December 3rd is observed world wide as the International Day for Persons With Disabilities and the UN theme for the year is “Sustainable Development, The Promise of Technology”.
This day provides a platform to bring to light People with Disabilities, their abilities, their issues, their opinions. It also provides an opportunity for all stakeholders to assess themselves to see how far PWDs have been included in development both as beneficiaries and as agents.
This year’s theme is interesting as it focuses on Development that should be sustainable and a giant contributor to development- ICTs(Information Communication technology). The focus is also on present and upcoming technology, to see if they are inclusive and also how far technology can be used to improve inclusion and facilitate better participation of PWDs. We believe that higher level of participation from all sections of society would result in Sustainable Development.
As part of our work, we celebrated IDPWD a day earlier. This was done so that PWDs from our areas could be involved in the programs done by the government on 3rd December. It was an interesting day, we had approximately 250 participants, all People with disabilities from about 35 villages spread across 2 districts. The program was organized with an aim to create awareness regarding disability to the general public and to help PWDs experience and explore new things.
We also had the privilege of the participation of our District Social Welfare Officer, who also has the reputation of being a young, enthusiastic officer with special regard to disability affairs, the District Disability Rehabilitation Officer and the Block Development Officer.
Along with this year’s theme, we also focused on practical needs for PWDs, we had sessions and stalls showcasing different livelihood options, things to keep in mind when planning for livelihood. Another stall depicted Community Based Aids and Appliances (these can be made at home using local resources) and also information on rights and schemes.
Below are pictures from yesterday’s program, Happy Reading.
The World is vastly dependant on agriculture for food production and in a country like India; it is the main source of livelihood for rural population. Since independence, India has experienced a lot of changes and achieved many things in the area of agriculture. One of the most popular changes is the Green Revolution. The green revolution contributed to widespread poverty reduction, averted hunger for millions of people, and avoided the conversion of thousands of hectares of cultivable land for other development purposes. . But the lesser known fact is that it also has left many communities at enormous loss with poverty, food insecurity and different health issues. It was started with keeping in mind the human need, the growing population with their limited land but what it failed to think was about the environment, water, soil and other natural resources and most importantly the sustainability factor. Even though it was human focused it also failed to provide food and better health for all.
Green revolution introduced high-yielding varieties of seeds and increase use of fertilizers and irrigation for more production and it has definitely helped us in many things in short run but in long run it has become a threat to the future of both humans and the earth.
As it requires a lot of irrigation, it is not suitable for all the regions in our country. It is a curse for communities who depend on rainwater for irrigation. Irrigation technologies have been developed which are not sustainable and increased use of underground water will leave us in a tragic state in few years. It is making some communities more vulnerable and susceptible to disasters and water crisis and hence poorer than they were. Green revolution which is not inclusive has increased poverty level of many farmers, as poor farmers could not afford high variety seeds, fertilizers and machinery. It has forced farmers to borrow and left many with huge debts causing suicide and high rates of rural to urban migration.
Due to the heavy chemical fertilizer inputs, land quality has gone down and yield has suffered.
Increase use of pesticide has made pests more resistant to many pesticides causing increase in pest attack.
Due to increase use of chemical pesticides, insecticides and fertilizers we have lost many birds and friendly insects and this can result in long term loss.
Chemicals used in agriculture are contaminating the groundwater and the chemical content in the food has affected general health. Consumption of one or two variety of food may provide us calories but can’t fulfill the requirement of micronutrients which are essential for human beings.
We are losing our vast varieties of traditional seeds due to the introduction of high yield seeds and many traditional crops have disappeared due to high concentration on wheat and rice,
Due to improper technological development farmers have been losing their indigenous methods of adapting to climate change which have made communities more vulnerable and less resilient.
So it is the time for us to think of a better solution. What can give us a sustainable future from which both humans and nature would benefit?
There are a lot of initiatives that have been taken by the government and NGOs, but none of their attempts seem to be solving the problem in recent future. Organic farming has been a solution and it has been implemented in some regions and seems to be successful. Organic farming may solve the issue of pesticides and fertilizers but how far can it solve the issue of irrigation and natural resource management? What can give us a future without compromising with nature?
The Earth is rich and has tremendous capacity to meet the human need and it has been providing too. But since the past two centuries, we have been facing lot of problems and threats from climate. Nature has its own management process but we are trying to manipulate. It is the time to look back at how our ancestors lived their lives and how they adapted to climate and saved the earth for us to live. So it is time for us to go back to the traditional crops which might have the answers to our problems and can save the earth for future generations. There are some traditional crops which have tremendous capacity to adapt to the climatic condition and do not require much input like fertilizer, pesticide and irrigation. One of the categories can be Millet.
Photographs of some types of millets traditionally grown in India:
Millets need very little water for their production. Thus, they do not burden the state with demands for irrigation or power. Millet does not demand for subterranean water and can contribute to sustainable agriculture in our country.
Millets are adapted to a wide range of ecological conditions often growing on very thin soils. It does not demand rich soils for their survival and growth. Hence, they are a boon for the vast dry land areas.
