The organic movement
What the word ‘Organic’ implies in a hurriedly globalising world such as ours is a mystery to many people – the word seems ill-placed and unclear with an arguably niche location. So we try to understand what it has come to mean for those who seem to uphold it – organic food growers, practitioners of organic methods of economic life such a participatory microfinance and organic handicrafts workers who oppose standardised packaged commodities.
In India, these things are still taking shape as ideas and practices, which makes it the perfect place and time to see what merits and demerits they hold. Our first stop on this trail is through the Weir block in Bharatpur, Rajasthan where thousands of women have organised themselves into community production – of spices like red chillies and weaving cloth – using microfinance loans and worked out a different space for them within the villages. We try to explore several questions as curious travellers – What do women feel about the work? How has it affected the feudal Purdah system in the villages? Has the Microfinance model worked? Who sells these goods and where?
Our next stop would be Gujarat to see Ikkat craft workshops and similar communitarian and filial enterprises, as has been mentioned in the theme of Textiles, in order to see how the practitioners of handicrafts pitch themselves against a world that is out to standardise quality for a market full of several kinds of buyers. And from there, we take the trail southwards towards Kottayam and other parts of Kerala where farmers are increasingly taking to using bio-waste and organic non-chemical manure on rubber plantations and for growing several other crops. The fluctuations of the international market and dependence of chemicals have been defeated to a significant extent by these farmers. Cooperative societies like the Peerumedu Development Society in Idukki promote organic farming and spread different kinds of knowledge on techniques and nuances of the process. Sikkim in the North Eastern part of India is another such region where organic farming has made it big and the practices are spreading across the country.
We will go down this trail to see what makes organic farming such a huge success – what it means for the growers, what it does for the national economy and how it provides a more meaningful life. Travelling with an eagerness to know will make this journey much more than an exercise in knowing – it will be re-education.