India: Franciscan Sisters takes up organic farming

Sisters with their first harvest

Sisters with their first harvest

The Franciscan community of FSMA Sisters has been serving the people in the desert state of Rajasthan for more than three decades. They run a hospital and a school, and recently have embarked on a new agricultural project - running an organic farm on their two acre plot.

The Principal was inspired after a visit to the Tarumitra Bio-reserve in Patna, where she saw students in Bihar led by Ms Margaret Molomoo making a great success of their farm.

The Superior of the small FSMA community, Sr Isabel, said she felt organic farming was more appropriate for Franciscans: “The intense use of poisonous pesticides and chemical fertilizers have been creating havoc both on the land and its inhabitants" she said, saying she thought people's health has deteriorated since the introduction of the new farming methods of India's 'Green Revolution'.

Srs Celine and Pauline, two veterans in the community and the young Junior Sr Gincy all jumped at the chance to work on the project.

Local farmers all did their best to discourage the sisters from going organic, but they persevered. With some help from students the community planted a local variety of wheat. They watched their crop turn green and tall and, unlike the neighbouring farms, did not use any chemical fertilizers or pesticide sprays.

Their first crop was mature and ripe by the end of March. When the harvesting and threshing was complete the Sisters weighed up the wheat: a full 27 quintals! Over 10,000 Rupees worth of hay was an extra bonus.

One of the seasoned farmers of the area, Usha Bai complimented the Sisters by stating that theirs was one of the best harvests she has ever seen the whole of her life!

“The best part of the whole story has been that all of us got involved with the land!” said Sr Ishpriya. “The traditional respect people had towards the earth is fast disappearing” she said.

Sr Ishpriya said she want her children to grow up in their reverence for the land that supported them with food, water and life breath. “If this life-giving Earth is not sacred, then what is sacred?” she asked teachers and students in the school assembly.

Tags: Bihar led by Ms Margaret Molomoo, Franciscan community, FSMA Sisters, organic farm, Patna, R Athickal SJ0D0A0D0AThe Superior of the small FSMA community, Rajasthan, said she felt organic farming was more appropriate for Franciscans:, Sr Isabel, Tarumitra Bio reserve

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