Spandan Samaj Seva Samiti
Rs.72,09,645 over 36 months
Spandan Samaj Seva Samiti is committed to improving the lives of members of the Korku tribal community, found exclusively in Central India.
Their recent work has been focused on addressing malnutrition since the Korku community shifted from growing traditional crops and millets to soybean as a major cash crop in the 1970s.
Soybean crops were initially profitable, but then began to sharply decline due to erratic rainfall amongst other factors. Following this shift, there was a gradual increase in household food shortages and malnutrition among children in the community. With no consumable crop of their own, the Korku community were forced to buy sub-standard broken rice bits (called churee). It flooded the local bazaars and its cost rose rapidly as demand increased.
Spandan has been working with the community to address the acute food crisis by facilitating a revival of traditional crops and millets. They began a campaign to engage the community in discussing the problems due to recurring losses in soybean farming and to consider the nutritional and food availability advantages their own traditional crops and millet had. The community participated enthusiastically as they were keen to improve their situation.
The first challenge was to source sufficient millet seeds; the campaign appealed for voluntary contributions, through which two quintals of millet seeds were mobilised. Those willing to revive millet in their fields could borrow seeds and return them after successful propagation, which created a millet seed bank. These seed banks were established at strategic locations. From across 20 project villages, 302 farmers accessed 500 kilograms of millet seeds this year.
The millet revival has shown many advantages – the families have food year-round at home, nutrition has improved and dependency on buying or borrowing food grains has declined. Gradually the sale of churee rice has nearly vanished from the local bazaars. Reviving millets is on the rise as more farmers are coming forward to bring it back in the farms and on people’s plates.