The Trees For Life programme is being piloted in India
by Friends of Vrindavan in partenership with Food For Life.
The Food For Life concept was developed by Balbir Mathur
as the most direct way to help villagers develop their own trees and
improve their food resources. It provides easy-to-grow fruit trees to
the women of the villages.
The following excerpt from Hinduism
& Ecology, chapter 10 'O King
of Trees, I Bow Before You' explains Mathur's concept:
The first thing Mathur discovered was that the choice
of tree was essential. In order to deserve the attention of the
hard-pressed villagers, the tree should give quick returns. Mathur's
intention had always been to plant fruit trees, because they were
a real means to give nourishing food where it was most needed at
minimum cost. Now he devised a list of basic conditions: the trees
must give nutritious fruit; they must grow quickly and give fruit
within one year; they must be easy to look after and grow in poor
soil; and they must be able to fit in a confined space. To meet
these conditions he came up with a shortlist of five trees: lemon,
papaya, banana, drum-stick and falsa.
His next discovery was that it was better to deal with the women
of the village. The men were often producing cash-crops on their
land and it was hard for them to give space for planting trees,
no matter how nutritious they were. They were caught in the trap
of always needing money for today, without being able to think of
tomorrow. However, give a fruit tree to the woman of the family,
for her to plant outside her back door, and she will guard it carefully.
She has to feed her family, and the fruit from the tree will help
her. Mathur found that the women of the villages naturally wanted
to care for the trees he gave them.
After a year or two, the whole family would appreciate the value
of the tree and would have established a relationship with it. It
was their tree, or rather it was part of their family, just as the
cow or buffalo who gave them milk or plowed their field were, and
like them it must be cared for in return for its service.
Food For Life is introducing Trees For Life into the
village schools of Vraj and will extend it to women's groups in each
To support Trees For Life we plan to establish a network of Trees For
Life nurseries, such as have already been piloted by WWF
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