Monday, October 5, 2009

A Doctor’s perspective to Environmental Health Crisis in Punjab

Urgent Need to Understand and Intervene

Dr Amar Singh Azad

Though I am basically a Community Medicine person, but today I am here as a representative of Environmental Health Action Group (EHAG), which is a group of activist doctors of Punjab, headed by Dr. GPI Singh Professor and Head of Community Medicine Department, Dayanand Medical College Ludhiana. EHAG is an affiliate organization of a larger group of activists named Kheti Virasat Mission headed by Sh. Umendra Dutt with its head quarter at Jaitu. Our group (EHAG) tries to understand the health scenario of our country in general and our state in particular. After making an understanding we try to intervene as per our strength and capabilities. Environmental Health Action Group has evolved a committed understanding that Punjab is amidst a serious Environmental Health Crisis. Our people are paying a heavy price of this crisis in the form of increased morbidity, high premature mortality and a heavy economic cost in addition to the social and emotional consequences which are difficult to measure.

Environmental health comprises various aspects of human health, including quality of life, that are determined by physical, chemical, biological, social, and psychosocial factors in the natural environment. It also refers to the theory and practice of assessing, correcting, controlling, and preventing those factors in the environment that can potentially affect adversely the health of present and future generations. Nutrition, soil contamination, water pollution, air pollution, safe drinking water, noise pollution, light pollution, waste control, and public health are integral aspects of environmental health.

In the light of above definition of environmental health, Punjab is amidst a serious environmental health crisis. There are multiple evidences to prove that. Though there is not much of research but whatever is there it is enough to show that in Punjab, water and soil are having high contents of environmental toxins. Analysis of living beings-plants, animals and humans for the levels of these toxins also shows beyond doubt that their bodies are having high concentrations of these toxins. These toxins include the ones being used for chemical agriculture-pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers; those being added by the thermal power plants and other types of dirty and polluting industry through their wastes. For example waste water from large number of industries is being thrown untreated into the natural water bodies like rivers, seasonal drains, canals and ground water-heavy metals, pesticides, solvents and large number of other highly toxic chemicals; some toxic chemicals are being brought up through the deep ground water suction being done on a large scale-fluorides and arsenic etc. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are the latest addition to this list and perhaps the most dangerous type of pollution which has the potential of destroying the whole eco system apart from the ill health caused by them.

It is well known that water bodies of Punjab are highly polluted with deadly poisons. Whole of Malwa belt of Punjab and large areas of Rajasthan are getting their water (including drinking water because ground water has high TDS and is not fit for drinking) supply through a system of canals which originates from Hari-Ke-Pattan, the meeting point of two rivers Satluj and Beas. Before this meeting point huge amounts of untreated water from sewers and large number of industries (including the notorious Budha Nala of Ludhiana) is thrown into the Satluj and Beas. There are large numbers of studies by PPCB indicating the high levels of dangerous chemicals in the water flowing in Budha Nalah. The study by PGI Chandidarh about the quality of water flowing in the tributaries of Satluj and Beas shows the similar results. It is a well known fact that by the time water reaches Hari-Ke-Pattan it is full of dangerous chemicals including heavy loads of pesticides, nitrates and heavy metals which are notorious for being not easily biodegradable and thus is beyond the capacity of nature’s cleansing process. Not only is that, these chemicals are also beyond the filtering capacity of type of filters being used by our water works.

This water is being used by huge population of Punjab and Rajasthan for irrigation, cattle and humans for drinking and other house hold purposes. The life giving qualities of water, soil and air in Punjab are fast deteriorating because of the overload of highly poisonous chemicals. It is well recognized fact now that qualities of drinking water are also fast declining in Punjab. People are being forced to purchase costly filters and the vast majorities which can’t afford to buy filters are forced to travel, to bring the drinking water of at least tolerable limit, from hand pumps installed on the banks of canals.

The similar situation prevails in case of Ghaggar River whose water is known to be full of dangerous chemicals from Mohali, Dera basi and Sub- Himalayan belt where large number of polluting industries are located. Ghaggar water is used directly for irrigation along its course and along its draining tributaries in large areas of Punjab and Haryana. A study of vegetables grown on the banks of Ghaggar undertaken by the Thapar Institute of Technology has shown high levels of dangerous chemicals like pesticides and heavy metals in these vegetables.

It is a well known fact that vegetables in Punjab (for example Malerkotla) are being grown with very high doses of cock tails of highly dangerous chemicals (much beyond the recommendations of any expert) and are being sold on the same day or next day (against all recommendations) and horrible fact is that they are being dipped in the solutions of chemicals before selling to improve their outlook

The above facts have been clearly demonstrated by the various studies conducted by Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), PGI Chandigarh, Thapar Institute of Engineering, Punjab Agriculture University Ludhiana and many other institutions. PAU has recently acknowledged that ground water in Punjab is highly contaminated with Nitrates (from chemical fertilizers) and Nitrates are highly carcinogenic. The University has also publicly accepted that pesticides are highly toxic and so they want to replace it with GMOs. A study done by the Community Medicine Department of PGI Chandigarh has clearly shown that surface water, ground water, plants and animal and human tissues have been tested to contain high concentrations of toxic chemicals including highly dangerous pesticides and heavy metals.

We must remember that environment is one and we share it with plants and animals. Our natural resources-soil, water and air are common heritage of all living beings and not only humans. We consume plants and animals in the form of food. So we consume soil, water and air directly as well as through plants and animals. Presence of any toxin in the soil, water and air will reach our body-directly as well as indirectly-but they are bound to reach. Certain toxins are more notorious e.g. pesticides, nitrates, fluorides and heavy metals etc. because of two reasons-they are not easily biodegradable (their half life is very long) and there is bio accumulation and biomagnifications as they pass through the food chain. GMOs are also very dangerous because once added to the environment they will go on multiplying and we can’t recall them back.

Most dangerous poisons in our environment are—pesticides, chemical fertilizers, heavy metals, other industrial wastes and fossil fuels. It has been proved now that our soil, water and air contain large no. of these poisonous substances much beyond the safe levels. All living beings consume air, water and soil—so these enter into our food chain and go on harming at each level in this chain. As a result all the species of living beings have been intoxicated leading to large scale sickness and killings. Obviously this model of development is extremely violent model.







Many studies have shown that the levels of highly poisonous pesticides and other chemicals including heavy metals are much beyond the safe limits in the bodies of human beings as well as other species of living beings (animals and plants) and life giving basic elements of nature such as soil, water and air. Pesticides, Herbicides, Nitrates and Heavy Metals are known Immunotoxic, Neurotoxins, Hormonal Disruptors, carcinogenic, mutagenic, foeto toxic, embryo toxic and teratogenic. There are ample numbers of scientific studies throughout the world which prove these toxic effects. All these known toxic effects are easily and grossly visible in Punjab-on animal as well as human health.

