Tamil tribal women run weather stations and ensure food security in remote hills


Women tribal farmers are helming many community managed automatic weather stations at various agro-ecological zones in Kolli Hills of Tamil Nadu that could be game changers for the region in providing timely and accurate forecasts and ensuring food and nutrition security.

Of the seven automatic weather stations in the Kolli hill ranges of Tamil Nadu, four are run by women and three by men with all of them being tribals and farmers. The AWS provide meteorologic information with a local focus to support agriculture.

The primary purpose of AWS is to support farming and related activities, the source of livelihood for people here who are predominantly “Malayali” tribes. Malayali meaning dwellers of hills and weather stations, and are run with the community participation. The weather stations were set up by M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) with the support of Bioversity International and The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a UN agency.

“We at the automatic weather stations collect data on temperature, rainfall, relative humidity, wind velocity, wind direction and radiation,” Vijayalakshmi Pradeep, a 23-year-old tribal woman and a small farm holder managing the weather station at Thuvarapallam, told PTI. Vijayalakshmi moved to Thuvarapallam in Namakkal District following her marriage and studied upto 12th standard.

“I was trained on fundamentals related to weather conditions, to handle the computer, and in managing the information system,” Vijayalakshmi said, adding, the data gets fed automatically into the system.

According to PTI, the first AWS was set up at Moolakadai in Kolli hills last year. This year, six other such stations were established in Navakadu, Thuvarapallam, Aripalapatti, Keeraikadu, Vendalappadi and Puliampatti. These places fall under different agro-ecological zones and are dominated by tribal communities.

The 24-year-old Parameswari, who manages the Keeraikadu AWS says young tribal men and women like her who run the weather stations do it voluntarily, adding, they are given an incentive of Rs.1,500 per month by MSSRF. A farmer, she went to school up to eight standard, and now is “happy to be part of an initiative which will help our farming besides the community.”

The unexplored mountain range located in central Tamil Nadu in Namakkal district of India, is part of the Eastern Ghats, running mostly parallel to the east coast of South India.

Image Credit : Wikipedia

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