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A conversation with Anand Ethirajulu: From Project GreenHands to Cauvery Calling

*Content Warning: This conversation contains content that some viewers may find upsetting.*

In 2014, when TreeSisters was just a sapling of a charity with a beautiful dream, we planted our first trees in collaboration with Isha Outreach in South India. These trees supported a project titled ‘Project Greenhands' created to unite an entire state around spiralling desertification in Tamil Nadu. Through your love, care and donations, we have continued to fund trees in South India ever since.

In 2020, Isha Outreach evolved the project based on the experiences they had gained and their unique understanding of what was needed for the local landscape; Isha Outreach launched a project titled Cauvery Calling. The community owns this project, with local farmers planting trees alongside their crops to improve the soil, water and climate for them, the community and the entire ecosystem.

A project for change

The heart of this project is the unique combination of farmers volunteering their time and land to tree-based farming. The farmers then care for the trees and tend to their needs as they grow. In a truly reciprocal relationship, the trees improve the soil health, revive groundwater levels and, over time, benefit the farmer by significantly improving crop harvests.

The programme is a "bottom-up approach" led by the farmers who volunteer to attend technical training workshops and learn from other farms' successes in combining crops and tree-based farming.

The project is located across 28 Cauvery Basin districts, nine districts in Karnataka and 19 in Tamil Nadu in South India. This is an area that has been severely impacted by reduced rainfall, resulting in degraded soil quality and a dramatic reduction in crop harvests. Because of this, many local farmers have suffered a significant economic loss and are now in debt due to failed crops.

This programme created by Cauvery Calling, a volunteer-led organisation based in India, offers an innovative solution to improving the livelihoods of local communities whilst also dramatically benefiting the Cauvery River Basin. Calvery Calling will work with local farmers to educate them about the benefits of tree planting and supply the farmers with tree saplings empowering them to volunteer within the programme. Tree Ambassadors, trained by Cauvery Calling, will also help to advise which tree species will thrive according to the soil type and planting location.

The project aims to transform the lives of 84 million people by planting 2.42 billion trees across the entire basin, approximately 11.3 million hectares. Over the next two years, TreeSisters aims to fund 103,448 trees each year to contribute to this overall goal.


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