Video of the report: With syntropy from the Green Desert.
The Genetic Engineering Concerns Package
Three dozen large landowners in the caravan are looking for a way out of the stalemate. They head to the Invernadinho soybean farm, near Mineiros, to attend a practical seminar with Swiss agronomist Ernst Götsch. 71 years old, thin, with a goatee. Son of a farmer from Lake Constance. Someone who experimented with mixed crops when his fellow researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Plant Production were focusing on genetic engineering and the Green Revolution. “Everyone was sitting in the laboratory. “I practically had the greenhouses to myself,” he says with a smile. He discovered something interesting: “With mixed crops, growth increased by 30%.” From mixed crops it went to soil microorganisms, from there to the ecosystem, and everything together resulted in what Götsch calls syntropic agriculture: autonomous agriculture. system, The forest plays a key role in this. Instead of the monotony of the Green Revolution, there is diversity in Götsch’s system, regardless of whether it is the production of cocoa, soybeans, wheat, bananas or citrus fruits. The man also has his part: “He is the giraffe,” says Götsch, who loves pithy comparisons. People prune the rows of trees regularly. This stimulates plant growth and at the same time biomass is added to the soil as fertilizer. Götsch’s own farm in the state of Bahia is the best example of how it works.
Syntropy means “together, together” in Greek. Syntropic agriculture is based on the complex interaction of different plants and organisms that protect each other and provide nutrients. It is always made up of mixed cultures and is exactly the counterpart of the modern “Green Revolution” with its monocultures. Its basic structure is an agroforestry. Trees and grasses primarily provide organic material to improve soil quality and moisture. Syntropic farming uses no externally added fertilizers, pesticides or insecticides and is therefore 100% organic. The main task of human beings is to plan, create and then maintain agroforestry through specific pruning.
The rainmaker of Bahia
Rrrrrummm, rrrrummm. The sound of the chainsaw can be heard from afar through the dense Gandú forest, south of Bahia. But instead of clear-cutting, an artificial jungle is emerging here, and in the middle of it is one of the most productive and best quality cocoa plantations in all of Brazil. “Pruning stimulates plant growth, generates natural fertilizer and light for the plants growing below,” explains Götsch. He acquired the 120 hectares 30 years ago, thanks to a bet. “It was a thick meadow,” Götsch says as he climbs trees in rubber boots and completely dirty pants and cuts branches with a chainsaw. The soil had been impoverished by deforestation and years of ranching, and most of the springs had dried up. “Not suitable for cocoa”, certified by the responsible agricultural authority. At that time, cocoa was the star product of Bahia. Anything that was not suitable for cocoa was worthless. Götsch’s then client challenged him: “I will buy the land from you. If your method works, you will return it to me.” Götsch began to plant trees. He rejected artificial fertilizers and pesticides. Then he let most of it grow naturally; He planted bananas and cocoa on 12 hectares and repeatedly intervened there to regulate them.
The neighbors laughed at the “crazy gringo.” But after five years a small forest emerged, the first springs returned and Götsch was able to pay his loan with cocoa and bananas. The plants grew so well that even rampant fungal diseases could not harm them. Then a great drought hit the region; Only in Götsch did it rain, because the dense vegetation of its 120 hectares caused high local evaporation. His success as a “rainmaker” earned him the respect of his neighbors. They began to imitate him. The forest area in the area has grown to 1,000 hectares. “When you fly over you can no longer see my farm, because there are clouds here all year round,” says Götsch proudly.
He doesn’t stop working for even a second. With concentration, he cuts the severed branches of the cat tree with his machete to cover them under the cocoa tree. When asked how productive her plantation is, she cheerfully responds: “Just like the neighbors’ conventional ones. What happens is that my costs are lower.” In his post-war youth, Götsch experienced how the farmers of that time produced. “There were many hedges between the fields. The orchards used to be at the edge of the forest,” he observed. Traditions that were lost and considered obsolete. But not with Götsch. After the research stay in Zurich, he accepted an assignment on a coffee plantation in Costa Rica to test his ideas on a large scale in other climatic zones; He also spent time in Africa.
Götsch discovered that one element plays a central role: the forest. “The decline of advanced civilizations was always initiated by the depletion of natural resources,” he teaches, “from the Romans to the Mayans. And he always had to do with the fight of man against the forest. » The forest as something dark, unpredictable against man, who is a steppe animal? Could it be a psychological element that has been playing tricks on our civilization – with the exception of some indigenous groups – for thousands of years without us knowing it? Götsch agrees with this, but also with the fact that nature has always recovered from human setbacks.
