Food and Nutritional Sovereignty
Food Sovereignty forms an integral part of the core mission of DDS and has been the earliest of DDS initiatives. Moving ahead of Food Security, these initiatives were aimed at attaining not only Food Sovereignty but also Nutritional Sovereignty through biodiverse cropping of millets, pulses, oilseeds etc in an ecological manner. Currently, DDS is actively engaged with 30 village sanghams for farm households to achieve complete Food & Nutrition sovereignty.
Uncultivated Foods Programme – 1989/2019:
Recognizing the nutritional significance of uncultivated greens, which were often considered weeds, DDS initiated the Uncultivated Foods Programme. Health workers of the society identified and classified over 80 uncultivated foods, including vegetables, greens, and berries, that were traditionally consumed by dalit and poor women. These uncultivated foods were found to be rich in several nutrients. Since 2018, the DDS has also been organising an annual Uncultivated Greens Festival to celebrate and promote these greens among urban populations.
Alternative Public Distribution System (APDS) – 1995:
The DDS Sanghams designed and managed the Alternative Public Distribution System, which focused on local production, storage, and distribution of food. Through this program, 3000 women in 50 villages enhanced the productivity of over 3500 acres of land to grow more than a million kilograms of extra jowar (a type of grain) annually. The increased production resulted in nearly 1000 additional meals per participating family each year.
Summer Employment – 1985:
The DDS Sanghams introduced the concept of Summer Employment in 1985. The women of DDS sangams utilized approximately 1.2 million eco-employment days to cultivate 10,000 acres of degraded lands. This initiative led to an annual production of over 30,000,00 kg of grain, which was six times the previous production levels.
Hunger Mapping – 2006:
In 2006, the DDS Sanghams began hunger mapping their villages to identify individuals who were hungry, especially the elderly, destitute, and unable to work. DDS women initiated community kitchens, contributing their own grain and labor, to provide food for these vulnerable individuals. This effort demonstrated how the poor can take care of the less fortunate.