Indian farm practices impress South African farmers

Special Correspondent

Farmers from Kwazulu–Nata province learn traditional practices from Indian ryots

Visit villages in southern States including Andhra Pradesh, interact with farmers

HYDERABAD: A group of South African farmers who had taken to cultivating Bt cotton and maize but find their yields declining despite rising input costs said they were impressed with traditional and alternative agricultural practices followed by Indian dry land farmers here on Tuesday.

About 25 South African farmers from Makhatini in Kwazulu–Nata province were brought to India by an NGO- African Centre for Biosafety, to give them exposure to traditional practices followed by Indian farmers despite deep penetration of Bt cotton and attempts by MNCs to push genetically modified crops in India.

The farmers visited 20 villages in various southern States including Andhra Pradesh and interacted with farmers and civil society groups and saw for themselves organic and ecological farming practices, said Deccan Development Society Director P. V. Satheesh.

Speaking to media persons Centre for Biosafety Director Mariam Mayet said that unlike in India farmers in historically marginalised Africa were part of a system where there was little or no choice for farmers to follow agricultural practices they were comfortable with and have no control over their own crops. With their government backing Bt cotton, Bt maize and giving subsidies initially to promote them, farmers in Africa had no option but to cultivate them replacing traditional crops. But over the years chemical intensive crops stopped giving them better yields while their inputs costs were mounting with no market access.

Hence the visit was arranged to help them learn from Indian farmers’ experiences.

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