Women Power and the Seeds of Optimism
A woman is like a tea bag. Put her in hot water and you will see how strong she is (attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt). We have all heard this one at some point. Time and again women have shown that they are adept at managing home, hearth and work with equal ease.
This year Nari Shakti Puraskar (The Women Achievement awards given by the Indian government) was given to 38 women. Notable among these are the All India Millet Sisters Network, Deepika Kundaji, Vanastree and Sabarmati Tiki. All of them are working in rural areas, with women in agriculture, promoting neglected grains and traditional seeds.
The Hyderabad based All India Millet Sisters Network (AIMS) is the first of its kind women millet farmers in the country that is dedicated to the cause of the neglected coarse grain. Millets are a traditional crop in the country and this network has brought together women farmers who are cultivating and conserving millets. It was set up eight years ago with 100 women. Today, it is a network of 5000 women across the country.
The story of Anjamma is an interesting one. She is a poor farmer from Telengana. She preserves seeds in a traditional way without using any chemicals. She stores seeds for next season in a cane basket, using easily available ash and neem leaves and seals them with cow dung and mud. Despite a drought spell and zero rainfall she reaped eight quintals millet and six quintals of toor dal from her bio diverse farm. Her work in keeping alive a traditional knowledge system in the preservation of seeds was recognised by Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Authority, India (PPVFRA).
There are many stories like this one and they are getting noticed by none other than the Minister for Women and Child Welfare, Maneka Gandhi who is an environmentalist herself and rooting for women farmers. Read about the rest here in her own words.
Daana salutes all the women engaged in farming and seed preservation.