This award is given every year in the memory of Dr Alexander Daniel, the founder of Ecocert India and noted agricultural economist who is known for his relentless efforts for promotion of organic farming among small and marginalized communities in the country.
“Dr. Alexander Daniel was a man of vision. His vision was that of a prosperous India, whose prosperity is founded on the Gandhian philosophy of self reliant village economy. His two-fold mission in life was to bring prosperity to India through development of villages and environment protection. He, that is why, embraced the philosophy of organic agriculture which he believed will freed the marginalized farming communities from the clutches of slavery from input companies while benefitting their tiny pieces of land, sustainably. Mr Ram Kalaspurkar has done a remarkable work in protesting against the GMO seed company giants and fighting for the rights of poor farmers and their traditional knowledge systems. That is the reason why we are delighted to confer this award to him.” said Dr Selvam Daniel, Managing Director of Ecocert India on this occasion.
This is the third consecutive year since the very prestigious award is initiated, that it is being given to someone from the state of Maharashtra only, the state which was most suffered from GMO cotton’s invasion in early years of last decade and which also happens to be the birthplace of organic agriculture movement of India, ironically.
“In the year 2010, the first award recipient was Ms Kavita Mukhi who made a concept of farmers’ market successful in Bandra, Mumbai, linking organic farmers and consumers. The second recipient of the award was Mr Prakash Pohre, a vibrant and courageous journalist and editor in chief of daily Deshonnati who played a pivotal role in attracting the world’s attention to the grave problem of cotton farmers’ suicide in Vidarbha region, wrote profusely through his editorials against chemical agriculture, BT cotton, ideological bankruptcy of policymakers and promoted low cost, self reliant organic agriculture.”
“The next obvious choice for the award was Mr Ram Kalaspurkar only, who successfully exposed the obnoxious coup attempt of GMO seed companies which have challenged the age old sovereignty of cotton farmers in Vidarbha in seed use and are up to the permanent destruction of the ecosystems here.” said Nirban.
The last year awardee Mr Prakash Pohre presented the award to Mr Ram Kalaspurkar.
“Vidarbha, popularly believed to be a birthplace of cotton as per ancient scriptures, today, one can see has gradually abandoned the centuries old practice of using own native seed and has yielded to false promises of GMO propaganda. Today one can hardly find a farmer who is consciously using own seed of non GMO and native variety. The GMO seeds are not only costly but are required to be bought every year from these capitalists seed giants, thanks to the terminator technology which makes the second generation seed sterile.”, said Mr Ram Kalaspurkar in his speech while receiving the award.
“Besides these economic problems, the real and unwarranted danger from GM technology is in the form of genetic contamination of pure native germplasm, its massive erosion and systematic destruction of our indigenous knowledge systems. There is also a serious problem of involuntary mass slaughter of many specific tree species across the world by the newer viruses which are given birth to by the promoter gene in the genetically engineered plants. I realized that no one is talking about these problems. And I could see that the problems are many folds, the ignorance about the magnitude of the problem is unthinkable and fight is very unfair i.e. between poor peasants and large seed multinationals. But I decided to fight.” Said, Kalaspurkar.
Mr Ram Kalaspurkar, a successful electronics engineer and entrepreneur of yester years, deeply grieves the loss of precious native germplasm in the region in just few years of his own lifetime.
“In Vidarbha alone there were 28,000 different varieties of Sorghum. Today I don’t get to find them. This is just suicidal. Seed biodiversity is our life support system and we can’t at any cost lose them like this. ”
Ram is now a full time activist. With an active support from Ms Vandana Shiva and her organization Navdanya for past more than a decade, Mr Ram Kalaspurkar is working day and night for hunting for native seeds, their field tests, their systematic conservation etc. He also has got a collection of vast amount of literature on this subject and is publishing videos, writing books, speaking in the conferences, farmers’ fairs etc for the benefit of masses, appealing them to boycott this disastrous and sinister technology which holds, as he believes, the potential of genocide on this earth.
“Persons like Ram Kalaspurkar who are working selflessly for mankind and earth are the real pearls and whose existence even mother earth must be acknowledging with pride. They in fact amplify the value of such awards. We wish all the good luck to him and his work.” said Dr Daniel.