Hands on Permaculture

Dryland farming with microbe innoculation, no-till and multicropping to restore ecosystems.

Month: February 2014

Moringa

I went to the district seat which is in Theni.  It is about 20 miles away but took at least an hour to drive there.  We go through at least 3 villages to get there.  A village here seems to be many thousands of people like the one I am living in is 30,000 people.   A friend told me about some research that was done where they discovered that about 300 people made the ideal sized village to have enough people so that someone could bake bread, and there would be enough people to have a doctor etc, and folks could still really connect together.   After that folks would move about a mile away and start a new village.  Even in this huge village there is a lot of interconnectedness.   Folks who need help come along outside the open doors and ask for food or what they need.   When Joshua gets me a price, it is a lot less than  when I go into the store myself.  A woman farmer goes door to door here selling cilantro and cucumbers that she grows. 
I was told by my landlord that I needed to register with the police, so off I went to Theni.  It turns out the person I have to register with is the superintendent of police.  Well there is currently no superintendent of police.  We are to go online and fill out the forms and try again in a week or so and maybe by then a new one will be appointed.  Hmmm.  Can we call first and find out before we come.  You could try.  A manana county I guess as most tropical (or subtropical places) are.  How did I get myself here.
 Oh well, I guess the u.s. is now a manana county.  Oh forms can still be dealt with, but to me government is there to serve the needs of the people.  Who is taking care of
a.      the decreasing water tables in the u.s.,
b.      of the wasteland involving hundreds of thousands of acres caused by gmo’s in our nations heartland,  or for that matter of all the medical problems caused by gmo’s which of course means getting rid of gmo’s.
c.      of  chemical pollution,  (Joshua tells me ships bring it over and dump it in the Indian ocean),
d.      of all the hormones that are dumped into the rivers because our sewage treatment plants are not dealing with them.
e.      of the problems of climate change,  or preventing them.
f.       of nuclear power plants never being  built to be safe as the atomic energy commission did not feel they could enforce the safety standards needed to make the power plants safe and  now almost all the power plants are having problems and rather than coping with this, there is simply a news blackout.  Even on the internet the power plant problems will be hushed after several days. 
g.      And then there is Fukishima. 
h.      Manana and manana will not be pretty.
We heard of a permaculture project which transformed a sacred mountain which had been deforested into a beautiful lush food forest, a lovely story.  We contacted the guy who started the project because it was in tamil nadu and we wanted to take farmers to go visit it.  He said that after he left the chop and drop trees that had been planted for mulch were not chopped and dropped and they grew tall and the fruit trees grew very tall trying to get to the light so most of the fruit is not picked.   Also they seriously overgrazed the land with sheep.
We want to educate the farmers here so they will continue the effort after we are gone,  hopefully learn what works and not give themselves away.  (what Vandanna Shiva calls sovereignty)  To that end Joshua is getting us a team of folks with various skills to have an ongoing effort here.  Primary to that is to form an ngo.  Getting me registered with the police is a necessary step to starting the ngo (at least If I am involved in it and at least for the beginning I should be).  We will need serious funds by May so we can start the major plantings in the dry land area, (monsoon starts in June) so if anyone knows about crowd funding we would love your help.
Joshua, who will be in charge of our marketing coop originally wanted to aim our production to foreign markets.  I said we can have 20% for export, but mainly everything we do will be aimed at local markets because who knows how long the world markets will hold before they collapse due to for one thing no oil.   
Did I mention moringa.   Moringa has many healing properties, one of which is curing aids.  It is a serious pioneer tree.  Someone said it is a nitrogen fixer and am still checking out if that is true.  It will be the main tree that we introduce into dry land situations.
What will the ngo do:
a.       We will educate farmers.  Like Navdanya we will teach the farmers how to convert to organic for free.  We will also consult with them for free on the organic steps.  For the next stage which is learning to make better money through using interplanting of herbs we will charge for our workshops and our consultations.
b.      We want to have a separate section of all the above for women farmers (this is how it is done in India)
c.      We want to start processing things such as moringa leaves making dry powders of healthy foods.
d.      We want to teach marketing classes.
e.      We will have demonstration farms.  This is our current focus.
f.       Probably at some point we will work with the Indian government helping with water conservation.  Many of you know my feelings about working with the u.s. government and it does not sound any better here, maybe worse.  What all the farmers tell me is that the government allocates money for reservoirs, and other earth works and the politicians divert the funds to their own pockets.  I guess this happens in the u.s. as well.
g.      There is in Delhi some recycling happening.  Plastic bottles are converted into furniture.  I would like to set up something locally.  Elsewise the plastic will take over this country.
Anyway my new digs have a lot more ventilation.   The best news is that in my old place I was waking up all through the night thinking I was on the train and rounding up all my valuables and putting them under my pillow.  At least that is not happening here (as the dog downstairs is barking and barking.)  Renting a place here is interesting.  The landlords do not supply ceiling fans, screens, stoves, refers, light bulbs and of course no furniture.  You have to wait a year for a gas canister or get it on the black market or use a hot plate.  The problem with a hot plate is that the electricity goes off a couple times a day usually between 6:30 and 8 a.m. and 5 and 6 p.m.  If you want your food hot, you have to be very flexible with your eating times.

