With help of local organisations, the Panga Kodhs have gone back to traditional, organic, mixed cropping methods. Even the forests are benefiting.
“I’m born of this soil. Putting poison in the soil is like poisoning one’s parents. Why would I harm myself like this?”, says Adi Kumurka. Kumurka belongs to the Panga Kondh indigenous community in Odisha’s Rayagada district. His community is engaged in mixed organic cropping from traditional seeds. This is the traditional way of farming that his community has practised since untold times. But there was a long gap in between when malnourishment and farmer suicides compelled these traditional farmers to migrate to faraway places to look for jobs. What changed?
Recently, I happened upon new publication published in mid-October by La Via Campesina, a global peasant and small farmers movement, entitled Struggles of La Via Campesina for Agrarian Reform and the Defense of Life, Land, and Territories. The 29-page report analyzes the issues faced around the world in the context of food sovereignty and food production, and explains the need for an integrated’ agrarian reform within a global context. The document recognizes that models of reform cannot be “static,” must go beyond issues of land tenure and include fishers and the marine environment, and must include comprehensive policies that control profit-making related to food.