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Equator Initiative Case Study – Tribal Communities of the Jeypore Tract of Orissa (Odisha)

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The M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) was concerned about the rapid depletion of rice diversity in the Jeypore tract of the Indian state of Orissa, once the home of the largest number of rice varieties in India. In 1998, the foundation undertook to improve the condition of poor farmers while revitalizing vanishing rice varieties, combining modern and traditional approaches for the conservation, enhancement, and sustainable use of local rice biodiversity.
While coordination of initial research, pilot studies, and funding was handled by MSSRF, the institute has increasingly handed control over to local actors among the tribal communities of the Jeypore Tract through the development of community-based organisations. These local institutions have sustained and expanded the project’s benefits for the district’s communities and ecosystems through the introduction of a diverse range of sustainable livelihood activities. The Equator Initiative brings together the United Nations, governments, civil society, businesses and grassroots organizations to recognize and advance local sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities. As local and indigenous groups across the world chart a path towards sustainable development, the Equator Prize--issued biennially by the Equator Initiative--shines a spotlight on their efforts by honoring them on an international stage. This project was awarded the Equator Prize in recognition of its contribution to local sustainable development solutions.

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