Strengthening Food Sovereignty
More than one fifth of Odisha’s population belongs to different Adivasi communities and the majority of them live below the poverty line. Being mostly dependent on small-scale farming and forest resources, they are especially vulnerable to land degradation and other environmental changes. Together with Adivasi communities, RLS’s partner Living Farms develops alternative, sustainable farming methods to strengthen their food sovereignty.
Due to the marketing strategies of large corporations, genetically modified seeds and chemical pesticides have even spread to the remotest Indian villages. While such products may seem promising in the beginning, the yield soon declines and farmers are increasingly dependent on expensive purchased of agricultural products. In contrast, traditional modes of farming suit the local environmental conditions much better, contribute to the preservation of national resources and strengthen farmers’ independence from large corporations.
Living Farms conducts research on the traditional modes of farming and forest management being practiced by Adivasi communities for generations. Jointly, they adapt these techniques to present circumstances and spread the knowledge through regular workshops, capacity building trainings and the installation of community seed banks. For example, the re-introduction of multi-cropping practices instead of extensive monocultures not only strengthened the crops resilience against pests and harmful environmental impacts. It also diversified the yield and contributed to a healthier, balanced nutrition. Consequently, the use of chemical pesticides can not only be significantly reduced, but oftentimes completely substituted by natural bio-pesticides or even modes of non-pesticides management. Alongside, Living Farms prepares policy briefs and research reports to further assert alternative methods of farming in the general political discourse.
Living Farms, founded in 1998, works to improve the food sovereignty of Odisha’s Adivasi population and other marginalized groups like landless agricultural labourers. Moreover, their work also encompasses programs on forest regeneration, education on child and maternal health as well as workshops on how to market one’s products on local markets for small-scale farmers.