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Kerala’s Women Farmers Rise Above the Flood
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9/26/2018 at 5:44:58 PM GMT
Posts: 115
Kerala’s Women Farmers Rise Above the Flood

An article by 2018 AFS Presidential-Invited Lecturer Palagummi Sainath

“’The fine dust from the drying silt and the pollution from all the muck lying on the fields is quite nasty,’ says Dathan C.S. in Pattanamthitta. ‘Please wear this,’ he adds, handing me a surgeon’s mask. Behind him, a woman laughs at this – one of those whose farms have been ruined by the Kerala floods. ‘He lives in Mumbai,’ she scoffs, ‘what protection from pollution could he possibly need?’

The fields are a picture of devastation. What was once a fine, profit-making patch of paddy and tapioca, lies buried under inches – in some places, feet – of silt from the river bed, and effluents and pollutants brought in from upstream by the flood waters. Across many acres of farmland, that deadly mix of muck and matter has dried out and hardened in the blazing sun, covering the soil like a blanket of crude cement.

Water tables are falling, groundwater recharge isn’t happening, wells are drying out, temperatures rising. All this and more has perversely impacted the entire equation between surface and groundwater. River ecologies have been dramatically transformed. With the loss of their sand beds and silt, many rivers and streams are now unable to retain water. And so, oddly enough, the next calamity Kerala faces could be a drought.  Restoring cultivation in this situation could dishearten the most determined.


To continue reading, visit the full article on PARI’s website. Palagummi Sainath will give the Presidential-Invited Lecture at the 2018 Annual Meeting in Buffalo this year. Visit the 2018 Annual Meeting News and Announcements page for more information about the upcoming Meeting. 

Sainath, Palagummi. “Kerala’s Women Farmers Rise Above the Flood.” PARI (September 24, 2018). <>

Last edited Wednesday, September 26, 2018

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