Saturday, 22 June, 2024

Time To Go For Organic Produces

Prem Khatry

GCP, Goods and Services Consumer Peoples Rights for short, Federation organised a one day seminar last week in Kathmandu. It believed that for socially and culturally relevant issues, the people themselves have to come up, stand and apply their conscience for the good of all. The government can't do all we want it to do. Therefore, the people must open eyes, clinch the fist and fight the ills of all hues and dimensions. Awareness is the need of the hour in all aspects of our life at this juncture: political, social, cultural, economic and others. People Power is the virtual power that can change our habit, attitude and practices that go against our consumption practices and body nature.

Minister for Education Giriraj Mani Pokhrel was spending hours of his busy schedule with a special category of awareness campaigners taking part from different corners of the country. In the beginning of the programme the minister was a bit unsure about the need of his presence and was heard humming to himself: What could the Minister for Education do in a situation like this where people are talking about kitchen as a health-post, healthy food and urgent need to expand the awareness programs nationwide? As the programme advanced into the main focus of the day and described to introduce the campaign now underway, Minister Pokhrel was fully convinced about the validity of his presence. It was made clear that everybody from the minister down to the grower, teacher and a shopkeeper, the serious concern is a common one: Our health faces dangers due to the increasing overuse of pesticides and other form of risky behaviour.
GCP Federation speakers and change agents threw light on the latest development in the field of citizen's attitude towards health and prosperity. They claimed that gradually more households are in line with the philosophy of GCP. According to Rom Lal Giri, the president of the Federation 45 districts have now started to plant scientifically proved herbs with medical qualities. Similarly, 132 local communities have come under the plantation programme. They have started professional farming in their kitchen garden and plots designed for the production purpose. Sarlahi, in east Terai and Kanchanpur in the far west have set examples in this regard. 
One relevant incident from the last year comes to the writer's mind. Sarlahi District GCP Federation, Hariwon, organised a two day district level seminar for the dissemination and action plan for GCP. The main speaker Dr Modnath Prashrit highlighted the need for the dissemination of GCP philosophy focusing on people's health and the importance of Ayurveda in human life. The event had brought a large number of females in the increasing and expanding net of the movement. Pradesh Two Agriculture Minister Shailendra Kumar Shah expressed his satisfaction that such a healthy movement had occurred in the province. 
The speakers expressed their concern that the items imported from outside are not safe. A little while ago those dangerously grown and packed items were entering Nepali market from several points on the border. A long list of the dead and sufferers from Sarlahi, Kavre and other districts was read out where people are in different stage of abdomen and other forms of cancer. Our backyard can produce more than enough greens, fruits and medicines required for our regular consumption to keep the body healthy, strong and lasting without any visible or invisible ailments.
After listening to the GCP officials, district and community representatives, Minister Pokhrel highlighted the need to go Natural to bring positive change in our life. His focus was on the need to integrate the campaign to attract at least three ministries – a) Agriculture, b) Health, and c) Education. He would see GCP philosophy and practices as efforts to change the life style in an integrated manner and emphasised the need to include information dissemination to strengthen the programmes now initiated and promoted. Next, the minister suggested that an opinion from different segments of society was essential develop curricula to address the issue from school level itself. Third, the school could integrate this program as part of vocal education from local level before bringing it to the federal programs.
With the Federal Education Minister and Province Agriculture Minister GCP can remain assured about the growing interest of the government to 'own' the programme to bring about drastic change in people's health. The Secretary for the Minister of Agriculture Dr Yubak Dhoj GC on an occasion announced that the ministry has a separate desk to look after the organic issues.

Finally, the dream of GCP to go organic and help the producers and consumers fight fatal diseases will come true soon. With the kind of support from the government at federal and provincial level, this campaign can build and strengthen the network of producers and consumers. The female participants demonstrated the types of herbs we can see, identify yet do not pay attention to their life giving qualities. They also served the guests and 200 participants with special juice prepared in the programme. With the book launched by Minister Pokhrel, hundreds of farmers and producers will enhance the knowledge of our powerful but grossly neglected vegetation and turn the every householder's kitchen into a health-post.

(Former Dean of Humanities & Social Sciences, TU and Fulbright scholar from University of California, Khatry writes on cultural issues)