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1.

Introduction
Academy of Development Science (ADS) is a people oriented Science & Technology organisation
primarily concerned with problems faced by village communities; particularly tribals, landless and
small & marginal farmers !t is a registered Society and "haritable Trust ADS campus is situated
near #ashele village in the #ar$at Tribal %loc& of 'aigad District ADS has been wor&ing on rural
development issues in #ar$at and (urbad Talu&as of 'aigad and Thane Districts since )*+*
ADS is committed to rural wor& based on an appreciation of many positive features of rural life
and society !t sees a big challenge in revitalisation of the rural economy whilst strengthening its
ecological base !t draws inspiration from the rich and diverse indigenous cultures and &nowledge
systems
ADS is actively involved in a wide range of rural development activities aimed at addressing
problems faced by local communities in tribal regions of 'aigad and Thane Districts The thrust
areas of ADS are, Traditional medicine and primary health care; -cological agriculture and
conservation of plant genetic resources; .utrition and food security; -mployment /eneration;
-ducation; .atural resource management; "ommunity video; and 0omen1s empowerment
2ver the years ADS efforts have been supported by agencies li&e (isereor, /ermany; 2naway
Trust, 3#; 'ainforest !nformation "entre, Australia; 3.D4 5 (inistry of 'ural Development,
.ew Delhi; Department of Science & Technology, .ew Delhi; "A4A'T, .ew Delhi; !ntermon5
26fam, Spain; !D'", "anada; etc
%efore moving on to the report on ADS activities it would be useful to gain a better understanding
of the region and the people with whom ADS wor&s This will be followed by the report

2. About the area and people

2.1 Area And Location
ADS is located in the Karjat Tribal Block (KTB) o !ai"ad District# $aharashtra State (about 12% k&s South 'ast o
Bo&ba( cit(). ADS )orks in o*er 2%% *illa"es o Karjat and $urbad Talukas in !ai"ad and Thane Districts.

2.2 +eople
The &ain inhabitants o this area are tribals. Three tribes# *i,. Thakurs, Mahadev Kolis and Katkaris constitute a &ajorit(
o the population. Thakurs and Mahadev Kolis o)n land and practise a"riculture but Katkaris are "enerall(
landless. Mahadev Koli tribals are relati*el( better o )hile Thakur and Katkaris are poor. The Katkari tribe has been
notiied as one o the three -pri&iti*e- tribes in the state o $aharashtra. The( li*e in abject po*ert( and &ost o the
a&ilies )ork as bonded labourers on brick &akin" enterprises.
2.. Socio/econo&ic and de*elop&ent Status o tribals
$ost tribals are s&all 0 &ar"inal ar&ers or landless labourers. A"riculture is the &ain source o li*elihood but the sin"le
rained crop o cereals is unable to eed &ost a&ilies or &ore than 1 &onths. There is no e&plo(&ent in the re"ion
apart ro& ellin" trees or orest contractors or )orkin" as labourers in ields or on "o*ern&ent jobs. This kind o
e&plo(&ent beneits a &inorit( o the population or a short period o ti&e.
2ash is a scarce co&&odit( in the ace o )idespread une&plo(&ent and 3uite oten tribals do not ha*e cash e*en or
re3uire&ents like purchase o ood "rains or other essential co&&odities. 4noreseen re3uire&ents or bi""er proble&s
like &arria"es# house construction or repairs# illness or death in the a&il(# etc. are e*en &ore diicult to &ana"e. The
onl( alternati*e the( ha*e is to borro) in cash or kind ro& &one( lenders at e5horbitant interest rates. Tribals oten ind
it diicult to repa( the &one( lender6s loan.
In the past# orests used to pro*ide *arious subsistence needs o a &ajorit( o people durin" the lean &onths but these
da(s people are indin" it increasin"l( diicult to &ake ends &eet on account o )idespread deorestation. Deorestation
has also resulted in decreased e&plo(&ent to those en"a"ed in tree ellin".
The health and nutrition status o tribals is poor. Local health traditions o tribals are in a )eak shape and the
7o*ern&ent health deli*er( s(ste& ails to &eet the health needs o people.
