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Before deciding to move to India, Amanda had completed two years at the Royal Veterinary College in London; she could not clear her exams in the third year as she was busy nursing her then boyfriend, who was suffering from multiple sclerosis.
While visiting India and undertaking some volunteer work while traveling through India, at an orphanage in Madurai, which Murphy was visiting with her friend Anita Roddick in 1990, a small boy asked Amanda, “You speak so well, why don’t you build us a school and teach us”?
Amused and moved at the same time, the former veterinary student replied, “Sweety, I am not a teacher and I don’t have the money”.
But 20 years down the line, Amanda has not only built a school for over 700 students in the area, she also runs a $2.5 million business which provides employment to over 1,000 locals in this Tamil Nadu town.
Even after she returned to London, Amanda could not forget the boy’s simple question. After dropping off her friend Anita at her residence, she sat in her car for nine hours, lost in thought.
The solution to her predicament came from an unexpected quarter. Anita’s husband Gordon, who was the managing director of the ‘Body Shop’ line of products, saw her sitting there and asked her why she hadn’t gone home.
After hearing her story, Gordon showed her a wooden massage roller. “Why don’t you go back there,” he said, “This particular wood is available there. Make me 2,000 rollers in six months. I will buy them from you. You can start building your school.”
So Amanda quit her job in London, packed her bags, moved to Tamil Nadu and started making wooden massage rollers.
Soon, Amanda’s modest carpentry unit to manufacture massage rollers diversified into the business of home furnishing. The company today also has a tailoring unit which makes bags from organic cotton clothes.
“There is a flow chain to ensure that everybody gets the benefits, nobody is exploited, there is no animal testing and no child labour,” she explains passionately.
Amanda has been trying to make a difference and practice a policy of inclusiveness even while running her school and company.
Of the 700 children in her school, 80 are differently-abled, and have special teachers to help them. Forty personnel of her 1,000-odd workforce are differently-abled; ten of them are HIV positive.
Her three companies — Teddy Exports, Murphy Products and Happy Wood — employ nearly 600 women. The companies also have a day-time medical clinic with four doctors, two nurses and HIV counselors.
Amanda also has a farm section with its own staff, six horses, 50 dogs, ducks, hens and donkeys. “The farm section is for love. I keep many animals so that there is someone to love me,” she says with a twinkle in her eyes.
She continues to take life head one with the same spirit and passion that made her shift continents and settle in India two decades ago. A car accident in 2002 killed her husband and left her in a wheelchair for three-and-a-half years, but she continues to fight on, running her school and companies with the same zeal.
Amanda has two daughters and one son, who study in a boarding school.
“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance,’ states a slogan etched in large, bold letters across one of the walls of her school.
Amanda’s personal cabin is surprisingly small for someone running such diverse and challenging operations. But the office space matters little, as it is easy to see that the lady has her heart in the right place.
(Orginaly published in www.rediff.com)
New year is great opportunity to set your expectations and put a new resolution…the possibilities are exciting. Why not exceed them?
The place where expectations are lowest: leadership. Everyone expects you to get in line and follow, not lead.
However this year one of my resolution is to follow and support others to lead…
The opportunity this year is bigger than ever: to lead change, to create a movement in a direction you want to go.
This is also time to reflect, to analyse your work of last year, learn but not to regret and happily accept some of past mistakes and failures and move ahead.
Last year have been a mix of success and failures. With initial hurdle and low participation, Eco-Cultural travel has still been a good success. We have got some wonderful members for the organisation and they are actively participating in different initiatives. Last year we started few wonderful projects with great potential to bring some real changes in the area we are working. However many of them are still in the conceptual/planning/negotiation phase. We have also started reorganising the core group and start a membership drive. We wish to complete it by early Jan.
New year gift to children of Pepit Buddhas school have been arranged and they will receive it in new year session.
Work on integrated cooperative farming is also speeding up and we are hoping to get more than 3000 farmers by mid 2010 and start our pilot project in the new cropping season. This year we also wish to start Eco-Tarraco project in Tarragona, Pojh pond renovation project, play ground project for school, Safe drinking water in each house and improving the rural clinic of pojh.
