Andhra Pradesh: Celebrating the Deccan Development Society's GM-free Caravan Print E-mail

Note: The Deccan Development Society's long term committment to dalit women, women farmers and the education of the girl child.

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The Hindu -- Monday January 16 2006
Caravan starts off to make farmers self-reliant
Staff Reporter

Ryots are encouraged to grow seeds, fallow lands are cultivated

Deccan Development Society initiates the movement Caravan will cover 60 villages Over 1lakh farmers have benefited from this

Pastapur (Medak): K. R. Venugopal, Special Rapporteur for the National Human Rights Commission, said that in a State like Andhra Pradesh where farmer suicides were rampant, production of own and traditional seeds could be the solution. He said this after inaugurating the annual Mobile Biodiversity Festival of the Deccan Development Society in Pyalaram village in Jharasangham mandal. Pyalaram has declared itself `seed sovereign.' Each farmer grows seeds and plants not less than 15 crops on his/her land.

The month long festival is a caravan that will cover over 60 villages. Bullock carts decorated with motifs carry baskets full of traditional seeds. Singers and dancers add colour to the caravan. In the last five years over 100,000 farmers have benefited from inputs provided by the caravan on farming means.

`Fundamental right'
"Food is a fundamental human right and only when this right was fulfilled, the other rights such as health, education would follow," Mr. Venugopal said. Therefore it's the responsibility of the State to concentrate all its efforts to provide this right. He added that the PDS system, which totally depended on the food production in States such as Punjab and Haryana, was archaic. "The average movement of one quintal of rice by the Food Corporation of India is 2000 km. This entailed huge expenditure which was beyond the capacity of the State," he added.

He wanted all to emulate the model of Deccan Development Society, which has put fallow land under cultivation in the villages and ensured local production and distribution.

No farmer suicide
P V Satheesh, Director, DDS said that the festival, which symbolises the biodiversity of the region via traditional means had brought in positive results. Evidence could be found in Southern Medak where not a single farmer had committed suicide while farmer suicide was rampant in other parts of the State where farming was heavily dependent upon external inputs such as seeds, fertilizers and pesticides.

Medak District Collector Burra Venkatesham, Sunita Patil, Chairperson, Medak Zilla Parishad and G S Aurora, Chairperson, Deccan Development Society also spoke. Ms Pyalaram Sarojinamma and Paremma were honoured for their contribution as ecological seed keepers.