✤ Biate community is a largely ignored and obscure minority. They are an endangered community and there are only 15,000 - 20,000 Biate people in the world today. Most of the community resides on both sides of the Assam-Meghalaya border region with 17 villages in Assam and 25 on the Meghalaya side.
✤ While the community has been given recognition at district level, they are still struggling for recognition as a community by Assam state.
✤ Being a minority in a region with long history of tribal feudalism has its own disadvantages. In Dima Hasao district, all political representatives are from the tribe with the largest population. Hence, minority communities like the Biate and their areas have been largely ignored.
✤ Kharthong area still remains largely under developed with poor roads, and public facilities etc. The community primarily depends on growing organic products like ginger, turmeric, oranges, chillies, pumpkins, papayas, tobacco etc for sustenance. But due to poor rates offered to them by middle men and mandi agents they have been struggling to make ends meet and provide for educational, medical and other basic needs of their family.
✤ For example, organic ginger that can cost as high as 200/kg in organic stores is bought from the farmers by middle men at 10-20/kg. Poor economic conditions force people to compromise on essential things like proper healthcare, education, and nutrition for themselves and their families.
✤ Since lack of proper rates for their produce lies at the center of their woes and miseries, it is only logical to address this central/root problem in order to empower the community and improve their lives on various fronts. In order to address this issue, we have been working to establish an organic farmers producer company and guide the community to work towards unifying themselves in order to be able to receive fair rates for their produce.
Villagers packing and loading ginger to take it to a middle man.
✤ Forming such a company with an organic certification and connecting the company to proper organic buyers from across the country and world will gradually and surely uplift the community. Rest Of My Family will closely work with the community in a facilitating and guiding capacity till the company is deemed self-sufficient and capable of running and managing its own affairs.
✤ The community currently practices a traditional style organic Jhum cultivation growing a variety of vegetables, fruits, spices, rice etc. While they are happy with the yield that the land gives without even using organic manure, with expert guidance to practice organic and eco-friendly techniques, the yield can be greatly improved.