THIS honeycomb is at the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad. The worker bee is Anil Gupta, a professor at the institute who specialises in socio-ecological studies of communities living in dry areas. His product is a publication called Honey Bee: an informal newsletter for documentation and experimentation of local innovations developed by farmers, pastoralists, artisans, horticulturist men and women. Quite an amazing publication coming out of an institution welfare most students look for the honey in corporate careers.
In Honey Bee you can find extraordinary examples of people's knowledge and use of natural resources - from water conservation and soil conservation practices to use of local herbs to cure animal diseases. For instance Ramesh Prajapati has informed Gupta that, according to Dudhaji Dhulaji Thakor of village Nava in Banaskantha district, leaves of the Calotropis gigantica are immersed in the irrigation channels by his fellow villagers to minimise aphid infestation in the mustard crop.
Honey Bee is a gold mine for this kind of people's knowledge. By the end of last year, Gupta had collected 500 examples of people's creativity in his database. People are writing in from around the globe - from West Indies to Africa. And editions of the publication are multiplying rapidly: English, Hindi, Tamil, Gujarati. Gupta is -]so getting samples of the plants and insects collected for identification.
One development that gladdens Gupta's academic heart is the response he is getting from PhD students. He says proudly, "I have received queries from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Indian eterinary Research Institute, University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, etc."
"Search for collaborators in other languages is actively on. It is a huge enterprilse and I wonder how I will cope with it," says Gupta. Join the Honey Bee family if you can contribute.
IF you're not lucky enough to get to Rio for the UNCED, but happen to care about how political leaders deal with the subject of preserving the world's life forms, try getting in touch with GRAIN: Genetic Resources Action International.
Diplomats are negotiating a biodiversity convention, but little public discussion has taken place over this convention. The group has made a brave effort to keep NGOs informed about the issues involved. The group has been working on biodiversity issues for many years, especially the role of small farmers in gene conservation. It has produced a series of briefings on the convention. If interested, ask them to keep you informed.
THE United Nations Environment Programme has recently set up an Information Unit on Climate Change, which is working out of its Geneva office. The unit is headed by Alain Leclerc, a Swiss diplomat who was earlier involved with the negotiations on the Basle convention on toxic wastes.
Leclerc promises to send information on all issues relating to climate change. The unit has produced an excellent series of factsheets ranging from issues like the economics of climate change to the special concerns of island states. Remember the President of the Maldives who said that if indeed a serious sea-level rise were to take place, his country may simply go extinct. Well, this unit can send you over 200 factsheets that it has produced uptil now.
To get in touch ...
Centre for Management in Agriculture
Indian Institute of Management
Genetic Resources Action International
Jonqueres 16, 69 D
Information Unit on Climate Change
United Nations Environment
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10