Illiterac( is hi"h and 7o*ern&ent eorts to pro&ote education a&on"st tribal children are counter producti*e on account
o the diicult s(llabus and teachin" &ethods. $ost tribal children )ho "o to school &iss out on the education o -sur*i*al
skills- ro& their elders. The( end up as &isits in the tribal conte5t.
8acilities like housin"# drinkin" )ater# electricit( are pri&iti*e# to sa( the least.
2.9 8ood securit( issues
Tribals are ull( dependent on a"riculture and orests or their li*elihood. 'orts to i&pro*e ood production throu"h
a"riculture are i&peded b( the li&ited area a*ailable or culti*ation# hill( terrain# lo) land holdin"s# landlessness# )ater
scarcit( and poor soils.
+eople do not ha*e &one( to bu( ood "rains ro& the &arket. The "o*ern&ent sponsored ood securit( initiati*e /
+ublic Distribution S(ste& (+DS) / has serious li&itations and ails to address the ood securit( concerns o tribal people.
Lar"e scale deorestation in the re"ion has reduced the a*ailabilit( o unculti*ated oods to tribals. 8ood securit( is thus a
&ajor issue in the tribal re"ion. Se*ere &alnutrition and star*ation are realities in &an( *illa"es e*en toda( (i.e. 2%%2).

2.: Land and )ater
$ost o the land in the re"ion is hill( and undulatin". A"riculture is conined to lo) lands in plains; *alle(s and "entle
slopes. The laterite soils are shallo)# )ith poor ertilit( and lo) )ater holdin" capacit(. Soil ertilit( is dependent on the
or"anic &atter pro*ided b( trees "ro)in" on slopes and hill sides. The 3ualit( o soils is deterioratin" because o the
d)indlin" orest co*er and increasin" use o che&ical ertilisers or boostin" a"ricultural producti*it(.
The re"ion recei*es *er( hea*( rainall (upto .#2%% &&) durin" <une/Septe&ber. $ost o the )ater runs o to the sea
due to the ractured basalt rock "eolo"( and poor )ater holdin" capacit( o soils. The = &onth dr( period is hence
characterised b( se*ere )ater stress and drinkin" )ater scarcit(. The contrastin" situation o *er( hea*( rainall or ./9
&onths ollo)ed b( )ater stress i&poses restrictions on croppin" seasons and crops "ro)n.
There is an acute drinkin" )ater scarcit( durin" su&&er &onths and *illa"ers oten ha*e to )alk lon" distances to etch
drinkin" )ater. This "enerall( translates into increased )ork load or )o&en.
>ater scarcit( in turn results in unh("enic conditions in *illa"es leadin" to the conta&ination o drinkin" )ater sources.
These conditions pro*ide ertile "round or spread o *arious )ater borne diseases.
2.1 2li&ate
The cli&ate o the re"ion is characterised b( three distinct seasons# *i,. Su&&er (8ebruar( to $a(/<une)# $onsoon
(<une to Septe&ber/?ctober) and >inter (@o*e&ber to <anuar(/8ebruar(). The te&peratures ran"e ro& a &a5i&u& o
92o2 durin" su&&ers to a &ini&u& o 12o2 durin" )inters.

2.A A"riculture
?*er .% B people are landless )hile the re&ainin" people are s&all 0 &ar"inal ar&ers )ith a*era"e land holdin"s o 1/
2 acres (%.: to 1 acre padd( ields and 1 to 1.: acres upland).
A"riculture in the re"ion is subsistence based and consists o a sin"le rained crop o padd( on lo) lands and &illets
(in"er &illet and proso &illet) on "entle slopes durin" the Khari (&onsoon) season. So&e pulses are also "ro)n as
intercrop in the &illets. ? the total land area# onl( 21B is culti*able land. The land under rice is a &ea"er C/1%B. The
soils o the re"ion are not ertile and hence a"riculture is not an econo&icall( *iable proposition. ?n an a*era"e#
a"ricultural produce supports partial ood needs o a&ilies or not &ore than :/1 &onths in a (ear.
