Aranya Eco Village’s vision is to help establish partnerships and collaboration that help strengthen rural communities economically, politically, socially and over time, nutritionally. We are also aiming to restore the natural environment, with its life-giving ecosystems, through reducing the toxicity brought about by modern farming through reintroducing natural farming methods that work to regenerate the ecosystems that support people and the larger ecosystem networks. For more information on who we are, what our vision is, and why we feel it an important route to take, visit our About page.
Smallholder farmers across India have continued to be squeezed out of their livelihoods due a myriad of different reasons. These include the required use of informal money lenders who incur high interest, increasing input costs and market competition, and the variable seasonal weather that can cripple the many uninsured smallholders. Ironically, it is these very farmers who have supported the rural food market for centuries, aiding their local economies, which in-turn supports their community through employment. These small-scale farmers bring back money and resources into the rural pockets of India that have been missed by the uneven impact of socio-economic development.
Small-scale farmers are integral to beneficial development.
Safe, nutritious and affordable food entering rural markets, together with small-scale, ecological production, at the household level, can obviously elevate food and financial insecurity for rural citizens. There are many reasons to remain local and produce organically. Amongst these reasons are food availability, environmental benefit, access to seasonal diversities and varied staples, fresh produce and the crucial support it gives to the local economy and the smallholder farmers.
Many pockets of India sadly demonstrate the issues brought about through widespread mono-cultured operations, supported by heavy fertilisation and pest and herbicide applications. Areas of Punjab, the state that was subjected to the (cleverly named) ‘Green Revolution’, indicate the seriously harmful effects of these agricultural practises. There is now the ‘Cancer Express‘, a twelve coach train which transports poorer citizens to a city in the desert, some seven hours away, to receive special treatment for their pollution related diseases. Surely our food and the process we use to produce it should not contribute to widespread human suffering and the rapid degradation of our earth.
We need a world that works for everyone, not just a few.
Collaboration and Empowerment
There are exceptions, but in most situations people thrive more when they work together than when they work alone. Aranya Eco Village aims to help communities to establish the collaborative capacity of their rural economy. Using innovative small-scale production structures we plan to stabilise and strengthen local livelihoods and regain trust that was once prominent in traditional, natural farming methods.
There are some fundamental principles we promote and if appropriate, support, through practical, theoretical and financial assistance and planning. Our intention is to bridge the knowledge gap and introduce both traditional and modern ecological solutions to the continuing problems that hinder livelihood stability, job creation, food security and overall human-environmental well-being.
The Current Journey
There are three core projects we are channelling our work towards after the initial conversion to organic farming:
- Strengthening organic markets
- Healthcare through food and nutrition
- Processing organic food and establishing small-scale businesses
The backbone of all our projects is the uptake and reversion back to a form of organic farming that can truly work to strengthen the agro-ecosystem. We promote and actively support farmers with this transition and overtime we hope to have a team that can assist farmers from the very first, to the very last steps. We are currently working with two farmers, one of whom is connected to other organic growers. As a group, we share knowledge, abilities, labour and resources. As we develop and grow we will improve our human resources and strengthen our capacity to take on the mission we have set ourselves with others who share an aligning passion.
Have a look at our strategy overview for further understanding:
Organic Market Outlet
We are working with friends and networks to establish a small organic market in Bangalore for local organic smallholders can setup stalls. This market will not be the typical kind. The market will promote small organic growers, helping them to directly sell their produce every two weeks, building a good relationship between regular customers and the farmers they buy from. Customers can really get to know what is in their food, who the farmers are and establish a fair and healthy trading relationship.
The market will also be used as a venue. We will have workshops for adults and children, talks from different fields related to organic food and food security, and various other learning opportunities. The market will be our promotional outlet for activities taking place in the village too.
Healthcare through Food and Nutrition
Healthcare, particularly primary healthcare is underpinned by a good diet, one which fulfils the body’s nutritional needs in order to live a healthy, happy and productive life. Food needs to be safe, nutritious and readily available in order to achieve a good diet.
For many people, and children in particular, such a diet is not available to them. In the case of India, over half a decade of government and institutional focus on achieving mere caloric intake
, a crucial but incomplete focus, has meant hidden hunger has affected millions.
Hidden hunger is caused by the body being unable to receive the adequate types and amounts of macro (fats, proteins and carbohydrates) and micro (vitamins and minerals) nutrients to support the body’s needs at that time.
Aranya Eco Village wants to help ameliorate this problem by contributing in the ways outlined above. We will take this slowly and thoroughly, inviting households to talks and workshops. This will provide us with the much needed time to bolster our funding, but most importantly, understand whether our approach is fitting with local and cultural needs. We also hope it will also give us the opportunity to build friendships.
Cooperative village business partnerships
The best way to understand this area of our work is to look at the full visual representation we have created below. Through the farming collaboration, we are producing a diversity of food crops which over time will support the cooperative cafe in serving traditional cuisines and seasonal foods, ranging from ferments and alternative staples, to fruit sweets and a variety of vegetarian dishes.
There are many different sustainable technologies being created and increasing numbers being utilised for obscure and wonderful activities. We are yet to delve fully into this world of technologies, but we already have a few favourites, one being the Banana Fibre Processor. The processor has been around for a while now but we are only just really beginning to tap into its creative potential.
Our vision is to gradually encourage more cooperative business activities to flourish through the village. The cafe will be the first business alongside the market. Once revenue turns into a small profit, which we hope to see steadily grow, we’ll discuss the prospects of directing a small percentage of profits towards a new activity. Currently we are promoting natural soap making and the Banana Fibre Processor that can sustainably produce fibre for making baskets, paper, mats and many other things, including soap packaging.
Much of what we have planned is flexible. It needs to be adaptable and able to be broken down and built up again. Many projects and charity’s don’t make the first three years. Reasons upon reasons could be given as to why, but a lot of the time it is because too much is invested early on into something that wasn’t appropriate for the time, place and people it was trying to help. We wanted to create this charity in a way that really embodies the diversity of life. Therefore, flexibility has been at the centre of everything from the very beginning.
For those who are interested, our blog outlining our progress will be updated regularly.
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©2019 Aranya Eco Village.