Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The Real Hunger Games

                                                             KILL MONEY

Hunger and malnutrition are man-made. They are hardwired in the design of the industrial, chemical model of agriculture. But just as hunger is created by design, healthy and nutritious food for all can also be designed, through food democracy.
The Green Revolution displaced pulses, an important source of proteins, and oilseeds, thus reducing nutrition per acre
We are repeatedly told that we will starve without chemical fertilisers. However, chemical fertilisers, which are essentially poison, undermine food security by destroying the fertility of soil by killing the biodiversity of soil organisms, friendly insects that control pests and pollinators like bees and butterflies necessary for plant reproduction and food production.
Industrial production has led to a severe ecological and social crisis. To ensure the supply of healthy food, we must move towards agro-ecological and sustainable systems of food production that work with nature and not against her. That is what movements that promote biodiversity conservation, like our NGO Navdanya, are designing on the ground.
Industrialisation of agriculture creates hunger and malnutrition, and yet further industrialisation of food systems are offered as solution to the crisis. In the Indian context, agriculture, food and nutrition are seen independent of each other, even though what food is grown and how it is grown determines its nutritional value. It also determines distribution patterns and entitlements. If we grow millets and pulses, we will have more nutrition per capita. If we grow food by using chemicals, we are growing monocultures — this means that we will have less nutrition per acre, per capita. If we grow food ecologically, with internal inputs, more food will stay with the farming household and there will be less malnutrition among rural children.
Our agriculture policy focuses on increasing yields of individual crops and not on the output of the food system and its nutritional value. The food security system — based on the public distribution system — does not address issues of nutrition and quality of food, and nutritional programmes are divorced from both agriculture and food security.
The agrarian crisis, the food crisis and the nutrition and health crisis are intimately connected. They need to be addressed together. The objective of agriculture policy cannot be based on promoting industrial processing of food. The chemicalisation of agriculture and food are recipes for “denutrification”. They cannot solve the problem of hunger and malnutrition. The solution to malnutrition begins with the soil.
Industrial agriculture, sold as the Green Revolution and the second Green Revolution to Third World countries, is chemical-intensive, capital-intensive and fossil fuel-intensive. It must, by its very structure, push farmers into debt and indebted farmers off the land. In poor countries, farmers trapped in debt for buying costly chemicals and non-renewable seeds, sell the food they grow to pay back debt. That is why hunger today is a rural phenomenon. Wherever chemicals and commercial seeds have spread, farmers are in debt. They lose entitlement to their own produce and hence get trapped in poverty and hunger.
Industrial chemical agriculture also creates hunger by displacing and destroying the biodiversity, which provides nutrition. The Green Revolution displaced pulses, an important source of proteins, as well as oilseeds, thus reducing nutrition per acre. Monocultures do not produce more food and nutrition. They take up more chemicals and fossil fuels, and hence are profitable for agrochemical companies and oil companies. They produce higher yields of individual commodities but a lower output of food and nutrition.
Industrial chemical agriculture’s measures of productivity focus on labour as the major input while externalising many energy and resource inputs. This biased productivity pushes farmers off the land and replaces them with chemicals and machines, which in turn contribute to greenhouse gases and climate change. Further, industrial agriculture focuses on producing a single crop that can be globally traded as a commodity. The focus on “yield” of individual commodities creates what I call a “monoculture of the mind”. The promotion of so-called high-yield crops leads to the destruction of biodiversity.
Industrial chemical agriculture also causes hunger and malnutrition by robbing crops of nutrients. Industrially produced food is nutritionally empty but loaded with chemicals and toxins. Nutrition in food comes from the nutrients in the soil. Industrial agriculture, based on the NPK mentality of synthetic nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium-based fertilisers, lead to depletion of vital micro-nutrients and trace elements such as magnesium, zinc, calcium, iron.
Biodiverse systems have higher output than monocultures, that is why organic farming is more beneficial for farmers and the earth than chemical farming.
The increase in yields does not translate into more nutrition. In fact, it is leading to malnutrition. To get the required amount of nutrition people need to eat much more food.
The most effective and low-cost strategy for addressing hunger and malnutrition is through biodiverse organic farming. It enriches the soil and nutrient-rich soils give us nutrient-rich food.
Earthworm castings, which can amount to four to 36 tons per acre per year, contain five times more nitrogen, seven times more phosphorus, three times more exchangeable magnesium, 11 times more potash and one-and-a-half times more calcium than soil. Their work on the soil promotes the microbial activity essential to the fertility of most soils. Soils rich in micro organisms and earthworms are soils rich in nutrients. Their products, too, are rich in nutrients. On an average, organic food has been found to have 21 per cent more iron, 14 per cent more phosphorous, 78 per cent more chromium, 390 per cent more selenium, 63 per cent more calcium, 70 per cent more boron, 138 per cent more magnesium, 27 per cent more vitamin C and 10-50 per cent more vitamin E and beta-carotene. And the more biodiversity on our farms, the more is the nutrition per acre, at little cost.
Plants, people and the soil are part of one food web, which is the web of life. The test of good farming is how well it works to increase the health and resilience of the food web.
Vandana Shiva is a philosopher, environmental activist, and eco feminist.Shiva, currently based in Delhi, has authored more than 20 books and over 500 papers in leading scientific and technical journals.She was trained as a physicist and received her Ph.D. in physics from the University of Western Ontario, Canada. She was awarded the Right Livelihood Award in 1993. She is the founder of Navdanya

