|Documentary Synopsis Print Out.|
There are an estimated 1.2 billion people in India. In Mumbai, there are 27,000 people per square kilometer. Population is projected to rise to 1.6 billion by 2050 and everyone of them has to eat. But how? We have all seen images of an emaciated mother and child begging for scraps, with a wilderness of slums dotting a barren land behind her, and the task seems daunting.
There are those in government, industry and philanthropy who say, India can’t feed her people unless they use genetically modified seeds, pesticides and fertilizers, along with motorized mono culture farming. As we now know, that approach creates environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity, displacement of farmers, high debt, and billowing profits for agribusiness empires. Because of the noticeable schism between those making money from the purchase of those inputs and those loosing their livelihood, one begins to questions: ”What if the crisis itself is not true?”
“What if it’s a story maintained through billionaire foundations, agricultural and biotech universities, advertising, government policy, and corruption?”
“What do we loose by believing this story?”
“What would happen if we let the farmers tell the story?”
The documentary begins by presenting visual scan of the juxtaposition of modern India – western fast food shops, growing waist lines, shots of BMWs whizzing past emaciated children, gated high rise communities, club life and fashions shows amid a struggling labor class, emaciated people and cattle, thick pollution, street vendors and slums.We will ask biotechnology and agricultural students, doctors, investors, street vendors, rickshaw drivers, etc. “Can India feed her people?” And ask them to qualify how they know. We’ll interview people from the growing urban middle class, and ask them the same question.
Ten minutes into the documentary will will present the history of how India came to rely on western industrial agriculture to feed its people through interviews with environmental and social activists, agricultural policy makers, and reporters. We’ll report on the story originators, the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations who laid the groundwork for an agricultural shift that would use chemical inputs, special seeds, and western agricultural techniques to improve food production – a story known as the Green Revolution. We’ll show how in order to access the Indian market, foundations created reasons for India to adopt American industrial agriculture techniques. The perfect sales pitch was starvation and drought. The story says that rural peasants aren’t smart enough to manage their problem, their farming techniques are inferior and the elite class must intervene.
The next part of the documentary will ask “Can India feed her people?” to farmers and agricultural workers – those very people who have been in charge of feeding India for thousands of years. We will show successful movements such as the Deccan Development Society and Khet Virasat Mission
and interview prominent farm movement leaders. The last part of the documentary will show what happens when the question is answered by those in corporate boardrooms instead of the farmer in the field; farmers are pushed out of the equation through urbanization and enclosure. We will show examples of the plight of small land holding farmers who have lost their land do to escalating input costs. We will also interview a family who lost a farmer to suicide to escape their debts and humiliation.
Activist and writer Raj Patal says that the reason people go hungry is because of food being distributed through the market as private property and that those who starve are simply too poor to afford it. Alongside this, he argues that free-market development policies support and create the conditions of enclosure: Enclosure is when public land is turned into private property as a commodity, cutting off the rural poor from their only means of survival, and silencing their participation in creating an alternate story of how India will feed her people. We will show examples of enclosure throughout the documentary, showing the irony of the developed India, created and fed by the hands of the very people who can never access it.
At the very end of the documentary we will call for the creation of a new story, one that empowers farmers to farm; that allows for all of us to be more than consumers in the market, and transfers authorship to India’s people for their food sovereignty. The future will be shaped by our own will to imagine a different kind of society, a re-visioning of the story – and a new way of valuing the world without resorting to institutions that created the problem in the first place.
This is the story of survival told by India’s farmers.
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