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Bish Mukto Haat is held every Sunday from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm at Seva Kendra Calcutta, 52B Radhanath Chowdhury Road, Opp. Bhootnath High School, From Sealdah Station towards Bengal Pottery, Kolkata – 700015, Contact: +91 9007526611.
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Rohan Mukerjee, Sustainability champ
Working to safeguard diversity!
Bish Mukto Haat!
Food production and farming today is dominated by the use of harmful chemical pesticides and fertilisers. Bish Mukto Haat is making available "Bish Mukto" or Poison-free food produce to the citizens of Kolkata (Calcutta.) Bringing the concept of the weekly village market to the city the Bish Mukto Haat was inaugurated on December 6 2016 and will be held every Sunday at Seva Kendra, Calcutta.

Kolkata – Organised jointly by Seva Kendra, Calcutta; M G Gramodyog Sewa Sansthan and Swanirwar, the objective of the Haat according to one of the principal mobilisers Mr. Arup Rakhit is to provide a platform to both producers and consumers of organic produce and traditional handicrafts in order to promote the purchase, sale and awareness of the variety of organic produce and handcrafts currently available in and around West Bengal.

The Seva Kendra courtyard with its pumpkins, gourds, etc (all organic) hanging overhead made an ideal setting for the stalls exhibiting and selling traditional rice varieties, fresh vegetables, lentils, spices, jungle honey, Khadi items, handicrafts and other natural and traditional products. Participants comprised of NGOs, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), SHGs, farmers groups as well as private sector companies dealing with organic produce and handicrafts. Nazma Hussain and her husband Ambia Hussain representing Basirhat’s Environment and Health Development Centre, had put up a variety of mouth watering sweets that included Pithe-Puli, Dudh-Puli, Narkel-Pithe, Pakan Pithe, and Payesh made from organic black rice. They were also carrying natural mustard oil that exuded a rich aromatic smell of mustard; fresh cow ghee and a variety of spices like haldi, jeera and dhania.

Sandhya Mondal, making her way to the Haat all the way from distant Jogai Ganj representing Mayuk SHG, had brought Muri, Narkel Nadus made from Gud/Jaggery whose gooey centre melts in your mouth, Dal Bori, Duck eggs and thick rich honey from Sundarbans’ forests. Debendranath Mondol the President of Gobindo Kathi Sundarban Sarbhik Janakalyan Society was representing over 1200 SHG from his area and had brought a number of West Bengal’s nutritious traditional rice varieties that are fast vanishing from our markets. The traditional rice varieties on display at the Haat included Tulai Panji, Gobindo Bhog, Badsha Bhoj, Kamini Bhog, Kalo Nunia, Patnai, Chamarmoni, Leelaboti, Paijam, Bagun Bitchi, Tulsi Manjuri, Baharupi, and Jaiprakash among others.

Some of the fastest moving items were farm fresh natural vegetables from Hoogli, Nandigram and other areas. The vegetables included Brinjal, Kham Aloo, Tomato, Beans, Green Peas, Pumpkin, Lau, Dhania Patta and Borboti and were sold out within an hour or two of the Haat opening at 9:00 am. A special attraction on 13 December, 2015 was fresh organic vegetables from Kalimpong and Darjeeling which included a special high altitude variety of Squash, Rukh Tomato, Mula, and Cauliflower.

Aimed at promoting awareness and garnering support for the organic and natural food and farming movement the organisers held an interactive seminar on “Food for Taste and Health” on 13 December 2016 chaired by West Bengal’s Agriculture Minister Mr. Purnendu Basu. The seminar gave the participating NGOs, CSOs, Private Companies, Farmers and the organizers an opportunity to share and discuss the issues and challenges being faced by them as well as success stories till date.

Green for Life Foundation stall - introducing people to the concept of sustainable plastics!
The need for a broad based state wide campaign on the importance of and need for organic and chemical free farming; improved market linkages and marketing support for farmers and farmer groups; and improved availability of inputs for organic farming at reasonable prices were some of the needs raised by the participants. The Minister expressed his whole hearted support of the initiative but at the same time pointed out that there was a need to build on this and create a mass movement for organic farming which would then ensure that the State and other stakeholders provide the necessary support and backing. While Bish Mukto Haat has already made available a tremendous variety of healthy and high quality products, sadly it is yet to attract the footfalls it deserves.

One of several posters around the venue, giving lie to the fact that we need chemical/GMO farming.

Considering the invaluable contributions such organic and chemical free food products make both to individuals in the pursuit of healthy living and to the environment as whole through the reduced dependence on harmful chemicals we as concerned citizens should take it upon ourselves to embrace such initiatives and the natural “Bish Mukto” food movement as a whole.

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