Tuesday, 14 April 2009

At grass roots level people are taking charge of their destiny-agriculture.

It was with interest that I read an article by Farmer Mathew Naylor(a Nuffield Scholar) called “Take Charge of your own Destiny.”(I was flipping through an old edition of Farmers Weekly, 23rd Jan.) It seemed a muddled and contradictory piece of writing to me, but in summary I think the message was that those farmers who are used to ‘mastering the elements’ are those who have an ‘Internal Locus of Control’ and take charge of their own destiny. Those farmers and horticulturists who don’t exterminate all insects with crop sprays are called ‘hippies’ and believe in an ‘External Locus of Power’ and put themselves at the mercy of fate. Mr Naylor concludes his thesis with the thought that despite the increasingly turbulent commodity and currency markets he still ‘holds firm with (his) opinions as a free-trader. Fate isn’t getting its hands on me…”

Well, ummm... thanks for those thoughts Mr Naylor.

Now, to return to the title of Mr Naylor’s article, (the reason it captured my attention in the first place),-"Take Charge of Your Own Destiny”. I had coincidently listened to Helen Kongai on the radio last week, when she had used a similar phrase…that at grass roots level people were…”taking their own destiny in their hands”. She too was referring to farming, and food production. This is where the parallel ends.
Helen Kongai is development officer for sustainable agriculture in Africa. This project was founded in 1988 by a group of UK farmers who sent cows to families in post-conflict Uganda. It now runs sustainable agricultural programmes in nine countries in Africa to help small-scale farmers overcome poverty and malnutrition. It is called the Send a Cow Charity. All those who use the Charity project undertake to pass on the benefits they gain such as livestock and skills to another family, so that the work goes on multiplying throughout communities.
So we see that Helen Kongai’s ideas for agriculture are ethically and in practical terms totally different from those of Mathew Naylor. Her strategy is to grow staple crops which are indigenous to the regions. Her farming methods work with nature and do not try to bludgeon the soil into submission with pesticides and synthetic nitrates.

The International Seeds Day which I mentioned in my previous post demonstrates the like-minded movement across the world for communities to ‘take charge of their destiny’ by producing their own food. This means resisting the attempts by corporates to colonize their land, or pressurize them into purchase of gm seeds.

1 comment:

Jamblichus said...

Naylor's piece sounds hilarious. I tried to find a link to it but without any luck... a shame, for any article positing a dichotomy between fatalistic organicists and free-willed mainstream farmers deserves wide exposure...^^