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Taking and giving

As a nourishing ingredient, castor oil forms the basis of Dr. Hauschka bath essence products and is used in some Dr. Hauschka skin care products.
Photo: WALA

Kutch is a region in the state of Gujarat, which is located in north-west India and borders Pakistan. ‘The climatic conditions here are very challenging,’ reports Pravin Muchhadiya, project manager at Satvik. ‘It only rains here a maximum of 13 to 15 days a year. This means that the soil is dry.’ These are not easy conditions for people, animals and the environment. How can crops be grown here successfully? The answer is Rammol.

It’s all in the mix

In this traditional mixed cropping system, a balanced combination of crops is used which complement each other in terms of their nutrient requirements and rooting. At least three to four regional varieties are cultivated for this purpose. ‘By combining the crops, we try to meet the demand for staple foods such as millet and pulses, fodder such as broad beans and cash crops such as castor,’ explains Muchhadiya. This cultivation thus simultaneously promotes soil health and is an important source of food for humans and animals. However, it is not profitable enough for external investors, which means that monocultures are increasingly being used in this area.

Growing independently

Satvik specialises in organic farming and agroecology and takes responsibility in this area. This includes comprehensive training to raise awareness of the Rammol cultivation method, which is also a cultural asset. The preservation and selection of locally adapted seeds is also a key issue that the NGO is tackling. And it’s all the better if you can rely on a lasting partnership: since the start of its collaboration with Satvik in 2007, WALA has sourced the high-quality castor oil from the region, currently via its subsidiary naturamus. Together with the Castor Products Company, organic certification was implemented for all value chains for the first time. This enables new distribution channels and therefore greater independence.

Farmers check the pearl millet seeds that are used for the cultivation of Rammol.
Photo: Satvik - Promoting Ecological Farming

Strengthening the community

In line with WALA’s philosophy, sustainability is practised on three levels: environmentally, economically and socially. In addition to its commitment to sustainable and independent agriculture, the NGO supports the community with other projects. One example is the education and networking of women’s groups. ‘Women play an important role: they are closely involved in the seed selection process and are the “seed savers” who save the local seeds and store them for the following year. The woman in the family decides which crop is sown in which field and on which farm.’

Giving something back

As 2024 approaches, WALA has decided to support the NGO with a donation to facilitate further measures. Satvik intends to use this financial support to further strengthen the Rammol mixed cropping system. ‘The WALA Fund will help us to increase biodiversity by creating wooded strips with native trees on the agricultural land. We also want to support the use of compost to improve soil health.’ Collected plant material from an invasive tree species that would otherwise damage cultivated and grazing areas is used for this purpose. Ultimately, Satvik’s commitment creates a new cycle of giving and taking.