The lands are let allo) durin" the dr( period (?ctober/@o*e&ber to $a(/<une). +ulses# oilseeds and *e"etables are not
culti*ated in the re"ion. Tribals ha*e to depend on the &arket (local &arkets or traders) or their re3uire&ent o pulses
and edible oil. The 3ualit( o these co&&odities sold in the &arket is poor. Lack o ade3uate pulses# oilseeds and
*e"etables in diets has an ad*erse eect on the health o tribals.
So&e *e"etables are "ro)n durin" the &onsoon in back(ard "ardens but a*ailabilit( o *e"etables durin" the dr( period
is lo). +otato is# perhaps# the onl( D*e"etableD a*ailable to the poor throu"hout the (ear. Eo)e*er# potato consu&ption
depends on pre*ailin" &arket rates and it is "enerall( out o the reach o poor or &ore than si5 &onths.
!ice# potato and dr( ish (salted) or& the staple diet o tribals durin" the dr( period. Dr( ish is obtained in barter (b(
e5chan"in" &illets) or purchased ro& traders. Lentils; pulses# edible oils# *e"etables and ruits are consu&ed in s&all
3uantities.
Thus a"riculture# on its o)n# is unable to &eet the subsistence needs o tribal co&&unities.
2.= 8orests
The re"ion is characterised b( Tropical $oist Deciduous 8orests. The co&&on plant species ound are Tectona "randis
(Teak)# $adhuca indica ($oha)# Butea &onosper&a (+alash)# Ter&inalia crenulata (Aien)# Bridelia retusa (Asana)#
La"erstroe&ia par*ilora (Bondara)# Acacia catechu (Khair)# 2arissa carandas (Kar*anda)# 2al(copteris loribunda
(4kshi)# >oodordia ruiticosa (Dha(ati)# etc.
Studies sho) that orests &eet bet)een 9%/:%B o the ood needs o tribals (especiall( poor a&ilies)# apart ro& &an(
direct and indirect contributions to the subsistence econo&( o local people. 8orests are a source o di*erse# unculti*ated
oods durin" the lean &onths. Tubers ; rhi,o&es# *e"etables# ruits 0 nuts# oil seeds# "u&# ish# crabs# "a&e# hone(# etc.
are so&e o the i&portant unculti*ated oods. 8orests also pro*ide a nu&ber o other da(/to/da( needs like &edicines#
odder# uel)ood# ti&ber# ibre# &anure# )ood or construction# tools 0 crats# i&ple&ents# d(es# etc. 8orests thus pla(s
an i&portant role in &eetin" the subsistence needs o local co&&unities.
The *aluable ti&ber species ound in the re"ion (Sa"# Aien# Asana# Eedu# Kala&b# Shi*an# Shisa*# $oha# etc.) are a
curse on the orests. Ille"al tree ellin" or ti&ber has depleted the orest co*er to a lar"e e5tent.
Lar"e scale deorestation in the re"ion has destabilised the subsistence econo&( o tribals. A*ailabilit( o oods ro& the
orests has decreased and ood securit( has beco&e a &ajor issue. +eople are beco&in" increasin"l( dependent on
a"riculture or their ood needs. Loss o orests and trees ro& slopes and hill side is resultin" in se*ere soil erosion#
decreasin" soil ertilit( and )ater shorta"es.

