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Halma – A traditional Practice in the Bhil Community

Reported by: Prashant Thorat

 

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Halma is an age-old agricultural tradition in the tribal villages of Jhabua District in Madhya Pradesh wherein most of the families in a village collect their agricultural instruments and work on one person’s land on a given day together. The process goes on to cover every family. Even though the instruments and tools were privately owned, they used to benefit the whole community. The land was jointly cultivated, but its produce was private which also ensured a substantial reduction in the cost of means of production.

 

The Halma practices were revived in our intervention areas by sensitizing the community about the advantages of adopting traditional practices. Community members from Batiyabaydi and Bijalpur villages came together to begin the process of weeding in their farms and thereby saved time and money by following the traditional practices of Halma.

 

Mangu Bhai, a farmer who adopted the practice said, “I used to spend Rs.1500 for hiring labor for one time weeding. Now, we (30 families) have adopted the Halmapractice and collectively worked on each other’s farm field, which has helped me save about Rs.45,000”. Along with Mangu Bhai, the other villagers have decided to follow this tradition during the harvesting period.

 

The success of this practice has shown that there is a high possibility of organizing the unorganized rural poor around issues of environmental regeneration, management and conservation of natural resources.