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Bp. Dr. Mar Mathew Arackal

Rev. Fr. Joseph Ottaplackal

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INFAM was founded in the year 2000 under the support of the CatholicChurch. During these years it could assist the farmers in today's changing and challenging farming circumstances in a considerable way. Presently, the farming is faced with different challenges and changes. The State Govt. and the Central Govt. are not taking a strong step for the improvement of the farming and do not redress their issues with due importance. Down through these years it could bring to light the real struggle and apprehension of the farming community and also to create a consciousness in the farmers on their rights and obligations. It could press the Government and other NGOs to launch constructive and dynamic measures to care for the Indian farmers & farming

This year also INFAM could initiate diverse measures as a Team work. It conducted and organized Demonstrations throughout the nation for uniting the farmers and to build up their perception to fight for their privileges under the banner of INFAM.


INFAM: Indian Farmers’ Movement
The voice of the Voiceless Thousands

Eighteen years ago at St. Berguman’s college, Changanassery in the Kottayam district of Kerala a massive gathering of people from all walks of life, particularly from the farming communities of Kerala witnessed the birth of an organization that would for all the years until now affect the life of all the stakeholders in unprecedented ways. INFAM( Indian Farmers’ Movement), an independent and secular organization ever since its inception in the year 2000 has been providing a common platform for farmers, irrespective of their religious or political affiliations, to work towards the realization of common goals. It has been functioning as an intermediary between the farmers and the government and its affiliated agencies. It has been the VOICE of farmers all these years throughout Kerala by articulating their problems to the government officials, high and low and persuading them to take constructive steps towards meaningful resolutions. It has also been providing the farmers with information and inspiration in matters concerning scientific methods of farming, especially organic farming. In general, INFAM works on two fronts: on the one hand, it tries to liberate the farmers from the adverse effects of globalization and liberalization. On the other hand, it tries to enhance productivity and promote co-operation and self- reliance among farmers. Here is a bird’s eye view of the various activities under the banner of INFAM in the year 2017. 
It must be emphasized that all the issues and concerns raised by INFAM last year still remain unsolved. The only consolation is that INFAM is still at work. 
1. Seminars and Work-shops: INFAM brings the farmers from all over Kerala under its umbrella and reaches out to their mind through seminars and workshops. Their coming together is surely a service offered to the nation in terms of communal harmony and social integration as they come from all socio-politico-religious backgrounds. Becoming the VOICE of the voiceless farmers has always been one the major considerations of INFAM. It was in this vein that certain seminars and workshops were conducted at various parts of Kerala such as Kasargod Kannur, Kozhikode, Malappuram, Vazhakulam, Muvattupuzha, Thodupuzha, Palai, Kanjirapalli and Ernakulam P.O.C. National general body meeting was held at P.O.C and Kanjirapalli. Diocesan and district committees, in addition to Panjayat Parish communities, were set up in 20 different parts of Kerala. Leadership camps were held at Kozhikode, Thalassery, Thodupuzha and Palai.

2. Environmental conservation and protection measures: Thousands of saplings of fruit trees and commercial wood trees were distributed to the people of Thalassery in collaboration with the government. Similarly, various vegetable seeds were also distributed in collaboration with the agriculture department, Govt. of Kerala. Several memoranda were submitted to the Govt. about various issues confronted by the farmers: for instance, wild animals straying into human habitats and the plight of the plummeting market value of rubber. INFAM encourages and promotes organic farming. It discourages the use of pesticides which prove to be hazardous to human life and health. It doesn’t promote the use of chemical fertilizers for growing crops and vegetables. INFAM has paved the way for over 700 organic vegetable farms and several hundred units of in-house farming all over Kerala. 
3. Unit Establishments in hundreds of parishes: INFAM units were established in several parishes in Thalassery diocese. The Kanjirappally diocese went a step ahead with the formation of INFAM units in all the parishes under it. Several goal-driven conventions and seminars were conducted in many of these units from time to time. Kozhikode, Vazhakulam, Moovatupuzha, Thodupuzha, etc are all places covered under this programme. Yet another milestone in our journey of offering a helping hand to our farmers is the establishment of a unit producing banana powder at Kanjirappally. It is doing a roaring trade. It was here that a 10000 strong rally was conducted recently. 

4. Protecting the Interests of Farmers: Whenever any developments in society went against the interests of farmers and their livelihoods, INFAM fought tooth and nail to provide aid and succor to them. For instance, when the Kasuturi Rangan report was thrown at the farmers with eviction threats at Chakkittapara, Kottiyoor etc, when price of vegetables and essential commodities shot up exponentially, when the Govt. went back on its words to stand by the farmers, and in similar other contexts INFAM stood its ground with the tenacity which is the by-product of commitment and conviction. 

5. The Kerala flood and its aftermath: INFAM was at the forefront of activities aimed at restoring the farm and farmlands of scores of people ravaged by the floods. It donated money to the Govt. through the Catholic Church leadership at the head of its administration. 

Challenges and Concerns
Though many people professing other religious faiths are convinced of its relevance and social contexts yet they are reluctant to join its activities thinking it is a Christian church movement. The real challenge is to unite them all under the banner of this movement by appealing to their common aspirations as farmers and not as members of a particular religious or political group. There is little help or participation from several dioceses in India. The bishops ought to show more enthusiasm for INFAM. As a result hundreds of units will take roots in their dioceses. 
A word of Gratitude: INFAM is what it is today is owing to the constant support and commitment of several people in the Church and outside it. First Mar Mathew Arackal, Bishop of Kanjirapllay, national patron of INFAM, deserves our sincere accolade and appreciation for his continuous and regular support. Next, KCBC president and all the bishops of various dioceses in Kerala must be remembered with immense gratitude. They have always been our source of strength and inspiration. Also, our deep sense of appreciation is expressed for all those who have part of this great movement in ways small and big. 
The glaring truth at the end of the day is that most people are not concerned with the plight of the farmers. This must be said aloud notwithstanding the promises of help and succor announced by political parties, various governments and pressure groups. INFAM however is different. It has always stood for the farmers and their problems and will continue to do so. The need of the hour is to strengthen and empower this noble venture. It must extend its field of work and reach out to more people seeking active support from other farmer groups, if any. INFAM loves farmers. It is committed to their happiness. Whatever it takes to get them their just and rightful dues, INFAM will go all the way with them. Only thing is that it needs the ardent support of each and every diocese of the Church in India. It needs above all God’s help and direction. 

Fr. Joseph Ottaplackal. 
National Chairman INFAM.