It was in June 2019. The Deccan Development Society (DDS), an NGO based in Pastapur of Zaheerabad mandal in Sangareddy district, working on millets in association with women groups, was selected for Equator Prize for 2019 by the United Nations. All of a sudden this tiny village caught the headlines of various newspapers across the country.
Out of the total 847 nominations from 127 countries received for the prize, only 20 were given the prize, out of which DDS was one among them. The award was given for “an outstanding example of local, nature-based solutions to climate change and sustainable development.”
And the credit goes to PV Satheesh, executive director, DDS, who had passed away in the wee hours of Sunday here.
He was instrumental in making the passing of a traditional practices of keeping healthy seeds, protecting them, sharing them from mother-in-laws to daughter-in-laws as a festival which was called Atta Kodalla Panudga (festival of mother-in-laws and daughter-in-laws).’
When farming communities were going behind commercial crops for higher revenues incurring heavy investment and some times landing in debt traps, Mr. Satheesh encouraged farmers to continue their traditional practice of millet farming and inter-cropping practice which allowed them to save food grains that last for entire year, offers nutrition food, meets the fodder requirement of cattle and protects soil health. There are women farmers who are cultivating as many 16 crops in their limited land of acre or two acres. In almost all villages where the DDS is active, millet farming with multiple intercrops prevented any suicides by farmers, unless they opted for commercial crops in cases where suicides took place.
These women groups have the habit of exchanging seeds for their requirements and not depending on open market.
Similarly, families of women-led farmers were able to sustain their farming activity and buy new land by following the same practices but not opting for commercial crops. There are also women farmers who are able to grow crops on rocky soils by laying the upper layer with required soil and reaping good harvest.