And Then There’s Food

Food is getting easier for me.  I connected with the organic shop in Theni and he is looking around for treats for me.  He has got some vegetables and we will get broccoli today.   I wanted to get puffed rice organically.  He says no way.  I am so spoiled to have treats that are organic but I did find dates and a kind of mixed nut and fruit treat.  No real candy that is organic.  Okay so really clean living ahead.  I saw in the market the other day they have chips which they deep fry from tapioca roots, will try those (not organic of course)  Tapioca is a big crop around here, a lot of which goes to kerala (a neighboring state).  Tapioca likes full sun and most of the planting in kerala is in food forests.  They are starting to take out the food forests to plant tapioca in kerala.
We are hoping the organic shop owner will be on our team.  He has well networked with all the organic folk.    Also he has been trying to get a piece of land to grow food on there in Theni, so we have a lot of common purpose.
There is a small back yard at Joshua’s house and we bought some tools yesterday and I got some seeds from vandanna shiva’s place, Navdanya.  They also have some rice bags that we can use for planting on the roof.   So we will plant a garden tomorrow and voila 45 days later we will have organic vegetables.  I have been following the family around and saving all the food scraps for the garden.  They think I am a real weirdo.  I will not use new plastic bags.  I take buses whenever I can.  No one with their own transportation takes buses apparently.  I said today that we could pick up some of the waste along the road to use in the garden and they said this is not done.  I said okay I will not use your cars to do it, but I can hire some of these oxen I see hauling trailers and bring back some waste.  Joshua said the waste is picked up and taken to plants to make fertilizer for farmers.  I looked at him and said that sounds like a great idea, but I have seen the same waste piles on the road every day I have been here. (months counting the last time I was here)  Détente for the moment anyway.
Today another of Joshua’s friends, Harry, came in with 12 acres for us to use now for an interplanting demonstration.  He has access to another 20 or so acres but wants to see how we do with the first 12.  Joshua is very conservative about using other people’s land.  The lease is just for 3 years and in this case he will give us verbal agreement to renew for another 2 years.  Josua feels with his friend that he will honor his word, but does not trust “just anyone”.  The legal system does not work well.  Fortunately a lot of these areas already have trees so it is not a matter of waiting for the trees to mature.  The main problem is not other people using the land but the possibility of selling the land if they need the money.  Land is worth  around 10,000 an acre here with water. 
Some of Harry’s land is planted in what they call country coconuts.  These are the old  time coconuts that are for coconut meat.  The new breeds of coconuts are for the coconut water that is mainly exported .  They harvest the coconuts before the meat develops as the meat takes away from the juice.  Anyway the country coconuts grow well without chemicals and the tender coconuts need a lot of spraying, water, etc.  We have a friend who grows them organically though it is a lot harder than country coconuts.   6 acres is in tamarind and what they call cotton trees.  This is dry land farming.  The sooner we can demonstrate that the interplants actually help the trees rather than as the chemical advisers tell them, everything in the plantation except the trees at their proper spacing takes away from the trees. Why they ever bought this I have no idea as all the old ways involved interplanting.  I guess they just wanted more yields and decided to do whatever they were told.  Again I cannot understand why when it did not work, they kept at it.   Although of course I understand that if the chemical consultants told them they did something wrong and it they would do it right it would all work.  We will use medicinal herbs and some vegetables, maybe potatoes for the dry land area.  The other 6 acres has water and is planted in country coconuts and has been organic for 2 years.   We want to work with the existing farmers and see if they are willing to learn our methods and to keep on farming the land.  We shall see how this goes.  Harry said that he would not allow us to plant cashew trees as folks around here are taking them out as they believe they decrease the water and no one wants to have any less water.  He also has a ½ acre area we can use for a nursery with good water that is about 9 km from here (bicycling distance).
There was a dam up in Kerala which used to feed irrigation systems here in the Theni.  They cut that off about a month ago.  Babu showed us as we were driving around several days ago where the rice is dying without water (many, many acres of rice).   I think this is so that they can rebuild the dam but am not sure.  Still it is a bad time to cut the water in the middle of the rice crop.  (I also read that they do 3 crops of rice a year here and maybe it is always in the middle of a rice crop.)  The low land areas where they grow rice work well for rice crops without a lot of additional water in the monsoon times.  Now folks are growing 3 crops a year to meet the rice demand.
It is a miracle being given some land to use that already has a reservoir on it.  I talked about this in the last blog, but the miracle of it for the purposes of a demonstrating water conservation project did not really occur to me.  Also not having to raise the thousands of dollars to build the project is a great gift.

