The International River Festival kicks off on the banks of the Narmada River in Madhya Pradesh on Friday. As part of this global forum on river conservation, local authorities and NGO Narmada Samagra will unveil an ambitious plan to convert the Narmada’s catchment area into an organic farming belt.
The festival aims to promote dialogue on an international level about the conservation of the world’s most vital waterways, analysing areas such as how to deal with an increase in pollution, decreasing flow, manage soil erosion and educate locals about the importance of river conservation.
During the festival, key representatives from the local government as well as from the NGO dedicated to conservation of the Narmada River, Narmada Samagra, will announce a plan to turn the river’s catchment area into an organic farming belt.
Part of the decision to undertake such an initiative was the realisation that chemical fertilisers and pesticides are among the major pollutants in the Narmada’s catchment area, going directly into the local groundwater. Organic farming’s mandate of only using naturally-based fertilisers and pesticides would greatly reduce the environmental damage and help restore some of the lost biodiversity.
The 1,312 km river stretches across 23 districts in Madhya Pradesh as well as portions of Gujarat and Maharashtra and plays a large role in the cultural and economic landscapes of this part of the country. As part of the plan, Narmada Samagra will work onsite with local farmers already using the land for agriculture and train in the fundamentals of organic farming and demonstrate how this will help build a sustainable livelihood for themselves and the local environment, with the aim of assisting them to each make the complete transition to organic within ten years.
The plan will be presented during the festival for deliberation. The previous festival was held in 2010 and featured delegates representing rivers from across the globe including Australia, Germany, USA and Nepal.
This year’s festival will be held at the confluence of Narmada and Tawa, at Hoshangabad from February 8 to 10. Check Narmada Samagra’s website for all the details