Today, India is the second biggest producer of cotton globally. The East Asian region is the birthplace of two different species of cotton. Yet, more than 95% of the cotton grown here is the American Genetically Modified (GM) cotton, which is not indigenous to our region and is ecologically damaging. This has economic implications for the cotton farmers as well because the seeds for this cotton are patented and the farmers have become completely dependent on the seed companies in order to farm.
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Similarly, innumerable spinners and weavers have lost their jobs due to the monopoly of textile mill owners. The textile mills have machines that can do the job of 60 spinners at a time. This has affected the livelihoods of spinners and weavers.
It’s time that we look beyond the names of the brands we are wearing – that we get to know the names of the cotton growers, spinners and weavers too. We need to protect these farmers and craftsmen before we lose them completely.
The Gram Art Project has started an initiative that aims to do just that, by creating unique rakhis that after the rakhis are made, indigenous seeds for plants that will be useful in a kitchen garden are attached to their centres. The seeds could be lentil, vegetable or even cotton seeds at times.
“We have pasted chawali bhaji seeds on every rakhis to ensure it grows and with it a seed of creeper, big and small trees and plants are also pasted. seeds: bel, gunj, ambadi, corn, mustard, chawalai, amaltash, parijatak,” says Shweta Bhattad from Gram Art Project.
Most of these women are housewives or farm labourers. They are thrilled with the little extra income they are earning by making these rakhis. Moreover, they tell me they don’t have to buy rakhis any more for their brothers,” says Nutan
For the first time ever, consumers will get to know where the cotton for the rakhis they are buying was grown, how the yarn was made and who has woven and designed the finished products. Not only this, the buyers will also get an indigenous seed along with the rakhi, to grow a plant that represents the blooming of the relationship between a brother and sister.
This plantable rakhi kit is available online on reasonable prices.
Growing the raw material
Cotton of two varieties, AKA-7 and Anand 1, is used as raw material for the rakhis.
Anand 1 is a farmer bred variety of cotton grown by a farmer named Anandrao Patil-Chiwalikar from the Nanded district of Maharashtra.
The cotton with these seeds is also grown by the farmers of Gram Sewa Mandal, Wardha, Maharashtra.
AKA-7 is grown by many farmers in Akola district.
So, wishing you a green and environment friendly Rakshabandhan with this awesome Rakhi, Isn’t!!!