Monday, 13 August 2007


(by Anitha Pailoor, Published in the Deccan Herald, and on KGI)

As rain poured outside the hall, women farmers participating in the fair cheered in joy. Monsoon had supported their efforts to spread the green word. Happier was Suma who found khadga avare, a vegetable variety, which was her favourite during childhood days. Most of the consumers who attended the Malenadu Mela (Malnad Fair) recalled their days of 'eating fresh and staying healthy'. Vegetables and wild variety seeds which were in good demand at the event spread the scent of local treasure. The fair held in Sirsi reflected the efforts of women's collectives in rejuvenating indigenous food diversity.
Women showed that biodiversity conservation begins in the kitchen. Each of them played the role of a seed bank, storing tens of varieties and spreading it across. Meeting people in such occasions has helped them develop new ideas and learn growing methods. This is not all. Earning money has made a huge difference to their status, both within the family and in the society. Coming out of the house to take part in public functions was not easy earlier. The movement has sown the seeds of change even at the family level. Women are now key decision makers. A strong social relationship has developed among these women for a good cause.
....Sugandha Sahadeva Gavade, a tribal woman in Yellapur, earns twenty percent of her family income from growing vegetables. Observing the prospects of growing vegetables, she works full time in the vegetable garden. Her group has clearly understood the health and economic aspects of non-chemical food produces. A few members have left tiresome jobs like brick making and have taken up vegetable farming.
.....Sunitha Rao, the person who dreamt of such a start, has many more to be groomed. “Though we have developed a good reserve of seeds, fields have acted as banks. We now need to develop a small store for seeds, which would cater to those who are interested. An outlet for native produce may also boost the interest of farmers. We don't want to grow in number, but we want to strengthen ourselves. Being a local group, we want to respond to larger issues,” she says.

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1 comment:

Andrew said...

I like these stories of seed-savers in other places. As I grow older, I find myself losing interest in tourist destinations, such as the Taj Mahal. But visiting these village people and looking at their gardens and seed stores would certainly draw me.