In the Fields of Gold | Tracing Manteswamy’s Route

Day 4 of the Padayatra
2 February 2018,

We started from the Saranamma Tayi MaTha walking seven kilometers along more fields of earthy shades, hints of green and dry gold kissed flowers. Mixed-crops of Kadale, Jola, Kusube in straight rows and Jave Godhi in the peripheral patches, Fields of Gold, indeed! we stopped at Harinapura, for breakfast and short rest under a tamarind tree.

Today, we were joined by, Abhay from Grameena Kooli Karmikara Sanghatane (GRAKOOS); Sreekumar, a natural farmer from Nakhre near Karkala; and, Vinay Sreenivasa, an activist and homemaker from Bangalore; Yesterday, C. Yathiraju an environmental activist from Tumkur also joined us.

Our lunch was at Saraswathi and Aravind Iti’s house, both local politicians – members of Gram Panchayat and Taluk Panchayat, respectively. Saraswathi Iti generously served us a meal, made mostly from their own farm produce. With this meal our curiosity of what Jave Godhi chapatis might taste like was satiated!

Creeks of Joy

Heading westward, we set off for Kandgal walking along creeks and gently undulating landscapes. We are perhaps getting too spoilt by the spectacular show the rising and the setting sun, the moon together with this landscape, is putting up everyday. We walked another nine kilometers, so far, the longest distance we walked in a single stretch.

In Kandgal, we had a discussion on how can one, provide better value for the handmade.

Meeting at Kandgal

For this, one of the attendees said, If the government procures Jowar and Ragi, redistributes it through the Public Distribution System (PDS), it would give value for the farmers and also ensure people get nutritious food, that is also suitable to this region. The PDS model or Minimum Support Price (MSP) model might be a good model to increase value for the handmade.

He also said, if raw materials can be subsidized instead of giving MSP, it would help the farmers significantly.  Further, if the government procures woven cloth at a good MSP, it might support weavers and the procured clothing can be redistributed through the PDS system.

Prasanna Joins the discussion and said, MSP might work well for raw products (grains) but not for processed products like say, sarees. Where each saree can be made of different raw materials and therefore cannot have a minimum price. Fixing a uniform price is impossible.

He also adds, though for a brief period of three years the Education department of GoK and the Karnataka Handloom Development Corporation (KHDC), had an MOU which ensured regular order and timely payment for the KHDC weavers to supply handloom uniforms for government school students. It really did good for the handloom weaving ecosystem.

Further during the day, A meeting was arranged with the villagers of Kandgal, where they spoke about ground-level difficulties they face in the hand-making profession and various central services like subsidies they need.

One of the suggestions  to organize the hand-making community for better management, was met with  mixed response – while some supported it, few  were skeptical because of their past failed experiments in this regard.

After yet another meal, hosted by the ever-so-hospitable people here, we are ready to hit the sack!

Abhilash, Jahnavi, Nishnath, Vinay