Katharina Mouratidi: Nayakrishi Andolon - organic farming in Bangladesh
Bangladesh is, with over 160 Million inhabitants, the seventh most populous country on our planet. Two-thirds of the Bangladeshis are farmers, a high number of them living below the poverty line, without possibilities for schooling, health care or food security.
According to the Bengal NGO UBINIG (Policy Research for Development Alternative) 12% of all farmers in the country have been landless at the beginning of the “green revolution” in the mid 60s, when traditional farming practices started to be influenced and transformed by chemical fertilizers, pesticides, high yielding variety (HYV) seeds and irrigation water. These methods, widely practiced for decades, led to large-scale production, the decline of biodiversity, to crop failure and brought about uncountable diseases, miscarriages and malformations among the farming communities. Since then the number of landless farmers has increased notably and is said to be as high as 56% in our days. Indebted by crop failure, often caused by modified seeds which did not adapt to the local climate conditions, ill from the application of chemicals, frequently used without taking reasonable precautions, many farmers are forced to sell their land and end up as miserable slum-dwellers in the slums of Dhaka, with about 12,5 Million inhabitants, one of the mega-cities of our times.
Nayakrishi Andolon (New Agricultural Movement) is a movement of farmers growing from the grassroots. It developed to find new ways of sustainable, ecological farming which are producing enough food for the peasants and their families, as well as to get away from the harmful effects of the so called “modern agriculture”. One of the principles of Nayakrishi farming is to use absolutely no fertilizers and pesticides, as well as to celebrate life and to live happily. Today the movement is joined by about 300.000 farmers from all districts. A great number of them is women which play, among other things, a key role in the preservation of traditional seeds. The Nayakrishi peasants campaign for a living environment that is free from toxic and unwanted chemicals, promote the conservation and regeneration of seeds and protect biodiversity as well as genetic resources. They resist dispossession and centralization of natural resources through structures such as “seedbanks” and “genebanks” which exclude farmers from having access to the common property of the community. Over 200 villages in two districts are declared Nayakrishi villages - which means free from pesticides - to date.
The documentation “Nayakrishi Andolon - organic farming in Bangladesh” wants to tell the story of this small and mariginalized organic farmers in Bangladesh and their families. They are defending their traditions and livelihoods successfully and demonstrate practical alternatives to the position of international governments and companies which are championing the concept, that only the massive application of agrochemicals and HYV/GMO crops will be able to guaranty food security for the growing world population in the future.