Thursday, 23 August 2012

woodshed progress

 Paneling starting to go on the front left exterior wall (all taken from old pallets).
seasoned cut logs going in to get rid of some of the clutter outside. Just the back wall to go and roof which will have to be ordered in (the only cost for the build).

Monday, 20 August 2012

Project V , Rebel gardening high in the Tuscan hills

I have been lucky enough to have the use of this site a few minutes drive up the road. Here i will be growing more food and picking fruit from the 30 or so fruit trees in exchange for tree pruning and general upkeep. Seems like a pretty good deal to me

First bed started. A 2 ft dug pit filled with rotten wood , branches and hay. This was then covered with sod and horse manure followed by a thin covering of hay

water collection barrels found on site

Pruned plum tree. There are 8 of these guys already stripped of fruit by me and good friend 'Chelsea Dave' an ex semi pro footballer and fruit picking legend
 Next doors water collection  shed....Nice


Tuesday, 14 August 2012

work continues on woodshed

 Still not a drop of rain, everything is so dry here at the moment. At least the grass on the olive terraces has shown no sign of growing, saving me a huge job.
 Foundation of pallets going down on woodshed floor on the top of some black plastic sheeting. This will hopefully stop them weeds coming through.
 Front wall going up and roof beams finally in place.
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Inside.... As the pallets are all different sizes this job has become like a giant puzzle. Trying to get all the pieces to fit together, not easy especially working in 38c

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Another hot one!

 Main frame finally in position for woodshed.
Although plenty of seasoned chestnut wood in the forests surrounding us ,very little of it is straight enough for building with. This resulted in many missions deep into the forest on the look out for straight or nearly straight tree's
 Finally i may have the inclination right on this one as the roof will act as a major rain water collector 
 No rain now for well over two months has made watering a major chore and it does'nt look like we've got any coming to soon either. Most of the beds looking good all the same and the amaranth is loving this hot weather
 Tomatoes and basil join the grape in this Hugelkultur style bed. None or very little watering me hopes with this one
 Butternut squash going into the tyre beds. These guys have also been half filled with rotten wood and hay
 Courgettes, strawberries, rocket and parsley
 Peppers finally start to change color
 Tiger tomatoes
 Yellow cherry tomatoes
 Taking a chunk out of the forest. A man and his chainsaw (and a dog and three chooks)