Small Scale Farmers Using Agroecology as a Model of Production
Ramrati Devi is a small scale farmer from Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh. Her husband was a farmer but like many others in India, he abandoned it due to poor yield that led to losses with each harvest. That was when Ramrati decided to take the reins in her hands. She became a member of Laghu Seemant Krishak Morcha or Small and Marginal Farmers Front, Uttar Pradesh. There, she learnt about agroecological practices. With organic farming techniques she changed things around for her family today. Simple practices - such as multiple cropping on her one-acre farm- have produced high yields and a variety of food. She grows as many as thirty-two different varieties of crops that include wheat,
mustard, sugarcane, garlic, coriander, spinach and potatoes for her family’s daily consumption.
Her family of twelve members depends on the farm’s food. Ramrati is a role model and preacher of agroecological practices now.
Besides its emphasis on sustaining the environment and social inclusion through participatory frameworks, agroecological models have produced impressive economic results in terms of yields, productivity, nutrition and efficiency. It also contributes significantly towards food security and sovereignty. Agroecology models are redefining the relationship between farmers, agriculture and nature where instead of machines, farmers’ families are toiling happily; instead of costly external inputs, only farm based inputs are the used in the form of biopesticides and biofertilizers; where monoculture is replaced by biodiversity; and where women farmers have an equal status with their men folks as seeding, weeding, thrashing, harvesting are their forte.
Agroecology is fast becoming a dominant agricultural paradigm for small-scale resource poor farmers around the world. Farmers are adopting this farming technique not only for their sustenance but also to resist the corporate agricultural model pushed through green revolution and then, the gene revolution. In this age of ever increasing cost of production, indebtedness and large-scale suicides, farmers have to make their choice for changing their agricultural practices towards holistic and ecological model.
The diversity of agroecological models being practiced in India offer them this option in the form of Natural Farming, Zero Budget Natural Farming, Permaculture, Organic Farming, Rishi Kheti. However Agroecology based organic farming is different from the neoliberal organic farming model being promoted by the same corporations who have thrived on green revolution technologies, making farmers dependent on non-sustainable and costly external inputs.
Many more farmers like Ramrati Devi are required to spread the agroecological paradigm to defeat the capitalist and export oriented neoliberal agriculture which has threatened the survival of millions of small and marginal farmers in India and around the world.