A friend recently took the painful decision to sell off his 50 acre Coconut Grove in Udumalpet where Pomogranate are intercropped.
Having visited him so often at one time, while driving through the area recently, for sentimental reasons I just decided to drop into the property before the paper for its disposal came through. It wasn't an easy decision for him to make.
Long spells of poor rain and depleting ground water, compelled him to make this decision. Depleting Ground water in Udumalpet is a major problem like it is in several agricultural belts due to a combination of reasons: Poor rains, Particular Soil composition of the area, extraction rate well beyond capacity due to ill thought out reliance on water intensive cash crops and no proper effort at replenishment or rejuvenation of extant borewells.
Just as I drove into gate I was overcome by a weird feeling . Workers were standing about filling huge metallic sprayers brimful aith an awful smelling pesticide.
Reeling under the impact I queried what they were using and one of them held aloft a bright green can that read KEMLOX (Quinalphos)illustrated with its kill list - little boxed in drawings of various kinds of insects.
Now read the Wiki description of Quinalphos :
Quinalphos is an chemical chiefly used as a pesticide. It is a reddish-brown liquid. The chemical formula is C12H15N2O3PS, and IUPAC name O,O-diethyl O-quinoxalin-2-yl phosphorothioate. Ranked 'moderately hazardous' in World Health Organization's (WHO) acute hazard ranking, use of quinalphos is either banned or restricted in most nations. Quinalphos, which is classified as a yellow label (highly toxic) pesticide in India, is widely used in the following crops: wheat, rice, coffee, sugarcane, and cotton.
Not ONE worker wore any protective gear whatsoever ,be they a mask of gloves or boots or suit or whatever, as this deadly poison was being sprayed lavishly on the Pomegranate trees-its foliage & inflorescence.
Can you imagine what happens when the very flowers of a plant or a tree are poisoned thus ? Fruits form from them that are poisoned not just on the outside but inside as well. This is the story of all vegetables and fruits grown with the chemical method. The gullible fools that we are, we believe that it is enough if we just scrub them or peel away the rinds & skins cutting a little deep , we are safe from toxicity! Though I wanted to linger longer only for the sake of documentation, I simply couldn't because by then I had started feeling really sick.
I gestured to Rahul, my companion on these long driving triops who takes turns with me on the wheel, that I am calling it quits and told him to get the vehicle out as soon as possible.
As we drove away, upon the image of that can of lethal poison painted such a fresh innocent looking green, another little boxed in image added itself to the illustrated kill list :
Human beings. Innocent rural folk working as Agricultural laborers, mere pawns in the game in a deadly chemical system that essentially serve only soulless profiteering for very few at the cost of sure slow painful deaths for millions of others, both human and non human.
Their bodies, their children, their lives are so dispensable feeding the huge accounts of faceless dealers who vicariously trade in these poisons preying on Life.
Thoughtless traps… Contaminating all the basic essentials we need in order to sustain - clean Air,Water, Earth & Food.
"Sir! are you alright?! Wake up !"
I see Rahul's wide eyes ,now rounder still in concern and apprehension holding out a hot cup of tea to me ... We are standing on the edge of a forest clearing at a tiny makeshift tea shop and the sun is just about setting filling the sky with its sublime colors. Tears flood my eyes as I accept the cup of frothy brown hot watery sweetness gratefully .They are my prayer of remorse on behalf of my species , my race .
How glad and grateful I am that ,no matter what the hardship , in this life time I have had opportunity to experience the joy of practising the gentle art and the poetic science of Organic Agriculture.
Remorse turns into Gratitude as I turn to Rahul, shake him by the shoulder till the smile returns on his wan face.