Food – Not Just a Source of Profit But A Source Of Nutrition & Sustenance

Dr. Vanaja Ramprasad, founder of WEA’s partner in India, the GREEN Foundation, shares what the global community can learn from women farmers in India.

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Why Food sovereignty? In renaming the concept, we have moved away from the mainstream discourse using familiar terms such as food security, right to food or entitlement to food. No doubt that this is a complicated issue since food production and availability play a critical role in a country’s progress.The multidimensional nature of food production spans across several issues starting with appropriate use of natural resources such that it does not erode into needs of the future generation. Today’s technological developments have brought in a new dimension to the production, distribution and consumption of food and that new dimension is the global politics of control over food in all its spheres.

Yet, at the same time there is a growing resistance against control over food as a source of nourishment, and not poison, as a source of peace and not conflict, as a source of health and not as disease, as a source of prosperity and not poverty, as a source of nurture and not destruction and decimation. The resistance is to free the notion of food as a weapon and from the shackles of globalised control.

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Green Foundation – which has been working on vital issues such as seed conservation, also works on viable alternatives that have emerged from its intensive field-based work with small and marginal farmers in rain-fed areas of India. In this effort women have played a major role in self provisioning food for their families and their communities.

The crisis that today’s farming community is facing is complicated by links with agro-chemical companies, seed companies, veterinary drugs, banks, food processors, retailers, packers and other stake-holders in the food production and distribution chain. Each link in the chain is being controlled more and more by giant corporations.India in the last three to four decades has focused on chemical intensive farming and reached national level self sufficiency, but today we are importing wheat which is the staple food of millions in this country. We have farmers committing suicide.
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Women have played a major role in changing the mindset of the Green Revolution era, which did not look at the regional variations. Women all over have shown that food supply is not a source of profit but a source of nutrition and sustenance. There have been efforts to empower women to remodel the system to bring together the water, soil and the flora and fauna to perceive it as the food we eat. Women have demonstrated that the most important lesson we learn is the circular loops of fertility, seeds and resilience of communities in the food web and have shown that food production is also about biology and not just economics.

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