The grotesquely misnamed “Green Revolution” that since the 1960s has been replacing traditional farming around the world with genetically modified, mechanized, chemical-intensive, debt-ridden industrial agriculture has worked so well in India that a quarter of a million farmers there have committed suicide in 16 years. The Center for Human Rights and Global Justice calls it “the largest wave of recorded suicides in human history.” Now a group of small-plot farmers in Northeast India has rejected every tenet of modern industrial agriculture, and has stunned the world with unprecedented yields.
In the village of Darveshpura, a young man named Suman Kumar last year planted rice that was not genetically “engineered” in a way that was not industrially sanctioned — one at a time, widely spaced, in moist earth, instead of slapping bundles of seed into waterlogged ground. He used no chemicals, and fertilized only with manure from his animals.
The results stunned not only him, but the world. He harvested 22.4 tonnes of rice from one hectare (2.4 acres) of land. It was five times his usual yield, and beat by three tonnes anything previously achieved anywhere in the world. (Why is it that stories like this never interest the US media, but have to be found, like some of the best reporting on the US environment, in Britain’s newspaper The Guardian?)
Spokespersons for industrial agriculture immediately declared it a hoax. When the state of Bihar’s agriculture minister investigated, and found it to be true, they called it a freak result, that no one could replicate. When, using similar methods, another farmer broke the world record for potatoes, and then another did likewise with wheat, industrial agriculture said, well sure, but it’s really labor intensive (although some practitioners, as opposed to experts, said it actually requires less time in the fields) and there are no machines that can do it.
Seriously. That’s what Dominic Glover, a British expert on GM crops, had to say about these fabulous results: “nobody has come up with the technology to transplant single seedlings yet.”
The problem for industrial agriculture, posed by this stunning success in feeding some of the world’s neediest people, was aptly stated by professor Norman Uphoff of Cornell University: “Nobody is benefiting from this except the farmers; there are no patents, royalties or licensing fees.”
This development illustrates perfectly the central tenets of The Daily Impact and my book, Brace for Impact:
- If it’s industrial, it’s not sustainable; and
- It may be too late to save everybody, but we can save anybody.
Now we know that come what may to the industrial world, there’s a place called Darveshpura that’s going to be just fine.