Revering The Gods

OFAI (Organic Farming Association of India) - a group of organic farmers, activists, environmentalists, scientists, entrepreneurs, consumers - met at Aluva, Kerala Dec 28-30, 2023. And as I sat watching the inaugural session, tears rolled down my face, watching those on the dias, who have inspired me personally, who have led the organic farming movement in India starting from 1970s when I was still a toddler, who have sacrificed lucrative careers and cushy family lives to strive for a world more sustainable and sensitive. Each a legend in his/her own right. Each an inspiring story. Each a God of sorts! (And many of them probably don’t even have a LinkedIn Account!)

Organic Farming Festival Event

Three days of over 2000 farmers congregating in the hot and humid UC college, Aluva campus to meet one another, to learn and share.

Three days of multiple sessions across 6 various stages covering a host of aspects - farming, seeds, health, movements, versions of organic farming, entrepreneurship, policy, commerce, climate.

Three days of walking around in the campus and listening to Punjabi, Gujarati, Hindi, Tamil and Bengali from among the participants, in the midst of public announcements in English and Malayalam

Three days of watching committed farmers showing their seeds and saplings of plants unique and unusual, eager to share and even more to help.

Three days of attending various sessions in various languages, the speaker speaking in Hindi, and then getting English translations soon thereafter, or vice versa. And then some translating the Hindi speaker’s comments into Hindi again, being pointed out by a frustrated audience! Some objecting to the lack of translation at times, and then some of us speaking in multiple languages…

Three days of watching folks in traditional attire from Punjab, Rajasthan and then the South dhoti…

Three days of tasty healthy organic food being served (vegetarian food - an oasis in God’s own country of Beef and Pork!) to all these 2000 participants, introducing millets to all. With all the used plates and cutlery (made of biodegradable material) being processed then and there into reusable biomass for the campus.

Three days of walking past some 10 varieties of cows, some I have never before, some slightly bigger than my dog, showcasing the diversity of our livestock.

Two nights of thematic songs, plays, dances and a fashion show (showcasing organic cotton), once again displaying the diversity of this nation.

Three days of joy meeting those standing shoulder to shoulder with us working together for a cause larger than ourselves, and then the excitement of meeting those we have only heard of over social media…

Three days of diving deep into the despair over the lack of sustainability and sensitivity of the mainstream - businesses and consumers alike - to loss of heritage, to the fading of farming as a profession (the average age of an Indian farmer is 50, compared to the median population age of 28), to the lack of finance from institutions designed to serve farmers, to the outrageous regulatory burden heaped on those serving the society and the environment well.

Yet three days of searching for and rising up with hope for the future amidst the ashes of this despair, once again, like every convention before this, marching along like soldiers of peace and green.

I was overwhelmed by the Gods as they poured organically grown rice to fill a “para” (a traditional paddy container) (see the video) (instead of lighting a lamp) to inaugurate the convention. Such courage, such conviction, against the odds heaped upon them by the State, the regulators, and the consumers.

In these three days, I got enough inspiration to last a lifetime, to work at what we do at Bio Basics, without compensation, with the very same courage and conviction, with limited success amidst enormous failures. To build for the future an ecosystem of sustainable food and farming that we may not live to see ourselves. Yet to keep chipping away…

Bio Basics is blessed to have consumers who care for organic farmers. We offered to contribute 10% of the sales revenue from consumers (across several days) to OFAI, and we did! It was our honour to present a cheque of ₹12,271.

Ramesh Chandran and Devi Lakshmikutty Handing Over the Cheque at OFAI Meet, Kerala in Dec 2023


Who says the Gods don’t walk among us?!

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