.. A brie report on ADS acti*ities

..1 Traditional $edicine and +ri&ar( Eealth 2are
7ocal health traditions (also termed traditional medicine or fol& medicine) were once common in
the tribal region -very village had atleast one sueen (traditional birth attendant) and more than
one vaidu(fol& practitioner) There was also a large body of &nowledge of simple home remedies
These 7ocal 8ealth Traditions (78Ts) were community5supported, autonomous, oral in nature,
self5reliant and based on the use of local resources, mainly plants 9or instance, there are reports of
:;< medicinal plant species being used by tribals in 'aigad District for their primary health care
needs
4romotion of Allopathic medicine and utter neglect of traditional medicine by the /overnment and
mainstream medical institutions has literally wiped out local health traditions prevalent in tribal
regions Academy=s efforts are aimed at revitalising local health traditions without disturbing their
autonomy 'egular training programmes are conducted for vaidus, housewives and tribal youth
interested in learning about herbal medicine >illage level aushadhikaran (medicine preparation)
camps are organised to train women in simple processing techni?ues for the treatment of common
ailments ADS also organises training programmes on herbal medicine for ./2s, "ommunity
/roups, Schools, etc
2ver the past year ADS has been concentrating on the treatment of gynaecological problems using
traditional medicine A team of women health wor&ers has been wor&ing in @< villages to address
the health issues of women and children The results are encouraging ADS has been able to
demonstrate the contemporary relevance of traditional medicine in addressing basic health care
issues in a tribal conte6t
(edicinal plants constitute the main resource base of traditional medicine 3navailability of
medicinal plants to people for health care needs is an issue of concern ADS has hence underta&en
wor& on conservation and sustainable utilisation of medicinal plants A medicinal plants garden
and nursery has been established on @< acres of land (ore than :;< medicinal plant species are
growing in the garden An ethno5medicinal herbarium, raw drug and seed museum have been
established Saplings of over )<< different medicinal plant species were raised and distributed
ADS is engaged in building capacities of ./2s from other regions through training programmes
on traditional medicine A number of such ./2s are now involved in meaningful wor& on
traditional medicine and primary health care The concept is thus gradually spreading to other
areas
ADS work on traditional medicine is acknowledged as a pioneering effort in the field of
community health all over South Asia.
..2. 'colo"ical A"riculture and 2onser*ation o +lant 7enetic !esources
ADS is engaged in promoting ecological agricultural practises amongst farmers in the tribal region
of #ar$at Talu&a !ndiscriminate and widespread use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides by tribal
farmers is a cause of concern -fforts are being made to demonstrate the benefits of ecological
agriculture The importance of compost, vermicompost, green manures, etc is being
communicated to farmers Demonstration and field trials are being organised
Another area of concern to ADS is the erosion in genetic diversity of food plants /overnment
policies to promote /reen 'evolution technologies have contributed to erosion in genetic
diversity (any traditional crop varieties cultivated by farmers have disappeared while many
others are on their way out The loss of genetic diversity is perhaps the gravest crisis facing
agriculture since man began domesticating plants for food
-fforts are being made by ADS to promote conservation traditional crop varieties 2ver ;<<
traditional varieties of rice, millets, pulses and tubersArhiBomes have been collected from the
#on&an region of (aharashtra These are maintained in a field geneban& and seed ban& SeedsA
planting material are distributed to farmers every year
ADS has now ta&en up wor& on conservation and promotion of traditional vegetable varieties
Seeds of over @< different vegetable varieties have been collected Seed multiplication and
evaluation of individual varieties is in progress Seeds will be distributed to farmers during April5
(ay -fforts are being made to encourage cultivation of vegetables in homestead gardens for
addressing the nutritional concerns of tribal families 9or instance, saplings of Tinda (Coccinia
spp), supposed to be rich in micronutrients, and Drumstic& (Moringa oleifera), rich in >itamin A
and other trace elements, have been planted by over ),<<< women in their bac&yard gardens
Training programmes on seed conservation are being organised for farmers and ./2s in efforts to
encourage replication of the wor& in other regions ADS has, as a matter of fact, facilitated a
networ& of ./2s based in different parts of (aharashtra on the issue of seed conservation Some
of the networ& partners have been able to do meaningful wor& on conservation issues 9or
instance, a 4arbhani5based ./2 has documented the status of traditional crop varieties and
