Kisan Satyagraha: A desperate plea by farmers for the freedom to reap the benefits of modern science and technology
Press Release no. 3 (June 24, 2019)
Two weeks after the launch of Kisan Satyagraha in the presence of 1500 people, by Lalit Patil Bahale planting herbicide tolerant (HT) Bt cotton seed at his farm in Akoli Jahagir village, Akot tehsil, in Akola district of Maharashtra, on June 10, 2019, this grassroots movement has gathered steam. Farmers from ten districts in Maharashtra have joined the Satyagraha.
Two major programmes were held on June 24, 2019. One was at Adjoin Budruk village, Telhara taluka, Akola district. The other at Sita Mata Mandir in Raveri village, Ralegaon taluka, in Yavatmal district. Apart from sowing the new generation cotton seeds, and expressing their support for Bt brinjal and GM mustard, two new decisions were announced at today’s events.
A select few progressive farmers will set up demonstration Þeld trials to test the efficacy and economic viability of HTBt cotton. Secondly, farmers in Maharashtra and their friends, will contribute whatever they can in support of Jeevan Saini, the farmer in Fatehabad district in Haryana, whose brinjal crop was uprooted, buried and burned by the local administration in May 2019, on reports of it being unauthorised GM brinjal.
Everyday, over the past two weeks, ordinary farmers, and leaders of farmers’ organisation, Shetkari Sanghatana, from different parts of Maharashtra are coming forward to plant new generation HTBt cotton varieties in their Þelds. So far, farmers from ten districts, Ahmednagar, Akola, Amravati, Buldhana, Dhule, Jalna, Jalgaon, Parbhani, Wardha, Yavatmal, have joined hands to plead for access to new generation of GM technology in cotton, as well as brinjal, soya, maize, and others crops.
A similar programme was held at Shegaon (Kund), in Hinganghat taluka, Wardha district on June 20, 2019. A few days earlier, Madhusudan Harne and other organisers had submitted a letter to the newly elected MP, Shri Ramdas Tadas. The Hon. MP raised the issue of difficulty faced by farmers in view of the lack of clear laws and policies governing genetically modiÞed crops, during the Zero Hour in Lok Sabha on June 21, 2019.
Demonstration field trial by farmers
Laxmikant Kauthakar, head of Shetkari Sanghatana in Telhara taluka, of Adgaon Budruk village, in Akola district, explained his aim to set up a demonstration Þeld trial at Gordhanaba khet, by following some of the common guidelines and practices. Over the next couple of weeks, over a dozen progressive cotton farmers are expected to declare their intention to conduct similar demonstration trials to test the efficacy and economics of HTBt cotton.
Such farmers will select a contiguous parcel of land, ranging from 1/2 acre to 1 acre. Divide the parcel in to three equal plots, with a gap of 6 feet of clear ground between and around these plots. A different kind of seed will be planted in each of the three demarcated plots - in one traditional non-GM cotton seed, in another the conventional Bt-cotton (BG II), and the alleged HTBt cotton in the third one. The field trial parcel would be surrounded by suitable non-cotton crops, for about 50 to 100 feet, to provide a degree of insulation to the trial parcel. This is expected to be multi-location demonstration.
Each of the three plots will receive the same treatment. The seeds would be sowed at the same density in these three plots. Irrigation, fertiliser, pesticide, weeding, herbicide, etc., will be applied consistently as per the standard guidelines in all the three plots. The intensity of pest infestation, flowering, ball formation, etc. will be monitored and counted according to standard practices. Records will be maintained in a suitable format, which will be shared with experts for analysis, at the end of the cropping season.
The farmers undertaking the demonstration will invite others, farmers, scientists, agronomists, economists and other experts to visit these fields to observe the progress of the crop, and advise. Ajit Narde, head of science and technology cell at Shetkari Sangatana, said the organisation was committed to advising the farmers on best agricultural practices.
The farmers recognise the risk they are taking, since the unauthorised seeds they are sowing ,assuming it to be HTBt, may turn out to be spurious or fake. But this only underscores the vulnerability of the farmers in the current policy paralysis over agriculture biotechnology.
The farmers are the prime victims of the prevailing regulatory environment. The farmers are only pleading for the freedom to adopt the technology of their choice, be it GM, organic or zero budget, or any other practice.
For more information, please contact Shetkari Sanghatana.
- Shri Anil Ghanwat, Ahmednagar, 99237 07646
- Shri Wamanrao Chatap, Chandrapur, 94231 16021
- Shri Ajit Narde, Kolhapur, 98224 53310
- Shri Lalit Patil Bahale, Akola, 97654 70002
- Shri Madhusudan Harne, Wardha, 94221 40767
- Shri Laxmikath Kauthakar, Akot, 96236 03799