Tom Dieters, a scholar and an agriculturist from Scotland, documented the woes of Punjabi farmers in preparation for a thesis on the globalization of agriculture – a part of his masters studies in International Relations from the University of Amsterdam. He documented the woes of the farmers of Punjab in a study six years ago whilst he was in Punjab studying and preparing for his masters. Earlier this week, Dieters was in the city to show his documentary looking at the ill effects of the green revolution and the misuse of fertilizers and pesticides that enhance yields and income.
The documentary shows the Malwa region of Punjab where some of the gravest concerns have arisen. The documentary depicted the increasing rise of cancer, coronary disease, hypertension and disabilities in newborns. Dieters conveyed a message to the State Government to take a second look at the extensive use and promotion of fertilizers and pesticides as it is playing havoc with the future of Punjab agriculture. He hopes to educate village youth so that they can understand and implement changes, halting the downward spiral of effects.
A selected group of people were invited to watch the documentary and agreed fully with Tom Dieters’ sentiments. Many even volunteered to help spread this message to safeguard the interests of Punjab and the farmers. I too asked him to expand his work and join with us to work together in highlighting this issue by showing the documentary in villages and rural schools.
The main talking point surrounding this issue is debt which is eating into the livelihood of farmer families. This debt must be halted otherwise globalization of agriculture will eat into the very basic livelihood of many farmers. Tom Dieters’ main study was concerned with the Malwa region and specifically the Sangrur district. In one particular village, more than twenty people have committed suicide in recent years.
Punjabi people living in western comforts don’t realise how their roots are decaying, but also how there is a deep yearning in Punjab to come out of the decay. My consideration in sharing this post was to highlight the issue of farmers here… the ill effects of chemicals in Punjab soil… the draining of proper knowledge and understanding which is jeopardising the coming generations in Punjab. I commend Tom Dieters for his insightful depictions.