agricultural practises in 4arbhani District through biodiversity competitions in schools A copy of
their report in (arathi is being sent by post
ADS is also a member of a South Asian networ& of ./2s (South Asia .etwor& for 9ood, -cology
and "ulture, SA.9-") SA.9-" is engaged in conservation of agro5biodiversity and food
security issues
... $eanin"ul '&plo(&ent F An ur"ent need in tribal re"ions
4overty and bac&wardness are ma$or issues confronting tribal communities in 'aigad and Thane
districts of (aharashtra %asic needs li&e ad?uate food, proper shelter, education, primary health
care, etc are beyond the reach of a large number of people There are no sources of employment in
the region with a result that a ma$ority of tribals are poor and fully dependent on land (agriculture
andAor forests) for their survival
Agriculture in the region is subsistence based and consists of rice cultivation on low lands and
millets on gentle slopes 2n an average, agricultural produce supports partial food needs of
families for not more than ;5C months in a year 9orests provide game, fish, crabs, fruits & nuts,
wild vegetables, tubers & rhiBomes, honey, etc to the tribals for their food needs but widespread
deforestation in recent years has deprived tribals of an important resource Deforestation has
disturbed the subsistence economy of tribals and they have been forced to loo& out for alternative
sources of livelihood
/ainful employment within the region can prevent migration to cities besides improving the
standard of living of local communities 3nfortunately, there is a dearth of employment
opportunities in the region with a result that some people migrate to urban centres in search of
wor&, some stay bac& but resort to Ddestructive= employment (tree felling, etc), while a ma$ority
remains unemployed and poor
A need is thus felt to generate meaningful and environment5friendly sources of employment for
tribal communities in the region
...A 8ood +rocessin" 2entre
Tribal regions are endowed with a wide variety of fruits and other .on5Timber 9orest 4roducts
(.T94s) Semi5processing and processing of the fruits and other .T94s can provide gainful
employment to tribals 0ith this in mind, ADS has established a food processing unit with a
production capacity of ;< tonnes per annum 9ruits (karvanda, mango, amla and jamun) and
cereals (Nachni or Ragi) are processed into products li&e pic&les, $ams,
s?uashes, chutney, murabba, candy, satva, malt, etc The unit provides fulltime employment to );
tribal women and youth !t also provides seasonal employment to tribal women through sale of
fruits and wor& in the unit during pea& seasons
The enterprise demonstrates benefits of standing forests and encourages growing of fruit trees on
barren, sloping lands The unit has done innovative wor& in developing and standardising several
food products
...B. !ural Technolo"( >orkshop
Academy has established a rural technology wor&shop to impart training to tribal youth and
women in various technical s&ills li&e fabrication, blac&smithy, carpentry, lac?uer ware, bamboo,
cane and construction technology The wor&shop has been registered as an independent co5
operative society The co5operative provides fulltime employment to about @< tribal persons
A bamboo resource centre has been established to develop various mar&etable products from
bamboo and to train tribal people in bamboo craft in efforts to generate employment for forest
dwelling communities The centre has developed a wide range of bamboo products (ore than ;<
people have been given training in advanced s&ills The centre is promoting plantation of bamboo
on barren lands
..9. School 'ducation
Academy has set up a formal school !n addition to conventional sub$ects, children are taught to
wor& with their hands and learn s&ills li&e carpentry, bamboo wor&, lac?uer ware toys, herbal
medicine, nurseryA grafting techni?ues, etc The aim is to give enough opportunities and freedom
to the children to learn and to develop their own interest and also to generate in them an
understanding and love for nature The school strives to ma&e education a meaningful and $oyful
e6perience for children
!t is e6pected that over the years, the school will e6tend its responsibility and create a centre for
training teachers in activity based teaching, science education and rural technology
..:. @atural !esource $ana"e&ent
Tribal regions of 'aigad and Thane have witnessed severe degradation of natural resources over
the past @<5E< years Alienation of tribals from forests and illegal tree felling by vested interests
are perhaps the ma$or reasons A degraded environment offers little potential for livelihood
opportunities
ADS is implementing a 0atershed Development 4rogramme in three locations ADS is concerned
about restoring the ecological balance of the area for improved livelihood opportunities to local
people >illage 0atershed "ommittees are responsible for planning, implementation and
monitoring of the programme The programme involves awareness generation, capacity building,
community mobilisation followed by soil A water conservation wor&, tree plantation, social
development, employment generation, etc