Country Coconuts

Today another of Joshua’s friends, Harry, came in with 12 acres for us to use now for an interplanting demonstration.  He has access to another 20 or so acres but wants to see how we do with the first 12.  Joshua is very conservative about using other people’s land.  The lease is just for 3 years and in this case he will give us verbal agreement to renew for another 2 years.  Josua feels with his friend that he will honor his word, but does not trust “just anyone”.  The legal system does not work well.  Fortunately a lot of these areas already have trees so it is not a matter of waiting for the trees to mature.  The main problem is not other people using the land but the possibility of selling the land if they need the money.  Land is worth  around 10,000 an acre here with water. 
Some of Harry’s land is planted in what they call country coconuts.  These are the old  time coconuts that are for coconut meat.  The new breeds of coconuts are for the coconut water that is mainly exported .  They harvest the coconuts before the meat develops as the meat takes away from the juice.  Anyway the country coconuts grow well without chemicals and the tender coconuts need a lot of spraying, water, etc.  We have a friend who grows them organically though it is a lot harder than country coconuts.   6 acres is in tamarind and what they call cotton trees.  This is dry land farming.  The sooner we can demonstrate that the interplants actually help the trees rather than as the chemical advisers tell them, everything in the plantation except the trees at their proper spacing takes away from the trees. Why they ever bought this I have no idea as all the old ways involved interplanting.  I guess they just wanted more yields and decided to do whatever they were told.  Again I cannot understand why when it did not work, they kept at it.   Although of course I understand that if the chemical consultants told them they did something wrong and it they would do it right it would all work.  We will use medicinal herbs and some vegetables, maybe potatoes for the dry land area.  The other 6 acres has water and is planted in country coconuts and has been organic for 2 years.   We want to work with the existing farmers and see if they are willing to learn our methods and to keep on farming the land.  We shall see how this goes.  Harry said that he would not allow us to plant cashew trees as folks around here are taking them out as they believe they decrease the water and no one wants to have any less water.  He also has a ½ acre area we can use for a nursery with good water that is about 9 km from here (bicycling distance).
There was a dam up in Kerala which used to feed irrigation systems here in the Theni.  They cut that off about a month ago.  Babu showed us as we were driving around several days ago where the rice is dying without water (many, many acres of rice).   I think this is so that they can rebuild the dam but am not sure.  Still it is a bad time to cut the water in the middle of the rice crop.  (I also read that they do 3 crops of rice a year here and maybe it is always in the middle of a rice crop.)  The low land areas where they grow rice work well for rice crops without a lot of additional water in the monsoon times.  Now folks are growing 3 crops a year to meet the rice demand.
It is a miracle being given some land to use that already has a reservoir on it.  I talked about this in the last blog, but the miracle of it for the purposes of a demonstrating water conservation project did not really occur to me.  Also not having to raise the thousands of dollars to build the project is a great gift.

