With an aim to enhance and maintain the sustainability and prosperity of Agriculture in Karnataka, 1500 farmers from across the State gathered at The Art of Living International Centre to attend the ‘Karnataka Organic Farmers Convention’.
Held over 3 days, from 22nd to 24th Jan, the convention was hosted by Sri Sri Institute of Agriculture Sciences and Technology (SSIAST) in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, Govt. of Karnataka to make Karnataka disease -free, save the soil from chemical fertilizers and pesticides and maintain the state’s sustainability and prosperity.
The inaugural ceremony was presided by The Art of Living Founder, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Among those who addressed the gathering were Dr. Anuradha, Dy. Director, Dept. of Agriculture (Organic Farming), Karnataka Government; Mr. Chamaraj Mali Patil, President, Karnataka Farmers Union; and Dr. Prabhakar Rao, Trustee, SSIAST.
Sri Sri drew a parallel with ancient times when farmers were honored members of society, and used natural farming techniques. He observed, “Rampant use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides has greatly reduced the fertility of the soil. The only solution is educating our farmers in organic farming.” He added, “It is the duty of the farming community to give healthy food to the world, and the duty of the world to ensure the prosperity of its farmers.”
Dr. Anuradha emphasized the importance of ensuring separate marketing channels to market organic products. “Already around 100 such associations are functioning in the city of Bangalore, and the Government plans to increase these outlets,” she said.
The day saw agrarian practices from Vedic times, like use of cow dung as manure, being mentioned by Mr. Chamaraju Mali Patil, President, Karnataka Farmers Union. “Zero budget farming has to be promoted, and we have to take care that the farmer-friendly flora and fauna is not damaged by the use of chemicals in agriculture,” he stated.
Farmers practicing organic farming came ahead and shared their learnings, “Though the produce is less than what I got through chemicals-based farming, I am earning well as my consumers give higher value to my organic products, “ said, Shivashankar Gollappa, 75, an enthusiastic farmer who runs Paramananda Rural Development Society in Village Harnal, Bijapur District and has been doing organic farming since 10 years.
During the convention’s three-day deliberations, a wide range of vital issues will be discussed such as:
- Zero Budget Natural Farming
- Millets For Nutritional Security
- Marketing Of Organic Products
- The Management Of Indigenous Cow
- Bio-control Of Pests In Organic Farming
SSIAST was established to realize Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s vision of resuscitating India’s agrarian ecology and aid millions of poor and marginal farmers – who were dependent on degraded land and reduced water-resources – to reclaim their endangered livelihoods.
Its vast array of outreach initiatives include zero budget natural farming, permaculture, seed production training, tree plantation, free training programs in agriclinics and agribusiness, home gardening, steps for preservation of indigenous cow breeds and water-conservation measures. SSIAST holds courses in agriculture, horticulture, agro forestry, runs a management school in agriculture and publishes educational materials of technical nature. It has been approved by MANAGE, an organization of the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, as a Nodal Training Institute and also implements development activities under various government schemes.