Policy and Advocacy
Our state policies, mostly influenced by centralization, neglect towards local food and crop cultures, have inflicted severe damage on the biodiverse millets vital to dryland farming. This distressing trend has led to the erosion of livelihoods, soil health, public nutrition, and ecological balance. In response, DDS has been working to address these challenges faced by dryland peasant farming and promote sustainable agricultural practices.
Recognition of Millets in the National Food Security System:
DDS’s decade-long campaign for the inclusion of millets in the national food security system received acknowledgment from the National Advisory Council, the highest policy advisory body in India.
As a result, the National Food Security Act of India, enacted in 2013-2014, included a provision recognizing the importance of millets and the need to incorporate them into India’s Public Distribution System. This was a significant achievement for DDS, as it challenged the dominance of the rice and wheat lobby and opened doors for millets, which are primarily grown by the poor and marginalized in dryland areas.
Local Procurement of Grains and Food Sovereignty:
DDS’s persistent demand for “local procurement” of grains at the village level, instead of bulk procurement from corporate farmers, found acceptance in the National Food Security Act.
This provision allows local communities to produce their own food for consumption, aligning with the principle of food sovereignty. The Act has entrusted the 29 Indian states with the responsibility of implementing this provision through appropriate legislation. DDS’s close collaboration with the State of Karnataka has resulted in the active procurement of Sorghum and Finger Millets directly from farmers by the state government.
Halt Bt Brinjal Movement and GE Regulation:
DDS played a leading role in the “Halt Bt Brinjal Movement” and filed a petition in the Supreme Court of India, seeking a moratorium on all genetically engineered (GE) crops. While the court partially conceded the demand, it appointed a special panel of advisors to oversee the work of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), the highest GE regulatory body in India. This panel, recommended by DDS, closely scrutinizes the decisions of the GEAC and has been successful in halting new approvals since its appointment.
Community Radio Policy in India:
DDS pioneered the community radio movement in India with Sangham Radio, the first community radio station. To ensure community participation, DDS initiated the concept of Radio Sanghams (radio collectives) in every village where they work. Radio Sanghams actively engage in designing and monitoring programs, providing feedback to the Sangham Radio managers, and sending representatives from their villages to participate in radio programs.