Day 1 - 13th October

We started our travel as early as three in the morning  to the bus station. An unexpected Bangalore shower made our travel that much more difficult.  At the common meeting point, five of us stuffed ourselves into a mini Ola cab and raced to ’The Majestic’ bus station. Reaching the bus station, it was a relief for us to learn that we had not missed our bus.

Our excitement was soon to be soaked as we boarded our APSRTC bus, finding our reserved seats in the . We realised the bus was leaking water from the sealing! APSRTC Deluxe they called it, Huh!

Off we started our journey to Timbaktu. Our spirits were still high for this travel.  A few hours later, we reached our destination. We got off at the BABA DABA junction; Timbaktu office was kind enough to collect us from there. We registered and then got into the meeting room with Mr. C.K. Ganguly AKA Bablu who ran a presentation on Timbaktu Collective and its history.

The Greenpeace India team that visited the Timbaktu Collective

It all started when a small group got together and purchased and located ourselves on a 32-acre, dry, barren land in Anantapur district, South India. The idea was to initiate an experiment in healing and regenerating it while creating an agro forest habitat. They also began working on participatory training, cultural action, people’s theatre, education, documentation, organising the rural poor, campaigns, networking and support services.

Dharani FaM CoOp Ltd

  1. The Dharani FaM Co-Op Ltd

After tea, we walked to the first site –  ‘The Dharani FaM Co-op Ltd’. This is where the crops which the farmers harvested through organic farming were processed. Most of the food processing was done by women. Dharani eliminates middlemen by procuring directly from the farmers, thus giving the farmers maximum returns from their crop. Dharani building also stores and packages the produce. We walked all along the premises observing the way food was processed, packed and stored. Groundnuts were crushed (Noisy indeed!) and oil was extracted. Women labourers hand packed and sealed the bottles which sold for Rs. 210/- per litter. As we walked to the main entrance, there it was packed groundnuts on the shelf! Who would want to miss an opportunity to consume yummy, fresh organic groundnuts? Out came our wallets!

Dharani FaM CoOp Ltd

It was lunch time and we were starving.. Just the thought of fresh, chemical free, pesticide free - organic lunch, strengthened us. We made our way to the cafeteria where the ladies were cooking some delicious food. We grabbed our plates and stood in line for our midday meal like school children. With fresh food, the satisfaction of eating healthy food and a filled stomach, off we went on our stroll again to the next site visit.

The Weaving unit

The collective also helped develop a weaving unit. All employees working there were women. This unit manufactured different clothing that was made of organic cotton and also used organic dying ink. The merchandise was sent to different cities and was displayed in exhibitions. A saree cost Rs. 2500/- and upwards.


Chiguru - Timbaktu Collective

Our next stop was ‘Chiguru’ a place for rural children to learn. Chiguru in Telugu means a new bud or a leaf that is about to sprout. So we boarded our jeep and drove about five kilometres  from the Timbaktu office. ‘Chiguru’ or CRC (Children Resource Centre) was a place for children to learn after their school time. This CRC has a science lab, playground and caters to variety of topics such as bead jewellery, tailoring and screen printing, etc.. The objective of this place is to enable children to learn better and grow up in a way so as to use their fullest potential. Priced at Rs 20, the earrings were pretty and we made sure that we bought plenty of them.

Pratibha and Balamilitha

Pratibha - For people with disabilities

Fifty meters away was ’Pratiba’ (Promotion of cooperatives of People with Disabilities) & Balamilitha (Rehabilitation and therapy work with children with disabilities). A meeting was scheduled with the CEO and the directors of this unit who started the meeting with the song and also ended the meeting with a song.

Soap manufacturing Unit

Soap Manufacturing

After the meeting, they walked us to the Soap manufacturing factory and also stock room. This is was their primary source of income generation and all profits went to ‘Prathibha’ & ’Balamilitha’.  

Balamilitha - The Timbaktu Collective

It was almost evening and we were exhausted. We were amazed by the set up for an independent society and also the fact that there was so much information to gulp. We were happy to head to our respective cottages and rest as we had an early start the next morning.

Day 2 - 14th October

After a sumptuous breakfast at 6AM, our coordinator introduced us to our guide and the journey began.

  1. Kalpalli Conservation area

    Kalpavalli - Conservation area

Our first visit on the second day was to the ‘Kalpavalli conservation area’. This was a model land. A once barren land had been converted into a healthy grassland forest that spreads over 9000 acres in a span of 23 years. They had proved what would could happen if 10 villages joined hands in saving nature. This federation was registered in 2008 as “Kalpavalli tree grower’s co-op ltd” with 15 administrative body or committee. Each committee has 2 directors who plan, budget & review the progress.

Conservation area - Kalpavalli

The main activities undertaken here are 1) Seed dibbling 2) Plantation 3) Fire lines 4) Tamarind orchards 5) Soil & water conservation. Children and youths participate in this program and after endless efforts, This place is now a wildlife conservation area with over 56 species of birds, 19 variety of mammals, 226 species of trees, creepers & bushes, 9 variety of grass and 26 variety of medicinal plant. To achieve such biological advancement in a land that takes second place in the country for being a drought land is truly amazing! We explored the surrounding area by foot. On this hilly area were manmade tanks. Tanks are water holders, when it rained, the water would drip down from the mountain and then accumulate in these tanks. This is how water was preserved. These tanks served the animals that searched for water in a dry land. Over 30,000 livestock like cattle, goats & sheep were transported from different parts of the villages to this rich grass land just to be fed and would stay for three months.

Windmills at Timbaktu collective

We drove up the mountain about 30 kilometers away from our cottages. On our way we saw a lot of windmills that were installed over acres of land. The renewable energy was distributed exclusively for industrial usage. During the process of installation of these massive windmills, one lakh trees were felled. The locals tried fighting this in the courts but with no results (as expected!). We walked long distances, meeting locals and conversing with them. Well, all that walking and the scorching sun drained us out. Our bodies were now craving for some food..

We boarded our jeep and headed back to the Timbaktu office, where we got off and ran to the cafeteria for yet another organic and last meal here. Oh boy, what a meal. Healthy, sumptuous and tasty! we were very thankful to the ladies who prepared this.



Post lunch we got into a meeting with ‘Aadshakti’ crew (Welfare of women). This initiative started in 1998 to empower and educate women. The society program initiates savings by women, meetings regarding budget allocation for various initiatives, joint society meetings, recruitment and training and women’s day celebration. Their annual conference is held in the month of June. It was packed house and as I listened to the leaders of this program, I soon realised that they had a very strategic financial planning system. This again was a Timbaktu initiative.

Our second day was coming to an end and we were so glad that we made it to this place. It was big learning and the feeling of being  there at that moment, was simply amazing. We met Bablu one last time who ensured we were well taken care off. He duly recorded our feedback and our experience. He also told us that there was much work that has to be done in the urban than in the rural. On that note, we boarded the pickup truck and we were dropped at the bus station.

While we were waiting for our bus to arrive, a thought came to my mind - it is apparent that there are NGOs, couples and individuals who has began their movement to change our planet for the better.

The words “there is much work in the urban” kept ringing.

-Jaivin J is a Training Officer with Greenpeace India