The role of tribal communities in promoting organic farming and safeguarding rights on forest land: Athakoshia Adivasi Ekta Manch – Odisha

Farmers busy preparing organic pesticides for their fields. (Photo by Basudev Mahapatra)

How Tribal Women of Odisha Have Made Farming Organic, Profitable & Life-Changing | Read the full article and view more images >>

Basudev Mahapatra,, July 13, 2017

Tribal communities in Sundargarh district of Odisha have revived the traditional practice of growing food without the help of chemical fertilisers and made it viable economically by making pragmatic changes. Basudev Mahapatra takes a closer look.

Nirmala Barla (40), a passionate farmer of Sundargarh district’s Brahmanamara village, is a proud woman because she feeds her family with a variety of safely grown food, and not just cereals grown by using lots of chemical fertilisers that are available in the market. In her 14 acres of land, both upland and relatively plain, she grows rice, millet and vegetables without using any inorganic fertilisers. After meeting consumption needs of the family, she is also able to earn a bit by selling the surplus farm produce. […]

From individual to collective farming

Now the women folk of these tribal communities do not keep themselves limited to individual farm activities in their own lands only. They have now formed groups comprising landholders and landless poor and taken up patches of land on lease to grow variety of nutrition-rich food crops including millets, pulses and vegetables.

This model is developed in line with the traditional tribal system of Panch, where a team of tribal males from the households work together for terracing, bounding and leveling the sloped land in the hilly terrain to make them farming-ready and building small water-harvesting structures for limited irrigation.

One of the best features of these collective models of women farmers is that even the landless poor member of the group has equal share of the harvest. So this concept has got wide acceptance and, as of now, 48 women farmers’ collectives operate in different villages.

The group of eight woman farmers from Oram tribal community of Budajharan village, named Oliva Women Farmers’ Collective, has received several accolades for growing about 12 crops including brinjal, chilly, onion, tomato, cow-pea, watermelon, beans, bitter-gourd, ladies finger, sunflower, pumpkin and leafy-vegetables, in one season by dedicating one row for each crop.

These groups are affiliated to the larger front of tribal communities called Athakoshia Adivasi Ekta Manch, which fights for their rights on forest land and the commons to expand the area under organic farming. […]

Basudev Mahapatra is a journalist based in Bhubaneswar.

Adapted from an article originally published on Subscribe to VillageSquare’s weekly update on the website for more stories from rural India.

Source: How Tribal Women of Odisha Have Made Farming Organic, Profitable & Life-Changing
Date visited: 11 October 2020

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

There are three important stakeholders on whom rests the successful implementation of the Act [Forest Rights Act (2006)]. This includes the Gram Sabha itself, the Forest Department and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (Tribal Department in various states); the Tribal Departments are the nodal agencies responsible for the implementation of the Act. Revenue officers at the District and Block level also have a role to play in the finalization of titles, making changes in the official revenue maps etc. Apart from this an institutional framework has been created at different levels of checks and balances, management and redressed structures from the village to the state level. This involves the Forest Rights Committee at the village level, the Sub-Divisional and District level Committees and a final appellate authority of the State Level Monitoring Committee.

CG-Net Swara:
The Forest Right Act:
Forest Rights Act:
Ministry of Environment and Forests:

Source: Rebecca S . David in “An analysis of the impact of the Forest Rights Act (2006) in three states of India” (MPhil University of Cambridge, UK, 2014), p. 1
Date visited: 11 October 2020

The tribal households traditionally had a backyard garden that had multiple, multilayered and multipurpose indigenous trees, plants, herbs, and shrubs. […] The produce from this small garden was sufficient to meet the dietary and nutrition needs of a family for an entire year.

Learn more about food crops that are resistant to pests, grow on poor soils, flourish under changed climatic conditions and offer high nutritive value | Food distribution >>

“The tribal food basket has always been ­diverse and nutritious, including maize, minor millets like kodo and kutki, oil seeds like ramtila, along with fruits, leaves, ­rhizomes, mushrooms, meat and fish. […] We have pushed them out of their complementary relationship with ecology, way of life and time-tested nutrition.” | Learn more >>

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See also

India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world with a kaleidoscopic variety and rich cultural heritage. It has achieved all-round socio-economic progress since Independence. As the 7th largest country in the world, India stands apart from the rest of Asia, marked off as it is by mountains and the sea, which give the country a distinct geographical entity. Bounded by the Great Himalayas in the north, it stretches southwards and at the Tropic of Cancer, tapers off into the Indian Ocean between the Bay of Bengal on the east and the Arabian Sea on the west.

Source: States and Union Territories – About India
Date visited: 4 September 2021

Learn more about India’s 28 States and 8 Union Territories – From Andhra Pradesh to West Bengal | Nutrition >>

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