It is a great pleasure to inform you that All India Millet Sisters Network (AIMS) has been selected for the Nari Shakti Puraskar, 2017 for outstanding contribution to women’s empowerment. The award will be presented by the Hon’ble President of India in a ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi on the 8th March 2018 on the occasion of International Women’s Day.
Millet Sisters is a celebration of the women who infused life into the concept of millets by cultivating, consuming and conserving this great civilisational contribution to the mankind.
Deccan Development Society which was the earliest NGO in India to have thought and articulated the primacy of women as farmers will be the host to Millet Sisters. At a time when the developmental world in India still thought of ‘women in agriculture’ Deccan Development Society had started developing the articulation ‘Women are agriculture’. In eighties and nineties this understanding of how women are the soul of agriculture DDS through its daily interaction with women farmers began to realise the multiple dimensions of millets in contributing to this concept.
Millets as ‘Miracle Grains’ that have held together food, farming and life itself across the three southern continents of South America, Africa and Asia present a profound meaning for Agricultural civilisations.
While more than 50 countries cultivate and consume millets in various forms across the globe, its political importance especially in India has always been severely undermined. This might be partly due to the fact that millets do not subsist on external industrial inputs such as hybrid and high yielding seeds, chemical fertilizers, irrigated water etc. Being least input demanding crop millets run against the high input=high output market logic. Therefore it leaves an anti corporate economics. These values of millets bring them closest to the eco-feminist philosophy.
Millet Sisters bases itself on these sterling principles of millets:
- They are resilient
- Life infusing
- Life sustaining
- Life generating
Millet Sisters in league with Millet Network of India a network established eight years ago to provide a higher profile to and advance the strong traditional ecological knowledge that women have in agriculture, particularly in the area of millet farming.
All India Millet Sisters Network which was launched in November 2016 by Ms Maneka Gandhi, Union Minister for Women and Child Welfare has about 5000 women farmers membership from across the country. DDS truly believes all these women symbolize ‘Nari Shakti’ and hence deserve this award.
While Millet Sisters celebrate this achievement, they want to reiterate their concerns through the pledge they made early this year in this context.
“Millets are our heritage crops. These ancestral crops have been providing us food for our homes, fodder for cattle and strength for our soils and are supporting our health.
Our millet based agriculture possess strength to sustain without irrigation and electricity.
We don’t need chemical fertilizers to cultivate our millets. We don’t use a drop of chemical pesticide.
We have abundant knowledge for this cultivation. Because of this we have been able to carry forward our self sustaining and sovereign agriculture for many generations. This is our heritage.
We are very happy to know that our Indian government is now marking efforts to make this a global heritage.
However we want to remind the government its responsibility to ensure that this International Year of Millets doesn’t go away from the control of small and women farmers like us.