The following is the summary of the declaration, titled, ‘Santhigram Declaration’ endorsed by the participants of the Farmers get-together and State level workshop on conservation of local bio-resources, held from 21 to 23 December, 2016 at Santhigram, Chappath, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

  1. Importance of Indigenous Cows

It is becoming increasingly clear to all thinking minds that the most effective, if not the only, way of safeguarding the integrity and health of the earth, human beings and other life forms on earth is to revive and propagate natural/bio/organic farming practices and adopt healthy lifestyles. In this, the role of indigenous/desi breeds of cow is unquestionable. The milk, dung and urine of these varieties of cow, with a history of more than 10,000 years of breeding in India, play a vital role in ensuring the health and vitality of humans as well as plants. These cow products are known to have unique and wonderful powers and properties in enhancing plant growth and soil fertility and productivity. A2 milk protein, which promotes the development of brain cells and prevent diseases, such as diabetes, heart ailments, asthma, high cholesterol, autism, is found in plenty in the milk of these breeds which are well-adapted to the unique climatic conditions of India. On the other hand, milk from the hybrid cows, containing A1 variety of milk protein not only has no such properties, but also is known to cause health problems in humans. There are several such breeds extant in India. It is our responsibility to conserve and propagate them. It is unfortunate and deplorable that despite the evidence of scientifically proven facts, the state policy-makers and the administrators are negligent in this matter of high consequence for the well-being of our people.

  1. Training in Natural/Bio/Organic Farming

If we are serious on ensuring soil fertility on a sustainable basis, we should adopt natural/bio/organic farming technologies. For this, the officers in the Agricultural Department should have the necessary knowledge and skills. It is elementary bio-science that for a plant to complete its life-cycle – germinating, growing, flowering and bearing fruits, the ceaseless activity of millions upon millions of micro-organisms is needed. Among domestic animals, large number of such beneficial micro-organisms is found in the dung of the desi cow. A farmer owning such a cow can easily prepare high quality bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides using the dung and urine of the cow and locally available humble plants (called ‘weeds’), for boosting up plant growth and ensuring high yield. This means that, cost of production will come down, which will help the farmers to come out of the debt trap, in which they are caught due mainly to increasing cost of farm production. Training should be given to officers of animal husbandry in ethno vertinary medicine and organic animal husbandry to prevent the presence of chemicals and antibiotic residue in cow milk, dung and urine. Without addressing this foundational issue, it is meaningless to talk about sustainable agriculture. This has to be urgently brought to the attention of the functionaries of the Departments of Agriculture and Animal husbandry, who should design, organize and conduct appropriate training for their officers.

  1. Training on Natural Resource Management

Natural resource is the base of all life and development but our natural resource base is rapidly eroding. Our soil, water, air are all heavily polluted. Indiscriminate development activities are taking a heavy toll of our precious bio-resources. Trees are being decimated, green cover is fast disappearing, temperatures are rising, rains are erratic and insufficient, water shortage is acute, morbidity is growing, new strains of pathogens are emerging – all this because we have neglected to safeguard our natural resource base. To counteract this trend, we need to educate and train all the stakeholders. In this context, the role and responsibilities of the engineers, supervisors and participants of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) is pivotal. Much of our natural resource wealth- the humble grass, which provides green cover to the earth, precious medicinal plants, soil organisms, which ensure plant growth etc.- has been brutally exterminated by the unwary workers of MNREGS. To put an end to this and similar acts of ‘ecological vandalism’, appropriate training should be given to the concerned people on a war footing, with focus on the need and urgency for protecting the bio-resources of our villages.

In this noble mission, the active participation of agencies and institutions, such as the Bio-diversity Board, Rural Development Department, Department for Environment and Climate Change, Science and Technology Department, Literacy Mission, Local Governments, NGOs and the Media should be ensured.

All the participants of the farmer’s get-together and state level workshop pledged that they would make the above declaration part of their agenda during 2017.

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