Large number of species of living beings is suffering from poisoned environment and food chain. Large numbers of the species are fast declining in number and even getting extinguished. This is truer about the carnivorous animals because of the well known phenomenon of bio-accumulation and bio-magnification in the food chain. Birds are dying en masse (this is so obvious that every body is noting that)-Vultures, eagles, falcons, owls, crows, sparrows and many others are on the verge of extinction. For example it is a well quoted figure that 7000 species out of about 10000 species of sparrows are already extinct or are at the verge of extinction. The honey bees, earth worms, glow worms and thousands of species of other small animals of very high ecological significance are also on the verge of extinction. There are large numbers of studies which prove that bees are being extinguished because of pesticides.


Our cattle have become more prone to diseases and die easily as compared to a time 20 years back. Viral Diseases are on the rise in plants, animals and humans. It is a general observation of the cattle breeders and veterinarians that the cattle fall sick very easily and die very quickly. Similarly it is a well known observation that cattle don’t get pregnant easily and when they do get pregnant they abort very frequently. There is a high prevalence of cancers in the cattle.

Following types of diseases are prevalent in Punjab in epidemic proportions:-

1. Communicable Diseases, particularly Viral Diseases.

2. Non-Communicable Diseases because of Internal/ Physiological weakness-e.g. Diabetes Mellitus, Hypertension and Cardio vascular disorders etc.

3. Non-Communicable Diseases because of Environmental Toxins-e.g. Cancers, Congenital Malformations and Reproductive Disorders etc.

4. Mental Ill health including violence of all types, crimes, accidents and addictions etc.

All these diseases are prevalent in Punjab on an epidemic proportion and this has happened within the last twenty to thirty years. Their prevalence is much higher than other states where chemical load is less. All these diseases are interconnected to each other and are directly or indirectly the result of chemical/ industrial agriculture (through acute and chronic toxicity and through deficiency of nutrients), environmental pollution (caused mainly by the industry and burning of fossil fuels), highly competitive and stressful life style and fast destruction of social and cultural value system etc.

Following aspects of ill health are being observed by the doctors and others concerned with human health:-

1. Immunity of the Punjabis is fast decreasing, which is evident from the rise in the prevalence and severity of all infectious diseases particularly the viral diseases. The repeated episodes of common cold, particularly in the children are one such example. Amongst other infectious and contagious diseases scabies coming as epidemic of unprecedented magnitude is another very glaring example during the recent years. Chicken Pox has become much more prevalent than before. Similarly other disease of known viral etiology such as -Herpes Zoster, Herpes Simplex, Multiple Warts, Venereal Warts, Viral Fevers and Fungal Infections have become more prevalent. The newer viral diseases such as Hepatitis-B, C and E; HIV, Bird Flu, SARS, Dengue Fever and Chikun Gunia etc. are becoming more common and more severe day by day. Some of these are so dangerous that they are capable of surpassing the old notorious epidemics of Plague and Small Pox etc.

It is possible that these viruses are not new at all. They have become more and more pathogenic because of the decreased herd immunity only. Possibly earlier these viruses were non-pathogenic or less pathogenic to humans but because of the reduced herd immunity they have become more pathogenic/ virulent in nature. The bacterial infections are becoming resistant to antibiotics day by day. The emergence of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis on a large scale and rising prevalence of hospital infections may also indicate the falling levels of immunity of human beings. The decreasing immunity may be the result of multiple reasons main being-the increasing levels of environmental toxins in general and fast rising pesticides’ levels in particular, falling levels of micronutrients in the soil and thus in the food, sedentary and stressful life style etc. etc.

2. There is definite evidence of rise in Genetic Mutations (clearly proved by the study by Dr. Thakur of PGI Chandigarh) increasing prevalence of cancers of all types and congenital malformations (study done by Dr. Thakur of PGI Chandigarh and Dr. Kabra of Jaipur). Such reports coming from Malwa region of Punjab are quite disturbing (study by Dr. Thakur of PGI Chandigarh shows the cancer prevalence twice as high as other regions of Punjab). This again may be due to over-chemicalisation of soil, water and air more so in the Cotton Belt of Malwa because of use of more pesticides on the cotton. The pesticides, nitrates and heavy metals are notorious for causing cancers as well as congenital malformations. Dr Kabra is saying openly that Punjab is having an epidemic of Congenital Malformations and it will have to open many more Pingalwaras to cope with long term effects of this epidemic.

  1. The marked increase in the prevalence of all types of non-infectious and degenerative disorders including fast declining parameters of reproductive health in male (declining sperm counts and motility, rising number of childless couples, delayed puberty in males, development of breast nodule in boys and rising prevalence of Erectile Dysfunctions etc.)as well as female (early puberty in females, early development of breast nodule, high prevalence of anovulatry cycles and Ovarian Cysts, early menopause and other menstrual irregularities, rise in the prevalence of primary and secondary sterility etc.) may again be due the damage to DNA and disturbed physiology of various organs of the body caused by chronic poisoning and decreasing levels of micronutrients in the soil.
There are number of studies which have shown that pesticides cause drastic fall in sperm count, motility and semen parameters. The marked increase in the number of Childless Couples in Punjab is very obvious. It is general observation that the onset of puberty in females has come down by two years and has gone up by two years in males

There are studies available now which indicate that in Type-II Diabetes Mellitus, the resistance of tissues to Insulin may be due to Chronic Toxicity of Pesticides rather than a simple Life Style disease.

Even in the fast increasing mental disorders, addictions, accidents and violence these slow poisons may be playing contributory role because these chemicals are known to weaken the nervous system and lower the threshold of stress tolerance.

The pesticides and other poisonous chemicals are known to cause DNA mutations particularly during the intrauterine phase and early childhood. The damaged DNA is transmitted to the future generations. These chemicals have also earned the notoriety of being hormonal disrupters.

4. These toxins are known Neuro-toxins. To site only one example-the prevalence of Mental Retardation or so called Special children including Autism has increased from one in forty thousands, fifty years back to one in forty now in Punjab. A study done by Greenpeace India in six states including Punjab (Poisoned by Pesticides-2003) has shown direct correlation of Mental Retardation to Chronic Pesticide poisoning.

“In all the abilities that the children were tested for, children in the study locations are remarkably lower in their abilities when compared to children in the less exposed areas. This is strikingly so when it comes to 4-5 year old children, where other influencing factors may not play much of a role as yet[i], especially when it comes to motor abilities. This is a case of seemingly normal-looking children, faring worse in their development when compared to children less exposed to pesticides.

