GRAIN joins the DDS family and many allies around the world in mourning the loss of our friend and mentor PV Satheesh. Satheesh was the founder and director of the Deccan Development Society (DDS) in India. Together with the women farmers of DDS, Satheesh taught us and the world about how powerfully biodiversity and local knowledge are conserved through daily use by local communities. A firm believer in rainfed agroecology, he campaigned for the recognition of the value of millets and other traditional crops in a world awash in the monotone Green Revolution diet of wheat and rice. It even earned him the name “millet man”, in some corners. Satheesh also revolutionised how rural folk can document their struggles by putting video cameras and radio stations in dalit women's hands.
Satheesh had a great influence on GRAIN, as a regular board member and the chair of our board from 2001 through 2008. He introduced us to the South Asian Network on Food, Ecology and Culture (SANFEC), a network we ended up collaborating actively with, especially to denounce the privatisation of seeds under the World Trade Organisation and bilateral free trade agreements in South Asia. He was instrumental in the fight against genetically-modified (GM) seeds, especially Bt cotton, in India and farther afield. More recently, he had become active working with partners in West Africa struggling to stop GM crops and protect sorghum and millets in the hands of local communities such as BEDE, COPAGEN and the documentary film-maker Idrissa Diabaté, who also passed away a few weeks ago.
Strength and power to all who were touched by Satheesh garu, especially the women of DDS, Pastapur and all Zaheerabad!