As always we have to be effective in our effort and think before work. Innovation has to be our motto and courage to dream.
Wish you a wonderful new year!
Tags: agricultura, cambio climático, climate change, Farmers, india, pobreza mundial, world poverty | Category: Agriculture, Farmers, climate change, environment
The impact of climate change on the world poverty is an issue of great significance but has not given needed attention in current climate change debate. It is not an issue that can be left to the future as the impact is already felt in many parts of the world. Climate change can affect our lives in different ways however one of the major impact will be on the agriculture which will affect the lives and livelihoods of millions of poor people who depend on agriculture for survival. Poverty in the underdeveloped or developing countries is still largely rural. For example about 70% of South Asia’s population lives in rural areas. In some area like state of Bihar in India rural population is more than 80% and it accounts for more than 75% of the poor. Agriculture is the main livelihood in the rural area which employs about 60% of labour force in these countries and contributes less than 25% of regional GDP (in Bihar for 2008, agriculture accounts for 35%, industry 9% and service 55% of the economy of the state). The Green Revolution of 1970s and 1980s substantially increased food grain productivity and increased rural wages. Agricultural growth is especially effective in reducing poverty. Estimates show that overall GDP growth originating in agriculture is, on average, at least twice as effective in benefiting the poorest half of a country’s population as growth generated in non-agricultural sectors. In sum, agricultural growth can reduce poverty directly, by raising farm incomes, and indirectly, through labour markets and by reducing food prices.
What experts are saying?
William Cline, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD) and the Peterson Institute for International Economics say that India could see a drop of 30-40% in agricultural productivity. He claims that among all potential damages which could occur from climate change, the damage to agriculture could be among the most devastating. Since agriculture constitutes a much larger fraction of GDP in developing countries, even a small percentage loss in agricultural productivity would impose a larger proportionate income loss in a developing country than in an industrial country. (Source: http://web.worldbank.org/) As part of the UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI), scientists at the University of Liverpool and some Indian Scientists are investigating the anticipated effects of climate change on India’s monsoon season and the impact that alterations in India’s water cycle will have on the country’s people, agriculture and wildlife. They predict that changes to India’s annual monsoon are expected to result in severe droughts and intense flooding in parts of India. Scientists predict that by the end of the century the country will experience a 3 to 5ÚC temperature increase and a 20% rise in all summer monsoon rainfall. Climate change studies undertaken so far reveal that action is essential in order to prevent long term damage to India’s water cycle. The livelihood of a vast population in India depends on agriculture, forestry, wetlands and fisheries and land use in these areas is strongly influenced by water-based ecosystems that depend on monsoon rains. Changes to the water cycle may also cause an increase in water borne diseases such as cholera and hepatitis, as well as diseases carried by insects such as malaria. (Source: http://www.eurekalert.org/) The Food and Agriculture Organization (Sept 2009 News) says climate change will push food prices moderately up until 2050. After that, prices will rise more significantly in line with further increases in temperatures. Agency warns that the climate change will badly affect agriculture and hit developing nations hardest, leading to unreliable food production and higher prices. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), climate change could reduce yields from rain-fed crops in parts of Africa by 50 per cent as early as 2020, putting between 40 and 170 million more people at risk of hunger worldwide. A study by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) showed that when temperatures increase by 1°C (33.8°F) at night during the growing season, global rice yields could be decimated. Another study showed that rice and wheat production could fall globally by eight per cent and 32 per cent respectively by the year 2050(1). In Asia, where more than half of the world’s population resides in just two countries – China and India – if no measures are undertaken to halt the impacts of climate change, agricultural production in China could drop by five to ten per cent; in India, where there will likely be less water for rain and glacier-fed agriculture, production could decline by nearly a third (1).
