Mountain Forum Bulletin
India’s Garhwal Himalaya is an agrobiodiversity hotspot. The traditional system of cultivating “Barahnaja” (literally, ’12 seeds’) together in cropped land is a centuries-old practice: a cropping pattern involving 12 or more food crops grown in “synergetic” combinations (Singh and Tulachan, 2002). This is practiced under a “Sar system” of crop rotation that characterises the cropping pattern together with a vertical distribution of crops — in valley regions, mid-altitudes and highlands — and supports the maintenance of agrobiodiversity. Three quarters of the people in the region depend on this system for their livelihoods. The traditional agricultural systems are the reservoirs of many crops and cultivars, most of which are still little known to mainstream societies and are better adapted than modern agricultural systems to environmental and social conditions (Altieri, 1995; Ramakrishnan and Saxena, 1996). Recently changes in the cropping pattern have taken place as “Barahnaja” has decreased, particularly in the mid-slopes and low-lying areas. [more]
By: Pankaj H Gupta
New production relations and out-migration are creating an unforeseen gender dynamic in Garhwal.
It is May, the wedding season in Garhwal, and the mountains reverberate with the sounds of drums and Scottish pipes. Colourful wedding parties can be seen winding their way through mule tracks. The wheat crop has just been harvested, and is now being threshed. Celebration is in the air.
Against this backdrop, 72-year-old Bachni Devi has been asked to recollect her own wedding. What was it like coming, as a young child bride, to the village of Jardhargaon? She is both surprised and amused by the question. “My wedding? Oh, it was so long ago,” she says. “I was only 13. Now I am 72.”
People in Conservation
Volume 2 Issue 1, January 2009
Jardhargaon is a village at a height of 1500 metres situated in the hilly district of Tehri Garhwal in the State of Uttarakhand in North India. Jardhargaon has pine forests, village grasslands (Civil Soyam Forest) and dense Reserved Forests covering an area of 429.5 ha consisting primarily of oak and rhododendron trees. Cultivation is the main livelihood of the people of this region.
This is part of the Garhwal region where the Chipko Movement took place. The Chipko Movement started in the early 1980s as a spontaneous local protest against tree felling by contractors and it spread rapidly across the region. The Movement resulted in a 15 year moratorium on commercial felling at altitudes over 1000 metres in the Uttarakhand region. Jardhargaon, too, came under the influence of this Movement, primarily through the active involvement of one of its residents, Vijay Jardhari.
Excerpts from Report in InfoChange News & Features, October 2008
Dead end on the road to development
By Deepti Priya Mehrotra
Three films screened at the PSBT Open Frame International Film Festival in September critique the dominant development model by examining the lives of three communities — subsistence farmers in Uttarakhand, the fisherfolk of Chilika, and Delhi’s ragpickersThree documentaries, screened at the PSBT Open Frame International Film Festival on September 16, 2008, together provide a powerful critique of the dominant developmental model. Two films discussed the “vanishing local” — the crumbling of subsistence agriculture in Uttarakhand (Apna Alu Bazar Becha, by Pankaj H Gupta), and the destruction of fisheries in Orissa (Chilika Banks — Stories from India’s Largest Coastal Lake, by Akanksha Joshi). The third film explored Delhi’s scrap industry, run largely by ragpickers (Scavenging Dreams, by Jasmine K Roy and Avinash Roy). The films depict the lives of millions of ordinary people, barely surviving behind the façade of Shining India.* * *
Countercurrents.org 11 July, 2007
While the government is trying its best to make us believe that the patent regime will begin another boom in agricultural, a solid mass of protest by NGOs and civil society groups is highlighting the cruelty and negative impacts on farm sector and bio-diversity. In this backdrop, Harsh Dobhal explains, how an unassuming farmer inspired a movement to revive traditional agriculture practices and eroding biodiversity, quietly sowing the seeds of revolution. Chipko movement hit the headlines in the 1970s and now it is written in golden letters of ecological movements across the globe. For the world it is part of memory and nostalgia, but not for the people of Garhwal. They still derive lessons from it and continue to better their lives by adding to the prevailing ecological wisdom by the day.