  1. Genetically Modified Crops are coming as a new threat to the eco system and to the health of humans and animals
Genetic Engineering (GE) of agricultural crops affects all of us as it compromises the very safety of the food that we consume. Further, it is also one more ‘treadmill technology’ like chemical pesticides which will only push millions of Indian farmers into deeper agrarian distress. GE in fact has very many similarities with chemical pesticides – promoted by the same companies, posing environmental, and health, socio-political and economic hazards. Large numbers of countries have refused to adapt genetic engineering in their farming and foods, even after nearly fifteen years of the first GE crop being released in the USA, for very sound reasons. It has been found that Genetic Engineering allows big multi-national companies to take over our food chain and change it in unpredictable ways to the point that farmer and consumer rights are badly trampled upon. Consumers have no way of knowing what they are eating and how safe or nutritious their food is, anymore. In India, six years after Bt Cotton was allowed to come into the country, the number of farmer suicides in Vidarbha is a mute witness to whether this technology actually holds promise for our farmers. This year, we are standing on the verge of the first food crop being released in India – of Bt Brinjal. This is a genetically engineered vegetable which makes the plant produce a toxin within itself to kill certain insects which feed on it.

It has to be remembered here that it is the interaction of human beings with nature, with careful breeding and selection that has resulted in a vast variety of cultivated and uncultivated foods that are available to us today with a variety of nutritional compositions. More importantly, this food has been made safe by careful work over centuries. GE however has the potential to make food that is safe to become unsafe. We, the aware human beings, more so the doctors are always thinking, “Where are the roots of the diseases?” But in traditional medical education we are taught about only the immediate causes. We are thinking one symptom to be the cause of other symptom. We are not trained to go deep into the root causes. But as scientific minds we must go deep to the root causes. Few super rich of the world are controlling all the economic activities in the world. They are organizing these activities in such a fashion that the total orientation is to increase their profits and multiply their personal wealth, rather than welfare of all humans, other living beings and nature at large. When questioned about the need of these toxic substances, they say it is the price of modernization, of generating richness. But the strangest part is they have never tried the alternatives which don’t require these poisons. Every thing is weighed in terms of money and profits. The questions of sustainability, safety, ecology, nature and natural laws have been thrown to the winds. The alternatives which were well known to our ancestors and have been developed to full fledged successful models are capable to give much better productivity, prosperity to the farmers, poison free food to the people, are sustainable, save the biodiversity and are nature friendly and non violent in nature. But these alternatives are being opposed tooth and nail by the vested interests because these don’t bring those super profits.
Any action to save Punjab from ecological catastrophe and environmental health crisis is a great service to fellow countrymen. It would be a service to our Motherland, Humanity and God and more over it is as sacred as any worship. Let us join heads and hands to restore the health, happiness and glory to our dear Punjab and subsequently our motherland India.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Women in colours and celebration revitalizing food heritage, health and nutrition with festivities

Women in colours and celebration revitalizing food heritage, health and nutrition with festivities

Women setting agenda to revive Millets in Punjab

Trinjan – Women’s Traditional Food Festival

Village Chaina, district Faridkot

August 30, 2009

August 30, a lazy Sunday, saw many a women in Chaina village in Faridkot wake up early for a change. They cooked food which they hadn’t cared to cook for a lot of years now. 65-year-old Agyavati Devi made Thandai which she had last made before her marriage. “In my parents’ house, we hardly had tea. It was always thandai, either hot or cold, depending on the season,” said Agyawati.

“But after I came here, we never made it,” she said. Today, she was all excited making it for about 200 women in her village as part of ‘Trinjan’- a gathering of village women when they sit and weave cloth on a Charkha or embroider fabrics. But to her surprise, more than 500 people turned up to sample her’s and her friends’ cooking. With Halwa, Bajra and moth Khichri and roti, Tandre ka saag with Cholai, Palak, methi, Bathu, maize porridge, jaggery squash and ‘Bhoot Pinna’ it was a literal treat for the village children especially.

Trinjan in Chaina village was in continuation of Kheti Virasat Mission’s effort to revive millets and traditional food and to reconnect women back to farming. Amarjeet Kaur of Bhotna village in Barnala has been one of the key persons in starting Trinjan. “Women should grow pesticide free vegetables and millets in their kitchen gardens and slowly take it to the entire field,” she told the women gathered in the Chaina primary school. Amarjeet Kaur has risen from being a Class 8th pass-out to the resource person who trains village women in natural farming. The event reconnected the serious issues of food security and safety, seed conservation, health and nutrition and self-reliance to the festivities of everyday life.

“Women look for peace and happiness for the family unlike men who embroil themselves in matters of money. Therefore they can take up this responsibility to keep the food pure and not laden with the poison of pesticides in a better way. They should even talk to their husbands and get them to convert to poison free farming,” said Umendra Dutt of Kheti Virasat Mission. Pritpal Singh Brar a local natural farmer also talked to women about natural farming in Kitchen Gardens.

“This was our culture earlier. After the whole day’s work, women would collect in one place and weave together. They would bring food from their homes and share it while also sharing their happiness and sorrows. But with passing time, people-to people bonds became weak and now the situation is that people are jealous of each other in villages. Trinjan is a step to bring the old culture back,” said Dr. Inderjeet Kaur, president of All-India Pingalwara Society, Amritsar. All the speakers stressed that millets should be given to children for its nutrient rich quality.

The women, while preparing the delicacies, remembered how these dishes used to be a norm in Punjab at one time. “Gur sharbat was a routine drink for farmers. Work could not be stopped during blistering heat, so Gur Sharbat acted as an energizer and a coolant. But nowadays, kids like coke, what to do,” said septuagenarian Nasib Kaur. The fact that Nasib Kaur has been an efficient weaver in her time was proven when she won the on the spot fastest weaving competition. “I prepared the dowry of all my four daughters with my own hands. Never bought a piece of cloth from the market,” she said. The self-reliance of her era was evident in her voice.

“Gur sharbat was something totally new to us though we had heard about other things,” said Harmanjyot Kaur, an under-graduate student from Chaina village. If the elders were praised for cooking, Harmanjyot took the cake when it came to cultural dance and background preparations. Along with her friends, she did a wonderful decoration and event management.

The enthusiasm reached its peak when 85-year-old Bhagwan Kaur and Lajwanti Devi offered to sing the Trinjan songs which had never been heard off by the present generation. Followed by Gidda by Harmadeep and her troupe, the entire programme turned out to be what Dr.Inderjeet Kaur described as “actual entertainment sought by our villagers.” “Actual entertainment involved all of us, the song and dance by the people, and not watching it on television,” she said. Along with her, village Sarpanch Pritam Kaur, Rajwinder Kaur, Kulvinder Kaur and Sukhwinder Kaur played a major role in the success of the programme. The young girls also held a meeting in the end to decide the future course of action.

Gurdeep Kaur, with her Malpuras brought back the spirit of month of Sawan which is the season for Trinjan. And as if to compliment all their efforts, a downpour greeted them by the end of the programme.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Women vows to revive millets in farms and food chain

Women’s Traditional Food Festival
Trinjan at village Jida (Bhatinda)
An initiative of Women Action for Ecology
Date: August, 23, 2009

Women vows to revive millets in farms and food chain

Natural farming is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity’s cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Natural farming combines tradition, innovation and science to ensure that we live in partner ship with environment and not to exploit any thing beyond permissible levels so that sustainable development is ensured.

