Our focus on Sustainable Agriculture has been invigorated by our hosting the 2 month sabbatical of Dr Tarak Kate – the director of Dharamitra, Maharashtra State, India. Teacher of the Biodiversity and Sustainable Agriculture module on the Mphil, we have been privileged to have Tarak as part of everyday life here at the Institute since July. Tarak’s experience with Dharamitra brings the practice of over 1000 organic farmers into our ambit. Farmers who are coming out of poverty, not through the fallacies of the Green Revolution but through farming small farms naturally. A seminar held last week brought the following topics to the fore of our research programme:
- Carbon Sequestration in terms of alternative farming approaches, particularly, Organic Farming and Conservation Farming
- Markets and their impacts on farming practice, particularly small farmers
- Agro Forestry and the potential alternative energy options that can generated in this regard
- Case studies of best practice in sustainable agriculture
- Horizontal learning that is necessary to gain a fuller understanding of sustainable agriculture practices
Together with 3 of the Mphil students (Katlego Moloto, Eunice Ndeke, Candice Kelly) and one PhD candidate (Johann Lanz) and under Tarak’s supervision, we are attempting to explore some topics in an area hitherto little researched.