Balancing between food and climate change
Leading experts have said that global food production needs to be increased by between 50 and 100 per cent by 2050 if widespread famine and world starving is to be avoided in the coming decades as the human population expands rapidly. The first green revolution of the 1960s when dwarf high yield crop varieties, greater use of agro-chemicals, and a change in farming practices led to a dramatic increase in food production: it leapt from 1.84 billion tonnes in 1961 to 4.38 billion tonnes in 2007. However we paid enormous environmental price (read my other blog on Green revolution and sustainable agriculture). A second green revolution has to be based on a sustainable agrculture which can increase food production without a significant expansion in the area of land turned over to farming. Water is already scared commodity and agriculture is consuming more than 70% of available water. There is insufficient water to support an increase in the cultivated areas, and the environmental consequences of increasing cultivated areas are undesirable. The area of land available to sustain each human being is “dangerously declining” because of industrialisation, land use change due to increasing urbanisation, increasing population, soil degradation etc. Per capita land in some area of India is dangerously low. Current energy use in modern agriculture is also unsustainable. Additional production will have to take place without further damage to the environment. This is going to be tight balancing act. Danger is that again poor will be negelected.
Neglect of Agriculture
Millions of families in poor countries depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Neglect of agriculture and low public investments over the last two decades were undoubtedly an underlying cause of poor people’s vulnerability to the recent global food crisis. If donors and governments in developing countries had invested in smallholder agriculture over the past two decades, many countries would be far less vulnerable to the price shocks experienced today. This crisis is going to worsen with climate change if international aid and local governmental contributions are not going to increase substantially. Official Development Assistance to agriculture dropped 75 per cent during the late 1980s and early 1990s (Figure 1 & 2). Total donor investments in agriculture have since remained low. In 2007, US and EU ODA commitments to agriculture increased slightly to $1.2 billion and $1.4 billion, compared with the astonishing $41 billion and $130 billion lavished on their own agriculture sectors in 2006.
Renewed donor interest in agriculture has not be visible in real policy shift, and more commitments are trickling in to address the financial crises. Fund allotted for climate change is going to industrial sector or revival of their green economy as an alternative to conventional industry. A return to 1986-7 levels of commitment to agriculture (about $20 billion per year) would be a good start, although not quite sufficient to meet the recommendations made by the United Nations High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Crisis (UNHLTF) in the Comprehensive Framework for Action (CFA). The CFA estimates that about $40 billion per year is needed for recovery from the current food crisis and prevention from climate change.
Make agriculture centre stage
To reduce poverty, achieve food security and mitigate climate change, investing in agriculture must become a top priority for donors and national governments. Also investments in agriculture must be greater than previously envisioned, predictable, transparent, untied, channelled through budget support, and complemented by funding for civil society groups both as government watchdogs and as complementary service providers. The policy implications for climate change impacts in agriculture are multi-disciplinary. The Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) examined the vulnerability of agricultural production to climate change, and recommended possible adaptations to agriculture policy (2):
1. H. Reid, A. Simms, V. Johnson (based on contributions from the Working Group on Climate Change and Development and their partners) (2007) “Up in smoke? Asia and the Pacific: The threat from climate change to human development and the environment”, Fifth report by the working group on climate change and development, November 2007. 2. Proceedings of the International Workshop on Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change: From Practice to Policy http://www.basic-project.net/data/final/Proceedings%20of%20India%20BASIC%20Workshop%20%20Vulnerability%20and%20Ada%85.pdf Figure 1 : Source: Based on data from OECD Statistics (http://www.oecd.org) Figure 2: Source: Data from Public Expenditures, Growth, and Poverty (http://www.ifpri.org/publication/public-expenditures-growth-and-poverty-developing-countries)
Related News Articles
1. Climate change to hit poor farmers hardest (Sydney Morning Herlad, 21 Aug 2009 http://www.smh.com.au/environment/global-warming/climate-change-to-hit-poor-farmers-hardest-20090821-esoz.html 2. Africa: Poor Farmers Face Double Water Crisis: Climate Change and Competition http://www.ecomiles.com/?q=node/26783 3. Climate Change Hurting Poor Farmers Most http://food.change.org/blog/view/climate_change_hurting_poor_farmers_most 4. Agriculture and Climate Change, the new Poker in Climate Activism http://africaclimate.org/2009/06/03/agriculture-and-climate-change-the-new-poker-in-climate-activism/ 5. Poor face more hunger as climate change leads to crop failure (Guardian UK, 5 July 2009) http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jul/05/crops-farmers-climate-change-oxfam 6. Researchers warn that politics and technical concerns unfairly thwart efforts to use carbon markets to halt deforestation and help poor farmers http://www.worldagroforestry.org/af/node/211
Tags: Anita de Tarragona, Bihar, Diario de Anita, india, Pojh, Tour, tourismo eco-cultural | Category: Diario de Anita, General, Travel, Viaje
Día 2: Patna
Hoy he tenido el placer de conocer el concepto del tiempo hindú; ¡no existe!
