Sustainable Agriculture and Food Sovereignty

Thanal promotes and supports a sustainable form of agriculture which ensures

  • Restoration and Protection of biodiversity and the environment
  • Enhanced incomes for farmers and their families,
  • Food safety and security for consumers and the public at large

Our work involves not only projects on the ground, but also advocating changes in government policies. We currently run projects in Thiruvananthapuram, Wayanad and Palakkad in Kerala.

Save Our Rice Campaign, Promotion of organic farming, Organic Bazaar and Centre for Agroecology and Environment Studies in Wayanad are some of our current projects.

Along with other organisations in Kerala, Thanal strongly campaigned for keeping Kerala free of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), leading to the Kerala government declaring the state ‘GM-Free’ in 2007. Thanal also supported the state governments efforts to develop a robust policy for organic farming in Kerala.

Rice is the most important crop for Asians. Rice means not only food, but also culture, livelihood, nature, art, education … everything. For us in India, especially in the south, east and north eastern regions, rice is the staple food and it decides the landscape and rural economy. It is our heritage. It is our identity.

Unfortunately in the last 10-15 years, all the possible threats we can imagine, are making rice cultivation unsustainable. Unpredictable climatic changes, new trade policies, dismantling of support systems, loss of soil fertility, pest outbreak, loss in biodiversity, increasing cost of labour and other inputs, decreasing gross returns, etc. have created a situation where farmers find it difficult to sustain rice cultivation. Along with these, changing agriculture policies and campaign on the advantages of other uses of rice fields have attracted farmers and in many areas rice fields have given way to horticulture, urban development, development of landfills and industrial expansion. This is threatening the very existence of our culture and rural economy, relationships and ultimately ecology. Most importantly, this is threatening our food security and livelihood security.

Save our rice campaign is an attempt to bring together everyone who is interested in sustaining rice cultivation – farmers, consumers, NGOs, students, children, teachers, leaders, policymakers, media, academicians, scientists and in a broader sense, the general public – to explore several ways of sustaining rice and rice-culture. Rice and rice-culture is not just an agricultural affair. So the whole society, whose culture and identity is linked to the rice-systems, should come together, talk, experiment and find ways to save rice from being pushed into oblivion. The campaign covers the whole of Asia, connected and coordinated by various organizations and groups. We at THANAL propose to introduce the campaign in South India, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Madhyapradesh.

  • Save our rice campaign is a people’s movement to protect the diverse rice cultures,
    knowledge, and ensure food sovereignty. In India, it started in 2004, and empowers
    communities build sustainable food security and livelihood.
  • Establishing community rice diversity blocks (RDBs) and seed banks, conserving and
    promoting indigenous varieties of paddy seeds.
  • Creating awareness about value of rice diversity among urban consumers.
  • Facilitating adoption of agro-ecological farming in rice ecosystems, and encouraging
    farmers, states and local governments to adopt indigenous seeds.
  • Enabling active discussions in the media about indigenous seeds and agro ecological


  • Conserving rice ecosystems
  • Sustaining rice culture and diversity
  • Protecting traditional wisdom
  • Preventing GMO’s and toxics
  • Ensuring safe and nutritious food


  • Climate resilient agriculture
  • Rice diversity blocks
  • Seed festivals
  • Seed banks
  • Protection of paddy wetlands
  • Seed conservation
  • Markets for organic rice varieties
  • Traditional food melas
  • Working with the Governments
  • Children for the future of rice


  • 26 Rice diversity blocks in 7 states
  • 21 community level seed banks in 7 states
  • 21 indigenous organic rice trade networks in 7 states
  • 11 community rice resource centers in 7 states
  • 1054 indigenous rice seeds available in collection in 7 states
  • More than 1 lakh farmers across 7 states adopt indigenous paddy varieties
  • Nabadigantho farming system for sustainability, improved livelihood and climate
    resilience in the villages in Sunderbans
  • Policy change in various states and local governments – protection of paddy wetlands;
    organic farming; adoption of indigenous paddy varieties; positions against GMOs.


  • Quarterly paddy bulletin
  • Rice calendars
  • Books on folk rice in Karnataka, Kerala, Tamilnadu
  • Status of rice in India,2016
  • Posters on folk rice in West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Paddy storage systems
  • Reports, booklets, case studies on paddy ecosystems, pesticide use in rice
  • In search of our lost rice seeds(Documentary film)
  • Pearls of wisdom (Documentary film)
  • Documentation of indigenous seeds

What all can we do?

There are many individuals and groups who have been working on sustaining rice for a very long period. But the threat faced by rice in the country cannot be fought back by the efforts in isolation. We need to join together to stop wrong policies and biotechnology from destroying our precious rice heritage. To come together and act, we request you to

  • Identify individuals and groups and form regional level networks. Hold local and
    regional level meetings to discuss, analyse and explore ways for sustaining rice
    and rice-farmers in your region.
  • Build up a campaign addressing various sections of the society, especially
    consumer groups, farmers and students on the needs to sustain rice.
  • Identify, document and conserve paddy fields, related systems, traditional varieties
    and cultivation practices, traditional knowledge, culture etc.
  • Join the “Save Our Rice – Campaign” and form a part of a regional, state wide,
    national and international movement to conserve rice.
  • Pressure the local, state and central governments to sustain rice and rice farmers.
  • Write to us about the status, concerns and scope of rice in your area, region and

Also write to us about your work in related aspects and about your campaign. We can work together to sustain rice.