I. Background: Urban citizens today are facing a major public health disaster in the form of ‘lifestyle diseases’, born out of a lethal combination of sedentary lifestyles, polluted environment and unsafe food. This is evident in the wide range of health problems from obesity, hypertension and cardiac diseases, to Cancer. Poor public health causes immense loss of resources, reduced efficiency and hardship.
Since every one eats at least two times a day and it is a scientific fact that our health directly depends on what we eat, the first step towards improving public health is shifting to consumption of Safe food. Awareness and availability of Safe food therefore become crucial factors in this process.
Despite increasing acknowledgment of the numerous benefits of Organic food, the Chemical Industrial model of farming continues to occupy all space in Agricultural policy, education, business and practice. Several myths continue to be associated with Organic farming and safe food. E.g. it is a fancy fad, unaffordable, too simplistic, vague or unscientific…
The challenge therefore is to
a. Create widespread awareness among the consumer, including farmers, about the immediate public health hazard posed by chemical agriculture
b. Induce consumers to shift from highly processed and toxic food to organic, safe and healthy food
II. On the rural front, India in general and Maharashtra in particular are in the grip of a serious agrarian crisis. The all-round destructive effects of Green Revolution technologies on the environment and all stakeholders of Agriculture are becoming quite clear. Even a Powerhouse state of the green revolution like Punjab is facing extreme scenarios such as depleted ground water, infertile and saline soils, farmer suicides and a cancer epidemic. Maharashtra has been a leading center of farmer suicides for almost two decades now.
The challenge here is to
a. Create widespread awareness among farmers about the medium and long-term environmental impact of chemical agriculture on the very viability of farming
b. Induce farmers to shift from the high input, expensive and short sighted green revolution technologies to holistic, scientific and sustainable farming practices.
III. As concerned citizens, activists and representatives of various fine organizations, we are responding to these challenges by launching a Safe food movement. The first step in this direction is to host an Organic Food Festival as part of the ‘Bhimthadi Jatra - 2017’, a premier annual event in Pune.
.IV. Objective of the Festival:
1. To launch a Platform for consumers and farmers to come together and share knowledge, goods and concerns
2. To encourage and facilitate farmer-to-consumer, farmer-to-farmer and consumer-to-expert networking.
3. To bring the idea of organic farming into the limelight through widespread coverage and urge all stakeholders to make educated choices.
4. To give a sense of dignity, pride and identity to genuine organic farmers