Hello, Tashi Delek and Namaste,
Pennies for Partnerships started in 2008 as a fund raiser to support existing programs in the Tibetan Exile Community in India. We currently contribute to the economic development of Tibetan Organic Farmers in South India with an outreach to address hunger in the surrounding community. Over the last two years Pennies for Partnerships has focused on raising funds to purchase organic rice direct from the farmers at a fair market value to distribute through the outreach People Feeding People to communities in need that experience food insecurity.
In 2011, upon my visit to India I discovered the concern for the Tibetan Organic Farmers; they were falling deeper into poverty each year due to an underdeveloped organic market in India and climate change. Issues such as 60% of all fields in the community went fallow due to monsoon rains coming too early and farmers faced the loss of their entire annual income. The Tibetan Organic Farmers have taken the initiative to start agroforestry which combines forestry cultivation of fruit and nut trees along side the normal crops. Fruit and nut trees can take up to five years to bear fruit; therefore the Pennies for Partnerships project will be pushing forward with the development of sponsored greenhouses to offer the farmers a secondary source of income growing organic vegetables to be sold at local markets.
The Tibetan Organic Farmers are working as agents of compassion in the People Feeding People project as they themselves work towards sustainability. Tibetan Organic Farmers distribute rice purchased by PFP to the doorsteps of families who live on less than a dollar a day and struggle with food insecurity. PFP sponsors 20 families and over the past year each family was gifted a 55 pound bag of organic rice monthly in an effort to support Tibetan Organic Farming practices and eliminate hunger for the sponsored families.
Due to the slow development of the organic market distributors have been paying the same low market rate to the organic farmers as for conventional produce. This inherently has over the years caused an annual decline in the farmers income forcing them lower into poverty. The Pennies for Partnerships project purchases direct from the farmers in order to increase their profit.
Recently we were notified that the farmers have a surplus in pulses such as Red Gram, Black Gram and Cow Peas. We agreed to purchase the Red Gram because the farmers have the largest surplus and the risk of loss is very great if the product is not moved. Red Gram is high in protein (22%) and another important staple food item in India.
On May 1st the red gram was delivered to the sponsored families. A few days later the agriculture officer, Jamyang visited the families to speak with them about the change. They were pleased with the red gram and so we will continue to work with the Tibetan Organic Farmers to rotate throughout the months between pulses and rice.
Below is a recent report from the Tibetan Organic Farmers which provides more details to the farming community.
MODEL TIBETAN ORGANIC FARMING PROJECT
This settlement is one of the settlement proposed by Central Tibetan administration in early 1960’s to the Government of India .Thus the Government of India consultation with state government of Karnataka agreed to provide 4,000 acres, mostly forest land near Taluk village in North Kanara district. Doeguling Tibetan Setttlement in Mundgod was established in 1966 and at the beginning the Settlers were provided with tents and bamboo huts for temporary shelter along with free dry rations, and all the settlers worked together on cooperative basis.
This settlement is situated in Tattihali in Mundgod Taluk of Karnataka state, India .The nearest airport and railway station is Hubli which approximately 45 kms away. The altitude at Mundgod is approximately 1800 ft above sea level and the temperature ranges between 78 degrees – 90 degrees Fahrenheit, with an average rainfall of 42’’ to 45’’ annually. This settlement is one of the largest Tibetan refugee settlements in India.
For many years the world saw rivers and underground water contaminated and unit for drinking as an immediate consequence of green Revolution and through reckless use of chemicals by farmers. Worse still, such practice is also responsible for rapid deterioration of the climate condition and unpredictability in climate in the world at large. In view of many reports of large scale destruction devastated by the extremities in natural phenomenon like flood , storm etc , responsible citizens of the world are now taking initiative towards reversing the trend by way of encouraging people to gradually switch over to organic farming – farming free from chemicals.
Tibetan Exile Government Policy on Organic Farming:
*Our main purpose of the organic movement is to encourage our farmers on organic farming as a sustainable alternative in reviving Indian Agriculture, especially in areas where the indiscriminate usage of chemical fertilizers and pesticides has resulted in loss in soil fertility and productivity with adverse effects on water quality, soil, plant and human health.
*Recognizing the importance of organic farming in Indian Agriculture: our Tibetan government in exile has taken various initiatives to promote and support organic production in order to sustain self reliance which we can enhance our soil fertility where we have been practicing chemical farming that proves very harmful to our mother earth and its biosphere.
* Over 60% of Tibetan population in India subsists on agricultural occupation. In 2002, Tibetan exile govt in India adopted a new policy on organic farming in the interest of Tibetan farmers switching to organic farming. Since the inception of new policy there are 978 farmers practicing organic on 4050.98 acres of land in twelve major agricultural settlements based in India.
