TCIA- Pennies for Partnerships Ready to DIG in
Tashi Delek and Hello.
It is time to DIG in and get busy with the farmers as I head to Mundgod, India within the next few days. In the past six months there has been little opportunity to actually procure rice for distribution due to off season and my being in the north. But your donations and contributions have been adding up to allow for a very large distribution which will take place soon. Stay tuned for the details of those who benefit from you compassion and generosity.
Recent activity on the Pennies for Partnerships (PfP) project provides a great opportunity to grow the program with the official nonprofit status of the Tibetan Cultural Institute of Arkansas. The excitement in me is sprouting as I met recently with the head of the Tibetan Agricultural Department to discuss PfP’s involvement in their future plans. We discussed the many ways in which PfP can assist the Tibetan Organic Farming initiative.
The first objective of PfP is to assist the farmers with economic development. This year the farmers have struggled due to excessive rains which has prevented farmers the opportunity to plant and harvest rice in a timely manner. Some farmers were able to plant late therefore harvest will come later this season around mid November. There is currently a surplus remaining from last year which we will procure with the gifts that have been contributed over the last six months and distribute to the Indian villages most in need surrounding the Tibetan settlement.
Also in the discussion of future activities of the organic farmers and the Central Tibetan Administrations’ (CTA) long term development plans, we brainstormed ways in which PfP can be involved. Since distribution is a major need the CTA is interested in opening a retail outlet for the organic cooperative. I plan to meet with the leaders in the Mundgod community to assist with the organization of further activities for a farmers market and development of marketing the products. My aspiration is to help empower the people to utilize their creative forces to develop a good marketing plan which will eventually grow their distribution not only locally but nationally and hopefully someday internationally. But as they say in India “slowly-slowly”, as we all know this will take time over the years to come. First there are initial developments needed within the local community.
Most importantly is an educational campaign for the local community which will raise environmental awareness of the benefits for buying organic. I am looking for volunteers who have expertise in this area and who can assist me with the development of a program that we can take to the local schools, institutions and organizations. We discussed presenting to the local leaders the educational awareness campaign in order to facilitate local support to the organic farmers. The farmers in Mundgod have an opportunity now to mill their own rice which eliminates the middle man. This provides the organic farmers the ability to offer their goods at a more competitive price presenting a benefit for the local consumer to buy organic at a price they are accustomed to paying for conventional goods. Considering most of the Tibetans live in poverty this is very important to make it affordable.
Other areas for development which will assist the organic farmers were discussed, such as the need for irrigation systems and greenhouses through the possibility of micro loans. Obviously this is a very costly area of development although a very important initiative. If farmers are given the opportunity to install irrigation systems they will produce two to three times the yield annually; an obvious economic benefit to help lift the farmers from the extreme poverty they are currently experiencing. Also, the development of greenhouses offers potential to grow produce during off season, providing an opportunity to fulfill a market demand. These are very important developments which will assist with financial security and economic growth to the organic farmers. I will discuss these aspects of development with the settlement leaders to determine what the actual investment is to install irrigation systems and build greenhouses. Recently I was contacted by an individual who has interest in possibly being the first to support a micro loan, we hope this will materialize.
Additionally we discussed the development of a program within the PfP outreach of rice distribution to include Tibetan teenage youth. By including the youth we will implement the educational components of environmental awareness as well as Compassion in Action to the local Indian neighbors who experience hunger. I will present this idea to the settlement leaders who will be able to assist further with avenues and ways to best involve the youth in the community.
So as you can see, there are lots of exciting ideas and ways we can assist the organic farmers. If you are interested in getting involved there are many ways one can volunteer from abroad. Please contact me for more information as it would be great to garner support from those who have contacts with groups looking for service projects. Keep in mind the initial Pennies for Partnerships campaign started with people donating their Penny Jars. You too can start a small fund raiser and ask those around you to donate their pennies for a worthy cause.
It is now even easier….you can donate directly online through the Tibetan Cultural Institute of Arkansas (TCIA) and receive a tax exemption for your contributions. Please visit the link below to make your donation through paypal. If you would like to donate other than online please contact me directly and I can provide you additional details.
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This important initiative is only made possible through your compassion and generosity and we thank you sincerely for your continued support.
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Director of Pennies for Partnerships (TCIA initiative)