Recollection of GRAVIS’ food security efforts in Thar on World Food Day

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that about 795 million people of the 7,3 billion people in the world, or one in nine, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2014-2016. 190,7 million of them – 14,5% of the population – live in India, which makes India home for the largest undernourished population in the world. Further, according to the FAO, 38,4% of the children aged under five in India are stunted (too short for their age), while 21% suffer from wasting, meaning their weight is too low for their height.

The World Food Day is celebrated every year on the 16th of October in honor of the date of founding the FAO of the United Nations. Different themes are adopted each year, most of them revolve around agriculture. Because only investment in agriculture – together with support for education and health – will turn this situation around, as the FAO states. Based on this year’s theme: “Change the future of migration. Invest in food security and rural development”, let’s take a closer look on GRAVIS’ work on this.

Especially in the harsh climatic conditions of the Thar desert food security is hard to achieve. The main reason causing people to migrate from Thar desert is a lack of food and water. By ensuring food security GRAVIS prevents people from being forced to leave their homes.

With the help of a Khadin, an earthen bund built on the run-off side of a field to decrease run-off of water, crop growth is promoted. It is an effective and sustainable method for improving soil moisture. Till date, GRAVIS built 5.095 Khadins and in this way benefited 360 families.

grandmother ahuTo guarantee a balanced nutrition GRAVIS provides Arid Horticulture Units (AHUs) by the house for adding vital nutrients and minerals to the farmer’s diet. Fruits like lemons and pomegranate can be grown, as well as vegetables. GRAVIS provides the resources and expertise to establish AHUs which grow plants that are suitable to an arid environment. GRAVIS has already given 3.815 AHUs.

Seed Banks ensure food security in different ways. Seeds can be stored in earthen jugs in a mix of ash and neem leaves for preservation. Since seeds are the foundation for growth and their quality of great importance for a successful crop, only the most resistant and profitable ones are stored. Seeds from plants grown on their own land are often more productive than other ones as they have already been proven to grow in the farmer’s particular climate and soil. Genetic modification or hybridization are not involved in that process. The farmers will additionally save time and money as they no longer have to travel to the market to buy commercial seeds.

In addition to improving agriculture GRAVIS also makes effort to ensure the well-being of the livestock. Village forests, for example, provide livestock fodder. Especially in drought years, cattle owners have to face many problems due to the lack of water and are sometimes forced to migrate to acquire the necessary resources. A village forest not only provides fodder, but also reduces overall land degradation and soil erosion. To date, GRAVIS developed 69 village forests.

To promote the village’s development it is necessary to share resources, technology and knowledge. Therefore, GRAVIS supports the formation of Farmers’ Clubs, where local farmers can build a network to improve local agriculture. They also try to reap the benefits of government schemes in a more effective manner.

GRAVIS has already achieved great successes in the fight against hunger, but still a lot needs to be done and we should be aware of that, especially on today’s World Food Day.

*by Lisa, Volunteer

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