To save and regenerate environment a silent revolution is happening in Punjab ‘Kheti Virasat Mission (KVM). The Women Action for Ecology an associate action group of KVM works in villages to convince farmers about farming without pesticides. In continuation to this process a small gathering at village Jeeda in Bhathinda District on 24th Aug was organized The meeting was hosted by the sarpanch of the village S. Satgur Singh. The farm house of the sarpanch was a perfect venue for such a meeting with a tube well flowing outside his house .The courtyard had a huge canopy of Neem trees under which the meeting was held. More then 150 women and 50 plus children were part of this food festival. Their enthusiasm is a matter of hope to revive ecological agriculture in Punjab. The participation of women is certainly an indicator that sapling sown by KVM’s Women Action for Ecology is taking its roots now.
Mr. Umendra Dutt greeted the meeting of the women of the village .He started by informing them that, DDT and several other deadly pesticides many more poisonous substances are found in the blood samples of the people of Punjab, why is it so? And

To explain this he went back to explain the law of evolution that worms and insects were present on the surface of the earth about 220 million years ago where as man is a very new member of this planet. The man came into existence roughly 10 million year ago, he further said that till a few decades back no artificial fertilizers or pesticides or insecticides were used but earth produced enough food to support life on it, since the time man has started using pesticide sprays etc, he has started giving poisonous food to his family.

He asked the ladies, whether they can serve poison laden food to their family to which all answered in negative, so he gave the example of certain pests and said that they also lay eggs away from the place where they sense danger and what are we human doing? He explained the process how Moth lays eggs and how worms are formed. He said earlier only one spray of pesticide was enough for a crop but not people have to spray 5 – 6 times and still pests are not killed this is because they have developed resistance from it.

He motivated the women to at least start with small portion of land where they should grow vegetables and cereals for home consumption and it should be grown without fertilizers and pesticides, another volunteer of KVM explained how to prepare Jeevan amrit (a cow urine based microbial preparation) to revive microbial activity in soil.

Gurpreet Singh explained that first of all plough the piece of land, add organic fertilizer that is cow dung etc to it and mix it well and level it then water it and leave it for a few days it can be covered by leaves etc. After a few days sow the seed and prepare Jeev Amrit which is made by putting together Jaggry, Besan, cowdung, cow urine, mix it all in 25 litres water and leave it for 2 – 4 days, after it is ready spray it in the field along with water and stop this practice once the plant bears fruit or flowers.

Another remedy was that 7-8 days old buttermilk can be sprayed on the crops to protect plants from ants and worms. He also told how we can make spray out of Neem leaves and fruit by grinding and mixing it with cow’s urine and leaving it for a few days and then spraying it in the crop.

Gurpreet Singh explained that planting the same crop at the same time year after year allows a build up of weeds. Switching crops and planting times keeps any single weed from getting established and helps to control insects also. The farmers were enlighten with the fact that world’s farmers pay $ 12.8 billion per year of pesticides. That is the direct cost – the indirect costs are contaminated ground water, disrupted ecosystems, costly regulatory systems and increasingly resistant pest.
Then Umendra Dutt also made them realize that the animals are also being poisoned since their fodder water is laced with pesticide and gradually all the poison comes into human system. Adulterated milk leads to hormonal imbalance which is affecting females more adversely as it is leading to more infertility rate in many areas of Punjab. Especially where more pesticides are being used there has been alarming increase in the number of people suffering from cancer. He urged the women that they alone can bring the change and generate poison free healthy food for their family .
He lauded the effort made by the village women who revived all the forgotten recipes.
He also gave an example of many districts of AP where they have successfully started, natural farming in 25 lakh hectors.
He told women about revival of millets by women in Andhra Pradesh with support from DDS and other organizations who are working on millets.
Finally he told the gathering that age old indigenous recipes of various foods were prepared and were ready to be consumed so he lead all of them to the pandal where bajre and moth khichdi, bajre de Bhoot pine, Bajre di rabri, jowar di roti, sewiyan, barley de sattu, mal pudday, kheer etc. Some of these things were cooked after the gap of 30 to 40 years. Women and girls who of below 25 years never tasted several millet based foods. Bajra Rabbri is most sought after and now very few old women know its recipes and methodology.

Amarjeet Kaur from Bhotna village discussed the strategies to build women movement for millet propagation and adoption of natural farming in kitchen gardens.
The gathering enjoyed this food feast a lot and dispersed with a pledge to implement this valuable technique in their field and will definitely to activate farming without synthetic pesticides and other agricultural chemicals. More then 120 women make commitment to grow pesticide free food in their kitchen gardens and revive millets in their foods.
A core committee of five women was made who would make arrangements for the Women workshop on natural farming techniques which was scheduled at the same venue on 26th of September.
Report compiled by Ms Shubhdeep Kaur of Delhi Public School, Ludhiana.

Millet based variety of food prepared in Food festival

Saturday, May 23, 2009

‘No Pesticides No Coke’ - Natural Farmers chill out with traditional health drinks

Natural Farmers chill out with traditional health drinks

‘No Pesticides No Coke’ seems to be the catchphrase among 80 plus villagers – 40 women and 40 natural farmers. They all pledged it while attending a natural farming workshop at village Bhotna. Both men and women attended the workshop with an urge to learn and understand the basic concepts of natural farming and plan for their crop mix for the Kharif season.

The meeting/workshop was almost like a mini festival where some participants where serving tea and water to the participants. People were heartily involved to make it successful. The scorching heat doesn’t stop them from assembling in the local Gurdwara and thanks to a few Gurdwaras in villages where we still see a bunch of trees intact and we can still enjoy the bounties of nature.

Banner after banner shows the way forward. Although the women’s meeting was supposedly conducted to understand the preparation and importance of traditional drinks, they fully enjoyed the training workshop with the farmers.

After a long session on practicalities of natural farming, natural ways of pest management by way of understanding the life cycle of pests. People realized that pest management is possible without using pesticides. No Pesticides No Pest is a practical thing. It came out clear from the response of the participants that 40 plus farmers will grow the crops and vegetables by natural methods. After that the KVM team discussed the nutritional benefits of millets.

The comparison between Bajra, Rice and Wheat surprised everybody as the former scores more in terms of Iron/Minerals/Beta Carotene/ Vitamins and Calcium on the nutritional chart. Whereas many women have already increased their intake of bajra, some newcomers recalled that their parents and grandparents used Bajra as their essential component of their diets and are healthier than them.

The total cropped area under Bajra cultivation in Punjab in 1960-61 was 123,000 hectares which has reduced to meager 5,000 hectare in the year 2005-06. The difference is visible not only in the number of hectares but also in the public health. There have been some folk orations which reflect a strong association between Bajra and strength of teeth and bones.

