ASHA (Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture) is a large, nation-wide informal network of more than 400 organisations drawn from 20 states of India, that have come together in 2010 to organise a Kisan Swaraj Yatra, a nation-wide mobilisation to draw attention to issues pertaining to our FOOD, FARMERS, FREEDOM. The network consists of farmers’ organisations, consumer groups, women’s organisations, environmental organisations, individual citizens and experts who are committed to the cause of sustainable and viable farm livelihoods in rural India including by ensuring that productive resources are in the control of farming communities and thereby, safe, nutritious, diverse and adequate food for all Indians. From the dialogues that emerged during the Kisan Swaraj Yatra and subsequent work, ASHA articulates a 4-pillared Kisan Swaraj Neeti and calls on governments to adopt the same. This policy articulation provides a framework for a forward-looking agricultural policy approach for India. The four pillars of Kisan Swaraj are (1) income security for farm households; (2) ecological sustainability of agriculture; (3) people’s control over agricultural resources like land, water and seed; and (4) access to safe, healthy, nutritious and sufficient food for all.
The work of ASHA is centred around (1) setting up ecological farming alternatives, building related capacities, working on marketing avenues for organic produce and campaigning for replicating support to ecological farming on a large scale, (2) to ensure seed diversity revival and secure seed self reliance and campaign for large scale scaling up of the efforts including through consumer awareness and empowerment, (3) watching out for any negative unsustainable approaches in Government of India’s BGREI programme (Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India) related to corporatisation of seed resources, chemicalisation of eastern Indian agriculture, water use intensification etc., (4) making a clear case for ensuring minimum living incomes for farm households and campaigning to achieve the same, (5) understanding and advocating a different dispensation to adivasi agriculture and food security, and (6) campaigning against hazardous agri-chemicals including pesticides and fertilisers through the India For Safe Food platform. A recent initiative has been to join hands with other like-minded groups to ensure women’s rights and visibility as farmers.