The Saha Astitva Foundation works towards the harmonious integration of forests, fields and people, providing grassroots solutions to global challenges.
Our work is based in a tribal area near the pilgrimage centre of Ganeshpuri and just 70km north of Mumbai.
The tribal people are driven away from their natural roots of sustainability, and the common trend is now to seek money to survive for the day. This means that there is little planning or forethought for their future.
Selling fertile topsoil for brick-making is common-place, over consumption from the forests and land being sold for urban and industrial development. There is a tendency to work in the brick kilns, or migrate to the city with the promise of a better future. This adds to numerous social difficulties. High levels of alcoholism exist in the community and many women are widows by the age of 30.
What is the Saha Astitva Foundation doing?
We encourage tribal landholders to grow nutritional indigenous crops in a sustainable organic manner, restoring land and empowering the local community in line with Gandhi’s vision of gram swaraj and constructive programming. We aim for the countryside to provide prosperity for the local community and safeguard the environment for generations.
We employ the local young men to work at the eco-centre and train them on-the-job in indigenous farming techniques, teaching the restoring of soil fertility. We research the produce to grow and identify economically viable produce that will give a high return, maximising the earning potential of the small land-holdings. We aim to encourage village industries such as food processing etc. to create more jobs in the village.
This year Vijay, a young man who has worked with us for 2 and a half years grew organically for the first time this year, despite the risks and his need to support his family. The rice has been sold and over double the market rate, covering the yield loss and encouraging Vijay and his neighbours to try again next year.