Beejotsav Festival 2017 – All Things Organic!

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HERD Organic Farms undertook organic farming to test its viability first hand. We are keen to find out ways to improve agrarian incomes and enhance livelihood options for a waning agricultural economy. We want to see that organic farming is a sustainable and profitable occupation. We work on farmlands lying 60 km from the city, hand in hand with rural farmers of Maharashtra covering initially an experimental 42 acres of land. In time we hope to inspire neighboring farmers to join in with organic farming practices through collective action, after we have established a fair supply chain.

HERD Organic Farms hand-holds all efforts to promote organic farming and is open to the idea of supporting like minded partnerships – formal and informal. We are developing good practices in strategic traditional farming areas that can be emulated by other farmers. We are also planning to evolve into a resource organization for effective knowledge management at the organizational level. By documenting our farming practices we hope to develop resource material and also to provide consultancy services.

It is now that time of the year again when we pitch in with Beejotsav to bring together organic farmers, producers, retailers, advocates and this time round chefs and cooks too for Beejotsav 2017 as we all band together to celebrate all things organic at the annual organic farmer’s festival in Nagpur. We will be putting together a wide range of organic produce for organic lovers of the city. For the first time visitors can enjoy eating organic cooked dishes that will be show cased as healthy specialty food. The event is a partnership between keen organic enthusiasts, farmers and getting good support from organic food lovers.

The celebration which is dubbed as one of its kind in Nagpur is the biggest in Vidarbha and widely known to feature different organic products ranging from seeds, grains, vegetables, fruits, to organic fresh, cooked food items as well as plants, organic cloth and a lot more that we will have to wait to discover! Organic inputs from over 40 exhibitors will be in place by small farmers, NGO’s, village people’s organization, and supporters and advocates for organic produce. This is the fifth year in a row that Beejotsav Festival is being held in succession. It has grown in strength from past years and involved lot more people than before.

Beejotsav 2017 will have you appreciating exquisite muslin fabric which is included in the list of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. This will be another first for the festival to be introducing organic muslin that is as yet being created in mud houses without use of power of fossil fuels and maintaining the same superior quality. Each piece of Muslin is a masterpiece to behold and visitors will be delighted to see and buy it. So apart from eating healthy, visitors will also get to buy and wear healthy too! Tula India will also be exhibiting its eco-friendly apparel line in Beejotsav 2017.

Started initially with the intention of highlighting concern for traditional seed conservation methods, Beejotsav 2017 now takes on much more under its umbrella. However privatization of the seed sector and poor regulation over seed control has led to valuable seed varieties being lost to the greed of the corporate sector. This creates unrest for traditional cultivation and farming practices and so seeds remain a critical resource under threat.

Beejotsav stands by the concept of seed sovereignty and security as a prerequisite for livelihood security of marginalized farmers. Also various traditional varieties of crops like oilseeds, pulses, cash crops, fruits, vegetables are becoming extinct and inaccessible. Beejotsav works towards reversing this trend toward extinction by highlighting local crop varieties that ensure maintenance of the diversity.

Beejotsav 2017 festival will therefore begin with an invocation to traditional seeds on the first day of the organic fair! It will be a sight to behold as traditional seeds will be venerated in age old rituals. Come one – come all, to celebrate all things organic, all things sustainable and all things healthy! Come have healthy fun at this annual exhibition cum sale of wholesome, healthy and natural farm produce.

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Why Organic – Why Not Organic

980xThe last decade has seen growing concern all over the world about what we are eating. What we put in our mouths or what we put on our table for our children to eat requires ever closer attention than before. Closer home Beejotsav Nagpur has been drawing attention to this issue. It is essential to understand what organic produce is. All food items grown without use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation are good wholesome food.

Choosing organic foods is therefore the way to benefit public health as well as the health of the earth. Beejotsav Nagpur attempts to do just that. Comprising of a dedicated band of civic conscious activists, urban farmers, rural farmers, organic consumers and more, they also focus on a core dimension of this issue – saving organic seeds. The conservation and propagation of organic and especially heirloom seeds is at the heart of Beejotsav’s endeavors.

Why should one be going in for organic food at all? For one it is safe for our health as it is chemical free. Studies prove that organically grown food has higher amounts of Vitamin C, magnesium, phosphorous, and iron. These nutrients are vital for healthy functioning of our bodies. Organic fruits and vegetables are high in nutrients and antioxidants which provide energy and keeps the cells in the body young and well nourished.

