December sees the celebration of Soil and the Farmer. Both are key in the fight against climate change and are essential for efficient climate action.
World Soil Day, initiated by the Food and Agriculture Organization, is observed on December 5th annually and the 2017 theme was
‘Caring for the Planet starts from the Ground’
Kisan Diwas or National Farmers’ Day is an Indian celebration observed on December 23rd in honor of the birth anniversary of the fifth Indian prime minister and leader of farmers, late Chaudhary Charan Singh. Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan is the nationalist cry and the farmer is the backbone of the Indian economy especially the rural sector which still employs a majority of Indians. Plagued by financial crises as well as climate change--exacerbated extreme weather the Indian farmer faces many challenges. With a majority of them being small-holders their livelihood which feeds the nation is fraught with financial and climate risks.
By training Indian farmers - targeting especially small-hold farmers and women farmers - to go back to and readopt organic soil management techniques could help reverse GHG emissions as well as bringing extra income through organic certification. The key is to link these producers to a market for their produce and ensure adequate profits go directly to the farmer. The social entrepreneurs Vishnu Vardhan and Divya Shetty of Indian Superheroes (ISH), who I had the privilege to meet and hear at the #GES2017 parallel event at IIT Madras on November 28th are making this happen. This bootstrapped initiative based out of Coimbatore is slowly convincing farmers to go organic and ensuring adequate revenue streams for them. A third or their 800-odd network of organic farmers are women. They even allow urbanites to "rent patches of organic farms to grow and harvest your own crops!" IRL Farmville a great way to generate interest and networks for organic farmers beyond the organic store. Kudos to Divya Shetty and her team.
As Vandana Siva repeatedly emphasizes empowering our farmers and returning to organic farming and soil management can trap current carbon emissions in just three years and reverse adverse affects.
As we face the challenges of soil erosion as well as desertification, the solution is soil management by farmers. The sheer number of Indian farmers - if harnessed into the organic green revolution and soil protection movement could be the most efficient climate action.