ADS is also trying to address issues of forest conservation -fforts are being made to create
awareness about the importance of forests Saplings of native tree species are raised in nurseries
and distributed to farmers The distress sale of private forests by local tribals to forest contractors
is prevented through the creation of a forest conservation fund "ash loans are given to farmers
who are considering sale of their private forests for meeting emergency cash needs 9armers are
e6pected to repay the money over a period of :5; years and, in return, underta&e to protect their
forests
Awareness and networ&ing programmes on Foint 9orest (anagement (F9() are being organised
by ADS
..1. Eorticulture
ADS promotes growing of fruit trees on barrenA sloping lands of small & marginal farmers About
:< fruit trees and ;<< other trees are planted on one5acre of land The choice of species is such that
they serve diverse day5to5day needs for fuelwood, fodder, small timber, etc 9ruits ma&e an
important contribution to the nutrition of poor families apart from providing income to farmers
9ruit tree orchards have so far been set up on over @<< acres of barren land
A ma$or constraint in promoting growing of fruit trees in tribal regions of 'aigad and Thane
Districts is unavailability of authentic planting material (saplings and grafts) of different fruit tree
varieties Academy is trying to address this problem by setting up a "ommunity /enepar& and
.ursery of fruit trees and bamboos suited to the region Different varieties of (ango, Fac&fruit,
"ashew, Famun, Amla, /uava, "hi&oo, #arvanda and %amboo species have been planted in the
/enepar& and these are being used to raise grafts and saplings for distribution to farmers in tribal
regions
Academy also promotes decentralised village5level nurseries owned and managed by local
farmers, mainly women The nurseries serve as a source of saplingsA grafts for various plantation
programmes underta&en in the region The nurseries are a source of employment to tribal families
..A. 8ood Securit(
7ac& of food security is a ma$or problem for tribal communities in 'aigad and Thane Districts
There are reports during the past three months of severe malnutrition and starvation related deaths
of small children parts of Thane District and many other tribal regions of the state Gero6 copies of
related reports is anne6ed
7ivelihoods of tribals are woven around huntingAgathering and subsistence farming 9orest
produce plays an important role in the food security of tribals 8owever, large5scale deforestation
has resulted in depletion of forest resources and this has had an adverse impact on the livelihoods
of tribals 9ood grain yields from subsistence5based farming are not enough to meet the food needs
of the family for the whole year The periodic cycle of food grain shortages represents the Hlean
periodH or Hlean seasonH for tribal families This is a period of starvation and hardships for tribals
Tribals have been borrowing food grains from sahukars or money lenders to tide over the food
scarcity The money lenders charge an e6orbitant interest rate on the grain loan and force tribals to
wor& on their fields as bonded labour The fields of tribal people get neglected in the process,
resulting in lower yields, further marginalisation and a continuing cycle of e6ploitation
Deeply concerned about these issues, ADS began loo&ing for viable alternatives to meet the food
needs of poor families during the lean season
..AA 7rain Banks
Grain Banks were considered as one of the possibilities to address food security concerns in tribal regions
/rain %an&s are village5level institutions which ensure availability of food grains to members during the lean
period ADS initiated the /rain %an& 4rogramme in : tribal hamlets during )*I+ %y @<<@, ADS has
established )E@ grain ban&s in )@< villages of 'aigad and Thane Districts /rain %an&s have promoted food
security amongst small & marginal farmers and have reduced their dependence on sahukars
ADS provides the initial grain loan and entrusts management of the grain ban& to a >illage Panch "ommittee
consisting of village elders -ach grain ban& achieves self5reliance by repaying the grain loan to ADS over a
period of four years The grain ban& is fully self5reliant from the fifth year onwards Details about the
implementation of the /rain %an& programme and its impact in villages have been given in a small boo&let
published by ADS "opy of the boo&let is being sent by post
The /overnment of (aharashtra was highly impressed by the success of the ADS /rain %an& programme and
it has ta&en up replication of the /rain %an& programme in all tribal regions of (aharashtra through
the Navsanjivan Yojana, which is aimed at reducing malnutrition and starvation in tribal regions 8owever, the
/overnment /rain %an& 4rogramme has turned out to be a failure due to faulty design and poor
implementation ADS has repeatedly pointed out the wea&nesses of the programme to concerned /overnment
officials but so far there is no political will to bring about fundamental, pro5people changes in the programme
ADS has now presented the matter to officials in the (inistry of Tribal Affairs in .ew Delhi in efforts to bring