Al bajar del tren, con cuatro horas de retraso, he podido sentir centenares de miradas encima de nosotros. Todo el mundo nos estaba observando con una coriusidad tan intensa, que se podia llegar a percibir con los propios sentidos. Sin duda, para ellos es verdaderamente impactante vernos. De todas maneras, es divertido. No tienen nunga clase de problema en suspender su trayectoria durante unos segundos, al pasar cerca nuestro, simplemente para observarte detenidamente durante varios minutos si es necesario.
La primera vez que nos ha pasado ha sido mientras organizabamos nuestras mochilas para poder subir al coche que nos estaba esperando. Sin saberlo ni quererlo nos hemos visto rodeados, a menos de un metro de distancia, por más de decenas de hindús. ¡Ni siquiera hablaban entre ellos!, solo miraban, y a medida que pasaban los minutos se iban multiplicando. Este hecho tan impactante se iba a convertir en uno más de nuestra rutina.
Lo anterior fue tan impactante cmo la intensidad de gente concentrada en esa ciudad. Gente, vacas, cerdos, cabras, perros…todos conviviendo pacificamente en un caos verdaderamente desorientador.
Mientras nosotros visitavamos el museo de historia de Bihar i atendiamos a las nombrosas imágenes de Buddha i sus diversas versiones, teniamos a un par de hindús que canviaron la visita al museo por el seguimiento y estudio de la cultura occidental. No podria decir cuantas fotografias nos llegaron a hechar.
Al salir, Claudia y yo sorpendimos a dos niños detrás de un muro. Tenian una camara de fotos, muy antigua desde nuestro punto de vista. Estaban, como la mayoria de gente a partir de ahora, intentando mortificarnos sin que nosotras nos dieramos cuenta. Por supuesto que Claudia y yo, al verles, reaccionamos naturalmente y les dijimos, como pudimos, que sin problemas nos hicieran las fotos que ellos quisieran. En ese instante, los niños se miraron muertos de verguenza y de golpe empezaron a salir niños de todos lados, mucho más atrevidos esta vez, que se nos acercaron y se reian, cada vez más. Era una situación verdaderamente divertida y complicada ya que no podiamos comunicarnos hasta que apareció Vikas i propuso a todos de sentarnos juntos para hacer una foto común. Los niños acpetaron contentisimos y en cuestión de segundos nos vimos rodeados por una clase, sonrisas profidentes, encarados hacia nosotros y de espaldas a la camara! Finalmente conseguimos explicar la finalidad de ese momento, y conseguimos inmovilizar la situación.
Para terminar el segundo día, fuimos a visitar un templo hindú. Para empezar, fuera zapatos. Multitud de gente alli dentro, todos descalzos! En nuestra cultura solo se hablaria de falta de higiene y enfermedades, para mi; fue envidiable. Repleto de hindús, concentrados en sus oraciones, besando el tempo y realizando un ritual a sus diosases que intentaban seguir con sus tradiciones a la vez que, inevitablemente, perdían su concentración por culpa de nuestra presencia entre ellos.
Gracias a su tolerancia y manera de ser, pudimos asistir al ritual, mujeres y hombres por separado, sin duda. Un gran respeto ante todos aquellos gestos y comportamientos convirtieron aquella situación en enormemente emotiva. Conducta y fe . Solo un adjetivo; ADMIRABLE.
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