Farmers have a social obligation to feed our populations with enough food and eradicate hunger

Des Moines, Iowa – “We, as farmers, besides earning for our families, have a social obligation to feed our population with enough food and eradicate hunger.”  Ravichandran Vanchinathan penned that personal reflection upon returning to his farm in Tamil Nadu, India from Des Moines, Iowa in October 2010. He had been invited to represent India and participate in the 2010 Truth About Trade & Technology Global Farmer Roundtable and World Food Prize.

Reflecting on his experience in Iowa, “I was eager to learn from my farmer friends around the globe the problems they face in their farm front, opportunities available to them, the positive impact of technology and whether they face challenges similar to those we face in India.”  Ravichandran continues, “As my nation is an agrarian economy and more than 65% of our populations are engaged in farm related activities, most of them small and marginal farmers, agriculture has a major role to play in the lives of a majority of our people.”

With a passion to empower India’s small farmers, Ravi – as his friends call him – took the information he gained and has become a leading advocate of using technology to improve the lives of farmers in his country and around the world.  Using technology to promote technology, he is a constant presence on Twitter (@FarmerRaviVKV), Facebook, and commenting on media websites.

Ravi’s passion to feed the growing world population, his willingness to engage and share the information he has gained as a means to empower other small farmers led to his selection as the 2013 recipient of the Kleckner Trade & Technology Advancement Award.

The award, given annually by Truth About Trade & Technology (TATT), recognizes a global farmer who “exemplifies strong leadership, vision and resolve in advancing the rights of all farmers to choose the technology and tools that will improve the quality, quantity and availability of agricultural products around the world.”

Ravi grows rice, sugarcane, cotton and small grains (pulses) on a 60-acre farm at Poongalum village in the state of Tamil Nadu, near the southern tip of India.

“Living in the second largest populated nation, as farmers we must balance the provision of food at an affordable price and at the same time make enough profit to sustain ourselves.  There is no magic formula,” Ravi continues.  “It is possible only through the adoption of scientifically proven, well-established technologies.  To increase our farm production and productivity, we need to adopt science and technology in farming like the rest of our society.”

Noting that limited access to technology is just one of the barriers to increased crop production faced by India’s farmers, Ravi was instrumental in beginning a collective farming concept for local cotton growers in 2012.

“A group of like-minded farmers took up cultivation of the same crop at the same time and marketed it together. We could aggregate our resources and enjoy the collective bargaining strength.”

Working as a group, the collective’s members were able to accumulate enough stock and market it to the textile industry for a better price.  “After tasting success”, Ravi says, “we have decided to scale up the area by including more farmers and replicating this in other crops as well.”

V. Ravichandran will receive the 2013 Kleckner Trade & Technology Advancement Award on Tuesday, October 15 in Des Moines, Iowa at a Global Farmer Awards Dinner hosted by Truth About Trade & Technology and CropLife International.

The Kleckner Trade & Technology Advancement Award was established in 2007 in honor of Dean Kleckner, Truth About Trade & Technology Chairman Emeritus.  The award is given annually in conjunction with the TATT Global Farmer Roundtable. Previous award recipients are Rosalie Ellasus, Philippines (2007); Jeff Bidstrup, Australia (2008); Jim McCarthy, Ireland (2009), Gabriela Cruz, Portugal (2010); Gilbert arap Bor, Kenya (2011) and Rajesh Kumar, India (2012).

 

TATT Global Farmer Network Commentary by V. Ravichandran

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India Must Listen to Its Farmers: An Indian Farmer’s Appeal to Access Biotechnology – 6 Dec 2012

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