Saturday, May 31, 2014

Farming in India

Today we learned how farming in India is very different from farming in Minnesota. At a visit to the Navadarshanam sustainable farm, we interacted with local farmers and learned about their lives and farming techniques.
Today we learned how farming in India is very different from farming in Minnesota. Sitting in a cool hall at the Navadarshanam sustainable farm, we got a chance to interact with local farmers and learn about their lives and farming techniques.

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The farmers we spoke to worked on the Navadarshanam co-op farm as well as their own small plots of land. Each farmer owns only a few acres of land, planting grains like finger millet, rice, and a bean called areca, as well as a variety of vegetables for their own use.

While they practice organic and sustainable techniques at the co-op, they monoculture genetically modified seeds using fertilizer and pesticides like U.S. farmers, but without the large machinery of a U.S. farm. Even though the farmers report sickness from pesticide use, they told us that they use it anyway or their crops won't grow.

For the tiny, family-owned plots common in India, even a small drop in production can have a huge impact.

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After talking with these experienced Indian farmers, we voyaged out from the cool hall into the sunny village just outside of the Navadarshanam campus.

We could see the small plots of land, farmed mostly by hand or with the aid of cows. Only one tractor is shared by the entire village we visited.

I could hardly believe that any farmer could make a living with so little farming technology and so little land. The lack of resources in the rural villages is astounding, and it's no wonder why so many farmers are migrating to the cities for work.

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While in the village, we saw many cows and chickens roaming the street, but I was surprised to also see cows inside the homes.

Most of the homes were designed with a small, open courtyard in which the cow(s) could be protected. The farmers told us that leopards would eat their cows if they left them outside. Keeping the cows at home also made it easier to milk and feed them throughout the day.

While these farmers' methods were not the same as those used in the U.S., the farmers were working toward the same goal: a better future for their children.

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