* In order to convince such alternative agriculture farming practice to farmers in large we need to assure them premier price on farmers produce and of reposing trust that farming is economically viable to them. Though our farmers are producing different types of organic crop they are unable to get premier price on organic produce. To date Mundgod settlement has 393 farmers who have started organic on 1298.30 acres of land. Mundgod has the largest number of organic farmers compared to other Tibetan settlements. The total size of land allotted to the people of the Mundgod settlement including the two monasteries and nine camps is 3055 acres, out of which 1298.30 acres are under organic and remaining 1756.7 acres of land is gradually expected to come under organic farming in the next few years.
Awareness program on Organic Faming
Ever since the inception of organic farming policy set by the exile Tibetan Government, the farmers have shown great zeal , enthusiasm and interest in organic farming. Since the initiation of organic farming activities in the Mundgod settlement, the agriculture extension officer has played a vital role in providing many basic training on organic farming methods. Constant field visits and direct interaction with farmers have encouraged the farmers to follow appropriate techniques of organic farming practice.
The whole settlement area was fully treated with soil and water conservation project supported by Australia, by constructing bunding, waterways, farmpounds, gully check, percolation pond , eathern dam and check dam are some of the methods implemented in the settlement. Tree plantation on bunds and hedges was part of the projects initiated by Representative office.
To educate the organic farmers of Mundgod, with financial and moral support from Department of Home – CTA Dharamsala, Doeguling Tibetan Settlement Representative’s office has organized various trainings, presented demonstrations on making ideal compost manure and agriculture extension officer visited every household to offer guidance on their practice and at times guests are invited to share their knowledge and resources to the interested trainees.
Market for Organic Product:
Based on policy and guidelines by the Department of Home –CTA, the organic products are primarily consumed by the farmers themselves, whereas the organic surplus is marketed through FTCI and local Tibetan Co-Operative Society. All the farmers who are practicing organic farming are registered under organic certification through IMO Control Pvt .Ltd.
In year 2011, with kind support from Department of Home-CTA Dharamsala, Mundgod settlement opened an Organic Retail Outlet to sell organic produce direct from producer to customer. The initiative focuses on creating awareness of organic food consumption for better health, and provides a facility for farmers to sell direct farm to table. Presently, the organic outlet is managed by the organic committee under the supervision of the settlement office.
Being registered as organic farmers, the farmers have Organic certification. The organic outlet sells certified organic goods to the Tibetan settlers, tourists, and other clients who buy on bulk demand. One aspect of organic farming where we must work harder is the avenue for better marketing for organic produce and educate people about benefits of choosing organic not only for one’s own health but for the larger context of environmental reasons. This awareness has been done through organizing exhibition and food festivals focusing on organic.
Some of the common organic crops grown at Mundgod:
Some of the most common seasonal crop grown in Doeguling Tibetan Settlement are paddy (rice), white maize (corn), millet, Tor Dal (Red gram), cow pea, pulses, mango, sapato(fruits) and green manure , while in Rabi some of the crops that grow well in dry season are green gram, black gram, horse gram and different kinds of vegetables are grown in one’s yard.
Buy back agreement with potential organic buyer:
One of the most immediate problems is no assured buyers for their produce. Though we have taken an initiative to settle the problem with opening an outlet but still it has not entirely found a market to sell their surplus produce. The Pennies for Partnership continues to provide a great support by buying our organic rice on a monthly basis since Sept’2011 and they are one of our supporters in terms of our market. Last year, we have been approaching prospective organic produce buyers as they could contract with larger herbal or organic companies on condition of buy back agreement on economically viable crop and other normal practicing crop. At present, a few select medicinal herbs are grown on trial on 0.10 acres of land on a contractual farming with Himalaya Drug Company, Bangalore. The company will facilitate and provide maximum input for cost of seed and transportation. Additionally, they have cost assured the farmers they will purchase at premier price on certified produce.
Farmers of Doeguling Tibetan settlement are working so hard to be successful in organic farming and to create an awareness of the environmental issues as well as the healthy and nutritional option of consuming organic foods. We still need support to our farmers to get good production and in marketing our valuable products produced by the farmers.
Farmers need a huge amount of Manure to get good yields. They are preparing the manure in their farm yard but still it is not sufficient and need in-kind support.
We would like to thank all our supporters for promoting this organic farming project in Doeguling Tibetan settlement.
Agriculture Extension Officer,
If you or anyone you know is interested in getting involved to support the Tibetan Organic Farmers in India please contact me directly at email@example.com or send a direct comment to this page.
The continued effort to support Tibetan Organic Farmers will focus on the development of Phase II with greenhouse cultivation once we locate our experts with knowledge to share. Until then we will continue to deliver the products to the sponsored families as long as funds permit. At this time we have funding for 3 to 4 months of delivery. If you would like to donate a bag of organic rice or pulses to a family in need please donate $15.00 through the paypal button on the left. 100% of your donation will go for the purchase of food as we are a volunteer outreach grassroots project.
Thank you for your continued support to the Pennies for Partnerships- People Feeding People outreach.
Leann Halsey- Director