When we reached the village of Pimpli, the party was nearly over. For three days the villagers had been celebrating the coming of the monsoon, which had painted the countryside, turning rocks bright green with moss.
The festival was a three-day long drinking marathon. The people of Pimpli we saw were heading into a very nasty hangover. Most farmers wouldn’t talk to me because they were drunk. On one deserted road we drove past an old woman lying on its edge, groaning.
In India there is always some roadblock when it comes to working.
It was the first morning of a two day, strenuous journey through Gujarat’s southern villages where I was interviewing farmers about the new Bee for Poverty Reduction Program. The program is introducing farmers to the art of beekeeping in the hopes that it will improve their crops and give them extra income.
I had traveled for more than six hours to meet them and now I mentally prepared myself to interview drunk people. But after visiting three farmers, the drinks had dried up a little and people were happy to talk.
In Pimpli most of the farmers have only known agriculture – their fathers and father’s fathers had all pushed bullock and carts to sew the lands every monsoon, just as they were doing now. The average size of a farm was just three to four acres and each family had eight members on average.
Farming only gave these families employment for six months, the rest of the time they migrated in search of labouring work. The average annual income is just 18,000 or approximately 430 Australian dollars.
In the various villages we visited homes were single roomed huts made from bamboo and mud, which separating walls for chickens and over animals. Women washed their dishes with hay and ash and most had no electricity or running water. Even matches were a luxury. Men lit their pipes with flints. Everything they needed required effort and time.
These photographs are a glimpse into what life is like in these villages.
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View photographs on the art of beekeeping here