"The next century will belong to India, which will become a unique intellectual and economic power to reckon with, recapturing all its glory, which it had in the millennia gone by." - Dr. R. A. Mashelkar
WHAT IS SHODH YATRA?
Shodh Yatra is a journey for the search of knowledge, creativity and innovations at grassroots. Shodh Yatra is an attempt on the part of SRISTI to reach out to the remotest part of the country with a firm belief that hardship and challenges of natural surroundings are the prime motivators of creativity and innovations. Shodh Yatra aims at unearthing such traditional knowledge and grassroots innovations that have not only simplified the lives of men, women and farm labourers but have also significantly contributed towards the conservation of bio-diversity. Shodh Yatra is a journey of mutual exchange and sharing of knowledge. Whatever knowledge and practices that we have pooled in, over the years are shared with the villagers during the Shodh Yatra. We also share the Honey Bee database with the villagers. Shodh Yatra is also a journey to spread green consciousness and we do it by involving women and children to display their ecological knowledge through various competitions.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN?
On 7th and 8thMarch 1998, Jethabhai Gajera of Divrana, organized a meeting of Shodh Sankal at Vallabhbhai Sojitra's orchard at Titodi of Junaghad district of Gujarat. The farmer friends present felt that it was important and necessary to encourage organic farming. Moreover there were many honourable people from nearby villages who had found the solutions of their own problems through their inborn ability and presence of mind. There is no information in the society about such people and their activities. There is a need to contact such honourable people and spread their knowledge to other people through Shodh Yatra (a journey of exploration).
A workshop was held on 29thMarch1998 at Ahmedabad on the subject, "How to make interaction between experimenting farmers and Scientists?" under the project, 'Management of Natural Resources'. This workshop was also attended by the farmers of SRISTI, and Shodh Sankal Network. A farmer Gafarbhai Kureshi from Junaghad district, Talala Taluka's Village Ramdechi (Gir) gave invitation to start the Shodh Yatra from his place. For this purpose many farmers gave different suggestions about how to conduct Shodh Yatra and finally it was decided to start the Shodh Yatra on foot.
OBJECTIVES OF SHODH YATRA
Shodh Yatra, as a major scouting, networking and dissemination programme of SRISTI, is being carried out with the following objectives:
1. To learn about the experiences of the farmers engaged in organic farming and inform other farmers about the same.
2. To encourage the curiosity of the children about variety in organic farming and to discover the knowledge of bio and crop diversity among rural people.
3. To meet the people who solve their problems through their presence of mind and inborn ability, store their knowledge and felicitate them.
4. To compile and disseminate the knowledge, which is fast disappearing and establish a dialogue between the old generation and future generation
WHAT DO WE DO IN SHODH YATRA?
The Shodh Yatra is organized by SRISTI twice a year. Primarily, the Shodh Yatris, walk around a distance of roughly 250 k.m or so in a span of seven to eight days. The travel route that is chosen is usually bereft from any regular road or transport connectivity. This even makes the yatra more challenging. Shodh Yatris meet the villagers, farmers, artisans etc. individually and a report is prepared later collectively based upon each person's experience. The report is prepared both in Gujarati and English. The Yatris also look for the odd ball i.e. any body doing something differently and try to understand the logic behind it. During the Shodh Yatra, we also discover new methods of crop protection, cattle rearing and improved implements developed by the villagers. Quite often such people are felicitated by SRISTI during Shodh Yatra. Along with this, we also share the Honey Bee database with the villagers and ask for their feedback. The discussion generates quite a lot of useful links for SRISTI and Honey Bee Network. During the discussion, we also circulate copies of 'Lok Sharvani' to share the innovations and traditional knowledge of other parts of the country.
During the Shodh Yatra, following activities are taken up on usual basis:
1. Night Meets: The meetings are usually held with the villagers in the night. The villagers are introduced to the activities of the Honey Bee Network and the objectives of the Shodh Yatra. The meeting basically acts as a forum for mutual sharing of creativity and innovations that the villagers have developed over a period of time. The night meets act as a great source of discovering the creative grassroots genius.
2. Bio-diversity Competition: Competitions on bio-diversity are held regularly among the students and young people of the villages. In the competition, the participants are asked to identify and stick the samples of vegetation found in their village on a cardboard and list down their various usage. Each participant is orally tested regarding the samples they had brought along and the students making the best impact are given certificates. Many villagers also join in the programme.
3. Recipe Competition: The recipe competitions are organized for the women in the villages. The person who cooked the most nutritious variety from the local ingredients was encouraged by giving a prize and a certificate. The whole objective is to make the people aware about the unique nutritional value of the indigenous crops and their importance in maintaining the ecological diversity.
4. Felicitation of Creative Villagers: During the Shodh Yatra the farmers active in organic farming, those who had developed new methods through their creative abilities and ingenuity, the villagers who had helped in publicity of the aims and objectives of the Shodh Yatra and the oldest person of the village are felicitated and presented with a set of the volumes of 'Madhubindu'; "Samvad thi Sanshodhan Sudhi" and various issues of 'Loksarvani'.
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