It can provide livelihood to small farmers at the same time focus on ecological preservation. Millet production is not dependent on the use of chemical fertilizers. Most millet farmers therefore use farmyard manures and in recent times, household produced bio-fertilizers. Therefore, they can significantly reduce the huge burden of fertilizer usage.
Grown under traditional methods, no millet attracts any pest. A majority of them are not affected by storage pests either. Therefore, their need for pesticides is close to nil. Thus, they are a great help to the agricultural environment.
Millets are amazing in their nutrition content. Each of the millets is three to five times nutritionally superior to the widely promoted rice and wheat in terms of proteins, minerals and vitamins.
Comparison of Millets with rice and wheat:
All these qualities of millet farming system make them the climate change compliant crops. Climate change portends less rain, more heat, reduced water availability and increased malnutrition. If there is any cropping system that can withstand these challenges, survive and flourish, it is the millet system.
While wheat and rice might provide only food security, millets produce multiple securities (food, fodder, health, nutrition, livelihood and ecological) making them the crops of agricultural security and future of our agriculture.
Millet is the answer which can give us a sustainable future from which both human and nature will benefit. This can be answer for us and our future generations, making a sustainable, rich and healthy planet and millet can be an answer for today and tomorrow…..
Last year we were quite successful in bringing back finger millet in our target area, where 46 farmers harvested finger millet. This year there are around 300 farmers have registered to cultivate finger millet. As the region is drought prone, millet can be an answer for them to solve the issue of food insecurity and malnutrition. It can contribute to livelihood, food security and availability of fodder for animals. Its capacity to grow with minimum water makes it one of the appropriate crops for the region and as there is no need for fertilizer and pesticide it can be the savior for farmers with low economic status. Millet is the answer for this region and can be for our country……. Along with promotion of organic farming, bringing back the millet to the mainstream agriculture can be the best options for Indian agriculture system in the long run.
We have been trying to protect and conserve forest in our target area since two years. Many interesting and sad facts have come out from the village meetings and FGDs with villagers over the last year. Every year the change in climate is drastic and a wide spectrum of village life has been affected and agriculture their main source of income is also affected immensely. When asked, villagers say it is the result of their irresponsible behavior over last few years. They have been continuously cutting the forest which is affecting their community in many ways.
People living in the area are economically poor and they depend upon forest for their livelihood. It is their right to utilize forest for their livelihood but at the same time responsibility should not be forgotten. Everyday thousands of bunches of wood from the forest are being supplied to market for sale apart from domestic use. We have necessity and right to use it but not to exploit it. If one tree is cut let us plant two instead.
As we all know that we all are responsible for climate change problem but the effect of the climate change is more on poor and marginalized community as they have very less resources and knowledge to adapt to it. Even though they are less responsible they are the most affected in the village. But this community is responsible for their own problems, whatever may be the cause, may it be poverty, unemployment, lack of awareness, the community is responsible for the enormous injustice they have done to the next generation.
We have been trying our best to help conserve forest in the region and the divisional forest office has ensured us all the help required towards forest conservation. Last year we had help plant 1300 saplings in 30 villages with the help of village forest protection committees but out of it there are less than 300 alive now. This year we have planned to plant more than 5000 sapling including bamboo in waste land with the help of villagers. Last Tuesday we had organized a block level meeting with forest committees from different villages. In the meeting most of the committee members shared that they now understand the importance and need of forest conservation and they would do their best to conserve it.
Time has come for all of us to work hard to conserve forest. This is the ‘Call of the time’ don’t think, no delay, no tomorrow, it starts from now…. Wherever you are, you may be in village or city, if you can’t do anything just pray for the cause….this is call of the time…
Pray for us as we are working with the community towards forest conservation. May God help us in helping people to conserve forest for better living, better livelihoods and better future for all.
As part of our field visit I had an opportunity to visit a village called Champi. This is a small community called ‘Turi” and their main occupation are to weave basket and sell it in the local market.
The tradition came to this community when there were lots of bamboos in the village and they developed the indigenous habit of weaving basket many generations back. When asked, where do they get bamboo from ? they told me that lots of bamboo bushes used to be there in the village but now they are buying it from neighboring villages to do their occupation.
In 1980s, government gave permission to some paper factories to use bamboo from the forest for paper production which turned forest full of bamboo into wasteland. Even though they buy bamboo to do the occupation they can’t leave the habit of weaving because it is their tradition and it is the way to remember their ancestors and ancient act.
But the question is how long it would continue? When asked they said only way to save this indigenous occupation is plantation. They have the answer! But who will do it? They have to do it but they need help! This is another responsibility for us now to help this community to save their occupation by helping them to save the forest and ultimately conserve environment. Livelihood through a proper management is the answer for long term development of the community.
"He brought me to his banquet hall and raised the banner of love over me. Restore my strength with raisins and refresh me with apples! I am weak from passion... His left hand is under my head and his right hand caresses me" - Song of Solomon 2:4-6