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5 Ways In Which Adivasis Championed Environmental Causes In 2021

Indigenous communities around the world have been protecting the environment for thousands of years. Their worldview respects natural resources and wildlife, and stores immense knowledge about ecosystems. According to the World Bank, indigenous peoples comprise only around 6% of the global population but they protect 80% of biodiversity left in the world. Preserving biodiversity is key to reversing the climate crisis, as these areas are major carbon sinks.

Here is a look at 5 ways in which the Adivasis of India continued to protect the country’s biodiversity in 2021.

Photo for representation purposes only

1. Tribal farmers in Rajasthan revitalize soil health

Adivasi farmers in three districts of southern Rajasthan have taken on the task of revitalizing the health of the soil in their region through their nutrition-sensitive farming system. In Pratapgarh, Dungarpur and Banswara districts, farmers are reviving traditional farming practices and revitalizing agricultural management. The nutrition-sensitive farming involves mixed cropping with legumes as natural fertilisers, crop rotation, agroforestry, mulching, plantation in homestead and growing hedgerows and grassy strips around agricultural fields. The cultivators in the region have found these practices useful in their farmland, most of which is rough, uneven and sloping on the foothills. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has taken cognizance of the new practices and praised this nutrition-sensitive farming system for its positive impact on soil health, agricultural output and environment protection.

Source:- The Hindu

Women in 135 tribal villages of Odisha observe ‘thengapalli’ to protect forests. Image source: The Better India

2. Adivasi Women protect 500 acres of Odisha’s Forests

Forests are valuable for their produce and are at constant threat from the timber mafia and smugglers. In Odisha’s Nayagarh district, women have taken up the matter in their own hands and are patrolling their forests to keep smugglers at bay. Over the years, hundreds of acres of forest have come under protection in 135 villagers guarded by men and women. Out of the total, 62 villages see women taking complete charge of the forest protection. Their conservation efforts have helped rejuvenate over 500 acres of forest land under their protection.The activity is called ‘thengapalli’, which translates to ‘thenga’, meaning sticks and ‘palli’, explained as ‘turn’. It is a practice where members from the village participate in protecting their community forest. It involves around 4-6 women patrolling the forest’s boundaries in shifts. Once their turn ends, another bunch of women change the guard. The patrolling is done in three shifts starting at 6 am and lasting until the late hours.

The Odisha Millets Mission focuses on seed sufficiency. Photo Credit: Abhijit Mohanty

3. An Adivasi Community battles Climate Change With Traditional Farming

The Bonda people belong to the Austro-Asiatic ethnic group and are believed to be a part of the first wave of migration out of Africa, 60,000 years ago. Their lives are interwoven with the forest land they inhabit and for generations the tribe has sustained itself by cultivating traditional crops, collecting minor forest produce, and brewing indigenous liquor. Climate change has impacted their harmonious lives by changing the rain pattern. Modern lifestyle also meant that farmers shifted to cultivating paddy. Bonda women, however, are addressing these issues by reverting to cultivation of native millet varieties--finger (ragi), foxtail (kakum or kangni), barnyard (sanwa), proso (chena) and pearl (bajra) millets--which are climate-resilient and ensure the community's food and nutritional security.

The awareness created by Bonda youth volunteers and local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) about cultivating millets through improved farming techniques to meet nutritional and climatic challenges, and the institutional impetus given by the Odisha Millets Mission--such as assured purchase and higher prices--is steadily yielding results.

Source:- IndiaSpend

Image source:

4. People of Arunachal Pradesh collaborate with officials to protect orchids

The Sessa Orchid Sanctuary, located in the West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh, was the first, and until recently the only, protected area in the country dedicated to the preservation of naturally growing orchids. It is home to more than 200 species of orchids including several endemic and rare species. Earlier this year the local community members of Sessa, belonging to indigenous communities, collaborated with the forest officials of the Khellong forest division to give the sanctuary a long-awaited facelift – a newly constructed boardwalk leading up to the refurbished entrance and a one kilometre-long trail for orchid enthusiasts. Local tribal communities such as the Bugun, the Miji and the Hrusso have agreed to share their rich ethnobotanical traditions in order to conserve the orchids.

Source: Mongabay

Photo credit: Arathi Menon/ Mongabay India

5. A company run by Adivasis in the Nilgiris focuses on sustainable economics

Started by the Adivasis, for the Adivasis, Aadhimalai Pazhangudiyinar Producer Company Limited (APPCL), located in Kotagiri in Nilgiris, leads the initiative of connecting traditional forest produce with the market. This Adivasi collective has bagged this year’s Equator Prize by the United Nations Development Programme under the categories of green economy, nature-based solutions (through sustainable harvest) and women empowerment. Started informally as a farmers’ collective in the early 2000s, the company was registered as a farmer producer company in 2013. The company started by selling honey but now includes other farm and forest produces. Value is added to the goods and sold at the Aadhimalai Pazhangudiyinar Producer Company Limited. The products include beeswax lip balms and soaps, pickles and amla candies. APPCL is a model venture that promotes indigenous sustainable economy which proves that trade can be conducted without harming the ecology.



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