PGS Initiative in Mysore

In recent times, with the big corporates entering into the organic movement, the very essence of the movement is being lost. To fight this ‘corporatization’ of the food system, a decentralized and trust based system like PGS would be an appropriate strategy. Our forefathers vision of true ‘swarajya’ can be a reality in the immediate future by establishing an active network of PGS communities across India which can share ideas, knowledge, seeds and much more amongst them. With this vision, the PGS program has been initiated in the Mysore region by Nesara, which is an organization existing since 1998 for the service of Organic movement.

Background


As the growth of organic movement spreads far and wide, new organic shops come up more frequently in the city and new farmers take up organic farming for pride, passion and as a lucrative option. Hence, it becomes important to streamline the definition and procedures of the movement.


Also, due to the unavailability of a well established Organic supply chain, the demand and supply aren’t fulfilled within the local markets, which is the core essence of the organic movement. Due to this lacuna, big companies creep into the organic food system with a strong supply chain established over the years.


The PGS program, with its bottom-up approach can address these challenges effectively and it can serve as a social framework that can unite the individual communities across regions, thereby establishing a need based supply chain at a national level.


Program update


A gathering of local farmers and consumers was organized in Mysore on 24 July 2014 to officially initiate the proceedings towards the PGS certification. With ICRA working in the region for many years towards the successful implementation of the PGS program across many villages, their expertise and guidance was sought to train the local farmers around Mysore. ICRA sent its team members Smt. Gayathri and Sri Shankar Aithal to deliver a one day training program and conduct mock exercises for the organic farmers. Ms. Manisha from Timbaktu was also invited to share the experiences of their PGS journey.


The program started at around 11 AM with a gathering of around 25 participants. Eminent organic farmers with AP Chandrashekar, Anke Gowda were also present. The participant group consisted of urban farmers (first generation IT industry returned), traditional village farmers and consumers. Though consumers cannot play a formal role in the PGS certification process, they were also invited for the forum with the intention of creating awareness about PGS and enable them to become brand ambassadors of the organic movement among the general public.


After the initial briefing about the PGS and its history, Smt. Gayathri explained the core concepts of the PGS in detail and ensured good participation from the audience. Once the queries are clarified, team forming exercises began. In the process of making mock teams, actual teams of PGS groups itself got formed due to the good level of enthusiasm and participation from the audience. Five groups were formed based on the geographical location of the farms and their individual relationships. Two of the groups consisted of members who are already into community organic farming for quite some time.


After a brief break for lunch, the mock exercises continued till 4 PM, followed by a Q & A session at the end. With the actual teams formed, some real time issues and questions were raised and addressed. Some of the questions raised for which clear decisions couldn’t be arrived are:


  • When the PGS community members are not adjacent landowners, how to coordinate the farm visits and how assurance can be provided?

  • When things like seeds, saplings, seedlings, vermicompost etc are brought into the farm from outside shops and neighboring farms, can it be allowed?

  • When there’s sewerage water running besides the farm, can it be approved?


Nevertheless, the five groups has started regularising themselves and have started coordinating their activities. As a facilitator for all the PGS groups formed around Mysore, Nesara is to coordinate the correspondence and other administrative activities involved in the PGS certification program.



Photos of the event:


Smt. Gayathri explaining the fundamentals of PGS

Sri Shankar Aithal explaining the fundamentals of PGS

Sri Shankar Aithal sharing his experiences in PGS

Group exercise

Attentive audience

Mock exercise

PGS initiative in Nesara

PGS initiative in Nesara

PGS initiative in Nesara