[ BELOW IS AN EXCERPT FROM ONE OF BEST OVERVIEWS IN THE PRESS OF DDS' WORK. ENTIRE ARTICLE IS VALUABLE. THIS EXCERPT FOCUSES HOW THE NETWORK OF WOMEN FARMERS PUT FALLOW LAND UNDER CULTIVATION. iT DOES NOT EXPLAIN WHERE THE FUNDS CAME FROM TO INITIATE THE SUMMER EMPLOYMENT PROGRAM IN THE EARLY DAYS. COMMENT BY FM LAPPE]
Through this employment programme which they called summer employment, they brought over 5,000 acres of near fallow lands under cultivation, produced more than a million days of employment in 30 villages in 10 years and started producing over 20 million kg food every year. This was the first step in abandoning hunger in their sanghams.
Zaheerabad Punyamma added that the sanghams started leasing lands and launched collective farming groups on these leased lands and produced additional food for their families.
In two decades, the sanghams have leased more than 1,000 acres of land and produced over half a million kg of food for their groups. Dandu Swaroopamma, a community filmmaker and a member of the DDS Food Sovereignty Trust said that the sanghams have brought over 4,500 acres of cultivable fallows under cultivation and produce nearly a million kg or more food every year.
They have done poverty mapping of their villages and identified over 10,000 families as recipients of their jowar-based millet rations. Each family has received a ration card through which they can draw between 10-25 kg of jowar every month depending on their poverty status. The jowar is sold at 25 per cent of the market price to the identified poor.
Begari Laxmamma, a community filmmaker and a community seed keeper, pointed out that all these villages have their own community seed banks from which any farmer can borrow nearly 50-80 seed varieties. Thousands of women in these villages have their own household seed banks and never depend upon outside seeds. Thus these villages have become seed sovereign.
Thammali Manjula, filmmaker and a coordinator of the Community Food Sovereignty programme, says “Our films have nothing dramatic but depict our lives and it’s about how we conquered hunger.”
"Torchbearers for Millet Seed Security," Deccan Herald, January 19, 2014, http://www.deccanherald.com/content/381375/torch-bearers-millet-seed-sec...