Currently there are over 600 million people living in the rural communities of India; 80 million are tribal (Adivasis). In Maharashtra there are about 11 million and the area of our eco-centre is almost 100% tribal.
Within a 2km radius of the farm, the local largely (75%) tribal population of ~ 2750, live in hamlets of 10 – 40 rustic houses, with up to 10 inhabitants per house. They currently depend on the forest for their cooking requirements and, outside of the monsoon season, a number of them depend on the income gained from selling poached timber in Ganeshpuri and from timber-based wildcrafts. Expansion of population, social changes and rapid economic growth of India are leading to a situation where the once self-sufficient tribal communities now require material possessions and higher revenue streams.
Alternative employment opportunities are few, and many migrate away from the area to work in polluting and soil depleting brick kilns.
India is predicted to be the 2nd largest economy in the world by 2020. This rapid growth means that there is a growing gap between wealth and poverty.
Sri Bhaskar Save says “organic farming can meet the basic need of all, that is to live in health, dignity and peace”.
Original techniques of the tribals are being utilised in our farming practices. These are seen as truly sustianble, as an influx of chemical farming practices and GM techniques in India are leading to ecological and economical devastation. Fertile soils destroyed from over use of pesticides, hundreds of thousands of farmer suicides, due to economic pressures; plus adulterated foods with significant health concerns. As we hit peak oil, chemical based farming will require higher costs and is not sustainable. There is a growing demand for organic food all over India.
By building the bridge between conserving the environment and creating sustainable livelihoods, the Saha Astitva Foundation believes many people can live a good quality of life in undisturbed nature. The alternative is for them to end up with a low quality of life in the Mumbai slums – where already 10 million people live in hutments.