Benefits of Bajra are not only confined to human health only, it works well to create biodiversity in the fields. It was a wonderful experience that more than fifteen couple, both husband and wives present in the meeting decided to grow millets at a small scale and they also motivate others to try millet cultivation.

A group of women of landless families mostly dalit and farm labourers also joined the meeting to get seeds to grow vegetables in their courtyards. The kitchen gardening and the self reliance in vegetables is catching the insights of more and more women. Really, Natural farming also brings equality, equity and social justice in society without any political jingle.

In the end everybody was served with seven kinds of traditional drinks made from fruits like mango and Bel, Jaggery etc. Farmers in the 50 plus category said that they are tasting the traditional drink prepared from Barley and Jaggery after 30 years. The rounds of sharbats were an interesting scene and almost everybody pledged for a ‘SAY NO TO COKE’. When asked who will shun the use of COKE, everybody raised hands in response and will only serve traditional drinks in their homes. Women decided to learn the recipes to prepare traditional drinks and will involve more women in the process of learning. The meeting was attended by a host of children from the village who got double servings of all the drinks as they were shifting bases while the drinks were being served.

Meeting ended in a festivity mood and a strong will to go natural and make their field Pesticide free and make their homes Pesticide - Coke Free. Thanks to time-honored drinks.

Village Bhotna, district Barnala
May 13, 2009

Womens for Millets - A Stitch in time saves nine

Millets …A Stitch in time saves nine

The whole of Punjab is witness to an agro-ecologic
ally torn society, the one with a rickety, barren and dry surface of earth, which has since ages been regarded as ‘Mother Earth. She has always served its children with food, water, metals and much more. And the children have since the last three decades proved to be the most unscrupulous of the creatures,
the one burning the wheat-paddy straw with no sense of the devastation being done to the holy mother; the one who are numero-uno in the country for the application of pesticides. Any ray of hope?

A group of young women learning Stitching at a local Gurdwara in village Jeeda of district Bathinda attended a women meeting conducted by Kheti Virasat Mission. Their sewing machines were still lying nearby and some even hold the cloth being stitched in their hands while the meeting happened. A group of fifteen young women in the age group of 17-23 attended the meeting. Most of them belong to farmer families.

A healthy discussion about the effect of pesticides on our health engaged the women/girls in the meeting. Many knew about the health effects of using pesticides but its effect on reproductive health was discussed in detail. They kept discussing the cancer, blood pressure, uric acid, diabetic cases in the village and the way none is spared of these diseases which were unheard of some thirty years ago. Even if there were such cases they could be numbered.

Kiran Kaur from the same village is volunteering the village level environmental health status survey and many girls promised to support her during the door to door survey.

The stark reality is that although they belonged to farmer families, they purchase vegetables from the local vendors. They do possess space for kitchen gardening in their homes but is underutilized. After I distributed the seeds for vegetables, all of them promised for a return of double number of seeds of the ones distributed and will also save them for the next season.

Bt. Cotton and Soil and animal health took its turn and the women realized that there are some cases of Bt cotton allergy in the village. The effect of Bt cotton and the loss of yield on the subsequent crops was discussed.

A discussion on earlier meetings on women and millets held at other villages and their success captivated them and generated their interest for conducting a similar event at their village. A chart depicting the nutritional comparison between Jowar and Rice, and Bajra and Rice made them think for a change in food habits and culture. Jowar and Bajra are miles ahead of Rice in many nutrition supplements or to say Rice stays nowhere in the comparison. While we discussed the nutritional difference between millets and rice, the apt response was nobody told us about their significance in our foods and we always thought that bajra and jowar are animal fodder.

The women realized that this is a kind of corruption and unruly behavior at the part of our health officials, where a large section of pregnant women suffer from anaemia and malnutrition and are not advised millet rich diet that is rich in Iron, protein, calcium and many micronutrients.

The women agreed for the screening of a millet based documentary called “Millets – The Miracle Grains” at their training place.

The mouth watering traditional drinks meeting at village Bhotna made them realize the importance of such drinks. The adverse effect of Coke and Pepsi made them say a complete no to the soft drinks.

The meeting unfurls various skills possessed by girls in the village. A girl named Virpal Kaur said she will write an article on ‘Need for Natural Farming and its importance’. The girls also vowed to spread the word against crop residue burning and to become true daughters of Mother Earth.

Perhaps the stitching begun by young girls to sew the culturally and agriculturally worn out society may save Punjab from a complete devastation!

14th may, 2009
Jeeda, Bathinda

Women Action For Ecology making waves in villages

A sequel to Bhotna food mela
Bhotna Food Mela cum Women Meeting on 2nd April 2009
The second women meeting at Bhotna village was even more interesting. Many more traditional dishes were prepared and the method of preparation was explained by the women. Many kinds of sweets called Bhoot Pinne, Gur ka Sharbat, Chibran di Chutney, Jowar di roti, Chaulan dian pinnian, Kanak da mithha dalia, moth bajre di khichri, lassi, nimbu da khatta mittha achar, etc and rather five different varieties of Bhoot Pinne were prepared. Bhoot Pinne are a kind of laddoos prepared from jaggery millets like Jawar, bajra or wheat. Women explained the method of preparation.

Seven children were also present at the meeting. At the end of the meeting the mouth watering dishes were served. Everybody, particularly the some seven children present at the meeting liked the dishes and said that they would ask their parents to prepare these dishes. A video of all the dishes where women were explaining their method of preparation was also made.

Moth Bajre ki Khichri and Bajre ki Roti cannot become a routine affair because of the onset of summer season and such dishes are generally consumed in the winter season.
Some women gave in their names that will plan for Bajra cultivation in Kharif season. There names are as under.
1. Amarjit Kaur
2. Jaswant Kaur
3. Balwinder Kaur
4. Manjit Kaur
5. Mukhtiar Kaur
6. Manjit Kaur
7. Manjit Kaur
8. Surinderpal Kaur
9. Harbans Kaur
Bajra and Jowar is already cultivated for fodder purposes but not for human consumption. Punjabi farmers have this additional excuse that birds destroy their Bajra fields. I am still looking for reasons to combat that.

An exercise to find out the number of local greens that can be identified by women and the ones that are still being used as food and medicinal herbs was done by showing them a book called Nourishing Traditions Local Greens published by Andhra Pradesh Farmer Managed Groundwater Systems Project. Some women identified with 30% of the greens. They are not much aware of the medicinal value of most of the greens. Perhaps a wider exercise needs be done with the older women.

A session on traditional seeds was part of the meeting. A woman named Harbans Kaur possessed the traditional seeds of almost all the vegetables. Many women possess one ort the other kind of traditional vegetable seeds, but they don’t store a good quantity of seeds for the next season and seed exchange among them is yet to be introduced.

