grandmother’s university

From 27th to 29th March 2009 the Course “Grandmother’s University” was held at the Navdanya Vidya Peeth campus in Derhadun. About 30 female farmer’s from Uttaranchal, Uttrakand and Maharashtra and 20 western students gathered together to celebrate woman’s work and knowledge through attending interactive lectures.

Dr. Vandana Shiva conducted a session on Women and Agriculture in which she stated that throughout history keeping seeds has been mostly women’s business.
99% of agriculture in the area of Uttaranchal remains the work of females but modern technology is bringing changes. The traditional saving of seeds from harvest is an empowerment for women. By saving seeds they are to solidifying next years crop which will provide income and food for their families. In the industrial model women suffer a loss of power because seeds become a commodity (seeds to be bought and sold) instead of a gift of nature (seeds to be selected and saved). Slowly the ritual saving of natures gifts is disappearing and a new model of purchasing seeds from companies is taking hold. High priced fertilizers and herbicides are sold to enhance the yields, but Navdanya’s research shows that these are false claims. Instead farmers become dependent upon buying inputs for this system and their freedom is endangered. Debt amongst farmers is common as they are forced to take loans out in this unsustainable cycle. The number of farmer suicides has risen alarmingly since the adoption of such practices for they cannot pay back the debts for the new agriculture technologies. The new technologies have not kept the promise of higher yields; organic farming – the use of polycultures and proper treatment of the environment is the most promising method.

The profit of the big agro-business companies is made from the knowledge and resources of the small peasants especially when renewable seed systems are converted to non-renewable seed systems.

In the past two decades the Navdanya Farm has shown that yields have consistently increased when diversity was supported by selection. Diversity must be maintained to ensure a proper environment for sustainable growth.

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