Rain Dancing

I had to move out of my first flat as the owner got cold feet about renting to a foreigner.  There is a lengthy registration process which he had to sign off on.  As my sponsor Joshua says it is a small village and people do not like new things.  This village is Uthamapalayam and is about 30,000 people, a village here.  Where I live is a lot of concrete houses, painted many interesting colors with a lot of grill work and other interesting details.  It is very clean in the back streets as I call them except for the concrete gutters filled with sewage which run outside of every house, taking the sewage to the river.  Ugg.  Anyway Joshua found me another flat which has better ventilation but more noise, so I am happily moving forward.  Am spending a lot of time buying furniture (nothing here is furnished) and something to cook on and with and voila I will have some more control of my diet.  I believe I told on my previous email about finally getting some brown rice to eat.  Now I am trying to get organic puffed brown rice.  Everyone tells me good luck.  It turns out that all of these houses on very small lots have their own bore well.  The water is very alkaline (another reason that the bore wells will ruin the land for farming).  The drinking water somehow comes from the Indian government.  I have just learned about the carcinogenic effects of adding chlorine to water with high bacteria contents.  hmmm
Yesterday we went and saw the 1 acre parcel that we have been given for a demonstration by a man who will be joining our team, Babu.   He believes in the cause, though not enough to interplant his 22 acres with medicinal herbs.  I will continue to work on him.  He is afraid they will steal his chemical fertilizer for which he just paid more than 2,000 and reduce his production, no matter how much I assure him that they will feed his trees.  He even remembers in the past before chemical fertilizer that they used to plant plants to feed the crops, but now he feels he has the system down and knows his yields and cannot afford to make less.  A problem for most Indians, as they are security oriented (I guess as most Americans).  I asked him what he will do when even the deeper bore wells do not produce water and he says sell his land he guesses. 
 He does not have the water for the acre he is donating to us so is excited to see what we can do with it.  He also said that for the last 7 years the monsoon’s here have been very light and he did not try dry land farming because of that.  The great news is that on this parcel his father had built a channel to the hills and hooray a large reservoir.  So his father has the skills that we need to design reservoirs as well as their being one already built.  The neighbors decided that he was stealing their water so they blocked off the channel at the beginning of his land (or where their land abuts his).  We will be looking for funds to make an animated movie about how these projects help the neighbors wells to work better as well as to increase rainfall in the area.  The Indian government understands all this which is why they are paying people to plant trees and doing some reservoirs.  Babu’s father told me that they are asking people to donate their land to them to make the reservoirs, but, a) people do not understand this and b) they think the government should use its own land to do the reservoirs. 
 I think my chances of  convincing  the father to plant the medicinal herb interplants is good, as the sooner we can get a demonstration going the better.  We are looking at varieties of trees that can do with very little water and so far it looks like cashew trees would be great.  With the reservoir here and babu’s 22 acres all in trees we have everything we need to increase the rainfall in this area.
I think I said previously that where Bhaskar Save’s farm is there is plenty of rain and 20 km away there is not and his land is around 17 acres, so I am aiming for a 20 acre demonstration.
I plan to take up serious rain dancing or whatever it takes to bring the rain so we can dry land farm on the 1 acre site.  The monsoon does not start until june so that is a ways off.  We will meawhile use Joshua’s back yard to start planting and both of our roof tops, so we will have organic vegetables in 45 days. 
Am off to theni to begin the foreigner registration process which will take most of the day.  Fortunately another team member is coming and we will be able to chat while we wait.

