Annual meeting of the Timbaktu Collective.
Photo: Timbaktu Collective


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Over the last five decades, India’s Ananthapuramu district has been transformed from a mixed cropped area with great agro-biodiversity into the largest groundnut mono-cropped area in the country – with negative impacts on the food and income situation of the local population. The Timbaktu Collective has set itself the goal of reversing the negative effects of this development and, with the aid of a community-owned approach, making small-scale farming a viable alternative for income and livelihood security.

The geographical position of the Indian Peninsula renders Ananthapuramu district, with a population of four million, one of India’s driest areas and the country’s second most drought-affected district. Once well-known for its dry deciduous forests, grasslands and rainwater harvesting tanks, its lands now are deforested and degraded, its underground water resources are depleted, and its famed tanks are in disrepair, while its rural population remains poor and in severe debt, with 45 per cent rural indebtedness against a state-wide 18 per cent. High rural debt, high seasonal migration, low literacy levels, rapid depletion of underground water resources, a high number of suicides among farmers and trafficking of women and children in certain areas of the district are direct pointers to the economic, social and political backwardness of Ananthapuramu district and its people.

Over the past 45 years, a model of agriculture development promoting monoculture and cash cropping has had serious repercussions on land, water, human resources and ecosystem health.

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