Bija Yatra – From Champaram To Rajghat : A Pilgrimage To Save Seeds, The Land And Our Farmers
Champaran, a little village near the Nepal Border in the State of
Indigo trade became a rich source of high profits for the East India Company in
The opposition from the cultivators to this serfdom was so great that the Governor-General in Council was forced to issue a circular as early as July 13, 1810 stating :
‘The attention of the Government has recently been attracted, in a particular manner to abuses and oppressions committed by Europeans, who are established as indigo planters in various parts of the country. The facts however, which have recently been established against some individuals of that class before the magistrate and the Supreme Court of Judicature, are of so flagrant a nature that the Governor-General in Council considers it an act of indispensable duty to adopt such measures as appear to him, under existing circumstances, best calculated to prevent the repetition of offences equally injurious to the English character, and to the peace and happiness of our native subjects.’
The circular charged the planters with these grave offences :
- Acts of violence, which, although they amount not in the legal sense of the word to murder, have occasioned the death of the natives.
- Illegal detention of natives in confinement, especially in stocks, with a view to recovery of balances alleged to be due from them or for other causes
- Assembling in a tumultuary manner the people attached to their respective factories and others and engaging in violent affrays with other indigo planters.
- Illicit inflictions of punishment by means of rattan or otherwise on the cultivators of other natives.
‘Let there be profit or let there be loss. I will die sooner than cultivate Indigo. No, I won’t cultivate indigo for any one on any account.’ – Dinu Mandal of Mozumpore, Factory Dalalnagar,
After the Indigo strike of Bengal in 1860, the planters moved to
On 26th of March, 2008 farmers from across
Our seeds are under severe threat – from erosion of biodiversity, from patent monopolies that are making seed the property of giant corporations, and from genetic engineering and the use of sterile lives, which are spreading seed sterility and crop failure.
An agriculture driven by corporations is destroying biodiversity and uprooting small peasants. Corporate driven agriculture is turning farmers into consumers of costly non-renewable seeds, agrichemicals and machinery, for which farmers have to borrow money. Because corporate agriculture is also driving down the prices farmers receive, farmers get into ever deeper debt and finally commit suicide or leave the land and become migrant labour in big cities like
Farmers suicide and the migration of uprooted farmers is the biggest crisis on the economic and political front that
Our seed pilgrimage is a journey for hope and justice, for peace and democracy. We will travel through the poorest parts of
When corporations decide what farmers should grow – indigo, cotton, corn or vegetables for export, farmers are no longer free producers, they are slave labour in a system of corporate farming.
Corporations trap farmers in debt by selling false promises of “miracle” seeds and super profits. However, the more the farmers dependent on corporations increases, the more the farmers indebtedness, hunger and poverty increases.
Through the Champaran Satyagraha we broke free of indigo slavery. Through the Champaran to Rajghat pilgrimage we pledge to break free of the seed and food slavery of corporations.
We will save our seeds and share our seeds freely by setting up community seed banks, we will boycott corporate seeds and poisonous chemicals, making our farmers chemical free and GMO free biodiverse organic farms.
We will grow nutritious crops and maximize nutrition per acre not corporate profits per acre.
We will drive away hunger and poverty through low cost high output farming which rejuvenates the fertility of our seeds and soil.