Exploring the Potential of Diversified Traditional Food Systems to
Contribute to a Healthy Diet
The developments in India illustrate the sustained takeover of food systems and the biological and cultural diversity embedded therein, by agribusiness and technology centric policies (including fortification and genetic modification). We the adivasi, dalit, and small and marginal farming communities from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh reject all industrial technical fixes such as Golden Rice, being aggressively pushed by our governments and global policies, as solutions to chronic nutritional deficiencies prevailing amongst communities. Our traditional nutritionally rich, diverse and comprehensive food systems, are the only long term sustainable answer for micro-nutrient deficiencies. As we continue to defend and assert these food systems we demand that all national and global policies, are in line with our assertion. These technological fixes, stand poised to further erode and displace our knowledge, practice, traditional seeds and diverse agro-ecological food cultures.
This report Exploring the Potential of Diversified Traditional Food Systems to Contribute to a Healthy Diet (download Report ) authored by members of the Food Sovereignty Alliance (FSA), India along with the Catholic Health Association of India (CHAI), is an in-depth analysis of traditional diets of marginal farmers, landless and agro-pastoralists from adivasi dalit, backward castes and muslim communities, spread across six villages from Sangareddy district, Telangana and Chittoor, East Godavari and Srikakulam districts of Andhra Pradesh.
The enquiry into our traditional food systems provided clear evidence of the following:
- We, the adivasi, dalit, small and marginal farming communities continue to be a rich repository of knowledge, resilient food systems (production, storage, nutritional and medicinal properties) built on collective resource governance, biodiversity and agro-ecological practices.
- Our food systems are nutritionally diverse and rich in nutrients. For e.g., over 80 to 100 different kinds of seasonal, wild, cultivated and uncultivated foods form a part of the regular diet, especially in adivasi and dalit communities. These continue to be strongly embedded in the local ecological and cultural context. Nutritional analyses of these diets shows that the foods can meet and counter malnutrition including micro-nutrient malnutrition such as Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD).
- Our traditional food systems have been eroded over time, by historical and growing inequalities in landownership and resource rights, technical fixes and industrial agriculture and we continue to reject the introduction of fortified foods and other similar technical fixes (e.g., genetically engineered fortified rice – Golden Rice) that will alter our diets and agricultural practices.
- Land, water and forest rights are seriously under threat. In many villages, incomplete land reforms and skewed distribution of land remains an unfinished agenda. The vulnerabilities posed by landlessness, destruction of the commons, climate change and privatisation of commons will only serve to deepen the malnutrition and food crisis.
- Our lived experience and knowledge is an integral part of lives and livelihoods and equips us with the ability to adapt to ecological and economic uncertainties, and build our socio-ecological resilience particularly in the context of climate change.
We propose to continue to nurture and strengthen holistic socio-ecological systems of food and agriculture and demand that any external policies and measures support this process.
We the members of Food Sovereignty Alliance, seek your support to take forward our campaign Theatre for Life.
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Smallholder farmers of Badampet village in Telangana, India, like thousands across the country, have lost control over their resources and food, resulting in crippling debt and suicide amongst people in rural areas.
During the final months of 2017 twenty farmers from Badampet village, cutting across diverse ages, genders castes, communities and religions worked together to devise a play depicting their crisis.
The theatre performed in the village, created a space for dialogue that is already bearing fruit, with farmers envisioning collective ways to regain control of their land, food and lives. Families who have felt isolated in their struggles for too long, are recognising the power of collective action.
Performances in more villages, is crucial for widening this dialogue amongst farmers, towards changing their lives. Your support will make this possible.
Amidst the intensive corporate agriculture, saffronisation of food culture, monoculture of crops, sanction of GMO trials , and the continued onslaught on the resources, land and local markets, we members of the FSA, in Medak, Sangareddy, Adilabad, East Godavari, Srikakulam and Chittoor districts of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are involved in a deep reflection, at the family, community and village levels to enquire into the roots of why our food and agriculture systems have changed, the strength of our traditional food cultures, and ways to organise and envision collective actions to reclaim and recover our sovereign agricultural systems and food webs. The dialogues at the family were collectivised at the community level and finally several villages met to deepen discussions for actions.
Medak and Sangareddy District
East Godavari and Srikakulam
Chittoor – Kalahasti
Chittoor – Madanapalli
This past two years has witnessed farmers across India demonstrating for their livelihoods: a hike in milk procurement prices has featured as a key demand. Their demand reflects a grave crisis underway in the Indian milk market, which is threatening to undermine the multifunctional role of livestock and the way of life of entire communities.
Small and marginal farmers, the backbone of the Indian milk market, have been hardest hit by a price war waged by dairy processors (companies), beginning January 2015. Faced with mounting stocks of unexportable milk powder, brought on by a slump in global milk powder prices, some of the big domestic dairy players began to flood the domestic market with cheaply priced milk for consumers. At the same time they were lowering the prices at which they were procuring milk from farmers. This was severely affecting small farmers and has also impacted the peoples’ milk market, commonly referred to as the “informal” or “unorganised” milk market.
Building on research in the Indian States of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, the Food Sovereignty Alliance (FSA) shows how this crisis extends well beyond the small farmers of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh State in South India. It affects small farmers nationally as well as globally. This book tells the story of how global trends including the onging threats of multilateral trade agreements such as the EU-India Free Trade Agreement and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Pact (RCEP), are driving countless small dairy farmers into debt and ultimately out of farming. It calls for a solution, based on nurturing the resilience of the small, localised networks of milk producers, cooperatives and consumers.
The authors provide clear evidence that the only hope for the future lies in localised peoples’ milk markets based on agro-ecological livestock cultures: cultures where livestock are reared, not as machines to produce single commodities, but as sentient beings playing a multifaceted role in food farming production systems.
This report authored by the Dairy Working Group of the Food Sovereignty Alliance, will be of interest to farmers’ movements, Dairy Cooperatives, Students, Researchers, Policy framers and anybody who is interested in understanding what it takes to bring them their daily glass of milk!
The report can be accessed at The Milk Crisis in India
The Bovine Politics public lecture and dialogue by Sagari R Ramdas, was held on 15th and 16th September 2017, in Bengaluru. The event was organised at the Azim Premji University (PG Campus and UG Campus), and the Baduku Community College.
The talk sparked off critical debates, unpacked the reality of markets, the key role of slaughter in sustenance of the cow, and enumerated the growing nexus between corporates, religion and state. The dialogue in Baduku Community College, was an interaction with youth from rural Karnataka, students, professors, ecologists, artists , animal rights activists and activists from other movements. The youth corroborated the negative effect of the ban on sale of cattle and buffalos in animal markets, on farmers. This rendered a very vibrant, debate that is critical in today’s context and political climate.
People expressed interest in being involved in the ongoing actions and enquiry into the politics of beef and were keen to organise further such dialogues.
Vibrant debates and dialogues at Baduku Community College
Sparking minds at Azim Premji University, UG
We strongly condemn the recent threats to Prof Kancha Iliah, and the continuing attacks on the freedom of speech and expression, manifesting in the form of defamation cases, death threats, threats to register FIR and the violent promotion of crude measures such as capital punishment.
The constitution of India upholds the democratic tenets of every citizen to freely express their opinions, thoughts, and ideas. If you have a difference of opinion wield the pen to express your counter opinion and register your disagreement.
Self-appointed protectors and rakshaks of everything from cows to their limiting idea of India, are emboldened to act today, with complete impunity under the current political dispensation, in complete violation of India’s Consitution.
No more Gauris, Dabholkars, Pansares, Kalburgis !