Born out of a struggle for seed sovereignty
Amrita Bhoomi was conceptualized during the ‘seed satyagraha’, the Karnataka farmers’ movement(KRRS)’s fight for seed sovereignty against multinational seed companies’ attempts to impose patents on life. KRRS had a dream. It didn’t want to just keep protesting against things – injustice, bad laws, and corrupt politicians. It also wanted to create the world it wanted to see.
Professor Nanjundaswamy, the now deceased leader of KRRS who was described by The Guardian as “India’s leading advocate of farmers’ rights” put this vision into practice by launching a farmers training center in 2002, which he named – Amrita Bhoomi, the eternal earth.
Prof. Nanjundaswamy conceptualised the center as a space for peasants to build models of autonomy –an alternative vision to that of green revolutions shrouding rural India. His vision was to establish a center where peasants can explore how to restructure food production based on appropriate technologies and local exchange networks.
Amrita Bhoomi is a Public Charitable Trust. It was first established with the support of the Italian farmers organization –SUM
Spread over 66 acres, Amrita Bhoomi is located in the pristine Biligiri Ranga Hills, surrounded by three national parks. Elephants and wild boars are regular visitors. Along with a number of model agroecology farms, the center also houses a indigenous seed & livestock bank, a medicinal garden conserving medicinal varieties that currently face extinction. There is also an auditorium for 250 people and a training center with classrooms and dormitories. Chef Muttu, a Soliga adivasi who cooks mouthwatering meals, runs the dining hall.
Our Priority Areas
Amrita Bhoomi has a number of model farms- these are run by peasant youth interns who live at Amrita Bhoomi for a couple of years, and want to acquire the skills for practicing agroecology. They work in collaboration with expert farmers who guide them. Currently Amrita Bhoomi has models in zero budget natural farming, agroforestry, seed production, rice and millets in drought conditions, oil seeds production, vegetable plots, as well as medicinal plants.
Indigenous Seed Conservation
Amritabhoomi houses an indigenous seed bank, run by Vasantha the head seed saver who keeps a treasure trove of native seeds. There are at least 100 varieties of rice, 26 varieties of Ragi, 14 varieties of other minor millets & lots of vegetable varieties. Amrita Bhoomi produces and distributes peasant seeds and is at the frontlines of the struggle for biodiversity conservation and against agribusiness’s plans of total dominion through seed patents.
The promotion of the ancient grain – millets is one of the key campaigns of Amrita Bhoomi. Millets were largely wiped out of our diets and farms because of the green revolution – at the time, the government promoted high yielding water guzzling and chemical responsive crops like rice and wheat. Amrita Bhoomi currently houses a large collection of millets seeds and holds various workshops to train farmers on millets production- at the end of which farmers are given millets seeds for planting. The same farmers are invited to attend millet fairs in order to sell their produce to urban consumers
Future Areas of Interest
There are plans to set up a training center on rural enterprises for women, men and young farmers to set up self help groups, local cooperatives and collective production models, in order for peasant families to carry out processing, value addition to their raw produce, and marketing. Already some pilot efforts are underway- such as jaggery production, but the possibilities on this front are endless – from oils, pickles, ghee, and handloom among others.
Primary and high school for rural children providing free of cost education, with an aim of fighting rampant child labour in the area. Many impoverished children work in the silk industry and for food. Amrita Bhoomi hopes to provide free meals to all such children and involve in them in its educational projects.