October 14th 2010: Kisan Swaraj Yatra goes through the region that exemplifies rural distress in India

We interacted with farmers, media and agriculture scientists in Vidarbha today. After attending a 4.45 am prayer at Bapu Kuti in Sevagram, we set off for Akola town. After reaching Akola, we headed straight for Dr Punjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth. Here, we met with the Dean Dr E.R. Patil, who listened to our brief presentation in the Kisan Swaraj Yatra and also to the delegation’s request to the Agriculture University to work on straight line varieties only and to not take up any GM research. While on the latter, he said that it will be a policy decision for the university only after discussions, he assured everyone that the university is also keen on promoting straight line varieties for farmers. Members of the Yatra requested him to kindly respond formally to all the points submitted in the memorandum and told him that representatives will get in touch with in a months time if we don’t get a response before then.

We then addressed a fairly-well-attended press conference and shared with the media the experiences of the Yatra so far. We then proceeded to Kanerisarap village where the panchayat hosted an interaction with farmers. More than 100 farmers attended this meeting where NABARD and PKB officials also took part. Several successful and committed organic farmers were felicitated by the Yatris and we were delighted that organic farmers were getting the recognition that they deserve in-front of their communities. Villagers who spoke highlighted their current crisis and talked about debt waivers not being a real solution.

We then split into two teams where, one team went to Aagar, a village in Akola district where organic cotton farming has been taken up farmers in a big way and another team went to Shirlanimane in Buldanha district. Here, almost all the farmers present resolved to shift to ecological farming and the Sarpanch promised to hold a Gram Sabha soon to discuss this further in detail with all villagers.

After dinner at dinner at the Sarpanch’s house we left for Jalna and as is becoming a constant feature of this Yatra, we ended up reaching Jalna only at 3:30 am.

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