lies in the knowledge of peasants and women in the resource-challenged areas, the study initiated by DDS too had come to the same conclusion, Mr. Satheesh stated.

The conclusion was arrived at after a series of anthropological workshops conducted by agricultural scientists Uma Reddy, Suresh Reddy and others, along with food and agricultural activists of DDS.

“The cropping patterns or the crop calendar designed and practised by farmers was insurance for their food security under the harshest environmental situations. They would never depend on external sources for their food grains,” Mr. Satheesh said.

As brought out by the study, agriculture practised by peasants was intertwined with their emotions, rituals and other facets of their culture.

“Every festival and ritual they celebrate give prime importance to their agricultural produce. This inter-relation between their knowledge and culture has to be understood by agricultural scientists and researchers”, the DDS Director suggested.

The findings of the anthropological workshops would stress the need to provide strong support to the farmers’ biodiversity-based cropping systems which in turn reflect their experiences and wealth of knowledge systems.

Covering an entire cropping cycle at various important agricultural seasons, the study examines every facet of farming from ploughing to crop selection, soil fertility, water management, pest management and harvest, he explained.

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