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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bio Diversity Project

Bio diversity Project selected to represent Madhya Pradesh in the National Children’s Science Congress

This is a first for us and all of us are very kicked about it. The science project submitted at the National Children’s Science Congress got selected to represent MP at the National Level conference. Right now the children are in Baramati, Maharashtra participating in the event.

As part of the Adharshila curriculum children do a lot of village surveys every year. One of the surveys done last year was to study the extent of malnutrition in surrounding villages.
This year we tried to go into the causes of such widespread malnutrition and we discovered that besides other things one of the main reason for this was the loss of bio-diversity in the area.
We submitted this report and vow ! the project got selected and now will be presented at the National Children’s Science Congress being held in Baramati, Maharashtra. The project was named – ‘ From Food Insecurity (malnutrition) to Bio-diversity – A Journey of Discovery ’

Another great thing is that this project has also been selected to be displayed at the National Science Congress at Vishakapattanam which is a conference of actual scientists (mainstream definition). This is a bigger honour because only one or two projects from each state are selected for this – projects which are of national importance and which researchers can pick up for furthur research.

About the project

About 50 elders were interviewed at first and asked questions related to farming practices, loans, quality of life etc. Invariably they said that the quality, quantity and variety of food has decreased now. They were the generation brought up on milk and fat( ghee) and now they lust to see even buttermilk, which they used to throw or give to cattle.

The main reasons for this decline, according to them were –

1. Depletion of forests and grazing grounds
2. Cash crops were replacing food crops.
3. Loss of nutrients in the soil

To check out what these oldies were saying, children did about 15 different types of surveys and found that most of what they were saying was true. Due to the pressure of cash economy farmers were forced to go in for cash crops which has resulted in loss of soil fertility, debt traps, suicides, loss of diversity in food crops etc. All this has resulted in chronic aneamia and malnutrition in children ( and women too) – the most vulnerable section of society.
The findings of the children are also corroborated by National Surveys where in we find that states famous for productivity and farming have high incidence of aneamia in women. Almost 50% – 60% children in Madhya Pradesh are underweight.

It was found that high chemical inputs, hybrid seeds and cash crops started started roughly 20 – 30 years ago ( which is roughly the time when the so called Green Revolution was introduced in our country ).

At the end of the study it was evident that eye catching and vote fetching social security schemes like anganwadis and mid day meals were not the solution to malnutrition. The solution lies at a deeper level of changing farm practices to non chemical and non market driven and market independent farming practices.

Side Effects

The children got a lot of exposure to whats happening in other ‘ big and good’ schools. Where many participants were son’s and daughters of teachers. How the world looks at tribals – poor, to be pitied, don’t know hindi, hey they are wearing clothes like us ! & Well you got selected only because you are tribals etc.

They just can't believe that these children have merit and they can be better than the best.

And this is what Adharshila Learning Centre is all about. To bring out the best in humanity


……a GPRS enabled mobile to access internet in Adharshila.
Anybody discarding his/her old one is free to give it to Adharshila.
You can even loan it for some time, say six months or an year and have it back.