AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF WAL:
• To maintain respect for the ethical and spiritual values on which Ladahki culture is based.
• To promote development in harmony with the above values benefiting the entire community without harming the nature of future generations.
• To encourage a respect for Ladakhi culture and to counter the embarrassment that many young people feel about Ladakhi food, dress, language, song and dance.
• To highlight the importance of agriculture for the Ladakhi economy and to encounter the
notion that farming is an inferior occupation. Also to protect indigenous knowledge and seeds and warn against the dangers of cash cropping, chemical fertilizers, pesticides and hybridised seeds.
• To maintain respect for local knowledge, crafts and practical skills.
• To affirm and support extended families and strong communities (res. Bes. Phaspun).
THE ALLIANCES’S WORK COVERS A WIDE RANGE WORK INCLUDING:
• Annual festivals and skills workshops celebrating local knowledge including traditional spinning, weaving and dyeing and the preparation of indigenous food.
• Informing women on the importance of seed saving as a means of promoting the cultivation and protection of local varieties of grains and vegetables.
• Regular clean-up campaign aimed at encouraging community responsibility for the environment. (In 1998 WAL succeeded in banning the use of plastic bags).
• Networking with farmers groups elsewhere in the South.
• Tours for Ladakhi farmer’s representatives to visit sustainable farms in the West.
• Assisting Ladakhi people in need of financial assistance who are in critical situations.
• An on-going campaign about the hazards of pesticides, fungicides and chemical fertilizers.
• A wide range of meetings, from hands-on village workshops to seminars and conferences.
• A handicraft shop to promote the products made by farming women thereby supporting the self-reliant local economy and preventing urbanisation.
• Regular handicraft courses for rural women in skills such as weaving, natural dyeing, knitting and tailoring as a means of providing cash income while remaining as farmers on the land.
WAL’s initiatives have had positive impacts in various sectors of Ladakh society. Our efforts have helped fuel a growing dialogue among members of the community about appropriate paths towards the future. We continue to emphasise the centrality of women and agriculture in Ladakh’s future.