The moot question is why one should put chemicals in the body. Organic foods avoid using synthetic pesticides that are rampant in non-organic conventional agriculture. Chemical pesticides and herbicides are linked to birth defects, obesity, diabetes and other health issues. While organic foods limit your exposure to carcinogens by removing toxins from food. Each time you choose organic you choose to leave these chemicals off your plate.

Importantly, organic agriculture is great for the earth and its precious soil. Organic farmers face the same challenges as non-organic farmers with regard to weeds, pests, diseases, drought, floods, and nutrient requirements. But they have made the decision to grow food in a way that protects the soil. Organic farmers focus on preserving the soil for future generations by farming in a way that sustains nutrients and harbors beneficial organisms. Organic farming neither causes nor leads to soil erosion, groundwater contamination, dead zones or loss of biodiversity. We now know that organic agriculture limits the effects of climate change too. Organic farmers are extremely dedicated to the excellent quality of their soil. Sustained organic farming will positively impact that soil to keep it healthy forever.

Yes, organic farming and production practices are costlier and more time consuming than present agriculture practices. But the care that goes into growing organic fruits and vegetables is well worth the investment. Demanding more organic produce is a sure way to work out the economics. For all of us who believe in healthy eating we have options to buy organic produce from Beejotsav, HERD Farms, Nagpur Organic Farmers and a host of rural farmers who have on offer good organic produce. Over 35 farmers from Vidarbha would be selling organic products, grains and indigenous seeds at Mure Memorial Grounds on 7-8-9 April. Look it up!!

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Healthwise & Moneywise – Go for Organic Produce

Organic Soil

                Allowing Soil to Replenish itself

India, an agricultural economy since times immemorial has had farmers undertaking organic farming from ancient times. It is not really a new-fangled approach as is being made out to be. What it really involves is cultivating crops in a way that does not harm the soil. The use of natural manure is advocated to keep the soil alive and allow it to replenish itself for subsequent use.

It was in the wake of the Green Revolution in agriculture that the advent of modern pesticides for inorganic farming became the norm. Chemical insecticides are used primarily because they ensure healthy crops every time as also sustained produce. Realizing the feat of pesticides, agronomy the world over has come to rely heavily on them, that subsequently launched the mushrooming pesticide industry.

What was taken up with such grand intentions has in a space of half a century, backfired on us, woefully. Inorganic fertilizers or synthetic fertilizers are a big time manufacturing plus as they do not decompose before usage and are readily absorbed by plants. These compounds are not entirely composed of the nutrients needed by the plants though. They also contain salts and other elements that are not absorbed by plants. They are in fact left behind in the soil that builds up in time to create hazards.

When overtime such compounds are found in large amounts in the soil they can alter the chemistry of the soil. The soil actually becomes less ideal for cultivation. Although methods like neutralizing the soil and so on are undertaken to allow soil to revert back to its original state, but that does not really happen.  In fact, actually toxic compounds leech into the ground, seeping into groundwater. That’s double the jeopardy!

On the contrary organic manure made of wastes like crop remnants, farm, animal and aquatic wastes or other biological materials are better off for cultivation. They allow beneficial microbes called bio-fertilizers to be released as nutrients into the crops that benefit much more. Aside from being eco- friendly they help in restoring a pollution free environment.

This is why organic farming is encouraged so as to avoid or minimize use of synthetic pesticides. The promotion of crop residues, animal manures, off-farm organic waste and biological nutrients is considered effective for the long run for cultivation. Organic farming offers unique soil management to enhance agro-ecosystem health. This is accomplished by using on-farm agronomic, biological manure.

The increase in population should be all the more reason to stabilize agricultural production in a sustained way. While earlier food production was accelerated to feed an escalating population through the Green Revolution, we now need to go back to using organic inputs since to sustain the very soil that should be conserved for future generations.

With sizeable thrusts given to organic farming, we are witnessing positive outcomes. Organic produce now commands premium pricing and more farmers are getting into it to cater to a growing demand to accrue benefits. It really is a win-win situation for both producer and consumer. As ill effects of inorganic farm produce becoming clearer organic produce is being sought, creating its own niche market.

Organic Produce at a Premium

                  Organic Produce at a Premium