The issue of Crop residue burning (wheat straw) was also discussed among the women. Women were already aware of the fact that residue burning causes immense harm to their crop field but due to a lack of will, and the haste of farmer at the onset of kharif season to sow as early as he can and a lack of proper system in place, crop residue burning is still widespread. A committee of women was formed from among the ones who were present in the meeting who will start a campaign in the villages against the crop residue burning. The members include:
1. Amarjeet Kaur
2. Harbans Kaur
3. Mukhtiar Kaur
4. Shinderpal kaur
5. Balwinder Kaur
6. Manjit Kaur
7. Gurdial Kaur
8. Harbans Kaur
9. Sukhveer Kaur (student of 10th Standard)
10. Manjit Kaur
11. Mohinder Kaur
12. Harpal Kaur
13. Angrez Kaur
14. Mandeep Kaur
15. Shinder Kaur

Another meeting was planned in which women will be apprised of the distinction between friendly pests and those that destroy our crop; Practical demonstration of Jeev Amrit and the general concept of natural farming will be discussed. A need for natural farming and the role the women can play in pest management will also be discussed.

Women initiative at Bhotna –III
Women hands sow seeds of health and safety
Woman offered space for kitchen gardening to landless woman
April 15, 2009, village Bhotna, Barnala

Twenty five women of village Bhotna have started growing vegetables in their courtyards. Earlier they were dependent on either the vegetable purchase from the local vendors in the village or the vegetables grown in their fields which were sprayed with different pesticides. Vegetables were even earlier grown in the farm fields and also the courtyards but fertilizers and pesticides were used on them. Now the vegetables are not sprayed with any pesticides. On the top of it most women have sown the traditional varieties of vegetables. This is the first step towards poison-free food and farm self-reliance.

This happened after three village level meetings with women on the effects of using pesticides on our foods. Most women already knew this. This is not the scenario of just this village. People are very well aware of the health impacts of using pesticides, but a fear of shift towards an alternative agriculture that they have shun for decades has stopped the ecological agriculture from finding a better space among them.

Even during the meetings the women were reluctant to take up atleast in the talk in the homes for a 1 acre shift towards natural farming. The first argument is who will listen to their voice. The green revolution has badly hit the social fabric of Indian agriculture particularly the Punjabis. The women who used to select and preserve their seeds of the next sowing season are bereft of that because of the invasion of seed companies. They no longer go to their farms, thanks to the virtual money with the farmers be it bank loans or the cash flow and thus the fascination of using motorbikes to go farms; women don’t even carry food to the farms for farmer would go home and have lunch at home. The virtual affluence and the responsibility of selecting and preserving seeds have reduced the status of womenin Punjabi homes.

Women are not aware of which crops are affected by what kind of pests. Many of them don’t know what land holding their family own and are vaguely aware of how much of what is sown in each part of the land.

It slowly happened that even if not the talk of sparing 1 acre of land for natural farming,women find it clicking to take up atleast the cultivation of vegetables in their courtyards for a poison-free food for the family. Some seeds of traditional varieties were distributed among them and were readily taken up by the women. Now twenty five women are already working on kitchen gardening inclusive of the ones who will not let the spray of pesticides in the farms if the vegetables are cultivated in the farm land.

Women are made to grow seeds of traditional varieties and an exchange of seeds is already taking place though not at a larger level. With some discussion on the policies of seed companies, women are finding it good to save for the next season, at least the seeds of vegetables. Some seeds of traditional varieties will be distributed among the ones who don’t possess them.

Women were asked to talk within their families about reserving one acre of land towards natural farming which may include vegetables, rice, jowar, bajra, maize and some oilseeds. Some women have already reserved some space for natural farming and that too for maize. It was resolved that women should follow bajra cultivation as an important agenda and seeds was decided to make available the seeds for the same.

While we were jotting down the names of the women who are into kitchen gardening, one woman who had provision for growing vegetables at home but don’t keep good health and busy with children offered the privilege to another woman to grow the vegetables at her place, who does not possess any such space at home.

Another fascinating experience was that a practical demonstration of preparing the Jeev Amrit was given at the meeting and the demonstrators were none other but the two womenfrom the village who are already into natural farming. The women liked the idea of using Jeev Amrit instead of using Urea and Pesticides in their farms. The usage and the effect of using jeev amrit was also discussed with women, who said they would discuss the same with their husbands.

A flipchart containing the friendly and crop destroyer pests was also discussed. The different stages of a pest were also discussed. Since women are the first and the worst victims of using pesticides, they need to understand the natural ways of pest management so that they can take up the work of discussing this within families in order for a shift towards natural farming.

!n the end women vowed to attend and bring more women to the training workshop in the village which is a part of kharif training to natural farmers by Kheti Virasat Mission. A date was fixed for monthly meeting in the village.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Women takes lead to undertake natural farming

Women meeting for Millets and natural farming

at village Bhotna , District Barnala
19 March, 2009

It was the first of its kind of meeting in Punjab where women were attending the meeting sitting on the chairs and the men were busy preparing and serving the tea to them. The men sat at a distance of a few feet from the site of the meeting and kept wondering at the kind of knowledge sharing among women in the meeting.

The women who have been a neglected lot in the society for generations and who were further neglected and to say cornered by the mono cropping, chemical intensive, technology driven, market dependent and eco-devastating, culture of the green revolution, were elated at the women centric meeting in the village. Even at the end of the meeting the women did not feel like going to their homes.

The meeting started off with the differences in chemical and traditional farming systems, Traditional farming included the rich and healthy lifestyle of the villagers, the abundance of life forms in the fields, the participation of all members of the family in the agriculture, the means of pest control by farmers and the participation of women included in making the fodder available to the livestock, cutting and plucking the grains and vegetables during the harvest season and seed storage and the methods of seed storage in the homes. They also had memories of multi cropping in the fields.

In the next session some girls present in the meeting read out the brief description printed on the vinyl banners prepared for the meeting. It is worth mentioning here that the banners prepared for the meeting were a big hit. It included a brief description of the millets and the nutritive value of the millets and their value as warding of many diseases viz, heart ailments, diabetes etc and particularly their help in weight loss.

The sharing of the nutritive value attracted many women to include millets in their diets and almost all of them promised to use millets in their foods in one or the other form. Some of them even promised to introduce millets in the kitchen gardens.

Earlier the older women were a bit reluctant to introduce millets in the kitchen because of the vast popularity of soft drinks, change in the food culture and the widening generation gap but with some discussion and motivation they promised for its cooking in the kitchens in the form of khichri, porridge and roti and passing on the traditional knowledge to their children and grandchildren.

