National Permaculture Convergence 2016

The National Permaculture Convergence (NPC) 2016 was organised by Aranya Agricultural Alternatives on February 5th to 7th, 2016 in Hyderabad, Telangana. The event was organised at the University Auditorium of Prof. Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University.

NPC 2016 was a platform for practitioners and enthusiasts in the fields of Permaculture, ecological agricultural practices and sustainability, who came together to connect and share experiences and best practices. The Convergence included talks, presentations, discussions, small demonstrations and exhibitions that explored the theme “Towards Healthy Societies”.

The ceremony was inaugurated by Dr. Vithal Rajan and the keynote speaker was Dr. Vandana Shiva. Other resource persons included Claude Alvares of OFAI, Dr. Sultan Ismail (Soil Scientist), Permaculturists Narsanna Koppula, Clea Chandmal, Raya, Freedom Cole, Rico Zook, Ardhendu Chatterjee and many others. About 1,200 people attended this three day Convergence which welcomed rural and urban farmers and other sustainability enthusiasts from various parts of India and abroad.

Theory and Practical sessions at NPC 2016

The event was designed to focus on covering the key elements required for self-sustainable farming practices i.e. soil health, water conservation, bio-diversity, seed conservation and more. About 40 sessions were held in parallel across three days by experienced practitioners who covered Permaculture design for various agro-climatic zones namely dryland, wetlands, mountainous regions and temperate climate.

Here are just a few examples of inspiring and enriching talks that were given during the event:

  • “Farming as if nature mattered” by Claude Alvares
  • “Living Soil; Soil Regeneration Methods” by Dr. Sultan Ahmed Ismail
  • “Policy Framework for Dryland farming” by KS Gopal
  • “Permaculture Kitchen Gardening & Food Forest” by Rosie Harding & Peter Fernandes
  • “Urban Water Harvesting: Lake Regeneration & Rainwater Harvesting” by Y. Subhash Chandra Reddy
  • “One Acre Farm Design” by Raya Cole and Parvati Bai
  • “Permaculture Principles & Ethics; Reclaiming Soil – the Forest Floor Way” by Clea Chandmal
  • “Changing Trends In Indian Agriculture” by Umendra Dutt & Gurpreet Singh

“Thank you for inviting me to talk at the Convergence. It was truly one of the most heart warming community events that I have been to in a long, long time. The convergence was so well organised. The volunteers were very dedicated and thoughtful. The speakers were so inspiring. The interactions were thought provoking. The atmosphere was charged with so much positive energy. The camaraderie was infectious. And everything was organised with the holistic picture in mind — zero waste, grain and plant based decoration and badges, gender balance in the audience as well as in the speakers, etc. Thank you for all that you are doing! May this movement catch on like wildfire!” – Priya Ramasubban (Speaker on Lake Regeneration, NPC 2016)

To see videos of the sessions, click here

Around 15 stalls were created at the event venue where practical demonstrations of various techniques including kharif and rabi plot designs (miniature), raised beds design with pitch irrigation, mulching, banana/papaya circle, pot water filter, pot fridge, rocket stove, solar oven, chicken tractor, traditional farm tools, grey water treatment, IMO preparation, composting and permaculture design game were conducted. The stalls displayed and sold products that were produced through ecologically responsible methods, including seeds, food, cloth, solar lamps, books and other organic products.

Power of volunteerism and a conference with minimum ecological footprint

“Thank you very much Narsanna. Thank you to the amazing team of volunteers that has worked with you… yet another proof that when people join together, they are a wonderful substitute for capital. Usually we are made to feel very poor for lack of capital, not realizing that at the end of the day, things work when people cooperate” – Dr. Vandana Shiva (Inaugural address NPC 2016)

NPC 2016 was predominantly created and organised by volunteers – about 100 of them who arrived from all corners of India, thus proving the power of volunteerism.

A completely non-commercial event, all financial support for NPC 2016 came from donations – financial and in kind (e.g. organic food grains). There were no commercial sponsorships invited in order to retain the social and educational character of the event. The registration fee for participants were kept at a minimum and students had a further discount. Many farmers were sponsored by donors either private or government.

“The 3-day NPC event at Hyderabad did not generate any waste that needed to be transported to the dump yard. Amazingly organised, with more than a thousand people attending each day.” – Vani Murthy (Speaker, NPC 2016)

The organisers and volunteers of NPC 2016 strongly believed in practicing what was being preached at the Convergence. The following practical measures were the reason behind the minimal ecological footprint:

  • All materials used for food, water and other purposes were reusable or biodegradable
  • A large quantity of organic food (grains and vegetables) were sourced from local organic farmers, which was used for the meals at the event
  • Waste was segregated at source. Wet waste was partly used for composting and the rest was delivered to a piggery nearby
  • Participants were informed in advance to bring their own bottles, napkins etc. There was zero presence of bottled water
  • Most participants were housed in hostels within the campus which reduced the need for extensive transport facilities
  • Dried seeds and plants from farms, bamboo baskets and earthen pots were used for decoration and there was no use of fresh flowers and bouquets
  • The inaugural ceremony involved sowing of seeds by the guests which was symbolic of sowing seeds of change and nurturing the same
  • All banners were made on cloth and many of them were hand-painted avoiding the need for printing and paper as much as possible
  • Soaps used in dining area and washrooms were produced with natural materials and supplied by ‘Ancient Living’

Making National Permaculture Convergence a regular event

To further the cause of developing sustainable living alternatives and Permaculture across India, a National Permaculture Convergence should ideally be held every two years in a different region/state.

If any organisation is willing to take over the job of organising the next one, please get in touch: permanent.agriculture [at] gmail [dot] com

We, at Aranya Agricultural Alternatives will be very glad to share our knowledge and guide in whatever manner we can.

We are currently gearing towards the International Permaculture Convergence 2017 that is to be held for the first time in India, in Hyderabad.

For more information:
About NPC 2016: Visit www.npcindia2016.org
Facebook links – Community page – https://www.facebook.com/npcindia2016