Water Conservation NGO

I am now back in Tamil Nada.  I have rented a flat here with 3 bedrooms for less than 100 a month.     I heard from Skeeter about crowd funding and we are looking for funds to start the nursery plants that are not easy to get here.   Also we want to have loan fund where  we can finance some of the earth works in return for a no interest loan on the part of the farmers.  We will also be starting an ngo and need help with the legal details.  I am sitting here comfortably typing early in the morning on my own computer.   Again wow.  I believe the demonstration for the water project needs at least 20 acres so am getting meetings with villagers set up to see if we can get a mainly contiguous 20 acres to work with.  Several of the farmers already have large blocks of land but we also want to work with the small ones.
I left my passport at my last hotel.  Actually they took it overnight in order to copy it and forgot to return it to me in the morning.    I called the consulate in Channai asking them what to do and they said they could advise me about nothing.  Good ole America.  I found out that there is a reliable way to send things in India even with a tracking number.   No private firms doing this like UPS though. The final details of the flat cannot be completed until my passport arrives in the mail. 
I also got head lice probably from one of my 5 dollar hotels.  One of the Indian savadars at the meditation retreat decided to treat me with cockroach medication.  It caused a severe headache, vomiting and diarrhea but only for one day.  Hmm.  Clearing up the head lice is an ongoing process.  Last time I shaved my head to make the process go faster but in India they really think women should have long hair so I am going through all the nit combing stuff.
Anyway as usual it seems I am finding out how to do all the nitty gritty details you never wanted to learn like living in India without a passport, all kinds of health problems, disc herniation, ear infection, now lice.
Am I attaching here an email that I sent to an ngo who will probably help us with the earth works.  This is the detailed stuff we are doing for water conservation as well as how the farmers can earn the money to make up for the delay in returns after planting trees.
in speaking with farmers here in tamil nadu, karnetaka, maharastra,   and gourjarat, many of them are having to dig new bore wells every 2 years for a cost of more than 100,000 rupies.  many of them will soon not be able to grow food.
in my own studies all these years as well as by visiting and reading a vision of natural farming about bhaskar save,  i feel i have a method to bring the water back.
it includes 
1) lot of the methods you have used with bunds, reservoirs, check dams, gavions.
2) stopping drip irrigation and using flood irrigation to return the moisture to the air
3) plant a lot of fruit and nut trees as well as well as jack fruit etc. to have a tree cover probably at least 50%.meaning we will plant trees as if in a monoculture on at least 50 % if the land and then interplant with medicinal herbs, other trees, vegetables. the government of india is paying for farmers to plant trees both for the trees and for the labor and for the manure for them, but the farmers still do not want to plant trees because the yield is a lot less than from what they are planting.  we plan to show them how to grow the medicinals and the vegetable interplants.  moreover we will form a marketing cooperative, so that the plants not now marketed by them will be able to be sold.  with these methods we believe we can not only raise the water table but increase farmers earnings.  it is an important part of our program to encourage folks to grow their own food first.
4)   plant on key lines (a permaculture technique) trees and plants such as clover which hold the water between monsoons.  this method has been developed by me, rather than using a key line plow to plant on the keylines like a plant tractor.
5) doing everything organically to save at lest 30% of the water.
6) use open pollinated varieties tested in local regions in india, navdanya and vandanna shive are helping with this
7) mulching at least one 3 x 3 x 3 feet heap every 30 feet in all the plants.
8) hedgerows where among many other things predators of insects which damage plants can survive.

Wow.

