Remembering “The Millet Man”: PV Satheesh

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Inter Pares joins with thousands of people around the world in mourning the loss of Periyapatna Venkatasubbaiah Satheesh, founder and director of long-time Inter Pares counterpart Deccan Development Society (DDS).

Better known simply as Satheesh, he was an inspiration to people in India and around the world for his passionate and eloquent promotion of food sovereignty that centred women farmers’ knowledge about seeds, soils, climate and biodiversity.

As the founder and director of the Deccan Development Society (DDS), Satheesh accompanied thousands of poor and marginalized women to obtain land and rejuvenate the soil through the use of biodiverse, millet-based agriculture. This led to significant improvements in their social and economic wellbeing.

Originally trained as television broadcaster, Satheesh also used his communication skills to shed light on the experiences of Dalit women, empowering them with equipment and know-how to tell their own stories. This led to DDS founding the first ever Community Radio Station in India, Sangham Radio, still on air today.

Inter Pares began collaborating with Satheesh in the late 1990’s via the South Asia Network on Food, Ecology and Culture. In 2002, Inter Pares welcomed Satheesh as part of a delegation to meet farmer organizations and food movement activists in Canada. In 2005, Satheesh participated in an important civil society dialogue and campaign in Canada denouncing the promotion of GMOs through development aid. From 2012 to 2017, Satheesh welcomed various delegations of farmers from West Africa and Canada to India, which helped lay the foundations for women-led agroecology programming in four countries in West Africa.

Satheesh firmly believed in the shared struggles of the poor and marginalized around the world and in the need for solidarity among those struggles. He was passionate about the food movement as a way to improve people's lives, bring about justice and make the world a more equal place. Both in India, and through his participation in many international fora, Satheesh was tireless in his criticism of rising corporate control of agriculture and in his defence of small farmers and food sovereignty.

Satheesh was an inspiration to Inter Pares and to so many around the world. We are saddened that we will never again share food, a laugh, or conversation with him, or see his wonderful smile. We are committed to continuing our support for DDS, and the thousands of women farmers, who carry forward Satheesh’s vision of a food system that benefits people and the environment.

Satheesh was an inspiration to Inter Pares and to so many around the world.

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