Tribal Farmers Fall Back on Ancient Wisdom

While tens of thousands of Indian farmers succumb to the pressures of debt, hunger and poverty by taking their own lives, members of the Bhumia tribe are simply falling back on a 3,000-year-old agricultural system to ensure a steady supply of healthy food.

Located in the eastern state of Odisha’s Koraput province, the tribe utilises sustainable farming practices to counter the impacts of deforestation and climate change.

Using local seeds from the Eastern Ghats, a discontinuous mountain range that runs parallel to the Bay of Bengal along India’s eastern coast at an average of 900 metres above sea level, farmers here plant “mixed” crops, barter their produce at the local market and save their traditional seeds.

Last year, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) accorded the status of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS) to the traditional agricultural system in the Koraput region. The status grants farmers the support they need to continue to nurture and adapt their ancient practices.