Dr. Shiva’s Talks: Propagating an eco-friendly and sustainable agriculture in Taiwan

Dr. Vandara Shiva, the global renowned philosopher, the practitioner of environmentalism and the founder of Navdanya Foundation, visited Dharma Drum Institute of Liberal Arts, DILA, and gave a special talk on the hot issue of “The Future of Sustainable Agriculture “on May 10th. Professor Teng, Wei-ren, from Buddhist Studies Depart and the Head of International Affair office in DILA helped with oral interpretation. Over 200 followers and devotees of eco-friendly agriculture came to join from island wide.

Dr. Shiva firstly shared her native experiences that the traditional Indian agriculture models have showed its consideration for sustainable natural cycles, which is totally opposite from the Western industrial approaches.

She referred to the modernized agricultural models as fully antagonistic and hostile, with the mindset of conquering everything including the Earth. It affects both rivers and land, creates a greenhouse effect, and sacrifices 75% of the environmental resources. Yet it only provides 30% of agricultural demands. The global supplies become unequally distributed, and indirectly cause famine in many parts of the world. The use of chemical fertilizers has also made considerable damage to the land and living beings.

Dr. Shiva further expounded that most of the human illness could be related to the chemicals in food, according to the Eastern philosophy of “Medicine and Food homology”. Based on past experiences, the natural disasters and man-made calamities is eventually restored via the power of natural healing. Yet famine issues today are socially constructed. The seeds and agricultural machine in the market become very costly for the farmers; whereas they are getting poorer and poorer, having to purchase the commercial commodities rather than simple and sufficient food supply.

The high cost of seeds and chemical material made 300 million Indian farmers become debt-ridden, thus they had insufficient livelihood. International trade agreement further legitimates the cheap crops dumping, and forced them to sell their own production under cost and buy high-priced food instead. As the modernized approaches actually ruined the diversities of the plants and could only provide limited nutrition, Dr. Shiva pondered, the traditional agricultures have been sufficient enough for the modern lives.

In her concluding remarks, Dr. Shiva pointed out that all beings have the right to live in happiness, including those of the plants. The true eco-friendly agriculture is primarily about this mindset and the attitude of kindness toward all beings, recognizing the importance to respect the inherent consciousness build-in the plants rather than forcibly alter their own growing path. The correct approaches to agriculture is to find a communicative way of co-existing with plants. The way to act with compassion is to have a “respectful to nature” style of diet, which is also the right way to have “Dharma Food.”

Coming all the way from YiLan, over 20 farmers working on Natural farming joined this blissful speech, in the hope that Taiwanese Agriculture can keep on the leading role of global trends. One of the natural-farming farmers from Ali Mountain, in Jiayi County, gave her special thanks to Dr. Shiva for her endeavors to advocate people to support Natural Farming Farms by changing their consuming behavioral habits.

After a 90-mins speech, Dr. Shiva warmheartedly exchanged dialogues with Vice Abbot Venerable GuoXiang (果祥法師) and the floor, where she encouraged the farmers from the bio-friendly small farms to compassionately contemplate the interrelated relationships between humans and other life forms so as to generate fearless fortitude within. The floor brought down the house the moment Dr. Shiva shared her dreams, aspiring to a poison- and chemical-free agricultural world by the year of 2050.

Texts: Chang, Yao-Chong (張曜鐘); Huang, Elenda (頤嵐達)
Photos: Chang, Yao-Chong
Translation: Huang, Elenda (頤嵐達)
Editors: DDM Australian Editorial Team

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