miscellany - Of water and millets

miscellany - Of water and millets

When the New Year approaches, one can see many people scrambling for a calendar. After all, how else are they going to know when the next holiday or festival is! You may wonder why one doesn’t look at their phones for dates and holidays. But the fact is no matter how digital and modern we become, there are some things that never change and calendars are one of them.

Dhanya, a civil society organisation,  working in the fields of water conservation and agriculture, has been bringing out a unique calendar called Jala Siri for the past eight years. True to its name, the Jala Siri calendar is all about water conservation, agricultural systems and other related elements. “Jala means water and siri means development or prosperity. Since our organisation mainly focuses on water conservation and farming, we decided to bring out something that truly represents it,” explains Mallikarjuna Hosapalya,
editor of the calendar.

The calendar focuses on one theme every year. Till now, themes like agricultural implements, farming innovations, traditional methods of water management and rivers have been portrayed. An attractive photograph along with some content explaining the topic is displayed alongside every month’s calendar. For instance, the month of January has information on weather anomalies and sustenance ofpaddy cultivation, while February provides details of farm ponds that help in water conservation.

These calendars find their way into many schools and organisations working in the rural sector, apart from farmers’ homes. “In the first year, we printed around 1,000 copies and we got a good response from the public. By the following year, we increased the production to 2,000,” says Mallikarjuna. Priced at Rs 50, Jala Siri calendars are a class apart from the rest. Mallikarjuna believes that since calendars are something we look at everyday, they are the best means of making people aware of vital things.

The presence of numerous other competitors in this field doesn’t deter or scare him. “Our calendar has found many patrons, who call every year regularly. Some people also present it to their friends and relatives as new year gift. In fact, they place their orders in November itself,” avers Mallikarjuna.

G Krishna Prasad, director, Sahaja Samruddha, whose marketing unit of Sahaja Organics brings out similar calendars on millets and rice every year, feels traditional rice and millet varieties are making a comeback and have become popular among farmers and consumers. “Earlier, our diet comprised traditional varieties of finger millet, foxtail millet, little millet and others. But today, we seem to have forgotten them.” Terming millets as future crops, he says they are our best bet for mitigating climate change. What more, they are easily grown and are highly beneficial for human health.

What’s interesting about this Millet calendar is that their content on particular millet is also accompanied with recipes behind. “Recently, we conducted food competitions across cities in the State and picked out the simple and best recipes.  For instance, we have recipes on dosa, laddu, chakli and so on.” The reason for sharing millet recipes is to make people aware about their benefits and feel comfortable using them. “Many give up on millets because they don’t know what to do with them. Once you get a hang of it, you will realise millets are truly tasty and nutritious.”

These Millet calendars (priced at Rs 100), available in both English and Kannada, are lapped up by social organisations, agricultural departments, research institutions. “For the past 15 years, we have been bringing out such calendars. But from the past five years, we are solely driven by the consumers. By making them aware of such traditional crops, we hope to increase the demand and help our farmers prosper,” explains Krishna.

The calendar’s popularity has even reached Africa, wherein people have demanded the layout for the same. “In fact, from February, we are planning to put up the layout of our calendar online, so that people from anywhere in the world can download it,” says Krishna.
More information can be found at www.sahajasamrudha.org. One can also contact the organisation on 09535149520.

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