Tribal farmers take pledge to preserve indigenous practices

Mohammed Iqbal, The Hindu | November 5, 2017

Tribal farmers at a meeting held in Banswara district of Rajasthan

Focus on sustainable farming through rain-fed agriculture.

Hundreds of farmers from the tribal belt of southern Rajasthan took a pledge to preserve their indigenous agricultural practices and stop using chemical fertilisers and pesticides in their fields at a massive “tribal conclave” organised in Banswara earlier this week. The event laid focus on sustainable farming through rain-fed agriculture and safeguarding of forest, land and seeds.

The conclave was held at the historic Tripura Sundari temple in Umrai village of Banswara district to consolidate the findings of a fortnight-long Janjatiya Kisan Swaraj Yatra taken out as an outreach tour in the Vagad region, comprising Banswara and Dungarpur districts, last month. Farmers taking part in the yatra, which covered 101 villages, claimed their inalienable right on natural resources.

Tribal farmers addressing the conclave threw light on their struggle for self-reliance by applying their indigenous knowledge to agricultural practices in order to reap their benefits. The samples of soil, seeds and water from different tribal areas and the local produces, including fruits and vegetables, especially attracted the participants.

The nutritional value of vegetables such as rajan, dhimada, jhumka, arri and ragi, grown in the Vagad region, was highlighted on the occasion through their display, while the farmers were asked to make use of minor foograins such as kuri, kodra, bati, baota, kang, cheena, hama, hamli and gujro, which are on the verge of extinction.

The main organisers of the yatra and the conclave were Banswara-based Vaagdhara group and the Revitalising Rainfed Agriculture (RRA) Network. Vaagdhara secretary Jayesh Joshi said there was a need to promote the natural rain-fed agricultural techniques which could save the uncultivated nutritious food and make tribal farmers self-sufficient.

Noted food policy analyst and researcher Devinder Sharma called upon the farmers to not let go of their farming techniques and practices.