Agro-Science Fair in Bolagarh, West Bengal

The ‘Agricultural Science Fair 2008’ was organized by Bolagarh Gana-Bijnan Samiti on 25-26 January, 2008 at the Jeerat Colony High School in the Hooghly district of West Bengal, India. The venue of the fair was named after Dr. H. R. Richaria while the main stage was dedicated to Dr. Shibaprasad Bandyopadhyay. In these two days, intensive sessions of discussion and exhibitions, involving many experts, were organized on the negative impact of chemical fertilizer aided farming and the benefits of bio-farming.

On the first day Dr. Debal Deb, of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies, Barrakpore, gave a very informative talk on Bengal’s paddy diversity and the utility of bio farming. He described in detail how in the name of ‘Green Revolution’, there has been a concerted effort to marginalize the use of local seeds, fertilizers and destroy native agricultural practices. In the last four decades, farm sector in India has thus become a huge market for foreign seeds, fertilizers and pesticides, whose continuous usage has had a devastating effect on the fertility of soil, water level and general agricultural environment. There have been numerous suicides committed by farmers in Orissa, Maharashtra and even West Bengal who have lost everything upon being lured into cultivating imported hybrid paddy or genetically modified BT cotton.

He also explained how this concept of development has already been proven hollow in different countries of the world. A few multinationals like Monsanto sponsor a mode of agriculture that encourages widespread use of imported and genetically modified seeds, chemical fertilizers and pesticides. As opposed to this, traditional or alternative modes of agriculture which rely on native seeds and organic farming techniques are far more stable, profitable and help preserve the local bio-diversity and eco-system.

Physician Sanjay Sengupta deliberated upon the carcinogenic effects of the rampant usage of chemical fertilizers in Indian Farmlands and made the listeners aware of the resulting health hazards.

On the second day, Dr.Subhashish Mukherjee gave a talk on chemical pollution in agriculture. Agriculturalist Anupam Sengupta also shared his insights on different alternative and bio-friendly methods of agriculture that can avoid the prevalent chemical fertilizer dependent agriculture.

A lively exhibition arranged by the Gana Bijnan Samity on the usage of local seeds, role of friendly pests and enemy pests in agriculture, and the importance of preservation of the eco-system of cultivable land drew a very enthusiastic response from the crowd. A huge turnout of local people, who ignored the unkind climate to visit the fair, made the event a real success.

At a point when multinationals, by manipulating the Central and the State governments, are carrying out utmost exploitation of the country’s agricultural community through the huge market of seeds, fertilizers and pesticides, such fairs go a long way in educating people and providing them with alternatives.

This article appeared in ShramikShakti, Jan-Feb 2008. It has been translated by Suvarup Saha, Sanhati.