Its production does not require fertilizers, irrigation or pesticides and is 100% organic. Thanks to low costs, one hectare can feed a family and four hectares can produce wealth, he calculates, as long as the products continue to be processed and transportation and marketing work. His wife Cimara runs this family business with her two daughters. “Götsch” is the name of the house brand. In the local kitchen, grated cocoa and dark chocolate are produced and sold in simple paper bags. Word of his success spread. Götsch became the “Pope of agroforestry.” But he wants to get out of the economic niche. “My wish is for my way of farming to become established worldwide,” he says. To do this you need big farmers. Two years ago he began working with the Mineiros group, which also includes soybean farmer Paolo Borges. The 40 initial participants have now become a thousand who are connected via WhatsApp. The euphoria of the pioneer spirit is felt in the Mineiros seminary. But the challenge of practicing syntropic agriculture on large surfaces is enormous, as can be seen in the Fazenda Invernadinho chosen for the workshop: not all plants fit, different products such as beans, bananas, soybeans and citrus fruits are harvested in stages. Each Fazenda needs its own tailor-made combination. The 40 initial participants have now become a thousand who are connected via WhatsApp. The euphoria of the pioneer spirit is felt in the Mineiros seminary. But the challenge of practicing syntropic agriculture on large surfaces is enormous, as can be seen in the Fazenda Invernadinho chosen for the workshop: not all plants fit, different products such as beans, bananas, soybeans and citrus fruits are harvested in stages. Each Fazenda needs its own tailor-made combination. The 40 initial participants have now become a thousand who are connected via WhatsApp. The euphoria of the pioneer spirit is felt in the Mineiros seminary. But the challenge of practicing syntropic agriculture on large surfaces is enormous, as can be seen in the Fazenda Invernadinho chosen for the workshop: not all plants fit, different products such as beans, bananas, soybeans and citrus fruits are harvested in stages. Each Fazenda needs its own tailor-made combination.
GTA held its first physical Assembly in Kenya earlier last month (8th-13th August) and renewed our bonds of companionship and affection, weaving together both a material Tapestry of fabrics from our individual contexts and a Tapestry of ideas featuring what our vision should look like going forwards.
Forget hyperloops and air taxis! The future of mobility needs a socially just and inclusive change, moving away from planning that favors car use and towards people-centered spaces. In this text, Katja Diehl critically analyzes current transport policy, emphasizes the need for gender-sensitive transport planning and advocates for mobility that takes into account the needs of everyone to shape a sustainable and just future.
These studies have been conducted and documented as part of the Vikalp Sangam process:
- Collective farming in Kerala and lessons for Maharashtra – Kudumbashree is an inspiring story of women’s collectivization and empowerment. It made a huge impact on women’s lives and brought them out in public space. This study is about the collective farming programme of Kudumbashree which was initiated in 2010 and which has ramifications for rural women’s farm based livelihoods and perhaps in the long run for farming itself.
- Retailing, with a World of Difference: Empowering Farmers & Consumers the “ORGANIC FARMERS’ MARKET (OFM)” Way (by Kavita Kuruganti, July 2017) – OFM had several norms laid down at the very beginning which ensured that these retail spaces would not compete with each other but rather cooperate; they would try to cater to (middle) middle class and not just to the elites in a city; they will be as eco-friendly as possible in the running of the shops. This is a win-win for everyone, including the consumers.
- Traditional Economy of Kondh Adivasi Community of Rayagada, Odisha by Kavitha Kuruganti and Ananthoo, ASHA (Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture) with help from Debjeet Sarangi of Living Farms. The Kondh economy is ultimately about: togetherness, fulfilment of basic needs and social regulation around greed, sharing and cooperation, collective responsibilities, autonomy that stems from close dependence on Nature and not asymmetrical markets, self-reliance as a value, and joint decision-making in the community.
- Livelihood Security and Village Development through Forest Conservation in Pachgaon is about a small village in the Gondpipri taluka of Chandrapur district in the Indian state of Maharashtra, which has obtained community rights over their traditional forests and since then has done commendable work with respect to forest conservation and management, and livelihood generation.
- The Niyamgiri Story – The study attempts to present the articulations of the Dongria Kondh about the current model of ‘development’ practiced by the state through wrongly envisaged welfare schemes as also extractive industries. What emerges is their strong view against this form of development, their attempts to counter it, through the Niyamgiri Surakshya Samiti, and glimpses of their alternative worldview. Read the Odiya translation of this case study.
