Food security and sustainable farming - buzz words doing the rounds in elite circles - are not enough and it is time to move beyond them to food sovereignty, according to P.V. Satheesh, Director of Deccan Development Society and the convenor of the Millet Network of India (MINI).

He is popularly known as millet man Satheesh, as his organisation (DDS) works in Medak district of Andhra Pradesh, promoting millet cultivation and organic farming.

He was delivering a lecture here on "Food security and sustainable farming" after being felicitated by a local charitable trust run by eminent Gandhian, K.S Sastry.

Satheesh said the very title - Food security and sustainable farming - betrayed some of the erroneous notions propagated by the agriculture establishment of the country.

"The farmer should produce his own seed, fertiliser and other inputs at the local level and he should not be dependent on external market forces and technologies. Even then, in an organic and eco-friendly manner, he should be able to produce enough to feed the village. That is food sovereignty and that is what is needed, not globalised, technology-driven agriculture which reduces farmers to slaves," he said.

Green revolution, a failed idea

Terming the green revolution a failed idea, he said the model of farm development dependent on high-yielding varieties, chemical fertilisers and pesticides had not yielded the desired results and instead threw up many problems in its wake. He expressed the opinion that the time had come to revert to traditional, community-based, organic and holistic farming models. "We should also reduce dependence on water-intensive crops like paddy and rely heavily on millets in future. Millet cultivation and dryland farming can be ignored only at our peril," he said.

He also condemned the idea of contract farming which many were offering as a solution to the present agrarian crisis. It would take away the right of the farmer to grow what he wants and it would create more problems, he added.

sarma.rs@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on November 16, 2012)
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