Food for thought
It is not necessary to travel to get to an understanding of what the purpose of life is. It is very simple, we have to cherish this life that is given to us as a great gift and a unique miracle in every moment.
And our role as human is to respect life. Life of human, animal and nature. All equal and following a very fine and fragile balance on our planet.
My role as a photographer and traveler is to witness this life. Everywhere, to live, we need sun, air, water and food. As we are more and more on our beautiful planet, food has become a very important matter (water and air as well!). But since the 60’s the agriculture that feeds us as turned into an industrial model motivated by profit and not taking into consideration the simple model of nature. Giant multinationals such as Monsanto have taken control of the seeds and three quarters of the varieties that make the diversity on our planet have now disappeared. The seed they sell cannot be reproduced putting so many farmers under huge depts. On top of that, they use fertilizers and pesticides that kill all the life around, in the soil, in the air and the water. And the result of this agriculture is products that are poisonous (many cases of cancers) and poor in nutrients as well as taste.
It is our duty as citizen of this planet to fight for our food sovereignty. Healthy food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods.
While I travel, these core values follow me and I try to understand the situation in the places that cross my path. Couple of years ago, I’ve had the pleasure to interview the Dr Elena Alvarez Buylla in Mexico city (video here) that I saw in the documentary “The world according to Monsanto” which really is a must-see. She talked about the protection of ancient corn and the influence of multinationals over the scientific community.
Today I am in Wayanad, in the state of Kerala, south west India and I have had the pleasure to meet some people who have spared some of their time to tell me about the situation in India.
He is the director of the Kerala Agricultural University. First he explained me that agriculture is very different in every state. This is the beauty of India, its diversity. He is very aware of the urgent need to protect the environment. He told me that in India 90% of the seeds come from the multinationals as they are “more productive”. At the University they use the model of “Good Agricultural Practice” by using their seeds that are slightly modified for better production and bio-fertilizers that they also make in reasonable quantity.
To him, the agriculture needs technology to get seeds that are more productive.
“We can’t feed India or the world only with organic farming”
A statement that I don’t really agree with. I invite you to read this article from the journalist Marie-Monique Robin on national french TV after a debate on this subject. She has travelled the world to meet independent scientists who give concrete proofs:
Visit of the University
With Rajees, agronomist at the University. On his beautiful Enfield.
They do an enormous work on conserving varieties. 45 varieties of Mango, 800 roses.
They apply the Good Agricultural Practice and do compost. They reproduce and sell their seeds that are genetically modified from ancient varieties but non hybrid (beans, pumpkin, chili…).
Since 2008, Dr Rajendran has established a program to give jobs to local tribal women. They take care of the fields, make the bio-fertilizers, and transform the results of the production from the University. 90% of tribal women are unemployed, this program is a great opportunity.
The man who took me under his wing and helped me so much in this investigation. He is a retired school teacher and he is now very active in environmental and cultural activities.
On this image he proudly shows a book from Jean-Paul Sartre. It is always a pleasure to see the popularity of French literature around the world.
He tells me about this organisation that brings environmental awareness to the people:
Here Jayakumar Chelaton who is an executive board member and amongst other activities, fights against the Endosulfan which is a pesticide that has had a devastating effect on the population in India. Causing malformations and severe diseases. Something I will be looking up soon.
Zero Budget Farming
This is a 100% organic farming technique. It is mainly based on these precious tiny cows of ancient breed. They use their dung and pee that have miraculous proprieties as natural fertiliser and pesticide. It has been invented by Subhash Palekar.
Born in 1949, he joined his father in 1972 on their family farm. In 1985 he realized that his production using chemical farming was decreasing. This is when he started making research on natural farming. He first found inspiration in the forests which is a self developing, self nourishing and totally self reliant natural system. And it is after 6 years of research that he founded this technique. Since then he has been writing books about it and giving conferences all over India. There are now more than 3 million zero budget farmers in 14 states of India. Representing about 1% of all farmers in India…
The movement is rapidly growing and it has attracted the attention of media, politicians and thinkers towards the real problems of the farmers and rural economy. Now they believe that, there is no alternative for stopping the suicides of the farmers except Zero Budget Farming.
Young Indian prodigy!
He is only 20 and he has and intensive farm production only using Zero Budget Farming techniques. He has been passionate about farming since a was a teenager. He was offered the Karshaka Prathiba Award for the best student farmer, instituted by the government of Kerala. He was 15!
It’s his cow “Pulli” that you see on the previous image who was being curious.
He gave me a visit of his farm.
Another retired teacher who got into Zero Budget Farming 3 years ago after attending a 10 day workshop with Subhash Palekar. His main reason to get into organic farming was for health concerns. There are many cases of cancer due to pesticides.
“We are what we eat”
68 year old man from the Kurichiya tribe who saves ancient varieties of rice.
He has collected 52 varieties from the tribes in Kerala and neighboring states.
He reproduces them and shares them for free in exchange of returning them back after harvest.
They live with his family in a unique house that is more than 150 years old.
Conference at St-Mary’s college
I have shared the simple life lessons that I learned from my travel experience. A way to approach life and travels, more connected to the human and the nature.
I told them about Couchsurfing of course. This incredible international social network of hospitality that allows me to have friends all over the world and live unique experiences every single time I get hosted or host someone.
The “active hitchhiking” that allows me in some places to cover great distances only by kindly asking directly to the people for a ride. Making the travel, more connected, adventurous, ecological and free!
The basic human values that become more obvious when facing people from different origins.
The opportunities to learn about ourselves by experimenting on ourselves. To develop our instinct and the faculty to trust one other.
In our consumption society, I introduce the principle of “Dematerialization”. To collect memories instead of material goods. Enrich ourselves from the history, the culture of others.
All this lead to a long and rich debate. Very unique as it was the first time I was in front of an audience talking about travels outside my country. And what a country! On their side, they rarely get to meet foreigners. You can imagine how intrigued they were in front of that funny French man.
The following images explain better than words.
Meeting the press
They had many questions to which I had many answers! We have had a long exchange, they took many notes and the result is that I am all over the news!
They shared my story on the destruction of the landscape of Hampi. I have now shared this story to the Archaeological Survey of India. It is the highest authority from the government of India, responsible of the protection of the cultural heritage of the nation. I have supplied them with all the data about how much is being destroyed, how much money it is making, how much money goes to bribe and who the bribe goes to.
I will continue to give all my energy to make something happen about this situation as I have been really touched by Hampi and I really don’t want to see the beauty of its landscape disappear.
Do not hesitate to share the news I shared about this: http://eepurl.com/cFM1s5
Then I got interviewed by a TV channel, Mathrubhumi. Which is diffused over satellite to all the people from Kerala over the world. I had no idea it was such an important channel! They filmed me doing my thing with an organic farmer and asked me questions about why is organic farming so important and about my experience in India.
I have been told that Indians believe more the truth of facts when it comes from a foreigner, so I am happy to become a spokesman for the environment in India.
The magic of India is still working on me. I become more and more focused on the things that are important to me and I practice the self-experimentation. Here going public on serious matters in a country that I know so little. Some may not like it. I will see where it leads. I am well determined and I will stand behind my values.
I will continue my investigation on organic farming in India and will keep you posted.
I hope that you understand that it is in the detail of our daily actions that we make such a great impact on our lives and everything around us.
All the best.