Honouring women farmers as Environmental Saviors - These millet farmers fulfill India's global commitment in CBD
Over 3100 millet farmers received nearly Rs.2000/acre as a recognition to their function as Environmental Saviors under the INSIMP [Initiative for Nutritional Security through Intense Millet Promotion], a programme to support millet cultivation in the Zaheerabad region of Medak District. Mr K Madhusudan Rao, Commissioner for Agriculture of Andhra Pradesh distributed the cheques worth nearly 63 lakhs to the farmers. The farmers belonged to the four mandals of Southern Medak viz., Zaheerabad, Jharasangam, Raikode and Nyalkal.
On June 5th, 2013, the cheque distribution to honour the millet farmers on the occasion of the World Environment Day extended the definition of Environment beyond the clichéd tree planting in a significant manner. Millet farmers in the dryland region such as Medak are truly saviours of environment because by growing totally rainfed crops they were saving billions of liters of water. Their crops being extremely nutritious were helping India to rise above its current dubious position of being 128th in the Global Malnutrition Index. Besides these, these farmers were growing mixed crops on their little holdings thereby helping India to fulfill its global commitment to encourage biodiverse agriculture as a part of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Mr P V Satheesh, Director, Deccan Development Society which has steered this programme through the Medak District Millet Farmers Association, congratulated the government for initiating the INSIMP programme which was game changer in Indian agriculture. But he also pointed out certain shortcomings of the programme by saying that INSIMP support comes to farmers only once while the chemical farmers are able to receive fertilizer and seed subsidies year after year without any condition. Thus the millet farmers are discriminated against and therefore it was time that the government recognized their huge contribution the environmental, nutritional and climate well being of the nation and gave them unconditional honorarium just the way it is subsidizing other farmers. Actually in the year 2007 the subsidy on chemical fertilizers itself had reached an astronomical 1,80,000 crores, an amount which can cover the millet farmers of India for nearly five years.
Responding, the Commissisoner Agriculture accepted the strength of this argument and conceded that while the present rules of INSIMP does not allow such a possibility, it was time for the government to reconsider these rules and bring some amendments to it in support of millet farmers most of who were very poor and came from the marginalised sections. He said he was thrilled to see such a large number of women farmers in the gathering, which he said was an unusual sight for him for, normally it was always men who dominated farmers meetings. Mr Rao praised DDS for its relentless to promote millets and promised the unstinted support of the government in its efforts.
Ms Umameshwaramma, Joint Director, Agriculture of Medak District also attended the event along with many more agricultural officers.
Honouring women farmers as Environmental Saviors - These millet farmers fulfill India's global commitment in CBD, The Millet Network of India, June, 2013. http://www.milletindia.org/recentevents.asp