Friday, February 13, 2015

Fwd: Please Help crowdfund the National Organic Farming Convention, Chandigarh, March 2015


I've chipped in Rs.500 for this event. I'm not attending this time but many of my friends are. I know the organizers and can personally vouch that they'll use the contribution sincerely. Requesting you to contribute a little too.

Personal note: In a country where lakhs of farmers have committed suicide, no organic farmer has committed suicide. I personally know organic farms that are making much better money than equal-area chemical farms, that too in zero-debt models where they don't have to fork over a major portion of their earnings as interest. Against all big corporate/government propaganda and big institutional bullying, these people are working hard to bring forth the success models, spread know-how and bring safe, nutritious and cost-effective food to every Indian family's kitchen along with restoring dignity and profitability to agricultural sector. Please do your bit to help them in this journey. Please forward this to your friends too.. anyone you know who would prefer to eat organic food over pesticide-laden food. (and yes, organic can actually be cheaper than chemical food! Please help the sector grow and consolidate so it happens!)

Read Claude Alvares's more detailed note in the below.

---------- Forwarded message ----------

A Personal Appeal from Claude Alvares
The Organic Farming Association of India (India's only organisation of organic farmers)
Dear friends and supporters of organic farming,

For the last five decades, the use of chemicals in agriculture has led to increasing quantities of chemicals in your food, air and water, leading to a general state of ill-health. Which human body can tolerate indiscriminate and almost routine consumption of deadly poisons?

For thousands of years, people across the world grew huge quantities of nourishing food without choking their soils with artificial fertilisers made out of petrochemicals. How did they do that? Can't we do that all over again, and perhaps better?

Would you like to support this major endeavour? Read further.

From 28 February to 2 March 2015, a sizeable segment of India's amazing organic farming community will assemble in Chandigarh – the heart of the green revolution States of Punjab and Haryana – for a national convention. They want to change forever the way we grow our food: without chemicals, without pesticides, without genetically modified seeds, without destroying all the life in the soil. 

It's how you are going to contribute to this event that will indicate how really serious and committed you are to the idea of producing (and consuming) food grown without poisons. And supporting those who do.

The truth is that yields from organic farming – which avoids the use of synthetic chemicals altogether – are usually as good as those from chemical-based agriculture – and sustainable as well. The current model of chemical agriculture is ecologically and economically unsustainable and also a major contributor to global warming. Soil fertility and water tables have declined everywhere and farmers' production costs have simply spiralled. So now lakhs of debt-ridden farmers have been driven to despair and suicide.

No organic farmer has committed suicide. 

It is simply a grand myth that organic farming yields are lower and cannot be adopted on a large scale. The real fact is, where knowledge is effectively available to farmers – and Government policies are supportive – organic farming is known to yield better and healthier produce. 

A great example of this? Starting with just 12 villages in 2004, an innovative no-pesticide system of agriculture has today reached one million farmers managing over 3.5 million acres of land in Andhra Pradesh. As a result, a single village is now saving Rs 60 lakh every year, since its farmers no longer need to purchase expensive pesticides. Consumers are benefitted, because they can confidently access food not laced anymore with poisons. Farmers in these villages are coming out of debt, the happiness quotient has risen. Not only is the food safe, pollution of waterways is reduced and the public exchequer needs to spend less on doctors and hospitals and on fertilizer subsidies.

The Organic Farming Association of India (OFAI) is organising the Chandigarh convention as a part of civil society's movement to expand the scope and reach of such wonderful farming innovations. 

The 2015 Convention of OFAI and its partner organizations (NITTTR, Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture and Kheti Virasat Mission) is being designed to bring about huge and large-scale sharing of practical experience, techniques and ideas among about 2000 people – organic farmers, agricultural scientists, policy makers, consumer groups and others. Chandigarh, Punjab, is the venue. Once considered a model of agrarian prosperity, it is now reeling under the highest indebtedness per capita, depleted soils and ground water, and increasing incidence of cancer and illness caused by pesticides.

The Convention will be held from February 28 to March 2, 2015. This could be the largest convention of organic farmers ever held in India and will directly and indirectly benefit lakhs of farmers and consumers, held re-orient agricultural policies and also impact positively on international trade.

The expected fund requirement for this mega-convention is estimated to be in the region of Rs 70 lakhs. We are depending on government and humanitarian agencies and are hopeful that about 50% of this will come through these channels. Since the convention days may face unexpected rainy days, we have had to spend extra on rainproof pavilions for the main events. We also need money to enable needy farmers to travel.

Already over 1,600 organic farmers have registered for the event and eventual number will cross 2,000. A major parallel conference is being held alongside, with farmers and scientists on the science of organic farming. There is also an organic food festival, for Chandigarh citizens; a huge seed festival with over 250 seed savers from across the country including Assam. 

All participating farmers are paying their own way and their own registration (approximately 100 get travel subsidies because of people sending money to the crowdfunding site). We are charging a mere Rs.350 for women farmers for food and accommodation all 3 days. A mere 700 for organic farmers for the same. We are not organising this event to earn money, but please help us not to lose too much!

It is not fair to burden the farmers attending the convention with the additional costs of putting up open air platforms, toilets and other facilities relating to the convention. 
As it is, they do more than enough: producing safe food while keeping the soil intact and healthy. We are therefore approaching people who stand to benefit from access to safe food to dip into their pockets and ensure that no organic farmer who wishes to attend this convention will be deprived of the opportunity.
So please help. Go to the crowdfund site below. It's easy. Put in your contribution: 1,000 or 2,000 or 5,000 or 10,000 or more. When you get up tomorrow morning you will find yourself feeling good and you won't notice really that anything went out of your account. If you don't give, your bank will loan your money to some corporate to create more nuisance. Better it go to assist those trying gallantly to provide you safe food.

Crowdfunding for the Organic Farmers Convention can be accessed at:



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