Broadcasting for a better future with Kingston Green Radio

John Peel is one of my all-time heroes. His honeyed wisdoms, the depths of his respect for diversity and pure dedication to his beliefs (including seemingly hopeless cases like failing football teams) are still a cockle warming inspiration today.  This International Women’s Day (8th March) I had the pleasure of following in his footsteps, broadcasting the Jeevika cause into people’s living rooms via the wireless (or the computer, depending on how modern they are).

John Peel with VinylWith Jeevika Trust’s focus on revitalising communities in village India through women’s livelihood development, I was invited to host(ess) an hour long slot.  Kingston Green Radio is our local station featuring ‘quality informed programming in a discerning world’ and was on FM airwaves for an innovative Climate Week Special.

After getting lost en route in downtown Kingston I made it to the Kingston Environment Centre in the drizzle.  Inside was a hive of  volunteers, where I was made welcome and even offered a cooked breakfast! In our studio was veteran Sam, a founder of the movement, the lively Rosa my co-presenter and Kimberly who helped us find the music last minute online on an ipad!

In between Indian inspired tunes we shared stories of and debated travel, violence against women and cultures of inequality, including Bollywood movies (lack of) strong women and what an ideal nourishing life would involve.  I repeated Jeevika’s appeal to find people to do sponsored individual challenges to raise funds for our work and for friends to help us out locally, either at events or in the office!

Bollywood Movie Dabangg 2 We rounded off the show with Tagore’s poem urging India to awake into a country..

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;

The Kingston Green Radio ethos of connecting the community in an environmentally integrated fashion for a healthier, happier future is something we have in common.  It’s gratifying to see practical solutions echoed globally! And in being involved to live the John Peel dream…

To listen to our programme visit mixcloud

If you can’t lend the women of India your time to make the difference then back us with your wallet by texting  ‘JTGD01 £x‘ to 70070 (where x =  sum you want to donate up to £10) or follow the link below

Seeds for Life

The Green Revolution, introduced in the 1960s in India, changed the country’s status from a food-deficient country to one of the world’s leading agricultural nations. New high yield varieties of seeds, mainly rice and wheat but also millet and corn, were introduced and improved agricultural tools and practices were used to address food scarcity.

But, the downside of it was its adverse impact on the soil and the environment. It had a dire effect on small farmers and the biodiversity of crops. Traditional agricultural practices were discarded. High yield seeds were utilised and this resulted in a dwindling of the traditional native varieties of seeds available.

In recent years, there has been a move towards organic farming. The necessity of having an alternative agriculture method which can function in a friendly eco-system while sustaining and increasing the crop productivity is realised now. Organic farming has been practised in India for thousands of years.

Seeds in India

There has also been a movement to preserve the wealth of indigenous agricultural knowledge and to start practically saving heritage seed varieties by NGOs such as the Navdanya Foundation. WORD, our partner from Namakkal district in Tamil Nadu, has started a unique concept called the Seed Wealth Center to encourage farmers to adopt organic farming.

Two Seed Wealth Centers located in Thidumal Pudur and Aavarangadu villages cater to over 156 farmers, 37 of which are women. Over thirteen varieties of vegetable seeds are available, including coriander, broad beans, orange and white pumpkin, snake gourd, tomatoes, white and green aubergines, cluster beans, and ladies finger.

These seeds are stored in earthen pots. In addition the store also sells vermicompost and herbal pesticide made by SHG members in small quantities. Farmers need to register as members by paying a registration fee of Rs 25 each. There is no cash payment made to purchase seeds, but members who avail of seeds need to return double the amount of seeds taken.

Seeds in India

To date, members have borrowed a total of thirteen kgs of seeds and over three kgs of seeds have been repaid to the centre. The seeds that are in demand are aubergines, chillies, tomatoes and ladies finger as they produce higher yields as compared to the regular varieties of seeds available in the market.

Plants from seeds provided to member farmers are organically grown using herbal pesticides. These plants are interspersed with the regular crops of the farmers and therefore the same land is used to cultivate crops as well as vegetables. Women also use their seeds in their kitchen gardens and are able to produce enough for self consumption and thus realise savings in their daily expenditure on food items.

Distribution of organic seeds along with the use of natural manures and pesticides, vermi compost and water conservation techniques by Self Help Groups have played a key role in not only enhancing income but enabling people to connect with their roots and engage in an alternate village economy that is suitable and sustainable for rural communities.

To contribute to sustaining traditional organic agriculture in Tamil Nadu simply click on the link below…