ifoam'96 ifoam'96
Book of Abstracts
11th IFOAM Scientific Conference
11-15 August 1996, Copenhagen, Denmark
EcoWeb Denmark


Challenges of Organic Agriculture for Sustainable development in the South. W31

Mayur, Rashmi

International Institute for Sustainable Future.73A Mittal Tower. Narriman Point. Bombay 400 021.

The agricultural system in the South- Africa, Asia, Latin America- is under human threat for more than half a century now. The population pressures and increasing demand for food and farm products have transformed the total agricultural system so profoundly and extensively that today the land, economic and social structures and even the cultures of thousands of years are endangered. The modern technological and chemical revolution has practically overpowered 70 per cent of agriculture in the South and the day is not too far when, as in the North, all the ancient natural agricultural systems practised by farmers in the South for almost 5000 years will totally disappear and the modern, fast and unecological mass agricultural systems would take over.The danger is more serious than what most people realize today.
For the farmers of the South, agriculture was part of their culture and life. The agricultural system was based on the principles of nature- integrated farming, soil regeneration by composting, crop rotation and organic pest control by using neem or garlic or eucalyptus and many other biological pest-control systems, protected the land and provided nutritionally healthy food for the population. The most improtant aspect of the agricultural system was that it was integrated within the ecological system, which is why it remained productive for thousands of years. Agriculture was a natural part of their culture- having rituals and celebrations in honour of seasons, food and ecology.
Today, we have the green revolution, massive uncontrolled use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides and use of enormous amounts of water and energy, the disasterous consequences of which are universally evident. Soils are dying or they are dead. Almost 40 per cent of land in India, Parkistan and Bangladesh has become degraded, pollution is rampant, biodiversity has disappeared, small farmers are eliminated. Instead, agro-business, market economy, faster mass production and obscene consumption by the few has taken over.The social, economic and cultural heritage of these societies are wrecked. The farmers have become refugees in the cities. Africa, which was self-sufficient in food production until 1960, has the largest number of people living below the hunger line- almost 35 million- and is now food-dependent on the North for almost 28 per cent of their requirement.
Therefore there is no choice: for the people of the South, if population is controlled and iff ecological farming and preservation of sustainability of the villages is preserved, as it has been in the past, there is hope. Most of the people, on flight to the cities, want to live in villages. Villages are their sacred places; that is where their ancestors lived; that is where their Gods live; that is where they are linked to the earth and its soil and that is where they want their children to live.The task we undertake to bring the ecological living in the villages and to bring back organic agriculture is sacred and absolutely essential in order to bring salvation to the millions in the South, who have become victims of the destructive and fatal development in the name of progress.

Earth, Man and Future, Edited by Rashmi Mayur, Ph.D. 1996, Published by IISF.-Earth First, 1995, Published by IISF.-Habitat Journal (volI, II, III,) 1996. Published by IISF. ??