Every 30 minutes a farmer in India kills himself because he can no longer provide for his family. This dramatic saying is one that appears not only on the cover of this incredible movie, but in it as well. Once I read this, I knew immediately that I was interested in learning more about what the documentary had to offer and I hope everyone feels the same way that I did and that you have a better understanding of just what a farmer has to go through to survive and support his family in India.
The main character of the movie is 18-year-old Manjusha Amberwar, who is taking her first steps to becoming a journalist. The sad part is that her family, as well as everyone in her village, objects to her dream because in India, women are mainly known for their work in the household and fields and not for writing stories. Despite everyone’s doubt, Manjusha knows she can be a great journalist someday and pushes herself to prove to her family and to herself, that she is far more capable of the same assigned jobs each and every Indian woman gets when she is born into a family.
As her first ever article as a journalist, Manjusha decides to investigate and write about the farmer crisis that has been going on not only in her village but others as well. She can easily relate her opinion to this topic because her father was a farmer who committed suicide due to the stress and incapability of being able to support his family. Since her father’s death, there have been three other suicides in the area and Manjusha is determined to find out and report just why her father and these other farmers decided that taking their lives was the only option left for them to do.
One of the first things Manjusha finds out during her investigation is that all of the farmers in her village, and the others have switched their conventional seeds over to genetically modified ones that have been introduced in India recently by a U.S. company known as Monsanto. Local seed salesman have gone around to the villages selling and passing out pamphlets that describe how the new seeds will without a doubt create better yields for farmers and that they will not have to worry about adding pesticides if they do in fact decide to switch over. What they leave out in the pamphlets information wise, is that the newly developed seeds are much more expensive to buy and that they require much more water for cultivation. Seeing that farmers in India are rain-dependent, the likelihood of them being able to add more water to their soil to help benefit the seeds is very unlikely since mother nature has not been good to them for many prior years.
As the movie carries on, young Manjusha digs deeper and deeper into the story behind the relation of the newly developed seeds and the farmer crisis but the movie then switches over to another character known as Ram Kishna who is in fact a farmer and the neighbor to Manjusha. The movie does a great job of showing just how hard it is for Ram to be able to switch over his operation so that he can grow his cotton successfully and still be able to support his family. Ram basically has to give up everything he has in order to be able to afford the new seeds and when it comes time for his daughter to find a husband, he and his wife have to sadly decline the offer that is made to them because there is no hope at all that they would be able to afford to buy anything the other family demands for the traditional dowry.
I would love to tell you that the movie ends with everyone living happily ever after, but I think you know as well as I do after reading this post that is not the case. I am not going to give anymore details about the movie however, because the best way for anyone to find out more is to watch the movie themselves. I promise you that as soon as you watch the first 30 minutes you will be intrigued. If you do not believe me, then you can question anyone of the other 15 individuals who watched the movie with me this past Tuesday night. I promise you that they all were moved and shocked by what the movie had to offer about not only the hardship of farming in India, but the gender inequality found all throughout the villages as well. When it does come time for you to watch this documentary, make sure that you pay close attention to detail and try to relate some of the things that happen in the movie to your life now or maybe what is to come in the future. If you can succeed in doing this task, then you have not only just watched an entire movie, but you have learned a big life lesson, which is nothing is as bad as you think it may be.
Thank you again for reading this WIU Ag blog post about the documentary “Bitter Seeds”. A little background information about myself, my name is Wes Moore and I am a senior at WIU, who is majoring in Agricultural Science with an emphasis in Agronomy. I am from Macomb, IL so I did not have very far to travel to receive my education. I am involved in clubs such as Alpha Zeta and Collegiate Farm Bureau and am currently a member of the agricultural fraternity Alpha Gamma Rho.