Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hope for Farmers?

The basic concept of farming is that a person puts a seed in the ground, it grows, and what is grown gets harvested. What is produced is then stored, eaten, sold, and portions of it are re-planted. In the past week I have learned much more than this about farming and how it has been manipulated yet the faith it takes to invest your savings in a seed that is dependent on so many factors to come to fruition. As we spent time in Andhra Pradesh, the people have been negatively affected by the consumerist influences of cash crops and mono-cropping practices of large land owners surrounding them which are commonly associated with farming in the US. Yet now are empowered amazes me and has provided evidence that leads me toward thoughts of hope. The people here utilize the land with age old knowledge of multi-cropping technique that use every plant including what they actually plant themselves and the byproducts we would consider weeds. I wonder how many species we have lost in the US due to our development projects and agricultural practices.

I’ve noticed many parallels between the Native Americans of North America and many of the practices of the Adivasi, Dalit, and other backward people of India. The way we’ve seen the minorities of India use the land in a way that is prudent and resourceful. They used various plants for medicinal and nutritional purposes. This allows them to have their own medicine women to help their village with minor to moderate afflictions and the millet supplements their diets with nutritional whole grains. However, what happened in the case of the Native Americans when the railway corporations and pioneers encroached upon their land and that is exactly what is happening with the Adivasi, Dalit, and other backward people of India. The government and other powerful agents of development are gobbling up the arable, valuable land and the original people are being displaced or simple pushed off their land. The difference between the ways the Indian minority groups and the US original inhabitants is that the people in India know how to use the land in a way that is beneficial and the people on the reservations in the US have little else available to them for employment. I wonder if the people here will end up landless with increasing encroachment and eminent domain cases and closer resemble the Native Americans in years to come.

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