Since 2003, she is practicing protective irrigation, started own seedlings before the monsoon, and cultivate exotic, high-value crops like the Kiwi fruit. She is a member of a self-help group that manufactures and sells rhododendron syrup. She was also honoured with state’s Green Ambassador in 2012.
The 49- year old Sudha Gunwant lives in Gauna village in Lamgarah tehsil of Almora district in Uttarakhand with her husband. She is a passionate environmentalist and farmer. Once wanted to become a teacher, left her dream after marriage, is now a dedicated farmer and environmentalist. According to this inspirational woman, the time has come for farmers to take all the help they can get and adapt to newer and better ways of making farming feasible.
As she says that when she came to Gauna after getting married to Bhuvan Gunwant in 1980, the situation in the village was quite different. Farming was the primary source of livelihood for villagers. But due to change in environment, farming which was the main source of livelihood became difficult for the people. After the painstaking efforts of Sudha Gunwant, now the situations have improved. She is practicing biodiversity in her farms with the help of NGO Central Himalayan Environment Association (CHEA) which works to provide assistance to Himalayan communities in the field of sustainable development.
In 2003, she took an initiative towards water harvesting along with her husband Bhuvan and CHEA. They set up two rooftop water harvesting tanks in 2003 and in next ten years he installed 10 more on their land. Due to the popularity of these tanks, there are 155 rainwater harvesting tanks are built in Gauna and its neighbouring villages.
Under the guidance and assistance of CHEA, she practiced many sustainable farming methods of livelihood such as horticulture, floriculture, cash crop cultivation as well as non-farming methods like animal husbandry and bee-keeping. She also got to know about the various government schemes and factors affecting climate and their production.
She is also honored with the state’s Green Ambassador award in 2012 for her contribution towards biodiversity conservation and promotion of ecological protection initiatives in the state. She was also the head or sarpanch of the Gauna Van Panchayat. These panchayat works on village level to make rules for the everyday management of their local civil forests with the consultation of villagers.
In an interview to a media website, she said, “The life of hill women is extremely difficult and in families where the men don’t have permanent jobs they shoulder all burden as wives, mothers and even farmers. A farmer’s life is intrinsically connected to nature – too little or too much sun, rain or snowfall is always bad for the land.”