Regenerative strategies for climate justice
Keywords:Climate change, local food systems, GM crops, climate-smart agriculture, permaculture, project-based learning, Women’s Federation Orissa Nari Samaj, Education for Sustainable Development
The starting-point for this paper is a growing concern about the strong and creative tension between what is global and what is local in the context of climate change and food systems. The global expression is undoubtedly powerful, based on large-scale, resource-intensive, agribusiness enterprises operating globally and seeking continued international expansion. But a tide is rising, which is reinforcing the local manifestation and provoking a strengthened commitment to local food systems while enhancing the resilience to climate change. Tragically it is those who have contributed the least to green house gas emissions who are suffering the worst effects of climate change. This paper will feature a project in the Koraput district of the state of Odisha in India, where 70% of the population is dependent on agriculture in a region where late and erratic Monsoon rains are impacting the course of farming. The region is known for its abundance of paddy fields as well as many varieties of millets, yam, and tuber crops, which are gradually vanishing due to the introduction of cash crops and GM seeds, and the increasing impact of climate change. The constant change in the environment of tribal communities in the region creates an imperative for constant learning. In this context the paper will analyse a project-based-learning and grass-roots campaign ‘Grow your own Food’ led by the tribal Women’s Federation Orissa Nari Samaj, and the local NGO THREAD, to counteract the so called “Climate-Smart Agriculture” (CSA) techniques. CSA in the region is encouraging the use of modified seeds, chemical pesticides, and synthetic fertilizers, as well as high-risk technologies such as synthetic biology, and geo-engineering. This imposition of new biotechnology has been particularly damaging for the local farmers. The paper will analyse how new climate resilient agriculture approaches combined with traditional ways of food growing and drought tolerant plants are improving the productivity of their soils and the nutrition of their meals. The paper concludes by considering the role of Education for Sustainable Development in supporting indigenous communities in climate-vulnerable regions to develop locally adapted agro-ecological responses, while attempting to address the deeper structural changes needed to tackle the root causes of poverty and climate change in the Global South.
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