By Dev Kashyap, 2nd year MDP student
After over a month in South Asia, I finally feel I am settling into a groove. The journey has led me to Kotturu, in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. The weather is hot and it is pre-monsoon season with temperatures daily hitting low-to-mid 30 degrees Celsius, but our arrival in this rural setting was just after a debilitating heat wave that caused somewhere around 1,000 deaths in the region. The hot days usually get relieved with evening showers, but by mid-afternoon a seat in front of a fan, bottled water in close proximity, is the appropriate posture.
|Dev on top of ARTIC sign in Kotturu, India|
Amidst the heat and humidity, the purpose of our trip to this part of the world has commenced: researching ‘Adivasi’ (the local word) or Indigenous resilience in the face of environmental and external-driven change in the region around Kotturu, Andhra Pradesh. Specifically, the research is revolved around the traditional crop of Millets, a nutritious ‘ancient world’ grain whose cultivation has been in steady decline in recent years due to the introduction of ‘non-native’ food crops and cash crops into the area. Our research has been possible with the help of our host and local NGO, Appropriate Reconstruction Training and Information Centre (ARTIC), who have been doing grassroots development work in the area for over 30 years.
Since millets production and subsequently consumption has been in such decline over the last few decades, the first month of our field placement can be summarized as being ‘on the trail for millets’. The trail has led us to local government and administrative offices, meeting officials in agriculture, health, local development. Furthermore, community visits have been conducted in more than 10 villages to get an idea of which communities will be targeted as part of our research.