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,"
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.