LEISA India is the regional Indian edition of Agricultures Network of the global LEISA magazines. LEISA India is published by AME Foundation (www.amefound.org) in collaboration with ILEIA (1999-2011) and MISEREOR (From 2011 onwards).
AME Foundation is a development-oriented, non-government organization, committed to improving the livelihoods of resource poor farm families in the dry land areas through promotion of ecological agriculture. Towards this objective, AME works with the small and marginal farmers of the Deccan Plateau region by generating farming alternatives, enriching the knowledge base, training, linking development agencies and sharing experience.
AME promotes LEISA technologies (Low External Input Sustainable Agriculture) through participatory capacity building processes and experience sharing. It encourages farm level innovations through the processes of Participatory Technology Development (PTD) and Farmers Field Schools (FFS). AME fosters institutional linkages and promotes networking with a number of development organizations, particularly at the grass root level, to scale up its activities. AME promotes information sharing through documentation and dissemination of relevant information.
LEISA India, is one such initiative that has evolved into a meaningful platform for sharing eco-farming alternatives. It reaches a large number of people through exchange of information on practical field experiences on Low External Input and Sustainable Agriculture. The magazine reaches NGOs, development workers, research institutions, academics and the government and is well appreciated.
In India, ‘LEISA movement of practice’ is being strengthened through consortium and alliances.
Kudumbam – LEISA Network, Tamil Nadu
Organisation for Rural Reconstruction & Integrated Social Service Activities (ORRISSA)
Accion Fraterna Ecology Centre
Yuva Rural Association
Kheti Virasat Mission
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We have come a long way on the path of development, which we can be proud of. But development comes with a huge cost in terms of its effect on environment, climate and communities. Farmers, already a vulnerable lot, become more vulnerable when they have to deal with the aberrations in climate, markets and life in general. It is important to strengthen their adaptive capacities and find ways to deal with such situations and become resilient.
Farm resilience is not just about specific technology, like the drought or flood resistant varieties, or is it about a package like ‘climate smart farming’. It is also about building capacities of farmers, building social capital, recognising traditional knowledge and reducing dependency on external inputs and so on. A self reliant farm is also a resilient farm. In this issue, you can find several examples where communities are encouraged to practise farming with low external inputs and include diversity, to build farm resilience. The support of external agencies and policy support, however play a crucial role.
Also, in the changing climate and market scenario, some innovative farmers are exploring ways to deal with vulnerabilities and are leading change rather than feeling as victims of change. They are serving as role models adopting methods of farming which are in sync with nature and motivating others to follow. They are the hope for the present and future of farming and the environment.
Education in any discipline needs to foster continuity and change. In applied sciences like Agriculture, Engineering, needs to be responsive to changing needs from the field. In case of agriculture, farming is pursued by rural majority, many of them illiterate too. They are the actual ‘practitioners’ – their role in shaping curriculum has been minimal or less distinct.
In India, Agriculture is not a new occupation. It has been practiced over centuries. India can boast of classical texts like Vrikshayurveda too. Modern agricultural sciences too backed by comprehensive curricula, robust institutions, strong extension and enthusiastic farming communities dealt with threatening food shortages. However, the over emphasis on certain approaches led to counterproductive and harmful practices; while specialisations side stepping holistic approaches. Holistic Agroecological pathway is being recognised as necessary in terms of sustainable livelihoods and ecologies, worldwide. Also, agroecology education is not just content; it is also pedagogy, alternative research paradigm and extension. Agroecological education needs to recognise and adopt necessary changes.
Focusing on how to deal with challenges, inspiring examples are being shared in this issue on all these above aspects. Use of social media and ICT tools have opened up new ways of reaching out, sharing knowledge and helping each other.
When we first conceived urban agriculture as a potential theme, we were aware of some known initiatives across country both in urban and peri urban areas. However, it was heartening to see the wonderful response – individual efforts; efforts galvanised by State support; social media enthusiasm in scaling up citizen’s participation.
Urban agriculture started worldwide in response to a crisis – for example in geographies like Cuba, where every possible space was converted into food productive areas to deal with shortages. In some cities from developed economies it was conscious effort to recognising green spaces. In developing countries embarking on rapid urbanisation as a development approach, the result was spiralling concrete jungles and urban slums. However, few local Governments conscious of green lung spaces pursued suitable landscaping within cities. Similarly, some interventions were designed and implemented – to support rural livelihoods while arresting distress migration to unsustainable and choking cities.
The impetus came from eco conscious citizens movements to pursue growing and eating healthy. The concepts like food miles, healthy organic vegetables appealed to all which gave birth to pursuing hobbies like roof top gardening. etc and optimising use of limited spaces. An attempt has been made in this issue to show case a few examples.