Sustaining Small Family Farming in the Nilgiri Mountains

Dharmalingam Venugopal

Nilgiri Documentation Centre, Kotagiri

International Mountain Day (IMD) is being celebrated on Dec 11 since 2002 to raise awareness about the importance of mountains, to highlight the opportunities and constraints in mountain development and to build partnerships that will bring positive change to world’s mountain areas.

This year the theme of IMD is ‘Farming in Mountains, farming for families’ to focus on valuable contribution of mountain family farming to livelihoods. Family farming in mountain regions is undergoing rapid transformation due to world population growth, economic globalization, urbanization and migration. At the same time recent trends present opportunities for local development in diverse activities.

The objective is to reposition family farming at the centre of agricultural, environmental and social policies in the national agendas by identifying gaps and opportunities to promote a shift towards a more equal and balanced development. How to increase awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by smallholders and help identify efficient ways to support family farmers?

Sustaining Small Tea Growers

To celebrate IMD 2014, Nilgiri Documentation Centre will  organise a One Day Workshop on ‘Sustaining Small Family Tea Growers in the Nilgiris’ on Dec 11, 2014. The workshop will seek to identify and  profile small family growers and seek answers for questions like  Are they viable? Are there any alternatives? Can they go back to vegetables, partly or wholly? How can they supplement their income? Can they add value to their product like promoting a niche market? What is the way forward? How to synergize the working of development institutions like Tea Board, Indcoserve? Can Small Family Growers and Bought Leaf Factories live together on mutual goodwill and benefit?

Nilgiri Conservation Award 2014

On the occasion, NDC will present the Nilgiris Conservation Award 2014 to the Hill Area Development Programme in recognition of its role in the development and conservation of Nilgiris in the last four decades.  As the HADP is poised to enter its 40th year, its future has turned into a question mark with the abolition of the Planning Commission.  Whatever may be the new Avatar of the HADP, its contribution to development and conservation in the Nilgiris needs to be acknowledged. It has touched all corners, all aspects and all sections of the Nilgiri society in the past four decades.

[Being a farming community & a large number being small tea growers, the Badagas have a big stake in the issues high lighted by D.Venugopal. They must attend the workshop to be held on 11-12-14 and make it a success. I can only recall the words of Thangadu Krishna Gowder [rendered in his golden voice in a song] ” elay hattalay belay elle dho “. The steep fall in the price of green leaf tea and the terrible menace of monkeys and other so called ‘protected wild life’ in the cultivation of farm produce, have made us desperate and dejected. Resulting in sometimes ‘desperate sale’ of our small holdings (tea estate – thotta). We have been taken for a ride by the green leaf  agents who cheat us in weight and price, unscrupulous tea factory owners who have no qualms in producing adulterated tea as well as the corrupt and cunning tea brokers. Not double damakka but triple damakka – Wg Cdr JP]

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