Literacy Volunteers To Farmers' Rescue !

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New Delhi, Mar 14 (UNI) Literacy volunteers imparting reading and vocational skills to India's illiterate millions are taking on a new role-- promoting practices that may help save farmers' lives.

A key to curbing the tragic incidence of farmers' suicides, they say, may lie in a switch back to time-tested farm practices which rely on traditional seed and pesticides.

Jan Shikshan Sansthan directors from Andhra Pradesh Vidya Kanna, P Srinisasa Rao and V Siva Sankara Rao are in New Delhi taking part in Kriti, an exhibition of products crafted by neo-literates.

The event was inaugurated by Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh at Pragati Maidan this morning.

Dr Kanna, JSS director from Vijaywada, spoke of farmers' plight in absence of real guidance in pursuing scientific practices, notwithstanding all expertise at authorities' disposal.

The result may be poor crops and financial misery, Dr Kanna said.

V Siva Sankara Rao, fellow director from Ongole, described Hyderabad-based Centre for Sustainable Agriculture intended to help farmers switch to non-pesticidal management.

''We are partners with CSA,'' Rao said, adding that the idea is to alert farmers to 'fake' seeds and promote sustainable agriculture.

Rao said such materials, often peddled by transnational companies with the help of domestic counterparts, were hurting traditional resources. ''Slowly the entire biodiversity is getting lost.'' He cited BT Cotton seed as an example. Rao said the crop in question had turned out to be hazardous and there were reports of many sheep having died after grazing on its leaves.

UNI MJ RP RS1751

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