After that a vinyl banner specially prepared on the benefits of biodiversity and multi cropping was read out and discussed with the women. The women dug out their memories and came out with the memories of the multi cropping culture and also their dependence on their own farms for all the needs of the kitchen. They also discussed the economics of this system

The next session included sharing the method of preparation of various traditional foods that the women prepared for the women meeting. The women came with a dozen of traditional foods that included Mothh bajre di khichri, Makki di rotu, sarson da saag, Makki da dalia, Bajre di roti, Gur walian Savian, Tukean da aachar, namkeen vesan de poore, Gulgale, Gur wale Poore, Thandai and Bajre de tilan wale laddu.

Everybody present in the meeting were made to taste all the foods. Of the all present 50% were the ones who tasted the bajre ki roti for the first time in their lives. Some older men even found talking that they were tasting such foods after a gap of 30 years. While tasting the foods some older women came out with the idioms associated with the traditional foods and their heritage. The songs in the local dialect were written down.

From among the women, some school and college going girls were selected to register the biodiversity in the village and also the use of various plants for their food and medicinal value. The group will prepare the register in their vacations.

A traditional Seed saving committee was formed which included the following women members:

1. Jaswant Kaur

2. Mukhtiar Kaur

3. Manjit Kaur

4. Mohinder Kaur

5. Amarjit Kaur

These women possessed some traditional seeds of vegetables and will also find out who else in the village own some traditional seeds that can be used for multiplication. Amarjit Kaur will work as coordinator for the seeds committee as well as the coordinator for village Bhotna.

Another committee was formed whuch will take care of the coordination for women activities related to millets natural farming and environment in the village. The names are:

1. Jaswant Kaur

2. Mukhtiar Kaur

3. Sarabjit Kaur

4. Mohinder Kaur

5. Amarjit Kaur

6. Rajwinder Kaur

7. Kamaljit Kaur

8. Amanjot Kaur

9. Asha Rani

While discussing the about the traditional seeds the women were very clear that the the crops cultivated using traditional seeds tasted good and that because of the traditional foods people did not fell sick and they did not have to go to the doctors at all. Many older women possessed a wealth of knowledge associated with traditional healing medicines that very prepared in their kitchens to cure common ailments like sore throat, cough, headaches, body aches etc.

The older women were grieved and upset at the deterioration of health and at the rate of which the young generation is falling sick. They kept talking about the vigour and vitality that their generation possessed. The older women were also very disturbed at the lack of physical labour among the younger generation and the lifestyle changes that have occurred in the last ten to fifteen years.

It is worth mentioning here that the green revolution played havoc with the youth in the villages. The dependence on chemical fertilizers and pesticides rendered them idle who were earlier busy in manual and other creative ways of pest management and other activities associated with agriculture.

Many older women pointed out the absence of an attractive, multi cropped diversity filled, full of life fields. The magnetic attraction that attracted people to fields is missing. Not many children visit their family fields and they are cut off from the thought of pursuing agriculture and also their cultural heritage associated with farming, not just for the sale of the crop yields but a wealth of wisdom that has been carried of from since many generations is a far cry.

It is worth mentioning here that we also conducted one meeting some three months back in the village regarding the adverse effects of chemical farming particularly the havoc that it is playing with the reproductive health of women. Many women that participated in that meeting played an active role in organizing this meeting particularly the coordination among different women preparing the traditional foods.

Next meeting for further action was fixed in which the preparation for the pesticide free kitchen gardens and household seed banks will be discussed. The meeting ended with the women vowing to feed their children with pesticide free food.

People’s Commission for Farmers formed

Report of Farmers’ Dialogue on
Future of Organic Farming in Punjab: Its importance for Punjab & Report on Organic Farming by Punjab State Farmers Commission
Sunday, 8 March, 2009; Wheat Auditorium, PAU, Ludhiana
People’s Commission for Farmers formed; Farmer Unions lend support to KVM’s initiative to counter PSFC – Corporate combine

In the continuation of its initiative to build a civil society movement to bring a paradigm shift in Punjab’s agriculture and development Kheti Virasat Mission has organized second round of dialogue on report on organic farming by Punjab State Farmer’s Commission on 8th March 2009 at Wheat Auditorium, PAU.

It is to recall that first round of dialogue was held on 10th January at Panjab University, Chandigarh. In which large number of farmers participated and out rightly rejected PSFC report on organic farming. First round dialogue was addressed by FAO consultant and noted agriculture scientist Dr O P Rupela , Kavitha Kuruganti , Dr D U M Rao from IARI and large number of practicing natural / organic farmers.

Second round of dialogue was titled – “Future of Organic Farming in Punjab: Its importance for Punjab & Report on Organic Farming by Punjab State Farmers Commission” was addressed by Dr A K Yadav, Director, National Center of Organic Farming; Dr D U M Rao, Principal Scientist, Indian Agriculture Research Institute, Subash Sharma , Organic Farmer, Yavatmal, Maharashtra, Prof R S Ghumman , Professor of Economics, Punjabi University , Patiala ; Prof Jagmohan Singh, Association for Democratic Rights; Com. Tarlochan Singh, CPI-M Kisan Sabha ; Harjit Singh from Kisan Sanghrash Committee; Balkar Singh Dakunda , BKU- Ekta Dakunda ; Hardev Singh, Kirti Kisan Union ; Balbir Singh Billing, Bhaichara Kisan Sanghatan, Bhoogh Singh Mansa, BKU Sidhupur; Dr R P S Aulukh , Punjab Agri-technocrates Action Committee and Nirmal Singh Bilaspur from Kudrati Somye Sambhal Sanstha Punjab.
To counteract the anti farmer, anti people and anti nature contents of the report of Punjab Farmers Commission KVM has announced the formation of ‘Peoples’ Commission for Farmers’, which will include agricultural scientists, veterinarians, doctors, economists, intellectuals, activists, leaders of farmer organizations and farmers. Speaking in the dialogue as keynote speaker, Dr. A.K.Yadav out rightly rejected the views of Punjab Farmers Commission that there will be a gross fall in the productivity of cereals and that food safety of the people of India will be jeopardized in case Punjab Farmers go in for organic farming.
He said that such views are based either on very superficial and childish understanding of organic farming or these views are meant to please the vested interests. He said that even the history of Indian Farming (which is thousands of years old) does not support this statement of the Commission. History of Indian Agriculture which (documented parts) has now been published, goes to prove that the even the productivity of cereals was at par or even more that the so called modern chemical agriculture. Above all, the organic farming has absorbed the scientific developments of the last two hundred years and has learned many new things, which were not there in our traditional farming. Many national and international bodies have stressed repeatedly on the basis of experiences of last 20-25 years that organic farming is the only sustainable way to feed the people of world. The chemical agriculture is bound to collapse and rather have already started to collapse. He appealed to the farmers of Punjab that seeing the disastrous consequences of chemical farming, they should immediately shift to organic farming, which is sustainable, cheap, profitable, healthful, pro farmer, pro people, pro nature and pro natural resources. He said it is an EVERGREEN REVOLUTION.
Dr D U M Rao, Principal Scientist, Indian Agriculture Research Institute, labeled the report of Punjab Farmers Commission to be dishonest, baseless and childish. He said that it has been proved in whole of the world that organic farming is in no way inferior to chemical farming. On the contrary it is far better in all aspects particularly from the angle of nature and natural resources. He said even from the economic viability angle it is the only farming which can save the small and medium farmers. He said people are hungry not because of shortage of food but for lack of purchasing power. While expressing his views about the report of Punjab Farmers Commission, he said that he felt shocked because the report looked like a document written by an inexperienced M.Sc student. He said that it seems the writer of the report is totally ignorant about the philosophy and techniques of natural farming. He has tried to weigh the organic farming using the parameters of chemical farming which is not possible. He said report is aimed at creating confusion among the farmers who are being attracted to the organic farming.
He symbolizes PSFC report an attempt to define elephant by six blind men. He call the farmers and environmental activist to expose the falsehood behind the PSFC report.

