Towards a paradigm shift from globalized food dependency to bioregional food sovereignty

Paper prepared for the “National Consultation on Bio- Regional Food Sovereignty”, New Delhi, India

Sudha Sreenivasa Reddy, Ajit Muricken, 2013

The right to sustainable food is a fundamental right with and inherent responsibility to protect these rights. First and foremost, a source of health and well being and only secondarily, an item of trade. Agriculture, in the final analysis must be able to provide sustained food security for its people. Also food is central to human survival, cultural identity and sustainable livelihood, and not sees it as the object of profit driven by market forces and human greed. Therefore, the issue of food security or insecurity is basically an issue of basic human rights, equity and social justice and that everyone has a fundamental right to food, and that community control over production and distribution of resources is crucial to food sovereignty. Similarly, the use and protection of indigenous knowledge and bio-diversity is essential to sustainable food sovereignty.

The globalization of agriculture is violating all components of food-related human rights. This shameful pillage of humanity’s collective natural resources is being plundered under the spell of the neo-liberal economic model, even those areas of life-forms once considered sacred, like the genetic codes, flora, fauna, seeds and even natural resources like water once considered common heritage of humanity are now converted into commodities and tradable items to be exploited for profit. The exploitation and expropriation of natural resources, bolstered by an anthropocentric cosmology and worldview, and the ignorance of the laws and balance of nature have resulted in the large-scale destruction of the ecosystem.

The concept of bio-regional food sovereignty is based on the understanding that each climate zone has its specific characteristics and produces staple and nutritious food for its people. India’s National commission on Agriculture initiated a programme to delineate agro-climate regions at the national level and agro climatic zones at the regional level. They identified 15 agro-climatic regions in the country.

The ecological classifications combines set of land attributes, topography, geology, climate, soil, vegetation, ground water, existing land use, human activities connected to land use, and the degree of human interference in the natural system. Each of these attributes is classified according to its spatial characteristics. India is a large country with diverse agro-climatic zones, with diverse seasons, crops and farming systems. Agro climatic zones is the source of food diversity as some regions produce raise wheat and other regions produced variety of millets vegetables, fruits etc. But today due to mono-cropping and standardized food habits by the food market led to the obliteration food diversity.

Each eco system created its own cultural systems and practices like poetry, folksongs, literature, music, seasonal agricultural festivals related to harvesting and sowing seasons. The traditional agricultural practices were community based on the principles of mutual collaboration based on sharing, caring and participating in each other’s work. These practices have created an ethos of responsibility and co responsibility.

We believe that a transition to a bioregional sustainable agriculture is an imperative for food sovereignty, both at the local and national level. The perspective and method that governs sustainable agriculture should include the strategy to integrate the maximum productive potential of landless people and enhance maximum productivity by using eco-friendly appropriate technology to provide food for the urban sector. The diversity, which is the basis of sustainable agriculture and that, which is being destroyed by monocultures, is the key to food security at domestic and community level. Organic farming and low external input agriculture are being rediscovered everywhere as necessary for environmental protection, health protection and the protection of food sovereignty.

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*Ajit Muricken, Chaiman & Sudha Reddy, Director - Eco Foundation for Sustainable Alternatives (EFSA) India