- The challenge of the Kaikondrahalli lake experience has been to forge new approaches for the governance and management of the urban commons, in a fast growing city where the communities that live around the lake are constantly in flux.
- Learning in Freedom the Democratic Way: Imlee Mahuaa School is for the children of adivasi communities in and around Balenga Para, a little hamlet in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh. It is a strong bleep on the radar of reason showing that things can be different for adivasi communities and their children. आधुनिकता पर सवार वर्तमान भारत में आजकल तमाम परम्पराओं, जीवन शैलियों और सीखने के तरीकों को बहुत जल्दबाजी में एकरूप बनाया जा रहा है. इन हालातों में छत्तीसगढ़ के बस्तर इलाके में स्थित इमली महुआ स्कूल आदिवासी शिक्षा में एक नायाब प्रयोग है.
- Maati has an alternative vision that is being practiced in a living way. Grappling with issues of male hegemony, mainstream development, and local politics, it has sustained its work for more than two decades.
- Shaam-e-Sarhad, Hodka: A Community-based Tourism Initiative in Kachchh, Gujarat, and a Gujarati translation of this case study. શામ-એ-સરહદ, હોડકા : સામૂહિક સમાજવ્યવસ્થા આધારિત પ્રારંભિક પ્રવાસન યોજના (ગુજરાતી અનુવાદ). Read a story Experiencing the Banni through Hodka on the Shaam-e-Sarhad initiative.
- Very Much on the Map: the Timbaktu Collective (2014) focuses on two related aspects: organic farming, and farmers’ producer cooperative, initiated by Timbaktu Collective in a bare and rocky part of arid Anantpur district of Andhra Pradesh. See updated version (2016) of case study here. టింబక్టు కలెక్టివ్:పటంలో ఒక ప్రముఖ స్థానం కలిగివుంది, ఈ కేస్ స్టడీ ప్రధానంగా, ఆంధ్ర ప్రదేశ్ రాష్ట్రానికి చెందిన కరువు ప్రాంతమైన అనంతపురం జిల్లాలో ఒక నిస్సారమైన మరియు రాతి నేలలో టింబక్టు కలెక్టివ్ చే ప్రారంభించబడిన రెండు ముఖ్య అంశాలపై దృష్టి పెడుతుంది:అవి సేంద్రీయ సాగు విధానం మరియు రైతులే సొంతగా నడుపుకోగలిగిన ‘ఉత్పత్తిదారుల పరస్పర సహకార సంఘం’.
- Strengthening Local Livelihoods with Ecological Considerations in Kachchh, Gujarat discusses a set of initiatives in Kachchh which attempt to secure local ways of living (through animal husbandry, agriculture and crafts and strengthening the linkages between these) with a core belief that local livelhoods can only flourish if they are in consistence with ecological and socio-cultural systems, by Shiba Desor. Translation of the same case study is available in Gujarati – ગુજરાતના કચ્છના પર્યાવરણને લક્ષમાં રાખી સ્થાનિક જીવનનિર્વાહને વધુ સક્ષમબનાવવાની યોજના – શીબા દેસોર.
- Kuthumbakkam: Laboratory of Village Economics shows how a cluster of villages with their economies networked together in a kind of free-trade zone, rose to prosperity through evolving a self-dependent enconomy. The village has experimented with other innovative schemes like construction with locally available material and inegrated housing for village families of different castes, as also solar energy projects. Tamil translation of the same. Read Ignited Minds: Elango turns Kuthambakkam Village as a Model Village – a story on Elango’s work.
- Communitisation of Public Services in Nagaland: A step towards creating alternative model of delivering public services? This case study shows how communitisation has been successful in improving public service delivery system in Nagaland and in some cases has even led to communitisation institutions, existing village institutions such as VCs and VDBs and informal institutions such as youth groups, women’s groups joining hands to envision and innovate creative ways of imparting education, health, sanitation in their respective villages.
- Ecological Regeneration and Livelihood Security through Forest Rights: Nayakheda Village, Maharashtra – a collective process of action for better livelihoods and conservation in a small village on the outskirts of Melghat Tiger Reserve in Amravati district. The developments in Nayakheda have been possible because of a number of reasons including availability of a legal tool in the form of Forest Rights Act, co-operation from the forest department, etc.