Okay last  updated this blog was I was in Karala.  I had seen all these amazing  food forests growing on the steep hillsides with 100 plus species of plants growing and then found out that where a lot of people were still using some cow manure for fertilizer almost everyone was using chemical pesticides and fungicides and I do not know about herbicides.   At that time I had not figured out how to walk down onto the slopes and thought that they were not terraced. 
I had been told about a tribe  near Karala  who were working their 1000 year old food forest.  I was told that the only way I could see this food forest was to contact the college at Thiesseur.  Everyway I tried to contact this college was failing and it was a 5 hour bus ride one way over all these hills which is not an easy bus ride.   I had connected with a priest near where I was staying in Katapanna and he had connected with another priest near a group of tribal folk and off we went to visit that food forest.  Only problem was that the priest who lived near the tribe had not conveyed to the priest who lived near where I was staying that this particular tribe had not maintained their food forest and there were just several families doing some harvesting.  It turned out to be a lovely day anyway as the rickshaw driver was great at stopping and walking down into all the food forests along the way and telling me what he knew which was considerable.  The watering systems are flood irrigation with terracing and channels to get the water down the hills.  We found rubber trees.  They make a hole in the tree just like we did back in New Hampshire for maple syrup and attach via a string ½ coconut husk to the tree.  Then when the rubber accumulates they take the liquid back and pore in some kind of acid and it then turns white and thick and they pour it in a mold, let it set and then hang it on lines to dry.  In the distance it looks like diapers hanging on a line.  This is then sent off to a rubber processing plant.
I was ecstatic to finally walk around in the food forests and still really wanted to be able  to talk to the Indian farmers.  That night I asked spirit for help and the answer came immediately.  That acupuncturist office that you saw, go there tomorrow and talk to that person.  So I went and met Joshua.  It turns out that he is a very seriously into health and that means healthy food for all of India as well as treating folks with acupuncture.   He was trained with a masters degree and was doing a high level job in IT which the Indians have special abilities for.   He had a severe motor cycle accident and the ineptitudes (and sometimes chicanery) of the medical professionals treating him caused him one of those life crises where he decided to get trained  to provide real health care.   Like most holistic doctors he sees a relationship between the vibrancy of the food we eat and our own health.   The long and short of it is that Joshua, his wife, maybe his father and I soon became a team.  He loves his home state which is Tamil Nada.  Where he lives is about 2 hours from the hills and food forests of Karala down in a valley which is between the mountains which run on both the east and west side of India.  The weather here is very interesting.  It never gets cold and it never gets really hot.   Meaning it stays between 70 and 85 degrees, an ideal climate for growing a lot of plants.
He set up tours for me with farmers in Tamil Nadu, the same state as Auroville, but an overnight drive away and over the mountains.   The farmers here are digging bore wells to get to water for the crops and almost all of them are using a lot of chemicals.   This was not the case in the past but with dams and rerouting rivers and less monsoons this is how they are solving the water problem.  Only thing is that they digging new bore wells every 2 years because the historic waters are going farther and farther down.  The bore wells cost at a minimum 1600 dollars and many farmers can no longer afford to build new ones. 
I had been visiting all these farms in Auroville, and then gone up to visit the farm of Buskar Save as well as the Save Farm.  In all of these places there were water problems which they had solved and of course all my permaculture studies with key lines, swales, etc and my interest over many years in dry land farming now came to a focus.  What I knew was just what they needed.  When I started sharing what I knew, such things as the chemical – hybrid seed approach takes 3 to 4 times more water than a natural farming approach and the plants they grew did not nurture the deep needs of our human bodies they kept saying teach us, teach us.   I was surprised especially as a woman, most men need some kind of fancy bonafides to listen to me.  I learned from Joshua that Indians have a huge amount of respect (read they are still selling themselves short) for Western ideas  When I found this out, as I am  upset by how they have sold out their own 10,000 year sustainable agriculture history,  I  made a point of asking everyone to check out  through their own hearts and observations  if what I was saying ringed true, and especially to check with their grandfathers and grandmothers.   The wealthiest of the farmers was totally organic.  His methods like the Save Farm methods are not natural farming.  They still use a lot of water and are still forcing the plants with fertilizer, albeit organic materials and according to me having to use a lot of organic pesticides and fungicides because of these practices.  He knew about natural farming and said I cannot rationalize taking less production from my farm as it would mean less wealth for my family.   It turns out I heard this sentiment a lot all over India, I have to maximize my financial gain for my family’s sake.  When I asked him with his grown son standing next to me, would you rather give your family money now or by changing your agricultural practices leave some water for your sons family.  He agreed immediately that he would rather curtail his water use.  His son agreed as well.  This was a major breakthrough for me.  Very few successful U.S. farmers would choose the future rather than present profits.  It turns out this thinking of the future (when the people actually can understand that they have a choice) they will make the choice for a future.   How inspiring and it  made me immediately decide to stay here as long as it keeps working for me to share what I know.  Wow people who will apply what they learn.  Wow, wow, wow. 
There was one farmer who had 4 acres of land who only had enough water for less than 2 acres who on the spot offered to let me use 2 acres of his land for my demonstration project. 
I then went off to Navdanya farm which is Vandanna Shiva’s project up in Dehradun, maybe 2300 killometers on the train.   This time I went on the 3 AC train and the journie went well, aside from being 6 hours late arriving in delhi and me missing my connection to Dehrarun.   Dr. Shiva was visiting there when I was so I got to connect with her again.  She has about 20 projects which will correlate with mine.  She has seed banks all over India collecting and growing open pollinated seeds.  She has a team working on getting more trees on every farm, but their goals seems to be more like 1/8 to ¼ of the project.  But still they are researching what are the best trees for water conservation and the yields in terms of fruits for the states that they are working in.  On  the farm there at Dehradun they have with their organic practices raised the level of the water by 50 feet.  They are not having severe water problems in their area.  They fed us from the organic produce of the land and a week of great eating was wonderful for my body.
I met the woman in charge of the Maharastra project for Navdanya.  They are in the area where so many farmers were committing suicide because the promises of all the increased productivity did not pan out so the farmers who had borrowed money on their land to buy the chemical products to make the hybrid seeds work lost their land.  In this area the water problems are huge.   They have more than 140 farmers who are committing to change to organic.  Navdanya offers them all the free advice and seeds they need to make the conversion.   Farmers have already learned to do dry land farming and she was excited to work with us.  I also found farmers in Karnataka where I did a meditation retreat who could no longer afford the next bore well who wanted to work with us.  There is also an activist named anna who did a big water conservation project in this state 30 years ago and the water is still holding well there.

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