Assam : Battling climate change by creating micro-climates
Climate Change is the hardest reality which we refuse to accept. India is a hot country and it keeps getting hotter every year. The Gaumukh glacier which is the source for Ganga is to dry out in the near future. Millions of people of the Indian-sub continent are dependent on this mighty river for their livelihood. In the near future, India will not be able to produce food as it used to and agriculture will hit a major set back.
In my recent travels, I was privileged to visit Assam.
Over the years there has been a constant decrease in rainfall in Assam due to global climate change. Assam produces more than 50 % of the tea produced in India and about 1/6th of the tea produced in the world. The Assam tea industry is India’s largest tea industry and second largest tea production region in the world after China.
The unfavourable weather conditions for tea plantations owing to scanty rainfall have badly affected the Tea industry of Assam. The biggest problem faced is that all the water sources have dried up, leading to insufficient water for spraying which is a very costly process.
I was delighted to see how Adabarie Tea Estate managed to tackle such a problem.
In an interview with Sanjay Gurto, the Manager of Addabarie Tea Estate; he told us that they have been creating micro-climates. A microclimate is a local set of atmospheric conditions that differ from those in the surrounding areas, often with a slight difference but sometimes with a substantial one.They have been able to create numerous artificial ponds which become a mini-ecosystem. These mini-ecosystems are pockets of small rain forests. And what do rain forests bring?
This keeps the tea garden cool and has increased rainfall over the years. It has also become a hot spot for wildlife activity bringing many beautiful birds, monkeys and even wild elephants to the watering hole.
In my quest to understand the dynamic ecosystem, I met with an old worker. He has been working in the plantation for almost 40 years. When I asked him how the weather has changed over the years, he told me he remembered it used to rain more frequently.
"What about the wild elephants which come into the tea estate?"
The elephants sometimes enter their villages looking for food, but he fondly calls them 'baba'. He took me to their little shack temple which had an idol of Ganesha, the elephant headed Hindu God; "The elephants need to eat too" was his earnest reply. He told us the elephants usually go their own way without bothering people.
It's this belief that the world is NOT ours to exploit.The locals did not posses any anger or aggression towards he elephants. They have deep empathy and understanding of the world.
As per 2017's census of elephants, India is home to 27,312 elephants, accounting for 55% of total world elephant population. However with their natural habitat dwindling there is bound to an effect. There are reports of animal-human conflict but that's when the animal tries to defend itself or their young.
Adabarie Tea estate understands the fragile eco-system it's trying to preserve. They have not taken any measure to restrict the elephants from their estates, in fact they take great pride knowing they come and feed in their gardens.
I had the opportunity to capture the gentle giants going about their daily activities. Surprisingly, There is a balance between the workers and the elephants. At dawn the elephants would feast and by 8 o'clock the workers would come into the fields, and you just couldn't spot them anymore. They would again come out at night when the workers have returned home.
Also, another observation is that elephants are very shy animals. They hate people looking at them. They do not realise how big they are, they get scared by sounds and like staying together peacefully munching on bamboos.
Sustainable Agriculture is the ONLY way forward. India has a lot to protect and preserve. It's been the land of consciousness, and in a time where over-consumption seems to be the norm, Addabarie Tea estate is an example of sustainable agriculture.
Here is our mini documentary on the sustainable agricultural practice in Assam. (3 mins)
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Film & Photography done by our crew Digital Nerve
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