Food Sovereignty, Nutrition Security, Environmental Sustainability & Farmer Empowerment
in the age of Climate Change Crisis
Over 2000 people attended the 5th Kisan Swaraj Sammelan, representing various types of
farmers including women, youth, and Adivasi farmers, seed savers, community organizers,
policy makers, field workers, scientists, activists, consumers, students, and so many others. All
the attendees are linked to organizing efforts and movements across the country revealing the
vastness of our networks. Our hope has been strengthened and our commitment renewed to
ecological agriculture and sustainable farm livelihoods at the end of our 5th Kisan Swaraj
Sammelan. We feel revived through our connections and learnings from each other. This
Sammelan was held on the heels of the historic farmers’ movement that asserted the voice and
agency of farmers in the country’s polity.
Coming as it does at the same time as the Egypt COP27 of UNFCCC, the central theme of this
sammelan is the climate crisis which is the most pressing threat to our food systems and farm
livelihoods. Several other serious challenges exist. There are mighty forces working to take land,
seeds, markets and state support away from small farmers. These are paving the way for
corporate-controlled, unsustainable, and industrialized agriculture powered by artificial
intelligence. The increasing feminization of agriculture and rising tenancy along with
dispossessed Adivasis highlights the vulnerabilities of particular groups of farmers.
Accepting these challenges as our collective responsibility, our delegates came to the table with
clear propositions and constructive solutions that emerged out of their collective work. We
highlight these solutions and reaffirm our commitment and demands for the following:
An inclusive agroecology: We need an inclusive approach to agro-ecology, which embraces the
different forms and names existing in India, should be the main way to produce our food.
Agroecology cannot be an option approach any longer, it is a critical pillar to build resilience to
the climate crisis. We understand the importance of agro-ecology for both mitigation of, and
adaptation to the climate crisis. We appreciate the different programs by India’s national and
state governments to promote agroecology, and recognize the importance of this historical
moment as a real opportunity to synchronise bottom-up efforts with state-led support. We call
upon governments to understand that the Science & Technology for agro-ecology is firmly with
us, and the current effort needs innovative and farmer-empowering institutional architecture
and extension, where the right investments will allow knowledgeable farmers in leading the
effort, with women in the forefront.
Promoting farmers’ sovereignty: We recognise that there are systemic factors that end up
reducing farmers’ self-sufficiency, such as erosion of legal rights over land, seeds, forests and
water, (international) trade regimes which seek to increase farmers’ dependence on markets
for inputs, finance and sale of produce as well as newer forms of potential hegemony through data and technology. We resolve to promote systems that seek to increase the independence,
freedom, self-sufficiency and sovereignty of farmers in all domains. In the world of digital
agriculture too, we seek statutory frameworks, robust regulations, farmer-centric governance
and farmers’ prior informed consent in charting out their own need-based use cases.
Recognising the true Cultivators, and Farmers other than Cultivators: Our women farmers
produce most of our food, yet they are not recognized as farmers due to their lack of
landownership and patriarchal attitudes in society. Similarly, the number of tenant farmers and
sharecroppers is growing significantly and they too must be recognized and supported via state
entitlements. Many non-cultivating farmers are not recognised and supported as Farmers in
their own right. Historically, oppressed castes have been kept out of land ownership and they
form the bulk of farm laborers today. All such vulnerable farmers must be recognized and their
access to land prioritized. Farmland being a scarce resource, its diversion to market actors for
profit purposes should be prohibited.
Income guarantee for all farmers: The ongoing agrarian crisis has led to unprecedented farm
suicides. Income guarantee through a basket of measures like Minimum Support Prices for all
crops, adequate and effective disaster compensation systems including insurance products,
investments on farmers’ collectivisation and social security will take our annadatas out of
uncertainty towards a dignified life.
Conservation and revival of our agro-diversity and self reliant seed systems: Our
agrobiodiversity is a critical tool in our efforts to resolve the climate crisis. This is why our seeds
should remain in the hands of farmers and be exchanged and developed freely without being
tied to corporate IPRs. We need consumers to step forward to support revival of agro-diversity
through changes in their purchase behaviour, for themselves and their future generations. We
need governments to replicate efforts of a few state government agencies in bringing farmers’
varieties into formal seed systems.
Safe, diverse, and holistic diets for all: All our citizens have a right to safe, nutritious, and
diverse food that is culturally appropriate. Diversity and nutrition on our plates is directly
correlated to diversity on our farms and soil health. Current nutrition schemes, such as
fortification, which promote chemical nutrients inserted into our foods, in a risky one-size-fitsall approach, are a threat to our right to real food. Similarly, dictating to communities what they
can and cannot eat is against our constitution. Nutrition security should be primarily addressed
through pathways that revive agro-ecology with agro-diversity along with protection of local
diverse food cultures including of uncultivated foods, and of animal-based nutrition along with
entitlements of comprehensive food security basket for all.
Keeping India’s food systems protected from risks of unneeded, unwanted and unsafe gene
technologies: GMOs that contaminate and destroy our biodiversity have no place in our
farming. Gene editing creates GMOs too. This gathering notes with alarm and dismay the
clearance to herbicide tolerant GM mustard based on unfounded and unscientific claims of
enhanced yields and safety. We realise that this is a trojan horse in the name of public sector hybridisation technology, to open the floodgates of GMOs in our food system. We call upon
Government of India to be ‘responsible to science and responsive to society’ and immediately
withdraw the environmental clearance provided.
Trade Justice: Free trade has greatly threatened farm livelihoods by allowing dumping of
agricultural products from countries that provide enormous subsidies to agribusiness
corporations. Free Trade is a threat to our food sovereignty. Trade must take place under fair
terms that doesn’t displace local producers or harm ecology and international trade treaties
cannot supercede numerous other conventions and agreements. In times of the climate crisis,
and against the backdrop of a global pandemic, it is more important than ever to prioritize local
food systems using sustainable technologies.
Relationships of solidarity between rural and urban people: We note that many urban people
have become disconnected from the realities faced by our annadatas in rural India. There is a
need to recognize our interconnectedness and build relationships of solidarity.
We commit to educating ourselves and our communities, engage in debates, hold our
governments accountable, make citizens conscious towards improvements in our food systems,
and advocate for change in a democratic and peaceful manner from wherever we stand. This is
our satyagraha for Kisan Swaraj.
We warmly thank the generosity of the people and organizations of Karnataka for having
hosted this Sammelan.