Three dDlit women from AP achieve autonomy in food production

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Mumbai, Jun 24 (UNI) Three Dalit women from Medak district in Andhra Pradesh today released a book here, highlighting the autonomous development that they had made in the district in various sectors like food production, seeds, market and media.

Their achievements are recorded in the book, 'Affirming Life and Diversity: Rural Images and Voices on Food Soverignity in South India', which they launched.

The women achieved autonomy in production of food and seeds with the help of the Deccan Development Society (DDS). They made most of their agricultural land and grew foodgrains that were enough for themselves and the non-producing members of their community.

With DDS' help, the women could increase the productivity of their land from half a million kgs to more than three million kgs every year, since 1985.

The women, once regarded as untouchables, have changed the face of the media too. They have given it a dramatic turn and have used the same to their advantage.

On May 19, the women -- Laxmamma, Chandramma and Balamma -- achieved an unusual feat by travelling to Bonn in Germany, to attend a United Nations convention on Biological Diversity, where their films about the problems in the district were screened in front of the whole world.

The women were trained by Deccan Development Trust (DDT) in handling of latest video cameras for a period of eight months, four days in each month, after which they became skillful in handling of the camera.

The women have formed the Community Media Trust and have produced films on Future of Agriculture, Water Life Livelihood and others.

Later, they showcased their films at many places.

Sharing their experiences with media here, Balamma recalled ''The upper caste in our villages started laughing at us when we told them we are learning to use the camera, but were satisfied with the results when we made some small films on the villages.'' She answered the questions of the media, after a colleague translated to her in mother tongue.

Chandramma said when they started with their mission andwere trying to convince the women to join the 'Sanghams' for the welfare of the womenfolk, they were accused of girl trafficking. Other baseless allegations were also made to demoralise them.

''We had to fight a lot in the beginning for getting recognised for our efforts in our villages,'' she added.

However, they were able to garner support from the locals in their area and have managed to have autonomy over the food production, media and the natural resouces and had been successful to some extent.

Asked about their success, the women replied ''We never expected this change in our lives. But thanks to everyone's support, we have been able to do well for ourselves and all others, who are connected with us.'' They have also started some educational institutions in their district, which is reaching nearby areas.

UNI JN SSS SA UCS1953

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