Crab and Prawn Farming

This story was told to Geraldine, a volunteer for Jeevika Trust who visited India courtesy of innocent foundation.  Thank you Geraldine and innocent! 

Project Eco works with impoverished tribal families in the ecologically-vulnerable Chilika Lake Lagoon. Its goal is to develop sustainable lagoon-linked livelihoods such as crab, fish and prawn cultivation.

Santi is one of the women who has benefitted from the project. With JRP support she has started a prawn farming activity.

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“My name is Santi. It means ‘peace’ in Hindi. I am 52 years old and I have one son and two daughters. One daughter is married, but not the other one. She is still at school. I used to have two sons but one died three years ago. The other one is independent, he works and earns money to feed his own family. I also have five younger brothers, whom my husband helped to get educated. Now they are settled in various positions in Bhubaneshwar [Orissa state’s capital, 3 hours’ drive away from the village] and they don’t come to visit. Even though they grew up in the village, they don’t care how we live. I feel very sad about the situation.

Before JRP started the project in my village, I wasn’t working. I was dependent on my husband, who works outside the village but earns very little money.

After Renoo [project coordinator from JRP] came and spoke about prawn and crabs cultivation, I joined a self-help group and was able to invest 5000 Rs towards crab cultivation. I learned the skills to cultivate crabs and prawns, and also learned how to increase banana and coconut production. Since the project started a year and a half ago, I made 70,000 Rs profit. Now I feel very rich.

Fattened crabs are hand picked for harvest

Every day, I wake up at 5 in the morning. I first send my children to school then look after the crabs and prawns cultivation. I have lunch at 10am, then snacks at 4 and dinner at 8. I do all the family work in the morning and then I am free. In my spare time, I plan where I need to invest my money and what I need to buy.

My life has changed now: I used to have a thatched home, now I have a cemented home. Only the ceiling is still thatched. I also opened a stationery shop, which is looked after by my daughter-in-law. Thanks to all these activities, I was identified by the government of Odisha [Indian state in which Santi lives] as someone who could be trusted to make things happen so got extra help from them.

We save the extra money in the bank and I can use that money when needed. I don’t need to ask the other women for money. I didn’t have to ask them for money when my daughter’s husband died three months ago. He was a fisherman and disappeared. It was tragic.

I have hopes for the future: I hope I can build a cemented ceiling on my house. I also hope my son and daughters will get educated and don’t have to depend on anyone.”

Crab and prawn farming are some of the most profitable activities on the island, producing commodities which can be exported to foreign countries.

To support our partner JRP in continuing to establish Self-Help Groups in village India please donate now

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Bees in the Bigger Picture – Part 2

As we said in our last post…..there’s a bigger picture – in fact two bigger pictures! - extending far beyond the direct livelihood benefits of the villagers who participated in Jeevika’s bee-keeping Project Madhu Network. In the first place there’s the local community ‘big picture’ which we outlined last week. And we touched on that word ‘pollination’, which is the key to a far bigger picture still, one of global dimensions – namely the crisis facing honey-bees as pollinators of 80% of all the fruit & veg that we eat.

bee pollination

We need bees.  In Europe 4,000 vegetable varieties, and worldwide over 70 of the 100 crop species which give us 90% of our food, are bee-pollinated. Albert Einstein is often quoted forecasting that “If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. No more bees, no more pollination…no more men”.  A clear objective of Project Madhu, beyond providing means for village livelihood, was to counter the risk of deforestation in the project area, and improve crop production, through enhanced bee pollination from the new 750 hive colonies. This has been a fruitful success, with crop yield more than doubling.

This crisis became the subject of a huge debate in 2006-7 arising from evidence of ’CCD’ or Colony Collapse Disorder experienced in America, and subsequently spreading elsewhere – even reportedly to Kerala in India. By 2009 a lot of research into the causes of CCD was being published, but here we are 5 years later, still uncertain whether CCD has a single or principal cause, or a cocktail of causes – pesticides such as ‘neonicotinoids’ sold by the likes of Bayer, Syngenta and Monsanto, or deadly mites which infest bees such as the varroa mite (or indeed ‘miticide’ chemicals used to control such mites), or even electro-magnetic interference from mobile phones or phone towers which have been shown to impact bees’ navigation.

america bees

However, according to a 2010 UN report, CCD causes, even in the US, less than 10% of all bee deaths. The great bulk is due to a combination of broader challenges such as degradation of forest and other bee habitats; progressive loss of food sources and pollen sources and loss, through air pollution, of scent trails to locate them; wide-spread use of agricultural pesticides and insecticides; and in the US the extensive practice of transporting hives of bees in lorries over huge distances to pollinate monocultures like almond trees – e.g. as many as 20 million bees in a single truck-load.

No wonder that bees are under terminal pressure from these causes, when they are simply trying to do their job. And this is why not just Project Madhu, and any expansion which may follow it, but Jeevika’s overall strategy on bee-keeping in rural India, will be looking not only to address village poverty but also make a contribution however modest to this global crisis which the bees – and all of us – are facing.

To save the bees and the future of man

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