June 27, 2008

Food Crisis

Some things don't change. Or should I say the more they change, the more they remain same. In spite of traveling on a regular basis and possessing excellent packing skills, which can rival any super hero on various accounts, in addition to an elephantine memory, I forgot to stock up one of the essentials while shooting outdoors- Sunblock.

I was shooting in the sun for five days which included so much traveling that I felt like bad news visiting villages across Uttarakhand. The lack of protection from sun ensured that the protective layer...wait this is my skin we are talking about...

There isn't any protective layer!

There is just a layer and may I add it's not as resilient as
you'd believe it to be. The entire skin peeled off. First it stung. Then it started resembling cling film on some sandwich. Slowly but surely the skin came off. First there were small but significant eruptions. what followed was a bloodbath, which can't be described here. Like some S&M freak I self clicked and have photographic evidence. Don't worry I shan't torture you. But you get the idea. Hence forth either I'm going to cap myself up or go bonkers on industrial strength sunblock.

But things do change. The one change that I saw on this shoot wasn't anything short of a marvel. This documentary that I was shooting for is about an innovative method of cultivating rice and it's called System of Rice Intensification. Under this a farmer needs lesser water, lesser grains and the produce is almost 60-80% more. what's fantastic is that the wo
rk required- sowing, water, weeding- is all 80% less than the conventional method in addition to the grain being bigger as well as insecticide free! Rather than planting a handful of saplings the farmer just plants ONE seed in a place and yet the produce is better and the yield is more.

The process is rather simple- soak seeds in water for a day. Then sprout them before sowing them in a nursery. While transplanting use a marker to mark sqaures on the field which has very little water; sow one sapling rather than a handful at each intersection of the square. The farmer just needs to weed the field every 10 days over a period of 30 days. After this you just watch the rice grow. Scientists believe that SRI could actually be the solution for the food shortage in the world. Eat your heart out George W! Read this
article from New York Times to get more information on SRI. India is adopting this method for wheat and
other grains as well and it's being done by the people from People's Science Institute.

The shoot was really tough but it all seems worthwhile keeping the subject in mind. Also got an opportunity to cross the (in)famous Tehri Dam. I really don't know what the hell the dam is used for- the reservoir is far from full, there is no movie like water-gushing-out scene happening...nothing. Bu it's a scary sight to say the least. Imagine there used to be a entire town that got submerged; what you see above the water was formerly the highest b
uilding of the town.

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