Dr. R.S.Ghuman, a well known economist said that the agriculture which was a pious profession at one time has been converted into an agricultural terrorism by the international agribusiness. It is based on wide scale violence and results into wide scale violence against all living beings including humans. He asked the Government of India to divert part of the huge subsidy being given to agro industry for organic farmers and see the results. He said that a subsidy of about 5000/- per acre of cultivable land of Punjab per year is being given to agro industry. If this subsidy is given to organic farmers the returns will be much higher. He said the promotion of organic farming is the only way to sustainable development and protection of environment and ecology He also warned the organic farmers that the agro industry is trying to enter into organic farming also. The farmers should remain alert of this trap.
Shri Subash Sharma a master natural farmer from Yavatmal, Maharashtra, is a successful organic farmer doing natural farming on 55 acres of land since 1984. He is not only a farmer himself but a leader, philosopher and scientist of organic farming movement. He has successfully taught natural farming to thousands of farmers. Telling his own experiences he told the participants that after he shifted to natural farming he has gained substantially not only economically but in many other aspects-which include good health and happiness for his family, his employees and friends. He said that till he was doing chemical farming he always felt miserable. But now I am really happy and blissful and I am spreading the happiness and bliss to every body that comes into my contact. He said the natural farming is a divine farming and I feel myself to be messenger of God who is spreading his love and kindness through me.
Dr. Rajinder Choudhary, Professor, Deptt. Of Economics, MDU Rohtak said that organic farming is not a traditional farming; it is the most modern agriculture which has absorbed the latest scientific knowledge about natural resources and agriculture. This is the real agriculture of the farmers and the common people which is non exploitative, healthful and sustainable. The chemical farming is the agriculture of MNCs from all angles and is against farmers, consumers and nature.
Professor Jagmohan Singh, of Association for Democratic Rights (AFDR) said, “The biggest thing is to save the water and soil of Punjab. The soil and water of Punjab have become the worst victims of excessive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. We have to save Punjab today to save India of tomorrow. A new threat in the form of GM crops is also looming large over the soil and farm ecology of Punjab. We have to oppose all these technologies. GM crops are bound to deepen the crisis further. State Farmers Commission Report has no vision about these concerns”. He strongly favored the idea of forming a parallel Farmers Commission to give a scientific and holistic understanding of agriculture to the farmers and people of Punjab.

Mr. Balkar Singh Dakonda, a leader of Bharti Kisan Union (BKU-Ekta), said that agricultural experts have misled the farmers of Punjab into a deep crisis, where they are feeling helpless economically and socially to an extent that many of them are committing suicides. He said that organic farming is emerging as a new hope and their organization will preach this philosophy on all its platforms.
Mr. Hardev Singh of Kirti Kisan Sabha said that just like industry the agriculture has also gone into the hands of imperialists and chemical farming is their farming serving their interests. He said leaving chemical farming is part of the struggle of freedom from the imperialist. He assured all out support to this freedom struggle, from his organization.
Mr. Boogh Singh Mansa of BKU (Ekta-Sidhupur) said that farmers should not compare the productivity of organic farming with chemical farming. They should count their net profits and other benefits like good health, happiness and availability of pure and poison free consumables for the family. He also assured all out support of his organization to the movement of natural farming.
Mr. Darshan Singh Koohli of BKU (Ugrahan) said that chemical farming is agriculture of loot and deception. He assured full support of his organization to the movement of organic farming.
Mr. Balbir Singh Billing of Kisan Bhaichara said that organic farming is a movement in which farmers will manage all their affairs without any outside exploitative force including marketing of their products which they will do individually as well as by forming kisan cooperatives. He also appealed to the organic farmers that they should not prefer to export their products, rather they should sell to our own people who should eat these poison free and healthful foods so that we become a nation of healthy people rather that a nation of sick people.
Mr. Harjit Singh of Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, supporting the organic farming movement said that this movement will bring the change in the lives of farmers and common people.
Dr. RPS Aulakh of Argi-Technocrats Action Committee suggested that to spread the message of organic farming to vast masses we should approach the students and teachers who constitute a very large section of people who are sensitive to the needs of the society and the nature.
Com. Tarlochan Singh of Punjab Kisan Sabha, supporting the organic farming movement said that chemical farming and whole paradigm of institutions are the chains of slavery for our farmers and the people. We need to break these chains. He said the organic farming movement will play a leading role in this freedom struggle.
Dr. Amar Singh Azad, working president of KVM said that chemical farming is part of a slow chemical warfare which is being imposed on the humanity and the nature by MNCs to fulfill their endless greed for getting richer and richer. This chemical warfare is leading to a slow ecocide.
S. Rajbir Singh of Bhagat Puran Singh Natural Farming Center, Pingalwara Amritsar shared his success story of organic farming on 32 acre of Pingalwara farms. He said we must stop the chemical agriculture because it is based on sin and farmers have been converted into devils.
Mr. Ajay Tripathi, joint Director of KVM said that organic farming movement is progressing fast in Punjab and KVM will soon establish model organic farming village which will be training model for other farmers.
Successful organic farmers – Shri Vinod Jyani, Shri Amarjit Sharma, Shri Madan Lal, Dr Harbax Singh, S. Jarnail Singh Mazi , S. Upkar Singh Goraya and many others shared their success stories of organic farmers from the stage as well as individually and in group discussions.

Earlier speaking on the occasion Umendra Dutt, Executive Director KVM proposed the formation of ‘Peoples Commission for Farmers’, which was wholly supported by the participants and it was resolved to bring a People’s Report on Impacts of Chemical Farming, prevailing agro-ecological and environmental health crisis, sustainable farming solutions to bring farmers out of crisis and future prospects of natural / organic farming in Punjab. The proposed People’s Commission for Farmers will act as a think tank for Punjab Farmers with a pro-nature and pro-people perspective.

The meeting concluded with a strong demand that the Punjab State Farmers’ Commission withdraw its report immediately and instead start thinking about how to initiate a ecological sustainable agriculture revolution in Punjab considering the need of the hour.