City/Country: Uttrakhand, India
Women in Almora and Nainital area showing solidarity in their continuous struggle and fight to protect their traditional seeds and natural resources (Land, Forest, Water ) and their rights over them to ensure food and nutrition security in the face of climate change. and various forces acting against the interest of women and the marginalised.
Women, together with their traditional seeds, promising – “we will protect our seeds, our forests, water , land and we will continue to protect our rights over them”
Seeds of Millets like “barnyard millet, finger millet, proso millet”, traditional lentils locally called “gurunsh, rains, gahat, black bhat”, Wheat, Paddy, shown in the photo are being saved and exchanged by women.BACKGROUND:
Our interactions with the community especially women in some of the hilly areas in Nainital and Almora district in state of Uttrakhand ,revealed sad and serious state of affairs. Through discussions, observations we realized that agro biodiversity in the area has declined sharply, there were increasing incidences of deteriorating soil fertility (soil health) in fields and soil erosion along hill slopes. Increasing number of women and children were suffering with malnutrition and anaemia. With market based, junk food gaining popularity everywhere , especially amongst youth and children, consumption of local ,nutritious, tasty, diverse variety of food took a nosedive these past few years. Above all , we came across villages where almost all the farmers were reeling under heavy debts primarily due to increasing costs of agricultural inputs ( and decreasing profit margins in cash crops) , heavy medical bills and also increasing food prices. So the health of humans , in particular women and children, health of animals and heath of our ecosystem was in poor state.
At the same time we did come across women and men who expressed desire to bring back some of the traditional crops and varieties due to their high nutritive value, taste, sturdiness, being less labor, capital and time intensive, and also their increasing demand in the market. They also showed interest in learning efficient , economically viable, ecologically sound methods of agriculture such as composting, preparing bio fertilizers and biopesticides and other agricultural practices.
Chintan International Trust , along with women and marginalized sections are working to strengthen the health of Humans, Environment and Animals with Ecohealth approach, in the Middle Himalayan ranges , in India.