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Written by Sandra CastaƱeda Elena - Monday, 02 March 2009

india.jpgFour things I learned today from Indian organic cotton farmers:

‘Bhramasthiram’ literally means ‘missile’ in Tamil, but is also the name of one of the most effective bio-pesticides used by Indian farmers under ‘cow centric farming’, also known as ‘zero budget farming’ -it is actually also zero waste farming, let’s talk to William McDonough about that. So ‘Bhramasthiram’ contains 10 kgs. of cow dung, 10 lts. of the same cows urine and a combination of aloe vera, neem tree leaves, jaggery, garlic, side soil and water. And I have actually seen the thing being stirred several times today.

Cotton hybridation is done manually on the farm and it's a beautiful process integrating male and female cotton plants. Male flowers are harvested in the evening. The next morning, farm workers carefully open female buds and rub them with the pollen from the male flowers pistils.

About 70% of Indian grown cotton is GMO. GMO make farmers more dependent and impoverishes soil at quite a fast pace: India’s production has decreased for the first time last year after several booming seasons, due to poor soil and abnormal weather conditions –the monsoon has almost disappeared as they knew it and it has been substituted by sudden aggressive rains. So who do we have to thank for that?!?! We need to act more.

Super Spinning Mills women workers are bold and outspoken. They laugh at all times and are eager to proudly show us their neat rooms. Besides work, some also study to become police women, others for business degrees. And it’s all paid by the employer. There was actually one of them who told us the story of her saving from her mill salary and buying her farmer husband a tractor, while convincing him and part of their broader community to convert to organic. Respect!

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