about improvements in the /overnment programme ADS has also facilitated a networ& of ./2s in
(aharashtra for setting up grain ban&s in different regions ADS has organised several training and capacity
building programmes for these ./2s A large number of /rain %an&s are now slowly ta&ing shape in different
parts of (aharashtra
ADS efforts to set up /rain %an&s, to facilitate replication through other ./2s and to influence /overnment1s
policy on food security are thus paying rich dividends The ADS Grain Bank programme is today
acknowledged as one of the most innovative food security intervention in India
..AB 4nculti*ated oods
ADS has underta&en a study on uncultivated foods consumed by tribal communities in 'aigad
District in efforts to understand the role of uncultivated foods in the food security of poor families
The study has revealed amaBing facts, over )<< different foods (vegetables, fruits,
tubersArhiBomes, fish, crabs, etc) are consumed by tribals throughout the year The
huntingAgathering of these wild foods calls for specialised s&ills and understanding of nature and
natural processes The foods, their recipes and collection methods are closely lin&ed to social,
cultural and religious aspects of tribal groups 3ncultivated foods meet between :<5;< J food
needs of poor tribal families even today 0omen are mainly involved in the gathering, processing,
preservation and coo&ing aspects of uncultivated foods
3ncultivated foods thus play an e6tremely important role not only in food security but also in
nutritional security by providing food during crucial periods to poor families and ma&ing available
a wide range of nutrients in the diets
The valuable &nowledge about diverse uncultivated foods is gradually disappearing as the younger
generation fails to learn about these survival s&ills in their pursuit of HformalH education through
1schools1 -fforts need to be made to document and disseminate this &nowledge to the younger
generation
..= >o&enDs e&po)er&ent initiati*es
ADS is engaged in addressing issues of women1s empowerment in villages of #ar$at and (urbad
Ta&u&a -fforts are being made to establish Self58elp /roups (S8/s) of women to collectively
address problems faced by tribal families and to see& active participation of women in village
development activities Awareness programmes are organised on Panchayati Raj for increased
participation of women in Gram sabhas
)<< S8/s have been set up so far Tribal women have enrolled as members and are involved in
savings & credit programmes through which they can see& assistance to meet emergency cash
needs 0omen have sorted out issues of drin&ing water, electricity connections, roads, etc and are
ta&ing active part in cleanliness drives in villages Sanitation, clean drin&ing water and nutrition
are slowly bringing about positive changes in the lives of tribal families 0omen are seen ta&ing a
lead in village and social development
..C 2o&&unit( Gideo
Starvation deaths, severe malnutrition, lac& of food security, land alienation, low land holdings,
lac& of employment, depleting natural resources, drin&ing water contamination and shortages, lac&
of access to proper health care facilities, socio5political marginalisation, etc are some of the ma$or
issues in the tribal conte6t in 'aigad and Thane Districts of (aharashtra These problems receive
scant attention from the mainstream media !n cases where some important issues are highlighted
by the media, the coverage is often biased and fails to address the root cause "onse?uently, the
action programme to remedy the situation turns out to be nothing more than a 1stop5gap1
arrangement !n this conte6t, it becomes important to effectively highlight problems faced by tribal
communities
ADS is training a team of tribal women film makers to document and highlight problems faced
by marginalised tribal communities The community video team has so far made documentary
films on agro5biodiversity; uncultivated foods of tribals; traditional agriculture and fishing
Documentation of issues by tribal women themselves gives a realistic presentation of causes and
probable interventions The pro$ect will also attempt to document and revive traditional forms of
communication, mainly songs and dances, prevalent in tribal cultures
!nvolvement of local tribal women as film ma&ers provides a 1local1 perspective to the films,
reflecting the beliefs and aspirations of local tribals
At the moment ADS has $ust basic e?uipment (one digital video camera two D> editing machines)
and so it is not possible to give subtitles or sound to the films ADS will, however, send copies of
some of the video films by post
9. Su&&ar(
ADS efforts to promote rural development amongst socio5economically marginalised tribal
communities have shown promising results (any ./2s and even /overnment agencies have
ta&en up replication of ADS programmes on food security, traditional medicine, seed
conservation, food processing, bamboo craft, etc ADS has thus been able to reach out to a large
number of families in different regions
ADS is today at a stage where it can disseminate a lot of useful e6periences to other ./2s
wor&ing in tribal regions