Top Places to Reconnect in the World 2012
Missy Crutchfield and Melissa Turner
Be Magazine | www.bemagazine.org
Keepers of the Seed
In the Himalayan foothills town of Dehradun, India, world-renowned physicist and environmentalist Dr. Vandana Shiva is growing a grassroots revolution. Dr. Shiva’s Navdanya Farm is an experiment in Gandhian nonviolent philosophy and farming that promotes organic practices, conservation, and social justice.
As documentary films like “Food, Inc.” go behind the scenes of factory farming in the United States, similar issues are taking an even greater toll on farmers in developing countries like India.
Over 20,000 farmers have committed suicide in the last five years. Faced with high costs for seeds and pesticides and falling farm prices because of imported commodities, farmers in India are left with little hope and many have given in to despair.
Working to change this tide of economic and environmental injustice, Dr. Shiva and her team at Navdanya Farm are dedicated to nonviolent solutions that will restore freedom to the farmers of India and stewardship of the earth’s resources.
As a solution, Navdanya Farm has developed a model Community Seed Bank—a concept which has expanded to 54 seed banks in 16 states across India. This project has leveled the playing field for small farmers who cannot afford the royalties on Monsanto-patented seeds, empowering them through economic freedom.
Navdanya has conserved over 3,000 rice varieties and 75 types of wheat, millet, pulses, oil seeds, vegetables, and medicinal plants, and made these seeds available to Indian farmers through local farmers co-ops.
Today more than 500,000 farmers have been trained in Navdanya’s practices for sustainable agriculture, and through the Community Seed Banks and co-op system that have been developed in the past two decades, Navdanya is working with farmers across India to created the country’s largest direct marketing and fair trade organic network.