SA farmers in India to learn about organic farming

22 Jan 2009, 1638 hrs IST, PTI
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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A 22-member team of farmers from South Africa, on a two-day visit here as part of their tour of India, today interacted with
farmers and activists on the practice of organic farming in the state.

The farmers, who have been using Genetically Modified (GM) seeds to boost agriculture production, are here to learn about organic farming and sustainable agriculture.

The interaction was organised by the Kerala State Bio-Diversity Board and 'Thanal,' an NGO working in the area.

Mariam Ayot, founder of African Centre for Bio-Safety, who is here with the team, said all African countries, except South Africa and Burkina Faso, had either banned or imposed a moratorium on use of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms).

She said GM planting, which was started in 1986, had grown exponentially in South Africa in the last three years, covering an area of 1.1 million hectares at present. "Once you start growing GM, it opens a floodgate. Cotton farming has now displaced food crops," Ayot said.

Sinda Manakuza, a farmer who is part of the team, said commercialised farming was profitable initially as the government used to give liberal subsidies. With a cut in subsidy, they were facing a difficult situation, she said.

Another farmer, Mpompshare, said they wanted to go back to food crops like corn and sweet potatoes and were here to explore the possibility of taking up organic farming, shedding GMOs, chemical fertilisers and unwanted insecticides.

The Southern leg of the farmers' tour has been arranged by Deccan Development Society, which has 25 years' experience in sustainable farming, `Thanal' activist Sreedhar said.
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