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Forest to Farming: Sustainable livelihoods for tribal women

  • 28 February 2020

Father Vincent Braganza SJ recently updated us on his project providing sustainable livelihoods for tribal women from the sale of plantlets, which have been cultivated from plant tissue culture in Northern Gujarat, India.

The ambitious endeavour takes the root of Kali Musli (“Curculigo orchioides”), a plant with UN endangered status which has its natural habitat in the Northern Gujarat forests.  Fr Braganza’s project teaches the tribal women to grow the plant for commercial use.  The Loyola Centre for Research and Development in Ahmedabad is the first centre in South Asia to use this pioneering technology and Fr Braganza estimates that the entire cycle will take between one and two years for the women to to cultivate enough of the plants to sell on the market.  They are so confident of its income-generating potential that they are already in touch with local buyers.

This project addresses an important effect of climate change, internal migration.  Increasingly in the areas most impacted by climate change, we are seeing people moving from rural to urban areas.  This internal migration can result in housing and food crises.  Fr Braganza’s project tackles the problem by providing a sustainable livelihood to women in rural areas.

Fr Braganza spoke to the team about the environmental impetus behind his work: “Every day, a number of species are lost forever, but this is my small way of preserving the environment.”  ‘Forest to Farming’ also targets ethnic and gender inequalities by bridging science and technology to the tribal women. Furthermore, selling the plant will give a degree of financial independence to women who are suppressed by their mothers-in-law or husbands.

In the words of Fr Braganza, “as Jesuits we have the mandate for justice”, and Jesuit Missions is proud to be involved in works such as this which embody that justice.

Find out more about Jesuit Missions’ programmes here