If your bearings have been urban, without much agricultural exposure, the title ‘Mother Earth, Sister Seed: Travels through India’s Farmlands’ is likely to evoke images of farms with a pair of bullocks or tractor ploughing the field, farmers and farm hands bent over sowing seeds, and so on. And sure, farms on plains are often like that.
But author Lathika George’s farm visits – described over 11 chapters, each dedicated to a different region in a different state spanning the north, south, east, west and even the north east of India – are an adventurous mix: a fishing village on the southern tip of India separated from Sri Lanka by a river, West Bengal’s Sundarbans where honey collectors risk their lives to procure the golden liquid, mountains of Sikkim plush with organic farming experiments, and so on.
Several places, like Auroville, that don’t get dedicated chapters, still see detailed coverage wherever relevant. In doing so, the book at once reminds us how special India is for its diversity, and exposes us to the diversity of farming methods that have evolved and been adapted as per climate, terrain and availability of water and other natural resources.