Please note that this blog post is to be the third entry in my blog series!
Wow how time flies! Nearly four weeks have passed since the start of my internship with Naandi, and what an experience it has been.
Naandi assigned my co-intern and I our first project: to conduct an ethnography evaluating how an increased income, as the result of partnering with Naandi, has changed different socioeconomic factors of Adivasi farmers’ lives in two specific villages.
Based off of this statement, one might have a few questions. (1) What in the world is Naandi? (2) What is an Adivasi? (3) How are farmers increasing their income? (4) How are you researching this?
Let me start by explaining Naandi. Naandi is a non-profit organization headquartered in Banjara Hills, Hyderabad, Telangana in southern India. Naandi, partnered with several major companies such as car manufacturing Mahindra-Mahindra and yogurt producing Dannon, heads several initiatives all across India to help disadvantaged demographics, such as the girl child, young adults, and, where I am spending my summer, the Adivasi, or tribal, farmer.
These farmers historically faced extreme financial burdens and were in a stagnant mindset where the only thoughts occurring were how to make it to the next day. Mentioned in my previous blog, Naandi partners with farmers and villages throughout seven mandals (districts), and together the two produce and manufacture coffee. Farmers receive all the necessary supplies and teachings from Naandi, procure the coffee, and sell their best coffee cherries to Naandi, who then buys the coffee at the highest market price from farmers. This method has resulted in farmers receiving an increased income, which is where our research comes into play.
First, we conducted preliminary research to learn more about tribal communities and their lifestyle, as well as to see how an increased income has historically impacted traditional communities. Then, we created a series of verbal and observed questions that we sought to answer, canvasing topics from hygiene and cultural norms to financial literacy.
After creating the types of questions to ask, the next step was to determine who the questions would be asked to. In order to get what was perceived to be the most representative response, it was determined that the best people to interview would be those who had received the most “average” income in their respective villages. Calculations were performed to determine who these farming families would be. Then, the interview process commenced.
Throughout the past three weeks, we visited the two aforementioned villages and, through extensive conversations, gathered our information. At every conversation, we were met with numerous warm, genuine farmers and their families. In these villages, we talked with groups both large and small and conducted our interviews as two-way conversations. The villagers were extremely interested in the two young foreigners who had travelled thousands of miles to meet with them; all conversations proved to be not only informative but also extremely enjoyable! Questions of family, food and traditions occurred for hours and the farmers spoke of how they were so happy to meet with us and expressed an interest in or lives as much as we were interested in learning about their lives.
After analyzing the interviews and experiences in both villages, my co-intern and I created a preliminary report and at the moment are preparing to take a train ride to Hyderabad to present to the heads of the organization!
Of the villagers that we are meeting, I must admit that my favorite individuals have been the young children that we meet. These children, so joyful and curious, are often the first to smile at us as we enter their villages and follow us around to see what exciting activities we may be up to! Every time I meet and interact with one of these young children, I cannot help but be reminded that all language barriers can be crossed with a smile, and that these children, with dreams to explore the world, are our future. I perennially feel blessed for the opportunity that I have this summer and cannot wait to see what comes next.
learning about the coffee process
Some of Naandi’s cows